There are plenty of blog posts and articles about why people don’t go to church anymore. We’ve all heard how the failure of believers to live up to the word of God has turned others away, not necessarily from Jesus, but from his people.
Today, I want to propose something counter-cultural: I want to challenge myself and you to thank and appreciate our pastors.
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV
Hebrews 3 reminds us that we, the body of Christ, are not just consumers, but are participants with our leaders, sharing in Christ. Whether we consider ourselves “in ministry” or not, we are apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, who together build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). However, those who have given their full-time vocation to this work are often the most discouraged people in our churches because the fruit of their labor and the outcomes of their goals are not easily measured. They are first responders in many crisis situations, they and their families are looked to and often made examples of. Your pastor probably has a somewhat lonely and thankless job.
These days, we see a lot of celebrity pastors and some think pastors get more accolades than they need. We can all name at least five pastors that we either know personally or from a distance who have lost everything because of personal sin. But my challenge today is not about unearned accolades or ignoring sin. It’s about encouraging the people who you see every week – who you respect and look to for wisdom. These people may be the most tired leaders in your midst, who may not be giving the time and resources to their own souls or their own marriages and need your encouragement and prayer to do so.
How can you encourage your pastor as long as it is called “today” as Hebrews 3 tells us?
Here are 10 ideas for how you can encourage your pastors and spiritual leaders:
- Pray for the care of their souls. Pray for them to make space for Sabbath and have time with Jesus in prayer, communion and the word that is just for them.
- Pray for their marriages. Pray for oneness with their spouses, for intimacy and times of refreshing and recreating together.
- Pray for their children. Pray for your pastor to have the time and space to be the parent he or she wants to be.
- Pray for their friendships. I’ve known many pastors who tend to be lonely and lack authentic relationships. Pray for them to have people they can be open and vulnerable with, who they can share their hearts and lives with freely.
- Pray for their ministry. Pray for your leaders to be encouraged by God, to set their minds on the eternal rewards of serving God whole-heartedly, to seek the approval of God over people and to have fresh vision, creative ideas and courage in their calling.
- Encourage the pastors you know to make space for healthy growth.
- Consider getting a group of people from your community together to go in on a gift that will contribute to their soul care, family life or for them to simply have fun.
- Tell them not only what a good job they are doing but how their ministry is impacting you personally.
- Thank their family members for their part in the ministry.
- Commit to praying for them on Mondays because after a full weekend, those are often the hardest days.
What are your ideas for showing gratitude and support to ministry leaders?
Share with us your experience.