Month: April 2015

How to encourage your pastor

Much is written about how vulnerable pastors are to criticism by church members. But apart from an annual reminder of Pastor Appreciation Month (what’s that, you say?), little is said about the incredible power church members have to encourage and sustain their pastors.

That’s why I want to share an email that a member of my church sent to me and my colleagues this morning. The subject line read “Praying for You,” and the message was,

Good Morning, Gentlemen.
As I was reading this morning, the last lines of 2 Thessalonians 1 immediately made me think of you…and so I prayed for each of you: “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 
May you continue to see God being glorified before you so that you are more and more amazed at His love, power, goodness, grace and fall more in love with Him.
I am truly thankful for the ways you’ve impacted my life.
Thank you for following Him.
I have a “Keepers” folder in my email program. That email went into that folder so I can look at it again and again to fend off discouragement. It made my day…no, my week!
Church member, if you’re reading this, know that a brief email or text of appreciation and prayer can put spring back in the step of your pastor. Don’t underestimate the power of your encouraging words.

Easter is hard on pastors

Thom Rainer posted eleven reasons pastors struggle when Easter Sunday comes around.

  1. The day is often overwhelmingly busy.
  2. The pressure to “do stresswell” is increased.
  3. Finding a unique approach to the Easter story is not easy.
  4. Pastors see members they haven’t seen since last Easter.
  5. Pastors see “lostness” come in the door . . . and leave unchanged.
  6. Pastors get a glimpse of what the church could be . . . but typically isn’t.
  7. Pastors often judge their own sermons more critically on Easter.
  8. Pastors brag about Easter attendance.
  9. Attendance expectations may not be met.
  10. Monday morning letdown can follow Easter.
  11. Some pastors have no resurrection joy themselves.

I especially resonate with Reason #2–the pressure to “do well” on Easter Sunday is intense. More people are sitting in our pews on Resurrection Sunday. We think to ourselves, “If I do well, they’ll come back.” We feel compared to other pastors and worry that our performance won’t match up. Even our own faithful members are hoping for an extra-good display of our gifts, especially if they brought friends and family along.

It’s tempting to find our identity in the comments people give us after the service: “Great sermon, pastor! God really spoke through you today, pastor!” Our innate sense of self-importance, our vanity, the expectations of fellow fallen people, and the devil himself conspire to make Easter Sunday anything but a day of gladness and celebration for pastors.

Here are words from God that may help you get through the Easter weekend with joy: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, i will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-3a, ESV).

If you’re reading this and you’re not a pastor, pray for your pastoral team this weekend. You may be unaware of the burdens they are carrying.