By Steven Mock
Do you know what the worst job is in the world? It’s the one where someone works too many hours, gets paid far too little, is grossly underappreciated, is too stressed out, and everyone else thinks this is normal. Who would want a job like this? I’m sad to say that many pastors have this kind of job – the worst job in the world.
I’ve been a pastor for over a year and a half now and thankfully I don’t have the worst job in the world. The Lord has graciously blessed me with a church family who insist that I take days off, who generously give to meet my needs (and most of my wants!), and who regularly express their love and gratitude towards me in many ways. God has been very good to me!
But I also realize that there are many pastors who struggle and have probably thought at times that they have the worst job in the world. So for their benefit (and I trust yours as well) let me suggest one of many answers to the question: What can you do to be a blessing to your pastor and make his job easier?
The first answer is simple: love your pastor. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 says to know your pastor which means to recognize his true value and respect his worth. Have you ever shopped several hours for an item and passed on a few seemingly good offers only at the end of the day to discover the “sale of the century”? You were able to recognize the true value of that last item because you had been studying and researching and you knew the market-value for that item.
In a similar way, you’re told to recognize the value of at least three things about your pastor: his labour, his authority, and his ministry. Do you realize that your pastor labours in many different areas such as studying, preaching, administrating, counselling, praying, witnessing, teaching, and serving? Trust me, there’s not enough hours in a week to accomplish all of these effectively so it takes hard work to get anything useful done. You’re also told to recognize his authority. Like it or not pastors are given the responsibility of authority within a local church and this takes courage to perform well. Thirdly you’re to recognize the value of your pastor’s ministry. If you or your church have ever been without a pastor I’m sure you realize the blessing of the pastor’s ministry in your life.
But in the next verse (1 Thessalonians 5:13) you’re told to esteem your pastor very highly in love. I would suggest that when someone esteems something highly (like a new car, a new iPod, or new shoes) they are praising it (and probably bragging about it). This verse tells you to praise your pastor or brag about him, not just with your heart but with your mouth. You will express love for your pastor when you personally thank him for his ministry and when you brag about him in front of others. Some people think they shouldn’t praise their pastor because he might get a big head and they want to protect him from pride. They act as though it is their sole God-given duty to keep the pastor humble at all costs. But this verse says to esteem them very highly in love. Pride is the pastor’s responsibility, praising is your responsibility.
Here’s some practical advice I’ve found helpful when it comes to praising someone’s ministry: be specific. If you want to thank your pastor for his Sunday morning message, don’t just say “Thanks for that sermon, it was a real blessing.” I remember the first few times people told me that. While being somewhat encouraged I made the mistake of further enquiring what about the message was such a blessing. After moments of awkward silence and vague generalities I realized these people were trying to be kind but they probably didn’t know what they were talking about. It’s much better to tell your pastor, “Thank you for that message this morning. I was greatly convicted when you mentioned the need to pray for our missionaries…” or “Thank you for your sermon today. I was encouraged to hear again about Christ’s great love for me when he died on the cross…” Being specific will go a lot further in encouraging your pastor and expressing your love for him and his ministry.
What about your pastor? Does he have the worst job in the world? Hopefully the Lord will use you to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Steven Mock is currently pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Cairns, Australia. Steven and his wife, Cristy, moved to Cairns in July 2003. The Mocks have two children and one on the way.