The opposite of the word encourage is discourage, so it isn’t hard to make the connection that failing to encourage can leave a pastor and their family demoralized and disheartened. We may love our pastor and may be grateful for the work they do, but we often make the mistake of assuming they know this. Maybe it’s time for a shift in our thinking. Here are some practical ways to encourage your pastor and their family.
How To Encourage Your Pastor And Their Family
Have something positive? Share it!
Write a note, email, greeting card or just say it. If there are ways that your pastor, or any other member of the family, ministers to you, be specific in your communication about what it was. As you search the scriptures on a daily basis, keep your eyes and ears open for verses that would be encouraging to any member of their family. Inspire your pastors to continue to fight the good fight, to run the race with endurance, to never give up or become weary in well doing, and to stand firm to the end. Use words that bring perspective into the sometimes monotonous, other times complex, and difficult times, like the reminder that Jesus is coming back soon, He is still in control, and in our greatest weakness He is most strong.
Pray, then pray some more
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. We are engaged in a spiritual battle. We do not war against a fleshly enemy and the weapons of our warfare cannot be carnal (Ephesians 6). We must take down strongholds that threaten those engaged in the daily battle of providing spiritual and theological leadership. Arguably, the most important spiritual discipline is prayer. Pray for strength and the physical, spiritual, emotional and mental well-being of your pastor. Pray for their spouse to be able to endure the unfortunate, yet common criticism that may be against them too. Pray that their children continue to develop a strong relationship with their ever busy mom and dad, and for protection against any spiritual attack. I recently read about a church which has an “adopt-a-child” prayer ministry where you can commit to pray every day for a particular PK (pastors kid) and also send notes of encouragement or thoughtful gifts on their birthdays and other milestones; how creative!. Don’t assume others are praying, you pray!
Offer practical help
Use your own skills to bless any member of their family. Offer to optimize PC performance, help organize/catalog the pastor’s or the family library. Offer to watch the little ones so they can catch up on projects around the house; bring meals during a difficult time; drop off bagels and donuts at the church office to show your appreciation for the staff; ask if there are plumbing issues or other household tasks you can work on. Mow their lawn, or donate some landscaping services, provide financial advice – whatever your occupational expertise, put it to use in blessing your pastor and their family. When offering to help, avoid being open-ended. Instead of asking, “how can I help you?” be more specific with, “would it help if I do (fill in the blank).”
Give a gift certificate to anything
Gift certificates are nice because they can be used when most needed or desired. Give your pastor and their spouse a night out to dinner to reconnect and rekindle as a couple, or a café latte as a pick-me-up after a late night of studying or being up with sick kiddos. Anyone would appreciate a day off from housecleaning during an especially hectic week, a visit to the spa or a manicure/pedicure to relieve some stress. Gift cards are a nice gesture and can be most practical.
Pastors love weekends away
If you have a cabin or timeshare going to waste, offer a weekend away to your hard-working pastor and their family. Provide a quiet place for your pastor to take a personal retreat to study and rest. Take up a collection to surprise the family with a much needed vacation, or weekend getaway. Insist they take an extra week off with pay to rest and retool.
The bible charges us to give honor to whom honor is due and the Apostle Paul reminds us to “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” (1 Timothy 5:17 KJV). In addition to all the suggestions above, one of the best ways to honor your pastor is to never listen to gossip and to oppose those who would slander. Speak words of grace and encouragement directly to your pastors and speak well of them behind their backs. In so doing you will bring great encouragement, honor and blessing to your pastor and the entire church will be blessed as a result.
Sharefaith.com has many excellent resources to help you honor your pastor on Pastor Appreciation Day (this year Clergy Appreciation Day falls on Sunday, October 12, 2014). I am very interested to hear the creative and practical ways you honor your pastors or how you have experienced encouragement as a pastor.