5 Ways to Care for Your Pastor
Growing up in the church, my pastors always seemed a bit out of reach. They were intelligent, caring, BUSY, and seemed to live their lives like the sermons they preached. I was always intimidated by my pastor. What if he sees me doing something wrong? What if he judges me? What if I make a fool of myself trying to impress him with my lack of Bible knowledge? To protect myself, I naturally distanced myself from my church leadership and by thinking so highly of them I placed them on such an elevated pedestal where their fall down was that much greater.
Pastors always seemed to be intimidating to me - until I married one. I met my husband while we were in college. He was studying in the pre-seminary program and would continue his studies after graduation. We married between degrees and shipped off to St. Louis where we lived in married housing on the seminary campus with other pastoral families. Here we experienced the financial struggle of having one spouse in school full time, the heartache of being distanced from loved ones, the stress of assumed perfection from church members, the doubt of our skills and abilities, and the loneliness from lack of friendships and connections. As a social being, I think the latter bothered me the most.
If you take anything away from this post, let it be this - PASTORS ARE PEOPLE TOO! They struggle with sin and guilt, they make wrong choices, they may forget what you told them in Bible Study last week, and believe it or not, they may not even like you. But they are called to love and care for you and to lead their church despite all these things. Your pastor has real struggles just like you, but unlike you, their every move is watched and monitored. Their words are examined and critiqued. They are judged more harshly by the world, and unfortunately, by the very people in their church. This can lead to isolation, bitterness, doubt, lack of confidence, and a drained spiritual well.
The pastoral ministry can be draining and opens your leaders up to attack of both the spiritual and human nature. So what can you do?
1. Reach out
Get to know your pastor as a person. Know his likes and dislikes and have a normal conversation with him. Invite him over to watch a sports game or a movie. Make him dinner. Show that you care for him and his well-being.
2. Love your pastor and pray for him and his family
We bring our prayer requests to our pastors and expect them to pray for these matters in church and in their personal lives. Do we ever return the favor? Ask him how you can pray for him. Lift up your pastor in prayer and be diligent in it.
3. Encourage him
Human beings are much more likely to make our opinions known if we think we are being wronged somehow. More likely than not, if your pastor is going to hear feedback from someone it will be negative.
If you enjoyed his sermon, let him know. If your pastor did a good job of leading a class or group, share that with him. Write him an encouraging note, have a positive conversation, and be mindful of his insecurities and fragility.
4. Forgive him
I'm sure we have heard from or know someone who has been wronged by the church. They have been hurt, let down, and experienced firsthand the failures of their pastor. No one is exempt from sin. We all sin and fall short, but grace is powerful and stronger. Forgive your pastor of his shortcomings and open the pathway for healing.
5. Don't expect him to handle it on his own
We are the body of Christ and we should be utilizing our talents and abilities for the well-being of the church. The church is filled with ministers. Don't let your church leadership be the only facet for growth. Don't let your pastor be your only source of Scripture during the week. Be actively involved in God's Word and prayer and seek God's will for your life. Respect the leadership God has appointed in your life and support their ministries and well-being.
"The great commission of Matthew 28:19 was given to all the church through the twelve apostles. They were told to make disciples of all nations, baptize them and teach them to observe all Jesus had commanded of them. Isn't that a staggering commission? Can a few do that? Jesus gave this all inclusive command to all his church, and it takes all the church to do it. Every Christian leader who tries to do it alone will fail. Every church that thinks its leaders will do it alone is failing and forcing failure upon the leaders.
Who are the ministers? The believers are the ministers. Who are the leaders? People whom God calls out from among the ministers. Pastors minister to the ministers, equip them for ministry, and pray for more ministers."
-How to Care for Your Pastor by Kent Philpott
- Olivia Peitsch