The IMPORTANCE of SUPPORTING Your PASTOR!
In the previous article “The Importance of Supporting Your Pastor” (https://totsiespowersurge.com/2019/10/01/the-importance-of-supporting-your-pastor/), we talked about how stressful, difficult and overwhelming a Pastor’s job is in the local church. We even went as far as to give insight of the many stresses and how we, as member and leaders, attribute to the difficulties of a Pastor’s job.
The response to this article has been overwhelming. People were very overwhelmingly surprised at what part they have played in making a pastor’s job difficult. They made it known that they were not aware that pastors may soon be an endangered species! They were not even aware that pastors are leaving the church and terminating their ministries nor aware that suicide among pastors has progressed to an alarming rate. Saints of GOD, the enemy has created an incredible climate of skepticism and cynicism toward those who represent GOD.
Pastors continue to pour his/her life into others on a weekly basis and we need to honor the Word that Paul writes:
|1st Thessalonians 5:12-13 (GW)||1st Thessalonians 5:12-13 (MSG)|
12 Brothers and sisters, we ask you
to show your appreciation for those leaders who work among you and instruct
13 We ask you to love them and think very highly of them because of the work they are doing. Live in peace with each other.
12 And now, friends, we ask you to
honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the
responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience.
13 Overwhelm them with appreciation and love! Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part.
I want to encourage you with is a list of ways on how to appreciate and esteem your pastor. Express your appreciation, tell them how you have been helped by their leadership and teaching and thank them for their ministry in your life.
If you say nothing, how will they know where you stand? Remember, they need and deserve your support and love.
Here are some suggestions:
Let him/her have family time – Let him/her be off when they’re off. There will always be interruptions. He/She wants to be a part of your life and life doesn’t happen around a schedule. He/She knows that. But, if your situation can be handled during his/her normal working hours, please help him/her protect his family time. Most likely, like most pastors (and people), he/she struggles to say no to your requests, so think of his family first whenever you ask for his time.
- Don’t forget your pastor’s spouse. He/She makes many sacrifices, as well; they are giving up his/her spouse to ministry opportunities. Send the pastor’s spouse notes of appreciation, gift certificates and the sort. Express gratitude for the part he/she plays in the teamwork of assisting your pastor behind the scenes in your local church.
- Force he/she and their family to take a one (1) month authentic sabbatical at least once every 3 years. No ministry nor giving, just pure fun with the family and refreshing time off to read and revitalize his/her relationship with Christ.
- Schedule a Sunday (well in advance) when the laymen take the Sunday services and give him/her a long weekend with his/her spouse (Friday ’til Monday). Also, arrange for a babysitter, if needed.
Don’t expect him/her to be everywhere – Don’t even expect him/her to be at everything the church does. He/She has so many hours in a day. If you want him/her to be healthy and effective, then he/she needs to prioritize their time. Let them do so without feeling needless guilt and pressure. NEWS FLASH – They will not be at every party or celebration that you plan for Your family and friends.
Lower the expectations on their children and spouse – Kids are kids. Let them be. The spouse has responsibilities unique from the pastor. The pastor has higher standards placed on him/her, but the family should not have unrealistic expectations placed on them. We hold the pastor’s family to an expectation that we don’t live up to. We have a tendency to expect more from pastor’s kids then we do our own. Remember, the pastor’s family is human and they have feelings! Remember you don’t have a perfect family either.
Respect his/her leadership – If God called him/her, let him/her lead. If he/she is behaving outside Biblical standards then you have every right and expectation to intercede. If you’re objecting to your personal preference or out of the traditions set by men, humble yourself and follow his/her leadership unless The Lord removes him/her.
- Find out from his secretary what books or periodicals he/she has been wanting for his/her library and order a few and give them to his/her secretary to put on his/her desk after he/she is gone for the day.
- Perk him/her with a two (2) week study time at a seminary during early January or in the summer. No major corporation in existence spends less on the continued training, education and care for their staff than the church.
- Send him/her to the desired conferences that will empower him/her as a pastor and leader.
Encourage him/her – The best way to do this is through personal notes or emails about the impact the ministry is having on your life. Don’t assume he/she knows or hears it all the time. Chances are he/she doesn’t. If everyone thinks the same, he/she will usually receive far more criticism than encouragement. In fact, that’s probably true anyway, so send the encouragement now! Today!
- Write him/her a hand written note of appreciation for who he/she is and how GOD has used him/her in your life. BE SPECIFIC; avoid broad generalizations. Call and express appreciation to the pastor who started you on your spiritual pilgrimage or who helped you at a critical time in your life. Be specific about how he/she helped you.
- Meals and getaways— Take your pastor and their family out for a good meal. Better yet, give them a gift certificate so they can take their family out alone. This can be done by different individuals in the church but can also be done by the church corporately from time to time. A good gesture would be for the church to pay for a couple days away for the pastor and his wife just to refresh themselves. Along with covering their motel and a few meals, take up an offering to cover some spending money. Every pastor needs a couple of days away at least every quarter, besides vacations, just to get out from under the spiritual pressures of the ministry. Most people have no idea what kind of battles the average pastor and his family face on a daily basis.
