When I wrote my second book 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them, I surveyed over 2,000 pastors through LifeWay Research and through an online survey through Christianity Today. In the CT survey, I asked pastors to share specific ways someone in their congregation ministered to them. I probed how people could (and did) encourage them. Here’s a sample of what they wrote. If you are not a pastor, consider doing one or two of these this week.
How to encourage your pastor …
- Defending me when someone attacks me verbally.
- Commenting on their understanding of my challenges.
- When hand-written notes come from godly people they mean so much.
- I think the greatest affirmation I receive is when my congregation trusts me.
- I would say it would be the time I received a homemade card from someone in the church telling me how much she appreciated me and that she was praying for me. Those words of encouragement were priceless.
- I don’t feel like I always have to be right, but I do like to have the opportunity to express my own views. Those who are most receptive to this are very affirming.
- Asking me how they can pray for me. I’m not talking about the hurried, polite questions that may come on a hectic Sunday morning, but when they genuinely ask.
- The ministry of presence like when they sat with me in the hospital when my wife had emergency surgery.
- When people go out of their way to really inquire how I’m doing.
- Anything not related to Sunday. I hear a lot of “great message, Pastor” but I don’t know if it’s sincere. A phone call a few days later that refers to something I did affirms me.
- The occasional person who tells me that “so and so” spoke kindly about me.
- When I know I have the support of my leadership.
- Those who know there is a spiritual and emotional cost to being a pastor even if they don’t really understand.
- They have come into my life and family and done something totally unexpected, unexplainable, and absolutely needed (came and cleaned our house when were sick, fixed a meal for us when times were tough, etc.).
- When a person takes the time to pay attention to my emotions I experience and conveys their desire to stand in prayer with me on issues that are troubling.
When a pastor faithfully serves and seldom receives encouragement from their church, their soul and passion can wither and die. This is the saddest response I received.
Most think the pastor needs no encouragement or affirmation but think that we should always be aware of his or her need for encouragement and affirmation. In 30 years of pastoring I would say that no more than a dozen times have people ever shown awareness.
If you are a pastor, what act of kindness from those in the church has encouraged you most?
“If you want to encourage your pastor, here’s how.” (tweet this quote by clicking here).