If you are like most church-goers, you are probably satisfied with your church and your pastor. You enjoy the services, like the preaching, attend the social and ministry events, and maybe serve where you can. But, how well do you care for your pastor? Some of the least “pastored” people are pastors.
Have you ever thought about what it is like being a pastor? Sometimes, it can feel like being a lone ranger. A great deal of responsibility rests upon his shoulders. These may include vision casting, setting budgets and handling finances, visiting the sick and shut-in, outreach, recruiting volunteers, counselling both church members and non-members, planning church services and preaching and teaching.
Many experts say pastoring a local church is one of the most difficult jobs. Ministry can be emotionally and physically taxing, and if we are not careful, we will allow our pastors to burn out.
Pastors are dedicated to caring for the wellbeing of others, but who will care for them? The church. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, Paul addresses the topic: “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” The instruction to care for the pastor seems clear in this passage. Consider six simple ways church members can care for their pastoral staff:
Pray for him. This seems rather obvious, but how often do you pray for your pastor? Pastors need our prayers! They and their families are faced with peculiar difficulties and burdens and the constant onslaught of the devil. Our pastors desire our prayers just like Paul did when he said, “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25). Don’t just pray short, generic prayers. Pray big, faith-filled, detailed prayers for him.
Follow his leadership. This may be difficult for some, but if the church believes that God has called its pastor to preach and teach God’s Word, then the members have the responsibility to listen carefully and follow what he says. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Not only does it benefit you to follow the pastor’s leadership and preaching, it benefits him!
Support the ministry. No pastor can handle all the responsibilities in a church, nor should he. It is neither healthy for him nor the church. Lighten his workload by getting involved in the ministry and sharing the responsibilities. Ask your pastor where you can get involved, and if he asks for your help, then help!
Express appreciation. Everyone wants to be appreciated, even pastors. October is pastor appreciation month. Be sure to honor your pastors and show your appreciation. Be creative; do something new. Remember, this doesn’t just have to be reserved for the month of October. And don’t forget your pastor’s wife. She too makes many sacrifices.
Give him time away. All pastors need time away with God and with their families. Let your pastor have at least one or two days off each week, and respect his privacy during those days. Give him adequate vacation time and holidays. Also, recommend he take a sabbatical every few years (separate from vacation) for relaxation, reflection, renewal, and revitalization. Your church will benefit as much as he does.
Care for him financially. Every church ought to provide a fair and adequate salary and benefits package for their pastor. It is true that a pastor should not shepherd the flock of God just for money (1 Peter 5:2), but he shouldn’t live in poverty either. You will never get the best from your pastor if he must worry about financial matters. In Luke 10:7, Jesus said “the laborer is worthy of his hire,” and Galatians 6:6 reminds those who are taught the Word of God that they have a responsibility to provide for the livelihood of their pastor.
What should a church include in a salary and benefits package? I suggest salary, housing allowance, social security allowance, family medical insurance, life insurance, and retirement. Also, provide reimbursement of expenses through an accountable reimbursement plan.
How are you caring for your pastor? I hope you will reflect on these ways you can care for him, and I encourage you to explore others as well. As pastors work hard to care for us, let’s work hard to care for them.
If you would like further information or assistance with a pastor’s pay package, please contact the Board of Retirement.
**Adapted from ONE Magazine