5 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

By Bill Crowder

Did you know that October is Pastor Appreciation Month? As someone who served in pastoral work for over 20 years, I can tell you that people in ministry cannot get too much encouragement! And, while we regularly pray for our pastors and try to support them and their families financially, it might be good for all of us to think about additional ways we can say thanks to our spiritual shepherds. Here are a few ideas:

Add to Your Pastor’s Library: Pastors spend an awful lot of time researching and reading, and having new tools for the work is always welcome. Perhaps a gift certificate or gift card to your local bookstore would allow them to find new resources that could be of help in their personal lives—and that could also benefit the church through their ministry.

Give Your Pastor a Night Out: If your pastor is married, consider providing them with a gift card for a nice restaurant and offer to either babysit the kids or provide for childcare for the evening. A nice evening out with no worries about the kids is a real treat—especially for younger men and women in ministry!

Your pastor may not be married, but there are other ways you can give someone a night out. Buy tickets for a local sporting event or concert. Or take him or her yourself. The point is to make sure that your pastor takes a break and enjoys a night away from the work of ministry.

Ask Questions: A simple question that displays interest in how your pastor is doing and what specific needs he or she might have, would be truly meaningful for many folks in ministry. Pastors are always responsible for the welfare of others, but they need to be cared for as well. That care can start with appropriate questions and genuine concern.

One caution: be sensitive to how your pastors receive your questions. They may not know your motive for wanting information. Showing them that you are genuinely concerned about their welfare—without strings attached—is key.

Volunteer to Share in the Work: Unfortunately, we can sometimes feel that the pastor is a hired hand who is there to do the work of the church. But Paul said something very different. In Ephesians 4:11–12a, we read, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service.” All of us have been given spiritual gifts and all of us have the privilege (and responsibility) to participate in the work of ministry. Every pastor I have ever known would have been greatly encouraged by men and women joining in the work and helping to carry the load of ministry!

Understand That They are Human: One of the greatest burdens men and women in ministry bear is the often unrealistic (sometimes even impossible) expectations their congregants have for them and their families. Recognizing that the pastor’s family struggles with the same issues, trials, and concerns as the rest of the church family can spur on a spirit of patience and understanding. Allow them to be what they are—human—instead of expecting them to be what they aren’t—an omnicompetent superhero.

These are just a few thoughts. You may come up with much better ones on your own. In the meantime, however, let’s not take for granted that our pastors are being supported prayerfully and financially. Let’s do our best to encourage them in those basic things, but then look for additional opportunities to say thanks for their service to our Lord. And to us.

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