The Apostle Paul told the church at Thessalonica: “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work” (1 Thess. 5:12-13). Elsewhere, Paul gives the qualifications and duties of pastors (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), illustrating just how valuable the pastor is for every church.
There is much evidence today that too many churches fail to love—and worse, often mistreat—their pastors. Many forced resignations—often because the pastor has had the temerity to actually preach the Word of God when some would rather have their ears tickled—are a sign of sick churches in need of a fresh awakening from the Holy Spirit.
Of course, no pastor is perfect, but I’ve never met a faultless church member, either! Some church members fail to fully appreciate just how blessed they are to have the pastor God has given them. Indeed, it is sinful for church members to not support and love their pastors.
Victor Parachin, in an article for the Christian Reader (available at www.christianitytoday.com web site), offers practical advice on how we can encourage our pastors:
• Cut the criticism. It’s very easy to criticize, and those who are on the front lines of ministry are easy targets. The next time you think about criticizing the pastor, don’t.
• Pray regularly. We are repeatedly admonished in Scripture to pray for those in authority. This includes pastors.
• Express appreciation in writing. Parachin notes that although verbal kudos are great, “a written one can be read over and over again for years.”
• Use skills to bless. Whatever you are good at doing can be a means of blessing your pastor. Parachin illustrates that point by noting that a mechanic can work on the pastor’s car.
• Squelch gossip. James warns, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (1:26).
• Offer to meet a need. Parachin suggests, “Ask your spiritual leader where and how you can employ your gifts,” rather than barking orders at them.
• Be openly responsive. Let your pastor know that he has ministered to you.
• Throw away the measuring stick. “Don’t expect that your present spiritual leaders will do things the same way their predecessors did. Lay aside personal agendas and preferences. Instead, focus on how your leader is being used by God to do effective ministry now.”
I hope we will all take the time this month — and every month — to openly show our pastors how much we appreciate them.