During the month of October many churches celebrate a pastor appreciation emphasis. Other congregations do this during another time of year such as the pastor’s anniversary or a special day in the life of the church. No doubt there are some churches who never think to honor their pastor. All ministers must remember that the work is done for Christ and it is Christ who will reward in the end.
Paul wrote to a church that he had loved and for whom he had labored: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (2 Corinthians 12:15). The pastor cannot gauge his effectiveness by the recognition of the people. Effectiveness is measured by obedience.
On the other hand, the people should seek to minister to their minister – and not just on pastor appreciation month! Here are a few things that faithful church members should do regularly to encourage the undershepherd God has given them:
- Pray for your pastor. The greatest thing you do for your preacher is hold him up in prayer. Repeatedly Paul requested prayer from local churches where he ministered (Click here for a list of 7 of Paul’s prayer requests you can pray for your pastor.) If you will pray for your pastor God will work in him, in your heart, and in the hearts of all of those to whom the he ministers. “Pray for us” (Hebrews 13:18).
- Receive and respond to the Word of God as it is given. Nothing blesses a faithful preacher and teacher of truth like seeing people obey it. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
- Speak a kind word to him. You would be amazed how few people even speak to their pastor, and when they do it is only if something is wrong. Remember how God has used your pastor to encourage you and take the time to encourage him! “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation…Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints” (Hebrews 13:7, 24). One other word – the kindest thing you will ever do for the preacher is show kindness to his family.
- Help care for his material needs. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward” (1 Timothy 5:17-18). You cannot pay a pastor to do what he does (if he is the right kind of pastor), but you can provide for his financial support so that he can do what God has called him to do without distraction. “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Galatians 6:6).
- Do not believe everything you hear. In this day of vicious rumor and lies it is important for spiritual people to remember that every accusation is not true. Never forget that Satan is the accuser of the brethren! 1 Timothy 5:19-20 says, “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” Good men fall and sin must be dealt with, but the tongue can inflict just as much damage as any other sin. Refuse to speak evil and refuse to listen to it.
- Speak to him with respect. Paul taught in the church epistles that even when pastors must be addressed about some fault (and preachers are not perfect!) that it should be done with humility and honor. “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father” (1 Timothy 5:1). How churches would be helped if all of our interactions were done with family love.
- Make peace. Nothing grieves a shepherd like dissension among the sheep. The pastor has many in the flock to care for and we can help! “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). Be sure that you are not stirring up more trouble and seek to stop all unnecessary division. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Philippians 2:14).
There is a great deal of talk about the responsibilities and role of a pastor today. Indeed, they are many and they are vital. But we should all consider what our responsibilities are to the pastor: how can we help him fulfill his role and how can we work together to make the church all it should be?
God may give you many practical ways to help your pastor, but we must begin with the biblical ones. May the Lord use you to help His servant and His people this week!