Little Things Mean a Lot to Your Pastor

Little Things Mean a Lot to Your Pastor

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Few people have a clue about the burdens pastors carry. That's due both to the men and to the job: The men generally are humble, not self-promoting, and the job entails a lot of personal ministry and confidentiality. Those who do see the pastor's work only see fragments of it: his sermons, his Bible studies, maybe an individual or family visit. They don't know how much more work there is than they see in those two or three hours a week, how much time he puts into study and preparation, how many meetings he must attend (some of them — like budget meetings —  not directly related to the pastoral ministry), how many long hours he puts in. They don't know the emotional investment he has in all the people he counsels — their health crises, their spiritual crises — or the family time he must sacrifice.

Above all, perhaps, they don't know the spiritual warfare he encounters. To become a pastor is to step right into the devil's cross hairs. Any weapon Satan can use, he will use to tear down both the man and his mission. If he can tempt and corrupt the pastor, he'll do it. If he can't, he'll try to sap the pastor's energies with misunderstandings, backbiting and undermining, rumor-mongering or various other afflictions, including spiritual assaults on the pastor's family. The spouses and children have their own burdens to carry as it is, and the devil is always eager to increase the load.

Having been an elder at two churches, I have a better idea than most members of what pastors must deal with. Elders share responsibility with pastors for the congregation's spiritual well-being: We also have a responsibility for the pastors' well-being. We have more knowledge than most about what the pastors are doing and feeling, and we help them carry their burdens in our limited way.

So take my word for it when I say: Even a little encouragement means a lot to a pastor. When you take just a minute to let him know you appreciate and support what he's doing, you remind him that the ministry God has given him is making an impact on people's lives. When you write him a note, you give him something he can look at more than once, something he can re-read at hard moments when he needs it. When you smile sincerely and give him a genuine handshake or hug, you show him that he's among friends. You break through the negativity others may be hurling his way; you provide rays of sunshine poking through on a cloudy day.

This isn't meant to imply that you should stop at providing just a little encouragement. It's only meant to say that there's always something you can do that will mean something to your pastor. You don't have to clear time on your schedule in advance; you can do it on the spur of the moment. But putting more time into it certainly has value, too.

If you want to do something especially uplifting for your pastor, tell him how something he said made a spiritual impact on you. He's there to speak the Word of the Lord. He wants to know that you're listening and that it sunk in with you.

That's his reward in this life. That's what gives him joy in his work. And that's what makes all his trials worthwhile.

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  • --Great post! I've been reading boundless for several years now, and there haven't been too many articles written about pastors. Pastors definitely need encouragement - it's such an overlooked position at times, and there's so much that pastors do that the majority of their congregation is completely unaware of. I read a statistic once that said the number one reason for pastors quitting the pastorate is discouragement.

  • --"To become a pastor is to step right into the devil's cross hairs."

    So true!  Excellent article, Matt!  Pastors often give way more than they receive.  They need encouragement too.  My father who has gone on to be with the Lord was a pastor so I know something of the burdens they carry.  They truly care about the spiritual welfare of their flock, they love the Lord and His Word, and it truly pains them to see others suffering because of the sins they commit.  The job takes lots of time away from your marriage and family if you aren't careful.

    With pastors, a few bad apples seem to spoil the hole bunch.  People tend to judge them harshly because of reports of a few pastors who are immoral or money-hungry.  It's one of the ways Satan attacks this position.  Jane Austen was notorious for having a very low view of the clergy as seen by some of the characters in her books (like the unctious "Mr. Collins").  They get a bad rap.  Also when people think of pastors these days they often think of the wealthy, high-profile televangelists on TV.  They don't know of the hundreds of hard-working, humble men who quietly shepherd little churches across the country, getting no notoriety, just quietly serving the Lord.  

  • --This is a great reminder.  Being specific as far as how my pastor has helped/challenged me is important.  There've been a few times I've done that, and each time I did my senior pastor(s) (various over my life as an adult) thanked me.

    Over the years, I've done better at some times than others about encouraging my pastor(s).  I try to send a, "Pastor's Appreciation Month" card each year to my pastor.  But, there's definitely more I can do; as the writer of this blog wrote, "...  Even a little encouragement means a lot to a pastor."  Going up to talk to my pastor, smiling, etc. do make a difference.  

    Several years ago, I wrote a letter to my then-former pastor who was going through a difficult time.  He thanked me for it.  His wife later told me that when he read my letter he, "wept;" and she thanked me for being an encourager.  If I'd thought, "Well, what I say won't really matter, he has plenty of other people who are supporting him," I wouldn't have sent that letter.  But, I followed the prompting of God's Spirit to write, and to tell my former pastor what a great impact he'd made in my life.

  • --Pastor's take point in this spiritual war we are in so it not wise to hinder to one who looks after your soul.They don't need all things you say they are doing wrong. Now days its 20% carrying the 80% if you want to be an encouragement to your pastor why not try helping out GOD has given all children at least 1 gift to help build his church so more. ? is are you using it.  

  • --What a good article.

    How often do we forget what a demanding job the ministers at church have? They, like all of us, can benefit from being encouraged in what they do.

    Reading this, and hearing this subject discussed on The Boundless Show recently, did remind me that I ought to do more for my ministers, than just the short chats with them after church, and the Christmas cards I write them each year.

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