I know this is a weird subject for a blog, but I think it’s so important. I have a huge love for the church. After all, it is the body of Christ. My heart longs to be among His people, worshiping, learning, exercising my spiritual gifts, and receiving the benefits of other’s spiritual gifts upon me!
But there is also so much pain in the body. So much division. So much distraction. I wonder and fear that we have turned it into something that Jesus did not intend.
It is not my heart to be fatalistic about it, but rather to be one tiny voice that may join with others to sound an alarm or at least to do inventory and make sure we are staying true to Jesus’ New Testament requirements for His church for which He died, and of which He is the head.
Let me say that I’m not talking about going back to home churches, or only having one church for miles like they did in the New Testament. That was a unique time in history. I’m talking about the guts of the church.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and the prayer.
This is the foundation. This verse outlines the priority as the body of Christ.
There is so much to say about this issue. But, in this blog, I just wanted to give you one practical way that you can be of great help to your church.
If our churches are to be healthy, they must have a healthy view of their pastors. He is the shepherd of the flock and is a vital key to keeping God’s church true to the calling of Jesus. In fact, Ephesians 4:11-12 calls him a “gift” to the church to equip the saints. What a high calling!
If you have a pastor that is a faithful teacher of The Word and is a man of integrity and godliness in his daily walk, here are some ways you can help your church by helping him.
1. Understand that he carries a heavy mantle. Any pastor worth his salt feels the full weight of his calling. And by that I mean he feels the seriousness of The Word and that he is accountable to Almighty God that he interprets scripture accurately and faithfully brings that truth to his congregation every time he stands in the pulpit.
Every. Single. Time.
He will have to answer to God in person for how he handled his calling.
This will tend to make him a little serious.
2. Let him study. So often, I think, Christians feel that if their pastor is sequestered in his study with a symbolic “Do Not Disturb Except For Emergency” sign on the door, he is being lazy or introverted. But faithful study of God’s Word takes an immense amount of time out of his daily schedule. Guard his time in The Word. Let him know that you value his study time as much as he does. You will be so glad you did when you are fed to capacity on Sunday morning.
Recently, I heard my hubs say,
“Let the man of God go up to the mountain of God,
and bring the Word of God down to the people of God.”
Whew! That gives a whole new meaning to how the pastor views his job. That time up on the mountain is precious and cannot be rushed.
And this, by the way, means that you have to be willing to work on Sunday mornings. When he takes that pulpit, sweet Christian, to bring it down from the mountain, dig in! Come with your spiritual workout clothes on, ready to do the hard labor it takes to understand scripture and apply it to your life.
Don’t seek to be entertained. Just like you can’t eat cotton candy and expect to be strong physically, you can’t expect that a steady diet of “light” and entertaining sermons will change you spiritually.
3. Have a Biblical job description for him. Research what the Bible says a pastor is to do.
Don’t expect from him what the Bible doesn’t.
He is not called to be relevant, to tell stories, to attend every church event, to rush to every bedside or accept every dinner invitation.
Should he do these things? Absolutely! But, hear me, not at the expense of being ready to preach The Word and not at the expense of his family. Because if he is relevant and busy to the point of neglecting scripture and his family, he is disqualified from being a pastor. Check out this link for further study on the qualifications of a godly pastor:
4. Accept that he is not perfect. It is not possible for him to always do and say the right thing. He is a saved sinner just like you and he battles with his flesh. He gets tired, grouchy, overwhelmed, confused, sad, etc. Plus, he has many different personalities to try to navigate in his flock. No way is he going to be able to make everyone happy all the time.
Be forbearing and just love him if he flubs up with you. If he loves Jesus, and it’s a true offense on his part, I promise, he is aware when he messes up and will confess it to you and make it right.
5. Put yourself on the receiving end of any critical comment you make to him. Ask yourself why you are saying what you are saying to him.
Is it truly from a heart of love?
Is it godly or self-motivated?
Are you angry?
Do you have his best interest at heart?
