9 Things You Should Be Doing to Support Your Pastor

SupportYourPastor

“And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” Exodus 17:11-12

This passage of the Old Testament is fascinating to me for one simple reason- God recorded this time in Israel’s history when a leader was weak. Not only did Moses’ people need him, but he needed his people. The victory was completely a work of God; yet He chose to use the battling of the people and the focus of the leader to bring that victory to pass. But somewhere in the middle of the battle, Moses got weary; he needed help.

And from the mass of Israelites stepped forward two men to support their leader.

In much the same way, our churches are involved in a spiritual battle. It is a battle that perhaps ministry leaders are more aware of than anyone, yet as leaders we dare not wage it alone. Church people think and talk often of the ways they need their pastors, yet how often do they stop and think that pastors need their church people? It is safe to say that most church people come and sit in services and support the work. Yet, on the average, very few step out from the congregation and actively encourage their pastor and pastor’s wife.

Here are 9 valuable ways that you can hold up your pastor’s hands- be the Aaron and Hur on either side of him:

1. Be a faithful church attender.

From your pew, you may think the auditorium feels full. But those on the platform see things from a different perspective. Church attendance is not about numbers. It is about faithfulness. And ironically, faithfulness will fill a church! Across the world, midweek services are grossly under-attended. This can be a point of discouragement for your pastor. He doesn’t see it as “just another service.” More importantly, God doesn’t see church attendance that way either. He loves to see His people gathering and reminds us not to forsake doing so. Church services should be important, Christ centered and intimate gatherings that can infuse encouragement into both leaders and lay people alike. Your pastor is encouraged when you come to church. It’s not about hearing him speak. It’s about keeping the body together and focused on Christ.

2. Take an interest in him personally.

Pastors have lives outside of their offices. Most of the time you don’t have any idea what that life is like. You don’t often know about his personal burdens. It’s not that he’s hiding them from you- it’s just that he’s busy listening and ministering to others most of the time. My husband and I have deeply appreciated the people in our ministries who have expressed interest in us as people. Those were and still are the ones who we feel safe with to share our burdens and our joys without fear of being misrepresented. These people helped us get out of “pastor mode” {as my husband calls it} for awhile and just be friend to friend and heart to heart. In general, pastors have very few people they can trust with their hearts and “let down their hair” around. Be a safe, trustworthy church member! This is a gift to your pastor.

3. Ask him how you can serve.

There are certainly appropriate times for volunteering. But every once in awhile, you should ask your pastor what he needs and what areas of service are lacking. Might you get an answer you didn’t want? Yes. Might he mention something you don’t want to do? Yes. If at all possible, do it anyway. It is frustrating to your pastor if you come to him with your mind already made up with what you want to do, and especially if you just inform him of what you will be doing instead of asking. Perhaps what you want to do isn’t even a need from his perspective. Perhaps he already has someone in mind to do that job.  Or perhaps he knows that you have an agenda. Don’t have the attitude of “If he won’t let me do ____________, then I won’t serve at all!” Maybe you don’t realize how often this happens and it is a source of stress for pastors. Be open and willing to fill in gaps, not your own agenda.

4. Get on board with his vision.

This one goes hand in hand with asking how you can serve. Have an open heart to your pastor’s vision. You may not always share his vision as passionately as he feels it. But don’t create a separate stream going in the opposite direction, gathering followers as you go. This is not only destructive to the church body, but it is very discouraging to your pastor. Good pastors spend time in prayer seeking God’s mind and will on the specific direction for their particular churches, based on a lot of factors {culture, language & people groups, the church history, the demographic of the church people, his own expected tenure, the practical abilities of the people, individual ministry needs, etc.} Lay aside your own agenda and even your remorse of how the church has changed and get on board with the pastor’s vision. If you continually find that you cannot do that, then you probably need to find a different church. But please don’t stay and cause heartache.

5. Pray specifically and consistently for him.

Your pastor needs not just prayer, but specific prayer. I have my own life with a pastor and hundreds of emails from pastors and wives to prove the pressure and devastating situations that ministry couples face. Satan is out to destroy every one that he can. I can’t possibly say that as strongly as I feel and believe it. Your pastor needs specific, consistent prayer!

