Ten ways to encourage your pastor? Say what?
In the book, Spurgeon on Leadership, Larry J. Michael writes,
Many Christian leaders become discouraged. The work doesn’t go as one imagines, the church doesn’t grow as one desires, lay leaders won’t cooperate with one’s leadership, people are excessively critical, or finances are down. The list goes on and on. Someone said that discouragement is the occupational hazard of the ministry, and Spurgeon was no exception to this rule. As successful as he was, he still experienced discouragement, and, in his case, it often deteriorated into depression. He became so depressed at times that he could barely function. In his lecture on “The Minister’s Fainting Fits,” Spurgeon opened with these words: “As it is recorded that David, in the heat of battle, waxed faint, so may it be written of all the servants of the Lord. Fits of depression come over the most of us….The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”
Did you know that pastors share something in common with others who work in other people-serving positions, such as nurses, doctors, counselors, social workers, etc.? They share a high rate of distress and discouragement, and oddly enough tend towards more frequent and serious bouts of depression and higher incidences of suicide. You wouldn’t think that would be the case, but it is.
This is nothing new. Even pastors in ages gone by struggled with discouragement and depression. Consider some of what these men went through:
John Calvin – Calvin received so much opposition in his first ministry at Geneva that the year before his expulsion from Geneva he went through great discouragement and depression. Writing about this year in his life he said “Were I to tell you only the littlest things of the misfortune – what am I saying – of the adversity which virtually crushed us during the course of one year, you would hardly believe me. I am convinced that not a day passed in which I did not long for death ten times…”
Andrew Bonar – Writing to his close friend McCheyne said, “I was very melancholy, I may say, on Saturday evening. The old scenes reminded me of my ministry, and this was accompanied with such regret for past failures.” Andrew Bonar also wrote, “My ministry has appeared to me to be wanting in so many ways that I can only say of it, indescribably inadequate.”
Charles Spurgeon – At the zenith of his ministry, Spurgeon said, “I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.”
Campbell Morgan – At the height of his ministry, Morgan astounded his congregation by telling them that he was a failure. As he thought over his ministry, he said, “During these ten years, I have known more of vision fading into mirages, or purposes failing of fulfillment, of things of strength crumbling away in weakness than ever in my life.”
(Original source for this could not be found. Sorry.)
These are only a handful of illustrations. There were others, many others, such as Martin Luther, John Knox, John Wesley, Arthur Pink, A. W. Tozer and Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones. Perhaps you would be surprised by how many present-day pastors find themselves very discouraged and depressed (statistically, more than 70%); even popular and famous Christian ministers.
The point of this post is not to talk about discouragement or ways to discourage those whose main work is to serve as Christ’s undershepherds, faithfully ministering the Word and work of Jesus to you. If you really want to know how to discourage your pastor(s) check out an old article I wrote 101 Ways to Discourage Your Pastor. Instead, this post is to provide at least ten ways you can encourage our own pastors and to provoke you to find other creative ways to do this.
Ten Ways to Encourage the Pastor:
1. Live with him in the love of Christ, loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and might and loving the pastor as you love yourself.
2. Love him in the Lord.
3. Pray for him all the time.
4. Let him rest.
Give him opportunities for personal and familial rest. Be proactive to make sure he is getting spiritual, emotional, mental and physical rejuvenation. Encourage him to take off for times of prayer, meditation and reflection. Leave him alone during his day or days off, unless of course, it is an emergency. Don’t rely on him to solve all your problems, so don’t keep on going to him relentlessly. Maybe even raise some funds and send him and his family on a cruise or a study leave.
Craig Brian Larson wrote,
“Someone has said, ‘Fatigue makes cowards of us all.’ Let me rephrase that in more general terms: Physical exhaustion alters my emotional state. What I could handle when fresh I no longer feel up to. Difficulties that I first faced like a problem-solver full of faith now cause me to buckle at the knees. The challenges that once energized me now terrify me. While the presenting symptom on such occasions is emotional – depression and weakness – the real problem is physical: low energy” (Staying Power; pp. 55-56).
