A few years ago, I was cleaning out a church attic and found an old, dusty mug that featured a caricature of a pastor listening to a younger church attender. The church attender was saying something along the lines of, “When I grow up, I want to be a preacher just like you, because you only have to work one day a week.”
Instead of tossing this mug out with the rest of the junk in the attic, I carefully set it aside to give to my father for his upcoming birthday.
The Truth Your Pastor Wishes You Knew
My dad is a pastor and thought the mug was funny. However, as the old saying goes: in every joke there is a little bit of truth. The truth behind this joke is not that pastors only work one day a week but that most Christians do not know how hard their pastors work.
The weight and responsibility of a pastor is not an easy task. A pastor’s calling is to participate in the ministry that Jesus Christ founded, making disciples of the only one who can save sinners from their brokenness. This task weighs heavy on the hearts of all faithful ministers—now and since the great commission.
John Newton comments on this verse saying, “What contradictions meet in minister’s employ! It is a bittersweet, a sorrow full of joy.”
This is not to call you into a pity party for our pastors, but to remind you of the encouragement that pastors and church leaders need on a daily basis. My prayer is that this article would influence you to be open with your pastors about how their work is encouraging you so that you encourage them.
Why Encourage Your Pastor
I believe the best way to make sure that you are playing an active role in the encouragement of your pastor is by telling him how you are growing in your faith and how his service to God has participated in that growth.
This kind of encouragement is particularly important right now. Why? Because for just over a year now, it has been difficult for a pastor to know who is listening to his teaching (try reading facial cues when everyone has masks on!), engaged in worship, and faithfully tuning in to online services.
Oftentimes, the only message that a pastor wants to hear in response to his work is that it is helping you. In a recent article on pastoral encouragement, Kevin DeYoung said, “It is natural that a pastor would wonder from time to time (and more so as time goes on), ‘How am I doing?’”
This question is not the result of pastors being overly critical of themselves. Rather, many pastors are unaware of the impact of their service because the people they minister to have no desire to share the ways in which the pastor is helping them.
How to Encourage Your Pastor
Pastors are so encouraged and filled with joy when they hear about the transformation that is taking place in the members of their church. Second only to personal joy in Christ, hearing the testimony of people beginning to look more and more like Christ is the most joy-giving thing that a pastor can hear.
Pastors’ ability to see the work of God displayed through the sanctification of saints is only speculation until members of the church speak up about the change that the Spirit is bringing. So, pastors are encouraged when their members take every opportunity they can to benefit from the work that their pastors are doing.
To take this a step further, pastors love when the people in the church are able to relate their personal growth with what they are learning from their pastors and church leaders. Sharing that information with your pastor lets them know that they are not the only ones working for your growth, but you are holding up your end of the deal as well.
Finally, pastors are encouraged when you share with them the ways that you have seen them growing as well. Your pastors are growing daily both in their personal maturity and in their ministry experience. They want to hear in what ways are they growing in their service to God and their service to you. Paul says to Timothy regarding his pastoral ministry, “Practice these things; be committed to them so that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Tim. 4:15).
When you see evidence of your pastor’s obedience to God through ministry, tell them about it to encourage them.
Considering How Your Pastor Has Encouraged You
If you want to encourage your pastor, think about the encouragement that your pastor has given to you—through the preaching of the Word, prayer, and visitations. If you have been encouraged and grown with the help of a pastor do not sit idly by; encourage them by sharing how they have encouraged you. Not all of us are ministers, but all of us are called to build up the body of Christ, including our church leadership.