By Dr. Dale A. Robbins
Eph 4:11-16 (NKJV) “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (13) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; A Pastor is one of Christ’s five office gifts to the Church. Yes, pastoring is a gift… and a pastor happens to be a GIFT that God gives to a church. The term pastor comes from “shepherd,” one who guides and cares for a flock.Serving as a pastor is a remarkable and awesome blessing and privilege, but sometimes pastors can be the most misunderstood people in the church. Often their hours are long, the pay minimal, the criticism considerable and constant. Despite the joys of serving God, feelings of disappointment and discouragement can plague the best of them. However, here are 14 ways God can use you to become a blessing in his life, which also enhance your ability to receive from his ministry:
1. Roll up your Sleeves and Become a Part of the Team – Attend church faithfully and show that you’re eager to follow his leadership. This will bless your life and be a tremendous encouragement to your pastor. Look for opportunities to use your gifts and talents for the work of Christ. And become a soul winner. People all around us are lost in sin, dying and going to hell. Do all in your power to win them to Jesus Christ. Tell them what Christ has done for you and what He can do for them. “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
2. Be Openly Responsive – Nothing excites a spiritual leader like seeing people respond to the preaching and teaching. Show him that you’re listening, and even say “Amen” once in a while. Not only will it make his day, but it may make the service shorter… as it is a proven fact that preachers often unconsciously repeat themselves when they feel they’re not connecting with their hearers.
3. Submit to the Leadership of your Pastor – The Bible places special emphasis on submission to spiritual authorities. The writer of Hebrews says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Heb 13:17). We are also instructed to follow and imitate those spiritual leaders as they follow Christ. Follow the man of God who is following Jesus Christ as set forth in the Word of God. “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”(Heb 13:7)
4. Treat him with Proper Respect – Treat him with as much or more respect that you would anyone else in authority. Sometimes folks tend to think of him as an employee, instead of their spiritual leader. A pastor, however, is God’s appointed man, to help guide the soul of you and your family, and needs our love and respect. Express your respect to his authority by addressing him as “pastor” rather than by his first name, especially while on the church premises. “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, (13) and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake…” (1 Thes 5:12-13)
5. Pray, Pray, Pray for Your Pastor – You know how much opposition that you receive yourself… from the world, the flesh, and the devil… and be assured, your pastor receives much more than you. Pray for him every day, and ask God to shower your pastor with an abundance of love, hope, joy, faith, peace, power, wisdom, and courage. Pray for your spiritual leader’s maturity and growth in the faith. While you pray be mindful of this wise advice from the German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “If you treat a person as he is, he will stay as he is; but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” As Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.” (2 Thes 3:1-2)
6. Commit to Stand with Him Through Tough Times – Be a REAL friend… not just a fair-weather buddy. A genuine friend is someone who remains steadfast with you regardless of what may come. He stands with you in the adverse circumstances of life, does not forsake you when others may abandon you, helps guard you when you are off guard, helps hold you accountable to your values, forgives and encourages you if or when you fail.
7. Toss out the Cookie Cutter – Don’t expect your pastor to do everything the same way the last pastor did. Trust God to use your spiritual leader to bring about relevant and effective ministry to the present need… and don’t stereotype him either with the strengths or short-comings of other spiritual leaders you’ve known. Let your pastor be himself. Your pastor is an imperfect human being, and is unique with his own distinct personality, gifts and talents. Not all pastors are the same, so don’t put him in a box and expect him to be a duplicate of others you’ve known.
8. Be Patient and Understanding – with your pastor, his mate, and his children. Do not expect your pastor or his family to be perfect, they are human too. A man of God has the same human tendencies that we all face, and so does his family. Let your pastor’s spouse be herself, and don’t place unspoken expectations on her to perform particular ministries or be like former pastor’s spouses. Just love them in finding their place.
9. Support him financially – so he can keep his mind on the work of the ministry. If a man cannot properly care for his family, he will be distracted from the ministry. It costs your pastor just as much to live as it does you, and in some cases much more because of added expenses …such as books, transportation or the way he is expected to dress. “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Tim 5:17-18)
10. Give Him the Benefit of the Doubt – Support your pastor even when he can’t publicly explain why certain decisions or actions have been made. Oftentimes, to protect the privacy of others, pastors and leaders frequently cannot disclose everything publicly… and professional ethics sometimes demand silence over issues that are very sensitive. If a tough decision takes place, support your pastor and avoid the criticism that usually comes along with such situations.
11. Knock off Behind-His-Back Criticism – Ministers, as well as virtually all public authority figures, are often the subject of incessant criticism. If there is a legitimate matter that concerns the leader, it should be addressed to him personally… but criticism behind one’s back certainly doesn’t help them, and when distributed about can cause a lot of harm to a leader’s reputation and credibility.
12. Squelch Gossip and Bad Mouthing – Do not speak against or listen to gossip or slander about your pastor. If you hear negative comments, respond with a positive one. If misinformation is being spread, correct it with the accurate information. Or, if people are gossiping, just walk away. The Apostle Paul said, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” (1 Tim 5:19)
13. Look for opportunities to encourage him – Tell him when he has helped you. Ephesians 4:29 teaches us to says things that edify, and you minister grace to your pastor whenever you tell him how he has helped you. He will be a more effective, dedicated servant of God if you give him some feedback on his ministry to you (see Prov. 3:27). It will also be very encouraging if you tell your Sunday School teacher, spouse, and your children how they have helped or been a blessing to you. Praise doesn’t cost – but it pays tremendous dividends – in the home, in the church, in the school and on the job. And be sure to recognize your pastor and his spouse for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. It is not always necessary to give gifts, but to be remembered on these special days is an expression of your love and encouragement.
14. Stay focused on the big picture – The big picture is JESUS… to love, forgive and seek to bring souls into the Kingdom of God. Don’t get weighed down by church politics, nonsense, offenses or whatever else goes on, but keep your focus on Jesus and on what the church and the pastor are really all about!