Well, it’s that time of year again. And, no, I am not talking about Pumpkin Spice everything.

It’s Pastor Appreciation Month

In case you have been in a hole without access to the church, social media, and new publications, you may not have noticed the emphasis on the Reformers of old. I am thrilled people are learning Church History. It is good, right, and beneficial. But in doing so, I would like for us also to remember those who are in the trenches of ministry now.

Your pastor is called to be a competent leader, administrator, and counselor all at the same time. Many of a pastor’s responsibilities are full-time jobs in and of themselves; each with very unique skill sets. In those responsibilities, he carries a huge responsibility to preach the word faithfully, and in a way that is thoughtful, beneficial and understandable. Most importantly, he is to bring glory to his Lord and Savior.

Charles Spurgeon, “It may be light work to you men of genius and learning, but to me it is life and death work. Often I have thought that I would rather take a whipping with a cat-o’-nine-tails than to preach again.  How can I answer for it at the last great day unless I am faithful? ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ When I have felt the dread responsibility of souls that may be lost or saved by the word they hear…[it] made me wish that I had never ventured on so bold a life-work. How shall I give an honorable account of my commission at last?”

During this season of reflection, I think we will serve the future of the church well if we focus on the responsibility of the body to the pastor. With October being Pastor Appreciation Month, what better way to show your appreciation than through the following?

  1. Obey the Word

James 1:22, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”

This is absolutely the most basic and wonderful thing you can do for your Pastor. Have a hunger, seek to grow, and be obedient to the Word of God. There is nothing that puts more wind the pastoral sails than this!

3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

There is nothing more encouraging that each of you can do for your pastor than to strive to follow God 100%. {This is better than Pastor Appreciation!} The path to pastor support begins with an obedient heart.

  1. Submit to Leadership

Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

It is clear that all Christians are called to obedience and submission to church leadership, but this is a call that demands careful definition. It does NOT mean blanket obedience, as seen in the “ministry” of Jim Jones and his murder of 800 followers at Jonestown by ordering them to drink poisoned Kool-Aid. Nor does it provide the basis for authoritarian churches where all sorts of over-bearing demands are made.

Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 17:11, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.”

Notice the reason for this emphasis on obedience is that leaders are accountable to God, for they keep watch over your souls (Hebrews13:17b). It is heart-wrenching to see souls going down paths that lead to pain, heartache, and dishonor our Lord. A true shepherd will have a concern for the body and will keep watch over their souls – and it is that type of leader that you are commanded by Scripture to obey and submit to. Additionally, this concern is motivated in part by something very profound:

Hebrews 13:17c, “…for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account.”

This is a staggering statement. Every pastor will give an account for everyone in their flock before the Lord someday. Your pastor will answer for your spiritual well being. This is a solemn statement. It is because of these very reasons that you should play follow the leader. When your pastor and leadership comes to you, having prayed, studied, and sought God’s will in a matter, and they bring a recommendation to the congregation, you have a responsibility:

Examine the Word and see if it is in accordance with God’s express written will. If not, stand against it humbly in love and interact from the Book to help your leaders see the error. But if it either matches up to Scripture OR doesn’t contradict it, then follow the leaders.  They have been placed here for your benefit, and they will give an account someday for these things – just as you will for the disobedience to God’s Word you could exhibit when you fight this precept.

Now if the verse so far is not sufficient reason for obeying and submitting to godly leadership, then the author continues and gives another reason:

Hebrews 13:17d, “…Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

This is a very stark and true fact: Leadership can be agonizing!

Remember Moses and all the grumbling the children of Israel did after they came out of Egypt? How hard(bold) it must’ve been to see and experience such rebellion. I wonder if it was all the much harder when 40 years later, as they were getting ready to enter the land, they did the same thing again! I bet Moses’ 80-year-old bones must’ve groaned with him!!

All leaders know this pain:

Phillip Brooks, “To be a true minister to men is always to accept new happiness and new distress…the man who gives himself to other men can never be a wholly sad man; but no more can he be a man of unclouded gladness. To him shall come with every deeper consecration a before untasted joy, but in the same cup shall be mixed a sorrow that it was beyond his power to feel before.”

