Pastoring a local church is one of the most difficult, but rewarding jobs in the world. It’s a unique and special calling to serve and shepherd Christ’s church.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and this month I want to write to you as a fellow church member to another. Consider this an open letter about how we can care for our pastors for the sake of the gospel and God’s kingdom.
The idea of showing appreciation to spiritual leaders in the church dates back to the Apostle Paul. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13, he encouraged believers to “give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work.”
Later in 1 Timothy 5:17, Paul wrote “The elders who are good leaders are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”
So whether your pastor serves in a small town or a big city, serves alone or is part of a staff, is bivocational or full-time, here are five ways you can care for and encourage your pastor and pastoral staff.
Pray for him
Regularly pray for your pastor, and let him know you are praying.
Pray for his spiritual, physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Pray for protection from temptation and spiritual warfare.
Pray for his family.
Pray for wisdom as he seeks God for leadership and direction from the Holy Spirit for your local congregation.
Ask your pastor how you can specifically pray for him and then do it!
Pastoral ministry can be a lonely endeavor and is often filled with criticism. Look for ways you can encourage your pastor verbally and tangibly. Let him know what he’s doing well, or how God has spoken to you through a particular sermon. Ask him what are some specific ways you could help him.
Commit to following your pastor’s leadership as long as he is being faithful to Scripture. If you disagree with a decision or a direction, pray for him instead of criticizing him. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in his life. Remember he is accountable to God for his leadership. Your pastor is the undershepherd to the Chief Shepherd, who is Jesus Christ.
Your pastor gives so much of himself without expecting anything in return. Look for practical ways you can bless him and his family. Encourage him to schedule and take a day off each week. Treat his family to a meal. Offer to watch his children so he and his wife can enjoy a date by themselves. Give them regular time away for getaways and vacations. Consider how you and your church can bless him on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
Church member, can I let you in on a little secret? It’s not the pastor’s job to do the work of ministry. It’s yours!
Scripture says pastors are called “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). The primary ways pastors equip the saints is through preaching the Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17), teaching others (2 Timothy 2:2) and making disciples who make disciples (Matthew 28:19–20). One of the biggest ways you can help and encourage your pastor is to be a saint who serves instead of a saint who sits.
Please consider these and other ways you can help and care for your pastor. The local church is God’s “plan A” for reaching a lost and dying world, and we need healthy pastors to lead healthy churches who are on mission together to take the gospel to the neighborhoods and to the nations.
Other ways to help
Check with your church, association or state Baptist convention to ask about resources and other ways you can celebrate your pastor. To contact your state convention for more information, click here.