October 2016 – “I remember one time we were so proud of our daughter when she earned a trip because of her academic achievements,” an Alabama pastor told AFA Journal. “Then we realized we couldn’t afford the transportation costs. But a church member stepped up and paid the expenses. There’s no way a pastor can adequately express gratitude for a gift like that, especially if it’s for one of his kids.”
Pastors and their families need and deserve the gifts and the prayers of their church families. As spiritual warfare pummels the nation and moral debate splits churches, a pastor is expected to hit his knees in prayer for this country as well as to minister to and pray for those in his church family and community.
The church often expects pastors not only to run the church singlehandedly, but also to do it flawlessly. Pastors are not allowed to falter without drwing the attention and disapproval of the entire congregation. Church members often don’t really want a simple man, they want Christ on earth. The church looks for perfection where it is unattainable.
If the church wants a pastor to be invested in the lives of its members, then members must likewise be invested in their pastor and his family. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 5:17 that those who teach and preach are especially “worthy of double honor,” which certainly encourages congregations to be generous with their pastors’ compensation.
In addition, unexpected gifts, especially those with the personal touch, can make all the difference. That may mean babysitting, fresh vegetables from your garden, a gift card, sending the pastor and wife to a conference, a card or letter of appreciation, a dinner at your home, homemade ice cream on a sweltering summer evening, or a well-earned sabbatical. Be creative.
“Including us in their lives is a great blessing,” the Alabama pastor added.
From South Dakota, a 36-year veteran pastor told AFAJ, “If a pastor and wife are serving in a location some distance from their original home, be sensitive to their long-distance needs for family. Be their home away from home.”
Certainly, all of those are valid expressions of ministry, but a critical, frontline strategy to minister to your pastor is prayer. A Mississippi pastor told AFAJ, “Church and the needs of the people can take so much time that I neglect the needs of the ones whom I am to care for and provide for first. So I pray that I will have good boundaries and work habits to care for the flock and care for my household.”
The church should not forget to pray for the pastor’s family, too. Another pastor told AFAJ, “Pastors and their wives face the same problems and struggles as the rest of the church, but they have an added layer of caring for the congregation on top of all else.”
October marks pastor appreciation month. As the world grows increasingly hostile toward Christianity, we depend more and more on pastors to keep members strong in their faith. Prayer is the greatest gift their members can give them in return.
Praying for pastors
▶ Spiritual accountability – May they surround themselves with wise and like-minded individuals who support and encourage them. May they listen to the word of God, not simply preach it.
▶ Confidence and courage – May pastors preach the gospel that people need to hear, not the one they want to hear.
▶ Family needs – May the pastor’s family be under-standing and supportive of the pastoral calling. And may the pastor never forget that his family is a first priority in ministry.