Pastoring is a unique calling and unlike other vocations. While some glimpse into the minister’s life, many don’t fully appreciate the complexity. Recently I transitioned to a new ministry. It’s been a God thing since day one, an incredible ride. This post isn’t necessarily a reflection of my current context. It is however a reflection of having worked with hundreds of pastors during times of transition in ministry since the late 1990s. I think there’s stuff we’d like people to know, but hesitant to share. So, if you’ve ever wondered how you can help your pastor, here are a couple of suggestions. No matter your church home or geography, these work well in most settings. So here’s my list of six ideas to help your pastor.
Give time to create. This is the time to dream, vision, and seek. It’s time to listen, grow, think, ponder, contemplate, and meditate. A pastor desperately needs time to dream, vision, and create. We need time to hear from God and His leadership. Too often we’re caught up in the details of ministry – meetings, appointments, emails, calls, and obligations. While this stuff of ministry is important, nothing can substitute for creative time. Without these extended moments, we become stayed, complacent, stale, and bored. Give your pastor time to create!
Give space to unwind. We all need time and space to unwind. While personality often drives how one refuels, allow your pastor sufficient time to refuel from the often exhausting demands of ministry. While ministry is a calling and we’ll run until the tank is empty, we need time to refuel. Rest and renewal are essential in our role. An effective shepherd is a fueled shepherd. Give your pastor down time – encourage it and even require it.
Give effort to connect. Every pastor needs a friend(s). We need people conversation, laughter, adventure, to be known, and to know. While the pastor may know a lot of people, he or she is rarely known. We can’t be best friends with everyone, but we really need a few good friends. While we need friendships with fellow ministers, we especially need friends that are a part of the church.
Give a lot of breaks. Every pastor needs a break. I’m not talking about a vacation (even though important), but about some free passes from time to time. Churches are diverse organizations including their expectations. We only have so many hours in the day to accomplish a mile-long list. Chances are your pastor won’t live up to all of your expectations. Well, I’m pretty certain we won’t. We’re not going to get to everything and everyone even though we’ll try. Ease up on the expectations and extend grace. We’re busy, sometimes late, always on-call, and periodically forget. That’s our reminder that we’re only human and could really use a break.
Give way to change. With every leader comes a dream – a vision planted upon the heart. It’s a drive and a consuming passion. Help your pastor process and create meaningful, significant, and timely change. Heritage is to celebrated, history is to be outlived. Allow your past to shape you, don’t let it define you. We’re to make an impact on this generation and the generations to come. Change is rarely easy, but it is essential for transformation.
Give support in prayer. Every pastor needs prayer for this is a spiritual work. We’re facing a spiritual battle day in and day out. We need people praying for protection, wisdom, strength, and focus. Please pray for the pastor’s family too. I can’t overemphasize the importance of prayer for your pastor. Pray for him or her often throughout the week. Pray daily for your pastor. Believe it or not, we know when we’ve been prayed for by the church family.