Many churches across the country designate October as a month to tell their pastor that they appreciate them. I have experienced this in each church I have had the privilege to lead as pastor of worship. It’s difficult to express just how much a word of encouragement from someone within the congregation can lift my spirits.
Somewhere I heard theses statistics. Upon receiving good news, a person will tell 3 people but when receiving bad news, the same person will tell 11 people. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I think the church as a body can take a different approach. When someone does something well, we should tell them. It matters. It’s encouraging. It’s instructed by God and recommended by Paul!
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Jesus words) Matthew 7:12
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
At the top of this blog is a picture of my collection of encouraging cards and letters I have received throughout the years of my ministry. I keep them all. During times of discouragement I pull them out to be reminded that I am doing something that really does have a positive effect on the lives of those I’m called to serve and lead. But it’s not always a Dayspring card coupled with a favorite candy bar.
I also have received my share of criticism and hate mail. I hope you are not familiar with this style of communication. It usually looks something like this. The letter is addressed to you, but your name is spelled incorrectly. If it comes in the mail, there is no return address. Most likely it was found by the secretary because it was left on her desk, however, it is more likely that stepped on it Monday morning because it had been slid underneath your office door. It is not signed. The subject matter is almost guaranteed to en-capsule an event – which you do not remember - that happened months ago. The handwriting is barley legible because of the spots where the goading instrument broke its lead or forced the ink through the paper onto the other side. The letter continues with a generalized evaluation of your ineptitude and lack of qualifications and social graces. Several names for your misguided leadership style are suggested. It is not signed. This is where I file these letters.
Thankfully I have not received a letter like this for a long, long time. If you have a pastor or staff of pastors, it is likely that they have received one or two of these during their tenure. But this is not a blog about unfair critics and hurtful comments.
Please take the time to encourage your pastors next month. Ministry can be full of discouragement and it’s easy to become disheartened. A simple word of encouragement from you can go a long way. Consistent prayer can go even further. When both take place consistently, your pastor will begin to feel like he could move mountains! Based on some of the best encouragers I’ve known over there years, here are a few ideas on how to encourage your pastor(s).
- Send a card that expresses how much you value the role they have as your pastor. (cards are easier to file than emails)
- Let them know that they made a difference in growing your love for Jesus. (often times the enemy tries to convince us that we aren’t making a difference)
- Be specific about something they said or did and how it benefited your relationship with the Lord. (sometimes the deceiver tries to convince the pastor that no one notices)
- When offering spoken encouragement, look your pastor in the eyes. (it’s a nonverbal way to communicate that you are their friend) (-Pastors sometimes falsely believe that they aren’t allowed to have friends among the people they lead. – I reject this thinking!)
I know that this blog has readers who are in a lot of churches other than mine. So I feel comfortable offering this as a 3rd party intermediary. Don’t say to your pastor, “hey, I read this blog and it said I should give you this.” Feel free to leave me out of it and make your encouragement your own. Be personal. Be genuine. And let me know how it goes. Share here on this blog what you did to encourage your pastor (or what you intend to do since it is not yet officially Pastor appreciation month.)
Bill Hybels has said on many occasions that he believes “the local church is the hope of the world.” It’s true because the local church – when healthy – carries the light of Jesus. Healthy churches are led by encouraged pastors.
And to my pastors; Joe and Andy, I love serving with you. Thank you for being pastors for me and my family. Know that I’m praying for your leadership and I submit to you as brothers and leaders under Christ (Ephesians 5:21). May God bless your ministries wholly and completely as He has blessed me through each of you.