Your response can and will have a direct effect on the grief or joy of your pastor’s ministry. But the author of Hebrews makes an even greater, very clear point that appeals at a personal level to each member of the congregation.  If you cause grief to the leadership: this would be unprofitable for you.

It impedes the pastor.
It impedes your relationship with Christ.
It impedes the entire body’s spiritual growth.
And you will stand before God someday and answer for that.

  1. Minister to the Body

Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Both the pastor and the congregation are called to serve. An exceedingly sad and counterproductive thing has happened when churches look at the pastor as a hired hand. We pay him to visit us, do the ministry, and reach the community while we sit back and watch – or heckle!

Catch this truth, and you will see the ministry of your church blossom:

“You as a church MUST commit yourselves to creating an environment in which your pastor is encouraged to be a man of God and to pursue the work of the ministry unencumbered.”

What does this mean?

It means you minister and don’t expect him to be the only one ministering.
You visit those in the hospital.
You unlock the building.
You teach a SS class.
You write notes of encouragement to others.

You don’t keep a scorecard on how much he visits you or rubs your bunions!

He is called to serve like everyone else, but his primary calling is to “Preach the Word,” and it takes a great deal of time to prepare and digest and put together something that is both accurate and applicable.

Acts 6:4, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”

  1. Provide for Him Adequately

1 Timothy 5:18, For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

Salary – An excellent rule is that the pastor’s salary should be near the median income of the congregation, thus enabling him to live on the level of those he ministers to. The salary should be at a level where his wife is not forced to work.

Vacation – Because ministry is so absorbing, you should consider increasing the vacation time from a traditional two weeks to at least three or four. Ministry is impossible to get away from totally – a day off is often not a day off, and the phone rings and meetings are typically called regardless. So a little more time away is usually good. Additionally, the pastor often lives far from family, so this helps them to spend time with their loved ones.

Study Time  – Consider how you can give him time for professional development and growth and time to consider and pray about the church’s direction and goals. This is not for vacations, or for extending vacation time. They are for spiritual and intellectual renewal.

Days Off – Encourage him to take his day off.  And strive to protect it. It is very common because of emergencies and special meetings for a pastor to go several weeks without a day off.  Help him to get it. Encourage him to take it.

  1. Treat Him With Respect

1 Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”

A pastor should be treated with respect because of his divinely given position. This, of course, does not suggest that he is treated with an obsequious obeisance as some 19th-century ministers were – “His Worshipful Lordship, The Most High Rev. Dr. Smith.” It also doesn’t suggest a “whatever you say, pastor” attitude.

What is being encouraged here is simply because the pastorate is a divine office, a minister should never have to earn his congregation’s respect. He should be respected, no matter how grand or how humble his ministry is!

  1. Love His Family

Ministry. Is. A. Fishbowl.

And that fishbowl can take its toll – especially on the pastor’s family. My hubby was a PK {pastor’s kid}. We have PKs. It is very difficult. Many have walked away from the church because of critical, overbearing, and irrational church folks who felt they had bought the rights to criticize these people.

How can you offset this?

Simply, love them. It is simply living out the golden rule with this uniquely called family:

Matthew 7:12, “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

This type of love does not demand any more from the pastor’s family than it does from its own family. This love appreciates and gives them room to grow. It refuses to gossip. It believes the best. It has a kind word. It is gentle and loving. It deals face to face rather than anonymously. This type of love is to be shown to all as a characteristic of a Christian towards all.

1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

  1. Pray for Him and His Family

This is so important and often neglected.  We have a responsibility to pray for all our leaders, and those in authority over us (I Tim. 2) and this includes your pastor and church leadership. It is an essential defense in the spiritual battle that rages against the ministry. Paul, right after talking about spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6, says this:

Ephesians 6:19, And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.

J.C. Ryle said, “Converted ministers are God’s special gift. Man cannot create them. If we would have good ministers, we must remember our Lord’s example, and pray for them. Their work is heavy. Their responsibility is enormous. Their strength is small. Let us see that we support them, and hold up their hands by our prayers.”

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