When you make a critical comment, he takes it to heart. He lies awake at night wondering if you were right when you said he was boring, or uncaring, or even question whether he should be a pastor.
Those things make a permanent mark.
So, by all means, be a wise counsel to your pastor, go straight to him, no one else, but make sure your words are “seasoned with salt to give grace to the hearer.” (Col.4:6)
And definitely don’t do ANY of this right before he gets up to preach.
6. Be his friend. Pastoring is very lonely. And I realize it’s a risk, but take the time to really get to know him.
Serious pastors tend to be serious people
So…..it might take a little effort. But try. Give him license not to take himself so seriously. Much of the time, he feels like people look at him and treat him differently because he’s a pastor. And that’s normal, but it’s hard when people keep you at arm’s length because they are afraid to be themselves because the “pastor” is in the room. Or they only come talk to you when they need the pastor side of you.
They rarely get called just to chat or hang out. He is a pastor, but he’s also just a man. He wants to laugh with you and he wants you to let him into your world because you just like him, not because you feel obligated because he’s your pastor.
7. Find every opportunity to encourage him. Let him know you’re “Team Pastor”. Tell him when something he says from the pulpit hits home with you. He lives to see you grow. It brings him the highest joy when he sees Christ being formed in you. Don’t just assume he knows. He might be so discouraged thinking his labor is in vain and one word from you could keep him encouraged enough to keep going.
8. Love his family. They are his prized possession. He will be so much more free to love his flock if his flock loves his family. Tell his wife how much you appreciate her and him. She is his best cheerleader and if you can keep her encouraged, she’ll keep him encouraged.
Don’t let her feel like Adrian in Rocky sitting in the stands,
watching her husband get beat to death and she is helpless to do
anything about it.
Trust me, this is a serious and white-hot kind of pain for her.
She feels every punch he takes as if she were standing in his place. He is her favorite person, and when he hurts, she feels it profoundly. Same goes with the kids. Love ‘em. Realize they’re just kids. That whole “well, ya know what they say about pastor’s kids” thing? Don’t even go there.
9. Know that he loves you. He really does. He wakes up thinking about how he can help you grow.
In fact, that’s how he loves you best, by laboring in the Word and prayer so he can
teach you what God says about Himself.
And when you truly know God through His Word, you have ultimate joy. That’s the bullseye for your pastor.
He falls asleep praying for you and your family. He pours out his heart all day in prayer that he might be used to see Christ formed in you. He cries out to God when you lose your job, your child is at death’s door, your marriage is in trouble. He praises the Father when you get that promotion, welcome a new baby, buy that new house. He is infused by the Holy Spirit with a love for you that cannot be measured.
10. Pray for him. #1-9 matter not at all if you don’t pray for him. My pastor-hubs used to tell his congregation.
“If you don’t pray for me,
I might as well quit right now.”
And it’s true. Nothing aside from the Holy Spirit and prayers of the saints can enable a pastor to do his calling. Pray for his strengths. Pray for his weaknesses.
Love him the way you want him to love you
And maybe, just maybe, if your pastor isn’t everything he’s supposed to be, your prayers and encouragement will inspire him to be more.
I stumbled upon this talk from John Piper on Charles Haddon Spurgeon just a few months ago, and it rocked my world completely: Preaching Through Diversity. I wept almost the entire way through it.
Maybe it’s because I am a pastor’s wife and I feel its truth so profoundly. But I kept thinking the whole time I was listening to it, “Oh! I wish the church could hear this! I wish they knew this about their pastor and could understand just for a moment what it’s like to be in his shoes.” If you have any time at all, I encourage you to give this a listen. It might give you some invaluable insight and love for your pastor.
And, oh, dear one, consider. If your pastor fulfills all the mandates given to him in scripture, though he may not be a charmer, hip, savvy, life of the party, cutting edge cool, etc., hold on to him with both hands!
For he is a rare and priceless warrior who will guard your soul against wolves that would seek your harm.
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