It’s a typical Sunday morning. Walking into church, you say your routine “good mornings,” then greet your pastor: “How are you?”
With a smile and firm handshake, your pastor replies: “I am doing well. How are you?” His question to you – like yours to him – is genuine because he truly wants to know how his flock is doing. However, there is much more going on behind his smile and his response than he admits. He is doing as well as he can considering all that is weighing on him.
He spends unseen hours preparing to preach and teach. Even those terrible sermons have hours of preparation.
In front of him is a continual list of ministries that desperately need carrying out, but there is a lack of resources and volunteers to make it all happen. At times, he feels like these deficiencies are a direct reflection of his leadership.
He faces expectations that are impossible to meet – unrealistic expectations from his parishioners as well as unrealistic expectations for himself.
He battles against a continual sense of loneliness because he can’t just open up to anyone, and no one wants to “hang out” with the pastor.
He goes through spiritually dry seasons in his walk with God.
He spends hundreds of hours a year investing in the lives of those God has entrusted to him. Yet, he has very little time to invest in himself.
He takes all the above home with him as he strives to be a godly husband and father.
This list is not exhaustive, but it is reflective. Know that the man pouring his heart out before you every Sunday also has a heart that is heavy laden. Your pastor is not asking for a pity party but simply for encouragement and help – help to carry out the work of the kingdom for your good, his good, and God’s glory. Here are some practical ways to help:
Share with your pastor how God is using his preaching to reveal Himself to you.
Ask your pastor if there is a book or set of commentaries he has wanted to purchase, and then see that he gets it.
Ask your pastor what ministry he needs you to lead, and take charge of it.
When sharing your burdens with your pastor, consider his burdens too. Surprisingly, you may share some of the same burdens, and together you can help lessen each other’s load.
Invite your pastor and his family to lunch or dinner, and don’t talk about the church unless he mentions it first.
What does your pastor enjoy doing that you like to do too? Invite him to go hunting, fishing, or to a ballgame with you.
Be sure that your pastor can attend a conference, at least once a year, that will allow him to be encouraged and refreshed. Don’t consider it a vacation, instead, look at it as a time of spiritual renewal for your pastor.
Encourage your pastor to fellowship with other pastors.
Schedule an evening to babysit your pastor’s children, so he and his wife can go enjoy dinner together.
Spend time praying for your pastor. When you pray, include him. Ask him specifically how you can pray for him.
“Let all that you do be done in love” … for your pastor and ultimately for the Lord (1 Corinthians 16:14).
Remember, your pastor is neither your favorite pastor (nor least favorite) pastor from years ago. He is your current pastor “for such a time as this;” give thanks to God for him today.
And to the pastor reading this: Do not put more on yourself than God has called you to do. Remember, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
John Davis. This article originally appeared on The Stand.