It’s Pastor Appreciation Month! How do I encourage my pastor?

Based on the emails, notes, and phone calls I continue to get, trust me…your pastor needs encouragement.  He needs to know that what he does week in and week out means something to God as well as those for whom he labors.  In light of this being pastor’s appreciation month, here are 5 suggestions to accomplish this:

1) Share appreciation for how hard he works

Maybe the most hurtful words a pastor and his wife can hear are not, “Bad sermon” or “that was a dumb decision” or “I don’t like the way you do that.”  Rather, words that imply this message can be the most hurtful, “You are lazy.”  Because of this, some of the most encouraging words a pastor and his wife can hear are words of gratefulness for how hard he works to preach faithfully and shepherd their souls.

2) Give specific feedback to a sermon

I’m not talking about the slap on the back, “Nice sermon” comment.  Instead be specific…”that insight into the text was really helpful, or that application really met me where I am struggling.”  Don’t underestimate how impactful just one thoughtful, specific comment about your pastor’s sermon can be to him…especially on Monday.

3) Acknowledge the sacrifice of his family

This will encourage his wife and children, but it will also be very meaningful to the pastor.  The pastor knowing you are thinking of his family can often times mean more than you thinking of him.  Some of the most meaningful encouragement to me has been efforts like a card or gift to my wife and children thanking them for their sacrifice in allowing me to do what I do.  My kids especially always remember those things.

4) Reveal how you have spiritually grown under his ministry

This is one thing a pastor labors to hear and hopes is taking place all over his congregation.  Stop keeping him in suspense and tell him so he knows.  The Lord can also use these words to help a pastor learn what he needs to change or adjust in the way he is preaching or caring for people.

5) Tell him how you specifically pray for him

Your pastor of all people should know the significance of prayer.  The most meaningful things I hear isn’t, “I prayed for you” but, “I prayed that your sermon would be powerfully preached and eagerly received, or I prayed God would protect you and your family from the enemy through this important week.”  Write your pastor a text or email today and tell him what you prayed for him or how you will be praying for him this week.

If not in these ways, find some way to encourage your pastor this week.  Never underestimate how meaningful and well-timed it can be when God would so lead you to do so.

Posted in The Pastor's Soul

What are the most common struggles of a regular pastor?

As I work with pastor all around the world, I am struck by two things:  How much pastors are struggling with discouragement and how many think they are alone in their struggle.  Last week, I received an email from a pastor who poured his heart out to me and in doing so captured well the common struggles so many pastors face.  Read this email.  Pastors, empathize with his struggles and remember you are not alone in your discouragement.

This discouraged pastor writes…

I am in a really dark place at the moment and feel that I have no friend to talk too and no one I can go to. I am constantly struggling with despondency and discouragement.  The church has on average about 30-40 people on a Sunday. But my desire for the church to grow is great and my passion to see souls saved is even greater.

I am pretty much responsible for everything even though I have tried to raise up other people, but their lack of commitment and faithfulness disqualify them from meaningful ministries.

I feel I am alone when it comes to wanting the church to grow with only 3 people attending our weekly outreach program. I am constantly organizing events, programs, schedule revivals and others pastors to come and minister to the church.  I just can’t seem to break this despondency, I just don’t seem to have the heart anymore. I am preaching, outreaching doing what I can but my heart is just not in it. I found myself questioning whether now is the time to step down and let someone else take over.

I am tired, financially struggling as I work full time trying to support my family and the church, as others are just not giving at the moment.

I don’t have anyone to talk to and it makes me feel so alone, I am just not the person I was when I opened the church. My wife tries to encourage me and be understanding but I just don’t want to burden her with all these emotions and feelings all the time.

Pastors, pray for this brother and remember you are not alone.  Find a few pastors around you for friendship and support.  Other pastors struggle like you and the Chief Shepherd is always with you.  That is enough to hold fast!

Posted in The Pastor's Soul

Brian Croft interviewed about funerals

Grace Baptist Partnerships in the UK interviewed me about funerals.  A good conversation about a needed topic.

Posted in Funerals

What are 3 ways for a pastor to prepare his heart before conducting a funeral?

Because there are so many elements to plan and logistics to prepare for, it is not uncommon for the pastor to have all his words prepared, service planned out, everyone in place, processional details checked off, and realize an essential element had been neglected—the pastor’s heart.  Do not become enslaved to the tyranny of funeral preparation, only to stand and conduct with an empty, drained, and calloused heart.  Do not underestimate the emotional and mental drain in comforting the grieving while preparing and performing a funeral.  Thus, there are three areas for the pastor to take time and prepare his heart, mind, and soul.

1)  Prepare for the unexpected.

Just when you think you have seen it all—the next funeral reveals you haven’t.  Even if you have seen fights break out, arrests made, uncontrollable wailing, family members and pallbearers fainting, caskets dropped and knocked over, shouting conflicts between families and funeral directors, or funeral attire that would make most people blush,  these experiences do not mean at all the next funeral will fit these experiences.  Because of this, prepare to see anything.  Prepare to get the craziest response to something you say.  Prepare to watch families at their worst.  This will allow you to think clearly and wisely when the unexpected happens.

2)  Prepare to minister God’s word

Though there is much to manage, administrate, and facilitate, you are not the concierge of the funeral.  You are a minister of God’s word and a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prepare your heart, mind and soul however you must, so that when you stand before people at the beginning of the funeral service, you stand to minister God’s word, trusting God will work mightily through his word.

3)  Prepare to extend the hope of Christ.

You are not there to solve the family conflicts or to help the funeral home learn how to function more smoothly.  You are there to clearly present to each person the hope we have from sin and death because of Christ.  You can best prepare by thinking about who will be at the funeral service.  Consider what kinds of questions you could ask the family to surmise their spiritual condition as you talk with them.  Prepare questions ahead of time from the words you have prepared to share, so that gospel opportunities might show themselves in those conversations.

Wearing your administrator and facilitator cap through the process is necessary.  It will serve you as a helpful companion to maneuver through all the details and demands that always accompany funerals.  Nevertheless, you are ultimately a pastor and evangelist who is called upon by the Chief Shepherd to prepare and conduct funerals of dead men as “a dying man preaching to dying men.” Prepare and conduct funerals knowing the grieving are hurting, longing for tender care, and must look to Jesus as their only hope.

Posted in Funerals, The Pastor's Soul

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