- Special offerings— The church should look for special occasions to express their love with a special offering. Special offerings for birthdays, Christmas, vacations, etc. let them know all they do for the church hasn’t gone unnoticed. These offerings should be done enough in advance that people have time to plan ahead for what they are going to contribute. Preferably church leaders take charge and make sure everyone has an opportunity to participate.
- THOSE THAT ARE AUTHORIZED—Offer to meet him/her at their house on his day off to help fix things around the place. Some ministers are all thumbs when it comes to working with their hands. Others are too busy to take the time!
- Occasionally send him/her a clever cartoon or joke that mirrors a point they made in a sermon—just so they will know that you’re listening!
- Do a “This is Your Life” program at church one Sunday evening—don’t roast him but refuel his spirit with testimonies and a fun time. They will be embarrassed, but that’s okay! It is biblical to receive rewards on this side of eternity (see Mark 10:28-31).
- Let him know that you appreciate the load he/she carries: the pressure of caring for sheep, the pace of a growing ministry and the daily sacrifices he/she makes for ministry. Communicate that you understand he/she does more than just show up and preach.
Stop gossip – I’ve never known a church where there isn’t some talk about the pastor behind the pastor’s back. Don’t be a party to this and help stop it when you hear it. We as members and leaders should automatically shut down idle talk.
Pay him/her fairly – Consider his/her experience, education and the level of professionalism, leadership and responsibility, he/she will have and the expectations you have for him/her. My personal advice is to pay him/her adequately so they can provide for their families, without taking energy away from ministry while worrying over finances. Depending on the person, he/she may even need help from someone with more experiences in the area of budgeting and finance. Many pastors are not gifted in this area.
- Give him/her and their spouse free sessions with a financial planning consultant, who will help them budget and anticipate college education for children and retirement.
- Ministry Expenses
- Auto expenses— If the church isn’t able to provide a car for the pastor, along with the expenses to operate the car, it should reimburse his mileage. The IRS has a set amount that’s allotted per mile. Your pastor should receive at least that amount.
- Conference expenses—There are usually one or two conferences per year in most denominations and fellowships. The pastor and his wife should attend these for their personal enrichment, to rekindle vision, for training, and accountability. This is an expense the church or ministry should take care of. If the church doesn’t have a credit card, receipts should be kept and everything that isn’t prepaid should be reimbursed.
- Housing—The IRS says pastors can receive a housing allowance above their salary that is nontaxable. The only thing that must be paid on it is social security or self employment tax, unless they have been exempt from social security. The church or ministry should cover the pastor’s housing expenses above their salary. An accountant should be consulted to fully utilize this benefit.
- Insurance—Insurance should be provided for pastors like any other professional. Many pastors and their families have suffered immense hardship and financial strain because they didn’t have health care. The church should do its best to provide comprehensive health care for their pastor. Also, the pastor’s family must be taken care of if unexpected tragedy strikes. God will bless the church and people who take care of the person God has given to shepherd them. The church should provide a term or universal life insurance policy on both the pastor and his wife. Make sure the value is sufficient to take care of the family in case of an untimely death.
- Retirement—A retirement plan like a 401K, IRA or insurance policy should be taken out in the pastor’s name. Some churches put retirement plans in the church’s name and the pastor is eventually left with nothing. This should never happen.
Serve with him/her – Don’t make him/her beg for you to serve the church or give to the church. Carry out your role as someone who loves the church. Find a place to serve. Support the church financially.
- Find out what problem in the church that, if solved, would move the church forward in the coming year. Then, roll up your sleeves and offer to help the leadership solve it.
- Go to your pastor and ask him/her where you can assume a position of responsibility. As one pastor put it, “A position in the church where I can learn the fellowship of Christ’s suffering—you only suffer for what you care about and you can only prove you care by taking responsibility” (See Philippians 3:10-11).
Pray for your Pastor – Daily. Don’t just say you are; actually do it. Pray for them personally. Their walk with Christ. Their study time. Their family time. Pray for their family. Pray for the things about him that bother you. That works better than complaining anyway. Pray for God do to exceedingly abundantly all you could think or imagine through him at your church.
Grow personally – This is not last as a last thought. It’s the one I want to leave you with most. The real struggle for most pastors is undisciplined, immature believers. It’s not the lost. They usually fuel his/her passion to “seek and save the lost”. It’s not the mature in Christ. They don’t seem to complain. They work to support the church, the pastor, and fulfill the Great Commission. It’s the ones who are in the church, but are still babies in their spiritual maturity. (We all know this, but most won’t say it.)
Commit to mature in your walk with Christ. Strive daily to be like Christ. You’ll be in the best position to support not only your pastor, but the church.
Those are my suggestions. With a few genuine people supporting their pastor in this way, watch out for what God can do through this church.
Pastors, what would you add to my list?