I recently sat with another pastor who lamented exhaustion in his ministry. He was discouraged about the growth of his people and I felt deep sympathy for him. We’ve all been there. All pastors and church leaders feel the weight of discipleship of their people and all of us feel like failures at some time on some level. I began to think about the ways that I am encouraged by SGF and their faithfulness. Pastors need encouragement sometimes… So I thought I’d line out four simple things you can do to encourage your
pastor. Here goes:
1. Read your Bible and think deeply. Your pastor wants you to grow. Spiritual growth is done through study and engagement of Scripture. Basically, your discipleship is just that: yours. It is not dependent on some program, pastor, or community to push you to be a faithful disciple. While a good church, pastor, or community can aid in your growth as a Christian, your own personal discipline is not dependent on those aids. It is yours. Work hard and own it.
2. Attend church. I have a saying whenever someone apologizes for missing church. I say, “Its ok, we don’t take attendance.” I mean that! I think most pastors mean that. At SGF we don’t take attendance. We don’t judge your spiritual progress by your attendance at a particular worship service, meeting, or program. Our church seeks to measure success by asking the question: “are people growing to be more like Christ?” That being said, there is one easy, sure-fire way to encourage your pastor: attend. When someone attends faithfully, I feel tremendously encouraged. They don’t have to do anything else. Even though I am not critiquing their spiritual growth by their attendance, it still brings me great encouragement for them to simply attend. It tells me that the church matters to them. It tells me that they want to be a part of the community and enjoy gathering with us. Even if they do nothing else, a faithful attendee encourages my heart. So, attend church and your pastor will feel respected and loved. Attend… it’s that simple.
3. Get out of your comfort zone and talk with other people about Jesus. When an athlete plays a sport, the competitive nature of his or her teammates propels them to work harder and make themselves better. I remember when I was in high school, one of the other point guards and I would have free-throw competitions. He and I would stand next to each other at the foul line, taking turns shooting until one of us missed. I remember the excitement of the challenge to be better. I remember the urging of the team around us. I remember feeling encouraged and strengthened to do better each time. I wasn’t trying to beat my teammate, I was trying to do better… to BE better. It is the same way for your pastor. The more evangelical you are with your neighbors, the more he will feel convicted and propelled to share Christ in his own life. He is not trying to beat you in competition, he is trying to become a better disciple. When one of my people shares a story about their evangelistic encounters, I feel inspired and pressed to do more in my own efforts to spread the gospel. So get after it! Then share your stories of success and rejection with your pastor.
4. Disciple someone. Make the effort to know others deeply. As the pastor of a small congregation, I feel a great deal of responsibility for the discipleship of the people. Fortunately for me, our church is designed such that there is a built-in opportunity for meaningful conversation and relational engagement: we eat lunch every Sunday after church. To be clear, not everyone stays for lunch and this is in no way required. Eating lunch after church is simply a way to connect with people who may otherwise not get any discipleship. At these lunchtimes, I’ve witnessed as people speak with each other and have deep, meaningful conversation. Watching these conversations go one step further is a delight! When I hear of a member connecting to another person outside of Sunday lunch, I am ecstatic! When I hear of two or more people in my congregation getting together to learn and grow together outside of events, or when I hear of the text prayer needs that are being met, or when I hear of members loving and serving each other, I am overjoyed and relieved. You see, when the Church begins to disciple itself and not depend on the pastor alone, then “church” is working the way its supposed to work. So, make a regular meeting time with someone, work your way through a study with someone else, or just call other people from the church to pray with and for them. Do the work of discipleship and let your pastor know you are doing it.
I hope this list encourages you to love and encourage your pastor well! I wish every pastor could have the same experience of encouragement from their people that I do with SGF. If you want to encourage your pastor, try some of these things. Do you do anything additional to encourage your pastors? Let me know in the comments.
 My max free throws in a row was somewhere around 150. The guy I shot with usually won, but we were pretty neck and neck.