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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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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. :)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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!

15 Comments

  1. I’ve always tried to speak encouragement not only to my pastor, but to the other pastors that I know. It’s like you said, just because God places people in that position doesn’t mean humanity goes away. I know how much my humanity is attacked and in turn attacks; it’s always good to have someone encourage you in those situations. I appreciate your faithfulness to walk out your call and seek to lead others into theirs as well. Blessings.
    Philip recently posted..Build One Another UpMy Profile

    • And I appreciate that encouragement, Philip! You are a great blessing in so many ways. :) Thank you.

  2. Great list.
    Pastors are so selfless, they give and give and give. It takes more time than most realize.
    Giving back to them is the least we can do to help make their jobs easier.

    • Jesus is selfless and He works that selflessness in us. I know I certainly don’t feel selfless all the time, but I am so thankful for His grace and the people He has gathered around me to lead. What a blessed position! It can be difficult, but it’s a beautiful thing to live in your calling. Thanks so much, TC.

  3. I do not like green eggs and ham… Oh, my mind got caught up in the moment… Sorry.

    I think a humble heart is something to add. I had a loving disagreement with my pastor some time back. I stated in love my heart and feelings. He didn’t agree, but it was an honest and done in the right heart for both of us. A couple years later I came to understand my pastor’s heart and changed my mind about the ramifications of his actions. I told him I was sorry and that he had been right and that I just lacked wisdom to see his side of the scenario.

    Geez… I feel like I’m in a confessional here…

    • I love your story, Floyd because it gives me hope. So many would have left a church over a disagreement like that. Seems so silly, but things get heated in the moment and people won’t stop to see someone else’s perspective. Thank you for sticking it out and showing that it’s not about 100% agreement 100% of the time, but where God has placed you and with whom He’s placed you. I want everyone to know that reality! ‘Humble heart’ is a great addition. Thanks so much. :)

  4. My pastor and I are friends and we’re growing in that friendship which I like to believe is an encouragement to him….but with a crazy guy like me as your friend…watch out!

    Great post Jason, I know your church is blessed to have you as their pastor!
    Jay Cookingham recently posted..Honor Guards and ToothpicksMy Profile

    • Friendship is a wonderful thing that many pastors don’t have the blessing of receiving “up close.” I’m not sure what all causes the separation in people’s minds (maybe it varies by person), but it is difficult to have social friends and those you can rely on to be in your corner. I know that’s a blessing to your pastor, Jay! Great addition to the list. Thank you.

  5. Jason,

    I would add remembering the rest of the family. The wife, children and even the pets. Anything that is dear to your pastor should be dear to you. Another idea is reading what he reads or listening to music he listens to. If God directs him to these, there might be a blessing in it for me!!

    Along with those ideas you wrote and other suggestions they all speak to what Aaron and Hur did for Moses. As long as the support(encouragement) was there the people of God was defeating the enemy. because when he got tired and could not hold up this arms on his own, they gave him something to sit on and on each side held up his arms. I want your arms held high holding the staff of the Lord so that we can continue to defeat the enemy in our lives.

    I love you and am so tremendously blessed to be on yours and Andrea’s watch. Pastor Jason :) you are an incredible blessing and awesome pastor. I endeavor to give more in this area. Great post. Thanks for the reminder.

    Sherry

    • That support is really what counts in the heat of the battle and the days when things seem to be going the wrong direction. We certainly each need to know how to strengthen ourselves in the Lord as David did, but having others to come alongside is incredible and beautiful. Great addition talking about the family as well. They give tremendously in so many unseen ways. I love and appreciate you, Sherry. You bless me!

  6. These are great ways to honour your pastor!

    I am blessed with a very supportive church family and I am very thankful for them. :)
    Kevin Martineau recently posted..Stop the glorification of busy!My Profile

    • I’m so glad, Kevin! I would love to visit you and your church congregation one day! Thank you.

  7. I would add really stepping up and taking care of a part of the ministry that you’re gifted in but that no one is helping with. I know when I was on church leadership, that was a HUGE way to feel appreciated.
    Jason Vana recently posted..Directed StepsMy Profile

    • Awesome suggestion! There are so many areas that are vital to the vision of what God has called a given body to do, but many suffer because they aren’t supported. Thanks so much, Jason.

  8. Hi Jason,

    Our family just attended a Pastor appreciation Sunday and it was really wonderful. It was so inspirational to hear families hear how their lives have been transformed by the selfless service of one pastor who has served the community for over 30 years.

    I applaud this appreciation month. There are so many selfless pastors serving and changing people’s lives -- they all deserve our gratitude and thanks.

    Thanks for being one of them.

    Clare
    Clare@ignitewellness recently posted..Kale Recipe Ideas: more Wellness Ways with Kale….My Profile