Caring for Pastors - A Request

Blogger Curt Hendley sent a request to about 50 pastors asking how their congregations could encourage them. Several men, as you can see from Curt's page, have responded. Here is the response I am sending Curt. Thanks for asking - and for caring - Curt!

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To me, the greatest encouragement in ministry takes place when people connect with what I am preaching or teaching. Seeing a group of people who are interested, alert, attentive - these things are what encourage a pastor the most. And that should be that way, because if we are serving for the right reasons our greatest satisfaction will come from our ministry.
That being said, here are a few tangible and non-tangible ways to encourage. I'm fortunate to be able to write this out of the experience of being in a church that does a pretty good job at this.
1. Be sure to express appreciation for associate staff members. I logged 25 years as an Associate before becoming a Senior Pastor. I have had my share of "I know that the Pastor is busy, so I thought I'd call you" type of phone calls. Associate Pastors are just as busy as Senior Pastors. Appreciate them.
2. Make sure that he has what he needs to do his job. That relates to books, computer equipment, software, etc. Having a portion of his salary or a line item in the budget for books is something that our church has done for us, and it is greatly appreciated, even if we don't use it all the time. Make sure his study environment (if the church provides an office) is kept up. If you provide a parsonage, attend to it.
3. Stand with him unless he's wrong. I've not had to deal with this, for which I am thankful, but I know guys who have been eaten alive by either influential ($$) or vocal members of a congregation because no one was there to stand with them. Don't be afraid to defend him against those who would cut him down.
4. Make sure he is paid an adequate wage. Staff salaries should not be the first place to look when a budget cut is made. Most of the guys I know work 60-70 hour weeks or more. None of us want to get rich, but we need to pay the bills just like anyone else does.
5. Acknowledge faithfulness. I am going to go out on a limb here. I don't know how many of my congregation members read this, but I think it is important to say this. In 2000 I finished my 20th year here at Faith Church. And no one said boo. We had gone through some tough times and I had been working the equivalent of two staff positions for 9 of those years. I didn't expect a gift, a bronze statue of myself for the foyer, the church to be renamed after me, etc. But it would have been nice if even just those in leadersihp had said something. How many people stay 20 years in one church? A year or so later the then Senior Pastor realized that my 20th anniversary had passed and made an effort to do something, which was very nice.
6. Let him get away for professional/spiritual refreshment each year and pick up the tab for it. And if he can, let him take his wife.
7. Respect him. Repect his position, the place he occupies in God's work in your life, respect his privacy (and his need thereof). Respect the fact that he is probably spending a lot more time thinking and praying about the church than anyone else in the church, so let him lead. Work with him as an ally, not as devil's advocate.

5 comments:

Byron said...

Peter,

I just responded at my own blog, and didn't have the guts to be quite as bold as you--because a lot of my people read my blog--to say what you did in Point Five. My church has taken reasonably good care of me during my 12 years here; some churches do better, I'm sure, but a lot do worse. But I'll confess to you, as a young pastor who'd never been anywhere very long, that I felt that reaching the 10-year mark, especially in this day and age, was a pretty significant milestone, and I was expecting at least some mention--shoot, I even "reminded" folks, in a sermon about a month ahead of time, adding "it'll be ten years next month" as part of an illustration. Two and a half years later, the next person who just says, "hey, you know, 10 years, that's pretty good!" will be the FIRST. And honestly, the timing of their inaction wasn't real good...

Anyhow, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Pastor, this past two weeks you basically taught us how to shine in a world that's hostile to christians (I paraphrase). This morning it seems it is you whose testimony has been dimmed in an increasingly dark world. I'm sure you know the verse "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18 KJV). Shouldn't you care if your congregants like beer? Do not children ought to know what the scriptures say about drinking and not just because it is illegal?

Peter Bogert said...

If you would be so kind as to identify yourself or send an email, I would be glad to address your question.

Anonymous said...

hey I happened upon your blog through the link from "The happy husband" blogger.(whose blog I found through a link from someone else's blog who I found by googling some subject I was interested in... yes I have alot of time on my hands today!) Anyway, I know you wrote this a really long time ago, but it was good for me (and I'm sure others who read this) to have some practical ways to encourage our pastors. I was a pastor's kid all growing up, and I know first hand how discouraging of a ministry it can be when you work like crazy and nothing seems to change, or noone seems to care. Keep hanging in there.. alot of neglect from congregations is not intentional.. we just forget that our pastor's are humans too!! :o)God bless.

Peter Bogert said...

Oh it's fine. Our people are gracious people. We're not in it for the recognition. But there are some ways in which churches can affirm their pastor. Thanks for your encouragement.