Last year during Pastor Appreciation Month the Lord challenged me to begin to pray for my pastor weekly. I hope those prayers impacted his life and ministry. They certainly impacted mine. For starters, the Lord softened my heart and made me more receptive to his teaching, allowing me to grow in my relationship with Jesus. God also opened my eyes to see attitudes I unknowingly fostered to discourage him. I realized those attitudes not only impeded my own spiritual growth, but also infected the lives of those within my church body, including my pastor.
Standing in the Rubble
In the story of Nehemiah, God raised up Ezra and Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple after Israel returned to her promised land. On the great day of dedication, instead of rejoicing, the people wept at how the temple used to be under Solomon. Rather than focusing on God’s current work among them, they focused on the rubble and lamented over the good ol’ days. A forward focused church invites God to do the unexplainable!
How often do our laments of how things used to be compete with the vision God tries to give our pastors for the here and now? Or how they could be? Or certainly how we think they should be? We most likely mean well, but when we compare what God does somewhere else through someone else, the message is, “What you’re doing isn’t good enough”.
God never intended every church to look alike. He also never intended for every church to tackle the same social issues or embrace identical causes. All these “good ideas” of ours run secondary to our pastor’s chief call, which is to preach the gospel, equipping the saints to live out and share their faith with the world. Our pastors tirelessly seek the Lord and pour themselves out in ministry for the furtherance of the gospel. They also faithfully seek God to discern what He has specifically called them to do in the church they lead. Pray for your pastor to find joy in his service and for your own eyes to be opened to the work God is doing in and through your church. There is always evidence of God doing the unexplainable, even in the rubble.
Learning As They Go
I love the story of passionate Apollos who came to Ephesus preaching about Messiah! While Priscilla and Aquila listened, they quickly realized Apollos had not yet learned the whole story of Jesus. Inviting this young preacher into their home, they established a relationship with him. They didn’t sneer at his ignorance, gossip about how misinformed he was, nor mock his zeal. They invested in him in a hospitable way. Through that relationship Apollos went on to powerfully pastor the church at Corinth.
What would have happened if they had not approached Apollos with a kind and gracious attitude? The Corinthian church would have lacked a leader. Think of the possible fallout! Our pastors are human beings who are learning and growing. They get discouraged, have doubts, and get side-tracked. They don’t have all of the answers and sometimes they may even be misinformed. Have we taken the time to get to know our pastor as a person, so we can effectively pray for him? Can he expect us to be gracious when he makes mistakes? If a pastor never preached until he reached perfection, we’d have a lot of silent churches.
Preaching To Myself
Praying for my pastor opened my heart to see the burdens of ministry. I hold more sympathy for the heartache caused by criticism and comparison. Questioning his vision in how to best shepherd us breeds discouragement. It opened my eyes to see my pastor’s unique gifting and celebrate those gifts! (I am exceedingly blessed to be pastored by an incredibly wise and godly man!).
Rather than expect him to be perfect, I can free him to pastor in his strengths and pray for him in areas that don’t come as easily to him. God reminded me that His design for His church includes the pastor leading, but for every member to play a role in the health and function of the body. My pastor is not supposed to do everything well. And neither is yours.
Pastor Appreciation Month challenges us to pause and appreciate our pastors. It may mean a handwritten card, a tangible gift, or a commitment to pray for him. Whatever God prompts you to do for your pastor, make sure you do it! A little encouragement at just the right time can make a world of difference!
What is something you appreciate about your pastor?
What is something you could do to encourage him?