While there are not many things in life that are certain, there is one firm reality: everyone needs encouragement. Regardless of one’s upbringing, relationship status, and even occupation, this universal statement carries no partiality. Even those who serve vocationally in the ministry of God’s Word need encouragement. The hard reality is that those who faithfully serve as local shepherds are often the ones who need it the most.
For all the discouragement pastors face, there are members of their congregations ready to encourage them–if only they knew how. How can you encourage your pastor? What is the currency of appreciation that is most widely accepted?
1. Encourage your shepherds by diving deeply into God’s Word.
David proclaims in Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” David, after highlighting the faithfulness of God to deliver him out of distress, invites his readers to personally see that God is good. What God has done, he wants others to see and experience, as well. And for pastors, we long to see our church filled with members who are not only drinking deeply from our rhythmic expositions but are regularly feasting upon the bread of life. If you want to encourage your pastor, devote yourself to God’s Word.
2. Encourage your shepherds by enjoying good theology.
It needs to be stated that a firm appreciation for deep theology should not be limited to those with degrees in divinity. Good theology is an anchor point in seas of hardship. Good theology is the framework that our lives are built upon and keep us standing when our worlds begin to crumble. Good theology nourishes us when life’s hardships deprive us. Good theology is a warm blanket when we are in the throes of grief.
And as pastors, when we see our people walking through their lot with a firm grip on God’s goodness, sovereignty, and eternal plan, it serves as a ballast for our ship. If you want to encourage your pastor, wrestle with theology.
3. Encourage your shepherds by doing the work of ministry.
In Ephesians 4:12, the apostle Paul makes it clear that part of the responsibility of pastors is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” Paul here is referring to the work of discipleship. And while it is the task of a pastor to faithfully disciple, this is not a requirement only meant for the pastor, but for church members alike. Churches that are filled with people but no disciple-makers can be vacuums of joy for those who lead. If you want to encourage your pastor, come alongside a brother or sister who is walking through hardship. If you want to encourage your pastor, join an accountability group, and begin pushing people towards holiness. If you want to encourage your pastor, do the work of the ministry.
A Personal Note
This fall, I had the privilege to be encouraged by the very things I mentioned above. I taught my first course with ITM, and our class was made up of people from my own congregation and from churches across our community. Each week, I was encouraged by men and women of faith who wanted to dive deeper into God’s Word and were coming to enjoy the riches of good theology–all so that they could continue to do the work of ministry.