Here is a short {not exhaustive} list of “ministry specific” prayer needs that your pastor has:

*That he will be protected from and aware of Satan’s many creative attacks

*That he will have a strong marriage

*That he will be and remain consistent in Bible study and prayer

*That he will have physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength

*That he will resist temptation

*That he will guide his family well and rear Godly children

*That he will stay focused on exactly what he is called to do

6. Be part of planning a sabbatical for him.

After 10 years of ministry, we are now six months into our sabbatical. At this point, I feel that I could write an entire book on how many areas this time of rest has affected our lives for good. This time has been a process of rest and healing that has evolved in surprising ways the farther we’ve gone into it. And yet it has been created by God for us. I have no doubt that we will look back on this time as one of the most valuable times in our life. One pastor’s wife recently told me this: “After 10 years of ministry, we took a 1 year sabbatical. It literally saved our lives and preserved our future.” Church member, please don’t look at your pastor’s job as a secular position in a workplace. It is different on so many levels. Maybe you don’t fully understand his reality, and that is okay! But don’t grumble about how much time off he already has, or how long or short of a time he’s been at your church. Be one of those who promotes the idea of a sabbatical and actively plans for it to happen. Your pastor and his family will be so very grateful! Oh, and did I mention that I strongly believe that every church should give their pastors a sabbatical? Here’s why.

7. Love his wife well.

Every pastor’s wife is different, and that’s a really good thing! Actually, I think the differences among these women display a lovely freedom in our churches, considering that the Bible is muchly silent on the topic of pastors’ wives. Your church has the one{s} that God specifically gave to you. Loving your pastor’s wife is one of the best things you can do to support your pastor. Satan actively targets pastors by coming through the “back door” of his wife. In many cases, the pastors’ wives are attacked by church people more often and more brutally than the pastor himself is. If your pastor’s wife gets discouraged to the point of quitting, you will likely lose your pastor too. Be a church member who loves the pastor’s wife well, for in so doing you are loving your pastor.

8. Love his children well.

Children are all the same…right? Yes. Even PKs. They are normal children. It adds an extra burden to your pastor’s heart when his children are expected to be sinless angels, sitting like perfect statues in church, and never able to express and be themselves. Pastors’ kids are not exempt from anything that other children struggle with. In fact, sometimes they struggle more if they are constantly reminded of the glass house their family is living in. No one is more aware than your pastor is of the responsibility that he has been given to “rule well his own household.” Be kind to his children. Let them be children. Find ways to love them and to make them feel normal.

9. Let him lead you.

This may sound strange. You might be thinking, “Of course he’s leading….he’s our pastor!” Not necessarily. Many a pastor has resigned and quietly moved on because his church people refused to let him lead. Letting him lead means that you are choosing to follow. It means that you are not the one leading. It means letting him into your heart, letting him see behind your walls. It means letting go of your ideas at times, and it means humbling yourself for the good of the entire church. It means becoming involved where you can and it means participating in the spiritual growth of yourself, your family, and your church. It means not viewing church as a country club where you pay money to get privileges. It means not resisting change and not pushing your pastor out when he doesn’t line up with your ideas. It means not being part of a clique or a power group that grumbles about the pastor and plots his demise.

Maybe these 9 things were “no brainers” for you and you’re already busy doing them? If so, you’re on the right track. But perhaps you read some surprising things and thought “I don’t think I can do that” or “I don’t want to do that.” Ask God for grace and choose to support your pastor. You may be pleasantly surprised at how your personal choice will impact the unity of your entire local church!

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About Leah {Embracing Grace}

Leah Highfill accepted Christ as her Saviour and became a child of God at the age of 18. Originally from the USA, she and her husband moved to the mission field of Canada in 2005, where she served in full time ministry as a pastor's wife for 10 years. During their tenure there, they became dual citizens. Leah and her family recently returned to NC and are currently enjoying a much needed sabbatical for the year of 2015. She homeschools her children {Small Son is 9 and Tiny Daughter is 7} and teaches private piano lessons on the side. She can be found reading, writing/blogging, playing the piano and violin, or ice skating. A friend to ministry wives everywhere, Leah has a passion to inspire hope and to encourage women in their walk with God. Her first book, Expecting Grace, was published in 2013. Expecting Grace is the story of Leah's experience and survival of a life threatening pregnancy, and of many medical and financial miracles along the way. Her second book is currently in process. Join her grace-filled journey right here at Embracing Grace!

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