By Matt Tullos
Special assistant to the executive director
Pastors are amazing. They speak every Sunday. They provide leadership to teams and champion the vision of the church. They are there for the most joyous and most despairing moments of life: when babies are born, when brides are married, when people die.
Traditionally, October is a month we honor and bless our pastors. Some churches give a gift certificate, a book, or a tie. But if we all blessed our pastors in these practical ways, it would be worth so much more. These commonsense strategies cost you nothing, but they would be priceless to him.
1. Honor and appreciate his wife. Many churches assume that the pastor’s wife needs to fit the cookie-cutter model of the perfect wife. She plays the piano, quietly smiles, has no opinions, serves in the nursery, leads the women’s Bible study, decorates the wedding parlor, attends every WMU meeting, and always appears perfect inside and out. Here’s a shocker: This woman doesn’t exist. Your pastor’s wife might do one or two of these things, but she is unique and has an important role to play in your church.
2. Don’t bring up issues or concerns 10 minutes before the morning worship service begins. He’s been prayerfully working all week toward that job. So, help him keep his focus by eliminating distractions.
3. Realize that Sundays come around on a fairly consistent basis. We’d all like to have those Sundays where attendance tops last Sunday, the altars are full during the invitation, the sermon is filled with hilarious anecdotes, and with awe inspiring illustrations and life-altering epiphanies. The truth is every pastor has good and bad Sundays.
The best thing you can do is lift his spirits on those Sundays when things fall apart. Find a way to encourage and specifically comment on some way that God spoke to you through his message. Make sure he is taking a day off. Sunday, of all days, doesn’t count.
There’s an unwritten rule among pastors: “Don’t resign on a Monday.” If a pastor is doing it right, his adrenal glands are usually shot on a Monday. He needs to have at least one day where he experiences a sacred, everybody-knows-it, day off.
4. Have his back. That invisible bullseye on his back placed by the enemy really exists! The best thing you can do is to pray for him and deflect some of the nonsense he may be experiencing on any given Sunday (or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday).
If he is being talked about, criticized, or derided at the coffee shop in his absence, you might be wondering what to say. Here’s a suggested response: “Wait a second, that’s my pastor you’re talking about.” This sentence shuts down the sewage value 99.7 percent of the time!
If you’re in a leadership position in your church, you become a sounding board for everyone who thinks your pastor is obtuse, lazy, overbearing, driven, long-winded, shallow, manipulative, disorganized, carnal, pharisaical, aloof, nosey, trite, over-analytical, under-educated, simple, complex, late, early, egregious, spineless, stubborn, and/or incompetent. Do not listen to any of them. Ever.
5. Love his kids. Like the pastor’s wife, the PK is not on the payroll. They are in the fishbowl. Help them to find the blue oceans of grace found in a healthy church family.
6. Lend a hand. The shared experience of every pastor is that as his head hits the pillow at the end of the day, there’s always at least 10 things that he didn’t finish. The work of a pastor is a cascading to-do list of challenges and transformations. He could have made one more visit, completed preparation for one more sermon, met with one more leader, or wrote one more e-mail.
If there is a way to lighten his load, offer assistance. One pastor in Tennessee shared with me recently that after a busy three-funeral-week he was awakened by the sound of a deacon mowing his grass. He said it was the greatest gift he could have received at that moment.
7. Become a Great Commission believer. Every pastor should be a soul winner, but not the only one. I remember an active church member saying to our pastor, “Evangelism? Me? That’s what we pay you to do!”
That’s so wrong in so many ways. God called all of us to be on mission. The pastor should equip us to evangelize. The layperson will enter spaces that the pastor will never be able to go. Evangelism is an “everybody” thing.
There, you have it. Seven easy ways to honor your pastor, not just in October, but every day of the week and twice on Sunday. B&R