3 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor
It’s such a simple and seemingly-obvious statement, but nothing encourages us more than faithfulness from the people God has called us to shepherd and give our lives to. John stated, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth” (3 John 1:4). John affectionately referred to the saved congregation to which he was writing as “his little children” (1 John 2:1, 18, 28, etc.). He invested in and taught those people to follow Christ, and nothing gave him more satisfaction and encouragement than to see his desire for them come to fruition as they walked in truth.
As your pastor faithfully prepares sermons every week, invests in formal and informal counseling, walks with church members in their everyday lives, and gives of his time and energy for the growth and good of your church, his greatest encouragement will come when he sees you as a church member be faithful. Your faithfulness means he has a partner in his ministries—someone to serve alongside him, to love others with him, someone to pray with him, someone to remind him he is not alone in his desire for people to love God. Your faithfulness means he has help in tasks he can’t always get to. As God uses your spiritual gifts, more work for Christ is accomplished. Your faithfulness means dependability and reliability. It means your pastor doesn’t have to wonder what your priorities are; he knows you are going to put God and His commands first. Your faithfulness means you are contributing to the spiritual growth of the church, starting with your own family and then reaching into the lives of other church members.
The life of a pastor is naturally quieter than many others’, meaning that he must stay quiet by nature of his ministry. Often, the burdens of his heart cannot even be shared with his wife or closest friends. Counseling sessions mean confidentiality; some discouragements should not quickly be passed around the church congregation; the weariness of daily ministry life is not always easily shouldered by others. Much falls on the pastor.
Through prayer, you bring your pastor before the God who already knows what he is going through, what difficulties he is facing, what matters he is bearing. Even if he isn’t going through a “trial,” per se, he needs the faithful prayers of his congregation to maintain his priorities, to “rightly handle the Word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25), to fight for purity (Phil. 4:8), to maintain obedience before God in every area.
So maybe you haven’t been called to be a pastor, yet by praying consistently for your pastor and his ministry, you become an integral part of his ministry and you promote the preaching and teaching of the Word.
In Hebrews 13:17, the church is given the command to submit to its leaders, “for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” That “groaning” can come from perceiving a lack of growth from the flock. Maybe growth is happening, but it isn’t focused on like it should be.
For those of us who are pros at sitting through a church sermon, we’ve all experienced agreeing our way through 97% of a sermon. That 97% simply cut to the heart, and resounded with clarity. Some truth was clarified or re-clarified in our minds, and we’ve left encouraged. The last 3% however . . . well, maybe we didn’t totally agree with it. So, what do we do? Go straight to the pastor and ask him probing questions about the 3% that we weren’t sold on. How fair is that? How encouraging is that?
Romans 14:19 says, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Now those 3% conversations can be a lot of fun, but not when they’re brought up for the fifth week in a row without any mention of the extremely important, life-changing 97%.
It’s not about defaulting to, “Hey Pastor, great message!” on your way out the door. For someone entrusted with shepherding souls, encouragement happens when the little specifics are mentioned. Encouraging, positive words might sound like this, from a church member to pastor:
“You know, I had never considered _______ before.”
“I’ve been doing my own study on ______, and what this passage says is a gamechanger!”
“That last song we sang tied in so well to the 2nd point from the text you preached from this morning.”
“Ok, so you mentioned _________, and I’m having a hard to working out what that would actually look like in my situation. Can you help me apply that?”
“I was reading ahead and I can’t wait till we get to next week’s text!”
“You look amazing.” (Okay, I’ve only ever heard that from my wife after I’ve preached, but it’s still really encouraging!)
The most impactful encouragement to your pastor takes a lot of effort on your part and in your life. Ultimately, it's obeying God's Word and letting your pastor see that and bringing him in to your growth. The result is a growing congregation who is supporting and loving the shepherd God has brought to them!