Jane Rubietta in her How to Keep the Pastor You Love, states,
One day a week scarcely suffices for clergy or anyone to recharge emotionally, physically and spiritually; keep one’s home in order and in repair; and have quality and quantity family time. Ministers do not move from glory to glory but from crisis to crisis. Even if they took their one allotted day off, it is not enough to keep them from becoming one of those untimely funerals (p. 54).
5. Honor, appreciate and esteem the pastor.
The Bible gives a rather rigorous list of requirements the pastor is to do and spells out specifically the roles the pastor is to play in the local church. Yet, the Bible is equally clear about what your responsibility is in relationship to the pastor(s) and elders (Phil. 2:29; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13 cp. Acts 28:9-10, 2 Cor. 7:15).
One is to honor the minister. That means to place a high value, price, or put in a place of great respect. It is giving glory to one deserving of respect, attention and obedience. God directs Christians to honor the local church pastor(s) and elders (1 Tim. 5:17).
A second way is to show appreciation. To appreciate means to give deserved recognition for the position he has and the work that he does. To appreciate is to respect and have positive regard for. The New King James uses the word, recognize in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, but it means the same. One example can be found in the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Corinth regarding Timothy, when he said, Now if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. Therefore let no one despise him (1 Cor. 16:10-11).
The third way is to esteem the pastor (1 Thess. 5:13). To esteem is “to think highly of him; to have great regard; to consider valuable, very precious, or distinguished.”
Why should you esteem the elders or pastor?
(1) Because of their work, which is the effective ministry of God’s Word.
(2) Because of their office, because they rule over you in the Lord (1 Cor. 16:16).
(3) Because they admonish you (Heb. 13:7).
How should you/we Christians esteem their elders or pastor?
(2) By showing respect for their needs (Acts 28:9-10).
6. Do everything you can to pump life into his soul.
Build him up, encourage him, and communicate to him in the many ways there are just how much his service means to you. Lift him up, inspire him, and bless him in Christ. You will reap the residual effects for it. Lift him and his family up to the Lord in frequent prayer. Show love and kindness. Be a conduit of grace, hope and love to build up your pastor.
Greenfield in The Wounded Minister, wrote, A minister’s peace of mind is very important to the quality of his productivity in ministry. It is very difficult to be loving, gentle, and kind toward people when a small group of nitpickers are constantly at him about trivial matters that have little to do with the overall purpose of the church. It is even more difficult to be the gentle pastor, meek and mild, when the accusations leveled at him are contrived and totally false (p. 104).
7. Be loyal to him in Christ
Trust him when he is trustworthy. Treat him for who he is and for the office he holds.
8. Give to him as he gives to you.
Give, not merely monetary support, but give service to him and his family. Be imaginative and think of ways you can serve your pastor: give him genuine and valuable feedback; give him moral support; give him time and prayer. Above all give him love and affection!
9. Speak the truth in love.
Do all you can to safeguard his name and reputation, but more than that, build up his name so that it becomes a name of honor. Certainly, the pastor must maintain his own reputation and integrity in Christ. This is not an admonition for you to pretend he is honorable if he has clearly sinned and defamed the name of the Lord. However, if he has a character beyond reproach, then uphold it, maintain it, and promote it.
10. Don’t covet to have your pastor be just like a pastor you admire or idolize.
He’s the pastor God has placed in the church and in your life at this time. God is the one who has given the pastor the personal talents, the spiritual gifts, and the call to the church; not the former pastor, the famous pastor, or any other admirable person. It is quite okay to enjoy and celebrate the qualities of those men while at the same time celebrating and enjoying your current minister.
These are ten, simple and practical suggestions for encouraging your pastor(s). Nice to know, eh? Now, let me encourage, in fact, urge you to do two things:
First, find tangible ways to put these suggestions into practice.
Second, talk with two or more other people in the church and conspire to do at least one encouraging thing together for the pastor(s). Preferably, it would be good to spread out these blessings over the course of a year.