Your pastor is human. It perhaps doesn’t feel that way when they stand on a pulpit or facilitate a bible study, but pastors are human. This means that your pastor has both positive and negative emotions. In an age where church hurt is coming to the fore, often pastors are left out of these conversations. It may seem like everyone can be discouraged by the church except pastors. After all, the sheep are the vulnerable ones. But what happens when the sheep turn on their shepherd, or perhaps worse when they neglect their shepherd? Being a pastor requires much responsibility and that weight may be unbearable at times. The scripture commands us to bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and what better way to alleviate some of the burdens your pastor may be carrying than by encouraging them.
Remember Your Pastor
How does your pastor feel? Do you know? We may fall victim to the kind of thinking that reduces a pastor’s work to the 1 hour he may be allocated on Sunday. But the preaching of the word, although a critical work, only scratches the surface of what a pastor may be engaged in during the week. Hebrews 13:17 states ‘Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you’. The role of the pastor is to be a shepherd over our souls. This is a seismic task, the size of which is often misunderstood by the sheep. We can be so focused on what the pastor does, that we neglect to be concerned about how they feel. We want our pastors to do a good job yet we neglect to consider how the pressures of life, the disheartening comments of saints, and the unbelief of the community may be weighing our pastors down. The writer in Hebrews instructs us to not add further weights to the load our leaders are already carrying; instead alleviate the weights through obedience and submission, since our pastors doing a good job is for our benefit.
Tend to the Wounded Shepherd
Over the last two years, we have seen a substantial rise in the stories of church hurt. Perhaps, being away from the physical gathering has allowed people to reflect on their church experiences. These stories ought to be shared and bring light to the way that Christians can often let their fellow covenant siblings down. However, how often do we hear stories about our pastors? Have you considered that your Pastor may have experienced or is currently experiencing church hurt too? There are so many different people, with varying personalities and needs. Pastors can’t make everyone happy and for some, a pastor’s best efforts just aren’t good enough. The very people pastors are called to serve may be the very people that disappoint pastors the most. However instead of complaining about our pastor’s quality of work here’s what Paul exhorts us to do, ‘Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labour among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves’ (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
It can be easy to focus on the pastors who have failed, but many pastors are labouring to faithfully keep watch over your soul. So, the next time you seek to complain about what your pastor hasn’t done, remember what they have done and encourage them to keep going. After all, it’s for your joy that your pastor does their job well.