Ministering to Your Pastor
The Bible Friend (Vol. 75, No. 8), Minneapolis, MN
Let's begin with a passage of Scripture from Romans 1:8-12. Paul says to the church:
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.
I would like to discuss our responsibility to minister to our pastor. We have heard many times that all Christians are ministers, according to Ephesians 4:12. We stress in our Sunday school classes the need to pray for each other and encourage each other in the faith, but I think we are prone to forget that our pastor is one of us. So I want to remind us why we need to minister to our pastor, how we might do it better, and what we can hope for as a result.
First, why must we minister to our pastor? The reason is that he is a human and a fellow believer like us. As a man, he is just as susceptible to temptations as any of us. Faith isn't automatic for him just because he is a pastor. It is no easier for him to be a loving, hopeful person than it is for us. His resources in the fight of faith are no greater than ours. He is one of us.
More than that, the unique burdens of his calling demand our faithful ministry to him; for example, the administrative burden of seeing that a hundred details are taken care of. Most of these we are never even aware of. Then there is the burden of hearing and delivering messages from God week after week. Don't ever think that these messages come easily for a pastor. If they are consistently Biblical, they require much hard work. Many tears are shed in a pastor's study over sermons that just won't come. If we feel spiritually dry we might skip church or come for renewal, but where can a pastor go?
Then there is the burden of wanting his people to act more like Jesus and be the light of the world. Paul said to the Galatians (4:19), "I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!" Nothing weighs heavier on a pastor's heart than when his people don’t grow in faith, love, and righteousness.
You could all make a longer list of pastoral pressures, but now let's consider how we can minister to our pastor.
The best way to bear the burden of your pastor is to be a Christian. Paul said in Philippians 2:2-3, "Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." In other words, nothing will refresh our pastor like a humble, loving, Christ-like congregation. Paul said to the Roman church, "I long to see you … that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith" (1:11-12). Our faith is a source of great encouragement to our pastor. So let's be a believing people.
Besides this, I have three specific suggestions of things we can do to build our pastor up and increase the fruitfulness of his ministry.
1) Pray for him every day. Write it down so you don't forget. And don't just say, "God bless the pastor.” Be specific. Pray for his health, his messages, his family, his visiting, his flaws and weaknesses. Put yourself in his place and try to feel with him as you pray.
2) Second, go out of your way to say some gracious words of encouragement. Write him a note on the registration card, send a letter now and then to his home; call him up on the phone. Get him alone sometime, look him right in the face, and say, "I appreciate your work, pastor, and I am praying for you every day." Don't be satisfied with platitudes at the door after Sunday services.
3) Third, admonish him in a spirit of forgiveness. I have never talked to anyone in my life who is completely satisfied with his pastor. There is a very simple reason: All men are imperfect. Some people never seem to learn this and they hop from church to church in search of the flawless pastor. That's hopeless. It is far better to find a church where you feel at home and to consider it your lifelong responsibility to help the pastor grow. Everyone would like to change something about his pastor, but how many of us have devoted ourselves to earnest prayer about that thing? And how many have sat down with him and with a humble, forgiving spirit admonished him to change? If we love him we will do it ... and he is not all that scary to talk to.
Those are just some of the ways to minister to your pastor. You think of others.
The final question I raised was, what can we hope for as a result of our ministry? In short, we can hope for a refreshed, hopeful, invigorated pastor. Thus our ministry to him will come back to us like a boomerang and will create a refreshed, hopeful, and invigorated people. Then the world will know that Christ is real and is at work among us.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org