In the kind providence of God, I’ve had the opportunity to serve under a faithful pastor in the local church. As I near the end of my seminary degree, I reflect on ways the Lord was good to reveal numerous ways to encourage my pastor as I wait to begin ministry. By God’s grace, I have strived imperfectly after them during my time as a covenant member of our church.
While we prepare for ministry, we must know our hearts can tend to become evidently self–driven. We will often see our own end goal and miss the life-giving encouragement we can offer. If God will allow us to pastor a church, we will need the encouragement of Godly men around us. My aim in writing is so that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we would become the men we will pray for God to send us in our pleas for help. Below are 5 ways you can encourage your pastor while in seminary:
I am convinced that there is no greater way to encourage your pastor than to pray for him regularly. Commit daily to pray for your pastor and let him know that you do so.
Tell him what you specifically pray for in his life and ministry. Often times your pastor will feel lonely and tempted to think his ministry has little effect. You need to pray that the Lord would keep him faithful and give him endurance to be propelled on the lasting spiritual fruit of God’s word. No pastor is above the desperate need of the prayers of his people. This was a consistent need in the Apostle Paul’s life that we see throughout the New Testament:
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us.” (Colossians 4:2-3)
“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me.” (Ephesians 6:18-19)
"Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)
The Apostle Paul was deeply aware he needed the prayers of the churches to whom he ministered. The more we encourage our pastor through prayer the more we will realize our own need in the ministry God would have for us.
2. Be Patient
While our passion is to be in the pulpit tomorrow, one of the worst things we can do as we pursue ministry is to expect a prominent teaching role the moment we grace our pastors with our presence. The impatient seminary student would be served to hear “no” often, and instead, scrub toilets and serve in obscurity for a season. If we are not willing to serve without official titles, then we aren’t ready to have an official title in a ministry context.
I am eternally grateful to my pastor for not handing me a prominent role in the church immediately. Slowly, I was able to substitute teach our older members' Bible study. In the current moment we feel like we should receive more, but when we look back we will see the hand of God doing exactly what we needed.
3. Be Consistent
One of the easiest ways you can encourage your pastor is simply by showing up. This means we should be consistent in showing up to corporate worship, Sunday school, and business meetings. Our presence is an encouragement to the pastor that serves us faithfully every week.
Though this might be one of the easiest ways to encourage your pastor, too often this is the most consistent discouragement we offer our pastor. Consistency also means our pastor should be able to count on our word. He should be able to know that we will actually do what we say we will do. If we are in full-time ministry, we will depend on faithful men. Every time we fail to be consistent, our pastor is forced to pick up the slack. If we are unreliable men, we will rob time from our pastor that could be spent in the word or with his family. If we are to prevent burn out, we will need men who we can count on. By God’s grace let us seek to be these kinds of men, and pray the Lord would send men like this to our churches.
4. Speak up
The longer you stay at your church, the more you will witness the mistreatment of your pastor. This mistreatment is likely to happen during various meetings or in conversations with disgruntled members of the church.
Brothers, this is the same mistreatment we will experience someday. Resolve to graciously speak up when accusations are hurled at your pastor. Resolve to shut down and not entertain the slander thrown at your pastor. Make it your aim to seek the protection of your pastor and his family even if loving confrontation is needed. If we are called someday to pastor a church, we will need bold men who are for us. This boldness will encourage your pastor to continue in faithfulness regardless of the accusations of men.
5. Love the Church
Brothers, love the church! You can encourage your pastor by patiently and selflessly loving her despite the wrinkles and spots. Every pastor knows the deviancies of the church he shepherds. He doesn’t need overly zealous men like us to point them out. Speak well of your church, serve without recognition, and look for ways to serve without being asked.
Practically, this means we should be intentional with new members, reach out to those struggling with sin, pray through the church directory, and seek to lead in Christ centered conversations. Four years ago, I came to my church for an internship. I thought of all the ways our church and pastor could benefit from my gifting. But with tears in my eyes, I can say the opposite has been true. Brothers, please humbly and joyfully love the church.