Members of a local church often desire to encourage their pastor and do so in a variety of ways. However, fewer think to encourage the pastor’s family and if they do think about it, struggle with how to do so. If you are someone who desires to encourage not just your pastor, but his family also, fret no more! I was recently the recipient of a very easy and practical way to accomplish both.
A week after I preached 6 times at the Berean Baptist Church Marriage Conference in Livonia, MI, (sermon audio) one of the elders from the church wrote my 4 children a 3 page hand-written letter, of which they just received in the mail. The content of this letter contained what I think could be a general template to act as a great encouragement not just to the pastor’s children, but the pastor and his wife also. Here is what was in the letter to my children:
1) Words of thanks and appreciation for sharing their dad. It is easy to overlook the sacrifice that the children of the pastor make in ministry life because…well they do not get much of a say. That does not mean their sacrifice should be ignored. Here is how the letter opened to them:
Dear Samuel, Abby, Isabelle, and Claire:
Thank you for sharing your parents with our church family just a few days ago! I think you will be happy to know that God used them to encourage people to love the Lord more, trust his Word, and live by faith.
Do not underestimate the value of acknowledging to the pastor’s children the way they sacrifice day in and day out to give their dad (and mom) up for ministry, whether it be a conference to preach, a hospital visit to make after dinner, or extra sermon preparation on a Saturday evening.
2) A gift of appreciation. The letter continued…
To say thank you for your part in our 2012 family conference, get a treat at Dairy Queen. I hope you like ice cream!
This elder never met my kids. How did he know the secret way to their heart? I know…ice cream is a safe bet. Without a doubt, those kind words of encouragement to the kids were given legs to them when a gift card for Dairy Queen came with the letter.
3) An affirmation of the valuable ministry role they played. Much like the faithful pastor’s wife who is often behind the scenes serving, the kids do play a lesser known part in all the ministry of the pastor, especially when they see the value of their dad’s time to it and make an effort not to resent those who want his time. The letter continued…
You all did play a part in our conference; and I appreciate it! Every time you give your blessing to ministry opportunities God gives your parents, you are involved in their work.
This elder goes on to list some simple ways they can bless and support their parents ministry in a way that honors the Lord like praying for them, being thankful for them, and speaking honestly with them. Good stuff.
I challenge you this week to make some effort to encourage the wife and kids of your pastor. You will not only encourage them in their sacrificial service for the kingdom, but you will also work to help those children grow to love and appreciate their local church, not resent it. Oh, and take it from me. A letter of thanks like this to the pastor’s kids will most certainly encourage your pastor and wife also.