I read a blog post the other morning entitled “5 Ways to Discourage Your Pastor” (which you can check out here http://rickwhitter.com/2014/01/04/5-ways-to-discourage-your-pastor/). It was on point and while there are a million things I could add to the list, I wonder if maybe the church needs some practical ways to do the exact opposite. How do you encourage your pastor? So here it is 9 ways… read up and let me know your thoughts.
1. Attend services- This seems like a duh, he wouldn’t be your pastor if you didn’t right? Okay yes, but do you really attend your church’s events and services? Are you fully there or are you making ten to-do lists in your head? Be fully present, engage in services. Come, and be on time. Come not just to Sunday morning, but check out special events, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights. Don’t just come, but bring your family. Make church a priority. Your church staff pours lots of preparation and energy into the services, but if you don’t show up, it gets discouraging. They can make flashy invitations and practically bribe you, but ultimately it is the choice you make. Where does church fall on your priority list?
2. Use your gifts and talents in the church- Study up on spiritual gifts and you’ll find that they are given for use in the local church. This means that it is a natural expectation that you will use them to serve the Lord in your church. Did God give you the gift of organizing? Singing? Teaching? Leadership? Whatever it is, before you burn yourself out using it at work and home make sure you are offering your “first fruits” to God through your local church.
3. Serve, without being asked- I can’t tell you the number of times that a pastor has announced a position needing filled or a task that needs to be done for months. Eventually, one of two things will happen. Either one of the people already doing a million things will take it on and spread themselves a little thinner or a staff member will approach someone personally and they will say something along the lines of “sure I’d love to”. Number one is wrong for the obvious reasons, believe me, the 80-20 rule is very real in most local churches. Number two.. it’s great that you want to help, but save your church staff some effort and volunteer when they announce the need. If you are able or feel called to do it, volunteer, don’t make them ask you. Too often, we expect that somebody else will do it and in the end, no one does it.
4. Speaking of serving, demonstrate commitment- When you take on a task in the church do it wholeheartedly until for some reason you decide that you can’t. At that point, ask others if they can cover the task for you and let your leadership know you cannot be responsible for it any longer. One of the most draining things about being in ministry is taking on all of the abandoned tasks that people fail to complete. When something is new and glamorous, people volunteer. Six months down the road, they often complete their duties half-heartedly and late, if at all. Exercise the same commitment you expect from others and stick to your responsibilities.
5. Don’t leave the responsibility of discipling your kids to your church’s children’s ministry- While Sunday School teachers and Children’s ministers do their best, they cannot be solely responsible for the spiritual growth of your children. Your kids will spend 2 hours a week on average at church compared to the hundreds they spend elsewhere, make sure you are living an authentic Christian life to lead them by example and focus on their spiritual growth at home too. Pray with them, do a nightly devotion. Let them see you praying for them and reading your Bible. Together, we can do this!
6. Defend your pastor and his family and your church and its staff privately and publicly- Be the first to put in a good word for your church in the community . Speak highly of your church and the staff there in their presence and behind their backs. When you are touched by their leadership or kindness, thank them. I guarantee they will be grateful. Critics tend to speak loudly and have lots to say. Be the exception. And when something happens that you disagree with, don’t try to raise support for your side through gossip, instead approach the person or leader directly and talk through the issue. Above all, defend your pastor, his family, your church and the staff in the best way possible, on your knees. Pray regularly for all those in leadership of the church, they face battles you will likely never hear of, but you can fight for them daily through prayer.
7. Guard your Pastor’s time with his family- While my family has been blessed to minister in churches that were extremely supportive of family time, this is not always the case. Remember, that just like you, your pastor has a family and he needs to be present for them. There will be times that he needs to be a dad or a husband more than he needs to be a pastor. I will always be grateful for a church family that not only supported, but encouraged my dad to be at softball games and chorus concerts instead of committee meetings and church events. Your pastor will be able to better serve your church when you allow him to be the kind of dad and husband God has called him to be as well. Far too many a pastor has ended in divorce with a family torn apart because the church had more of him than his family did. Refuse to allow that; guard his time and be the first to insist that he be with his family for the big stuff.
8. When you see a need in the church, instead of complaining, take the opportunity to meet it- From little things like taking the trash out and watering plants to things like visiting a sick member. It’s the simple, practical things that your staff (especially if you attend a small church) occasionally forgets. The stapler that always jams when you use it? Buy the church a new one if you can afford it. Practically meeting the needs of the church takes one more thing off of your church staff and speaks volumes of care. Instead of making it known that these haven’t been done, take out the trash, water the plants and visit the member.
9. Lastly, be a joyful giver- As a Christian, it’s our duty to tithe ten percent, but studies show that the majority of Christians don’t. If they give at all, they rarely tithe the called for ten percent. Your willingness to tithe and give an offering above and beyond that is a sign of spiritual growth and maturity. Your pastor will feel supported and encouraged when you take this step of maturity. It speaks highly of the value you place on your church and your relationship with Christ.
As a “pastor’s kid” for the entirety of my 19 years of life, I have grown to love the local church. It is my heart. This is in no way a criticism of the church, but instead practical tools to help us build each other up! My family has been so blessed by the faithful, loving body of Christ in the years we have been in the ministry. So, in closing, thank you. To those of you who pray for us, encourage us and work for the Kingdom alongside us, you are not overlooked. We are so grateful for the opportunity to serve Christ and seek His glory alongside you. I’d love to hear your thoughts!