How Can We Encourage Our Pastors? Show Them Loving Kindness

Earlier this month we pointed out that October is designated as “Pastor Appreciation Month,” and we referenced a new book written by Christopher Ash called The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Would Read (but is too embarrassed to ask) (The Good Book Company, 2019). At the end of that post we mentioned that Ash calls attention to “seven virtues of church members that impact our pastors.” In this post we want to return to those and draw special attention to one of them.

Those seven virtues that, when displayed by church members, give godly pastors encouragement in, excitement for, and energy for their labors are as follows (I give them just as the author does):

  1. Daily repentance and eager faith [here he has in mind the core traits of a true Christian]
  2. Committed belonging [here is is talking about how we live faithfully in the church]
  3. Open honesty [by this he means living without pretense and being open toward the man who is called to care for you]
  4. Thoughtful watchfulness [here he has in mind helping your pastor grow and maintain his personal spiritual life . Interestingly, the first thing he mentions specifically is giving him time (and money!) to read. But I’ll pass on that one this time. But please, do it!]
  5. Loving Kindness [this is the one I’ll come back to]
  6. High expectations [here he means holding your pastor to the highest standard while also letting him be human – like you!]
  7. Zealous submission [put yourself under his ministry and show you submit to the Great Shepherd he serves and shows]

Now, let’s come back to #5 – Loving kindness. Why? Because it may seem so obvious (shall we be mean and cruel to Christ’s shepherds?!), and yet it is so easy to miss. Because, yes, people can be and are sometimes UN-kind to their pastors, and that includes you and me. Here are some worthwhile thoughts about what practicing loving kindness toward our pastors will mean to them.

Kindness is a powerful and beautiful expression of the love of Christ. …There is no doubt in my mind that churches that show kindness will have still better pastors as a result; for it is only natural that their pastors will return to their pastoral leadership with a fresh determination to love and care for, to teach and to preach to, and to pray for these who have loved them so.

If we show no kindness to our pastors, God still calls them to love, to care, to preach, to pray, and to do all their pastoral work towards us in the spirit of the Lord Jesus – who loved those who were his enemies and gave himself for them on the cross. But our pastors are not the Lord Jesus, and it is a normal and natural dynamic that if we demonstrate kindness to them, it is easier for them to give themselves gladly in caring for us.

A little farther on he writes,

…perhaps the most significant things in a pastor’s work are not so easily measurable – the labouring in prayer, the time-consuming and emotionally draining visits, the weeping with those who weep, the showing of the kindness of Christ to men and women as our pastors hold out to us the word of life. We want our pastors to be kind. But the opposite is also true: our kindness counts with them. We must never underestimate the significance of our simple, practical, loving kindness to our pastors.

And then at the end, he includes these penetrating words [yes, let them sink in!]:

One hindrance to kindness is the feeling that our pastors and their families ought to be living lives of sacrificial service to Christ. I have known churches that worry that, if they are too soft with them, their pastors may become lazy or soft in their discipleship. This – if we do feel it – is perverse. Certainly, they ought to be taking up the cross daily, saying no to self, and living lives of sacrifice for Jesus and his gospel. But so ought we and every disciple. It is one thing to make sacrifices for oneself; it’s quite another to seek to impose sacrifices on others.

What level of loving kindness are you showing to your pastor and his family? What can we do to increase that? Let’s commit to showing them the kindness of God that we ourselves have received, and in that way too encourage them in their labors.

Published in: on October 23, 2019 at 10:53 PM  Leave a Comment