As Pastor Appreciation Month draws to a close, I hope we can carry some of this appreciation into the months that follow. If we, as those under their leadership, would continue to treat our church leaders with respect and honor, I imagine pastors would have a much lower rate of burnout.
So to help us do just that here are 6 ways to support your pastor all year long:
1) Talk TO him, not ABOUT him. Of course, there will be things that your pastor may say or do that you don’t agree with. There will also be things about his life and his family that you will never understand because most of us aren’t close, personal friends with our pastoral staff. We aren’t privy to certain information because it isn’t ours to know. That doesn’t give us the right to gossip or have conversations about our pastor that we wouldn’t be comfortable having with him present. So if you have a concern or question that warrants a conversation set up a time to speak with him privately and go into it ready to not just talk but listen as well.
2) Assume the best. When you don’t understand why she did something, assume the best. When you don’t understand why she didn’t do something, assume the best. If it warrants a private conversation with her, do that, but don’t automatically assume ill of her or the worst. We want others to do the same for us.
3) Don’t expect him to be perfect. Remember that he is human and has struggles, insecurities and fears just like you and me. He is trying his best to be a growing Christ-follower and serve others daily, just as you are. He doesn’t have all the answers, and most pastors truly don’t want you to think they do! He will mess up and probably disappoint you at least once, possibly once a month, at least. Give him the grace and forgiveness you would want when he does mess up.
4) Share the positive publicly and the negative privately. Just as you certainly would share good news about your best friend’s promotion or your favorite sports team’s most recent win, give your pastor the same honor and respect. Share with others about what you learned from her last sermon series or the way he called you to check on you after your dad passed away. We are so quick to share our criticisms with others before we share the things that are praiseworthy. Hopefully, this will build trust and a deeper relationship with your pastor. You won’t be someone who makes her cringe when she sees you, because she knows you are there to encourage and support her.
5) Support his time with his family. So many pastors feel a tremendous pressure to be extremely present for their congregation.This means hospital visits, marriage counseling, grief counseling, attending every church ministry event, being present at community events, and the list goes on. One pastor cannot be present for every person in his congregation. What happens when he tries to meet this expectation is his family no longer sees him except when they come to church. His first ministry is his family, so he should feel supported in being present for his family. He should not feel guilty for moving a deacon’s meeting so he can attend his son’s football game. He should be able to go out to eat on a date with his wife and not answer every phone call from those in his congregation. This pressure is one of the main things that leads to pastor’s burning out. So support your pastor in putting his family first.
6) Consider your criticism. When you do decide you want to meet with your pastor because you have a problem or concern with something she has said or done, ask yourself first, “Is this a personal preference or a theological issue?” Iif it is based on your personal preference and not an actual theological issue, then maybe you need to do a self-evaluation. I will admit there are times when I may not like the song they chose to have us sing or the way they did something during the service, or a program they have started. When I really do some internal evaluation though, my preference is not what is most important. The Gospel being presented and the health of the church as a unit is what is most important. I often need to remember that church is not about me and my preferences. There is a bigger goal and purpose going on.
So as we end October and approach the busy holiday season, truly evaluate your relationship with your pastor.
What is one way you can better support and honor your pastor this year?