7 Ways to Encourage a Pastor
October is known as Clergy or Pastor appreciation month. I happen to be one of those pastors who gets embarrassed by the “fuss” while also deeply appreciating every kind display of love.
I am so blessed by our congregation in so many ways. There are times I may feel lonely or beat up, but thank God, it’s not (usually) their fault and I have so many who will encourage and bring joy. For today, I thought I would share some ideas that would mean a lot to me and very possibly the pastor in your life. You’ll also be glad to know that this is a very holy list of 7 items so you are welcome.
Please note: I refer to pastor from here on out in the masculine (i.e., “him”) for both grammatical purposes and to make it easier. These particular forms of appreciation, however, could be shown to a male or female pastor.
- Be an Active Listener. One thing ministers spend a lot of time on is teaching and preaching. Well, the actual time doing it is normally minimal compared to the study and prayer time that goes into one 30-60 minute sermon. In my church, I encourage a response such as “amen” but you could also take notes to show you’re listening well or simply showing with your body language that you’re actively listening. You could also take a quote from the message and put it on Facebook or Twitter. I know it sounds little, but it’s encouraging!
- Acts of kindness. Now, a new car and a trip to Australia would be cool, but I don’t think most pastors expect an Oprah giveaway in order to feel appreciation. Helping with an errand or two, babysitting, making a meal, yard work, helping his family, etc.–it’s not hard to be kind in some way. It may take planning, but it will be appreciated. As a gentle side note, don’t offer something then make the pastor beg you to do it later or never make yourself available to complete what you offered. I know your heart’s in the right place, but it’s not very kind. Should I put a smiley face here? Feels like I need a smiley face.
- Note of encouragement. I say a note, but it could be an email or a phone call depending on what form of communication he prefers. Still, pretty special when someone takes the time to write something out these days. It could be a general “thank you” note or for a particular service or sermon. I encourage you to get specific with what you liked or how a sermon ministered to you or a story about how he helped you. It’ll go a long way when the path gets darker to know there are encouragers with you.
- Get excited about what he’s excited about. More than likely, ministry is exciting to your pastor. If he sees someone energetic and faithfully going after the vision of the church, he will feel intensely appreciated! I don’t mean fake it or be over the top, but it will bless your pastor if you come ready for your children’s church lesson, excited about what God is going to do, and expectant at what they’ll receive. Carrying a vision can be difficult and lonely. When others get excited with you, it’s so contagious.
- Be loyal. This doesn’t mean put your “perfect” pastor up on a perfect pedestal. I know I don’t belong there, but what I’m talking about is giving him the benefit of the doubt. Don’t dump on him when someone else puts him down. Don’t talk behind his back about his faults and failures. Don’t turn on him at the first whiff of trouble. Your pastor may never know that you stood up for him or at least walked away when others bashed, but I can tell you he will deeply appreciate this nonetheless.
- Pray for him. Knowing that you pray regularly and often for him will be a huge encouragement to your pastor. If he’s open, offering to pray with him about things he faces or concerns can mean a whole lot too. The more prayer, the better. Pray for him at your home, before/during/after services and teaching. Pray for him on a boat. Pray for him with a goat–sorry, slipped into Green Eggs and Ham there, but you get my point! Having that support spiritually can help the depression scram– know what I mean, Sam I am?
- Thank him more than just October. Many churches spend a lot of resources in October thanking ministers, but the encouragement is most definitely needed throughout the year. When you feel sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, you could probably make a safe bet that your pastor may be feeling the weight too. Ministry is a beautiful burden, but it can be difficult at times. When things get darker, people sometimes tend to point fingers rather than encourage or appreciate. Acts of kindness, prayer, and loyalty are great in October, but they may be even better in May or June. God knows and He’ll help you remember if you let Him.
What other ways could you honor leaders in your life? If you are a pastor, what have others done that have meant the most to you?
This is a reworking of something I wrote in 2010. We celebrated a wonderful luncheon yesterday where I and my family were loved on and appreciated. We are so thankful and blessed!