1. PRAY for your pastor. The pastor is the spiritual catalyst for the church. That makes the pastor a great big target for the enemy. Pray for the pastor’s spiritual health. Pray for protection. Pray for wisdom. Pray that the catalytic gifts of apostleship, prophecy, teaching, evangelism, and shepherding will grow strong in your pastor. The most affirming words that a pastor ever hears is “pastor, I’m praying for you everyday” (Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11).
2. AFFIRM your pastor. Pastoring may be one
of the most difficult jobs in the world these days. Pastors
live in a highly concentrated environment where they see the
results of sin on a daily basis through caring for humanity.
While the average person may see a death, injury, illness, or
family conflict occasionally, the pastor lives through these
things on a weekly basis. Though pastors don’t live for affirmation,
words of validation do provide a lifeline of strength
through treacherous times. Those little notes saying ‘pastor,
you’re making a difference,’ may be the very thing that helps
your pastor make it through another day (Acts 4:36).
3. BLESS the pastoral family. Pastoral stress leaks
into families and is enough to test all the family bonds. Throw
in a few wild expectations about how a pastoral spouse and
pastoral kids are supposed to behave and you have a recipe
for a family meltdown. The antidote is the blessing. Bless
the spouse. Bless the kids. Let go of any expectations and
treat the family with a rich blessing of heaven’s grace. And of
course to relieve the financial pressure, return a faithful tithe
so that the pastor is secure in getting a regular paycheck
(1 Corinthians 9:14).
4. RELEASE the pastor from constant ministry
so renewal can take place. Pastors who go 24/7 for days,
weeks, and months on end will inevitably self destruct. Mandate
that your pastor takes weekly breaks for spiritual renewal
as well as annual extended breaks for study leave and
vacation. It is a small price to pay for the rich spiritual energy
that comes as a result of regularly releasing your pastor from
ministry (Matthew 14:23).
5. TALK with your pastor, not about or around. Complaining
about the pastor to someone else is corrosive for
the entire church family. Writing anonymous critical notes to
the pastor are acts of spiritual terrorism (by the way, smart
pastors just throw them in the trash without reading them). If
you have a problem with the pastor, talk directly to the pastor
and try to work it out. If resolution can’t be found, then bring
a spiritual leader with you and seek resolution. And then (and
only then) if resolution is not found, bring together a larger
group to dialog with the pastor. Challenge privately. Affirm
publicly (Matthew 18:15-17).
6. FORGIVE your pastor for falling short of your
expectations; because no pastor will perfectly satisfy your
ideals. Remember that your vision of what a pastor should
be is probably unique to you. Everyone else in the congregation
also has unique expectations. Many of the expectations
are mutually exclusive. Your pastor will also make some
mistakes. All pastors do. Extend to your pastor the same grace that God extends to you. If your pastor knows that
he/she practices ministry in a safe, grace-filled congregation
where risk taking is expected and stagnancy is deplored,
your church can become spiritually turbocharged (Matthew
7. FEED yourself spiritually. Don’t expect to live on
a limited spiritual diet of thirty-minute weekly sermons. Going
seven days without eating makes one weak. Even with
the best sermons you will spiritually starve to death. The
role of the shepherd is not to stick grass in the mouths of
sheep but to lead the sheep to green pastures. As you listen
to the great sermons that your pastor preaches may you be
inspired to get into the word yourself everyday in prayer filled
Bible Study (Psalm 23:2).
8. BOND with a small group. Don’t expect the primary
pastoral care to come from the pastor. It is mathematically
impossible, and primary care is not his/her role. Regular
spiritual support occurs in small groups. When you are
plugged into a weekly small group you will grow together,
pray for one another, care for one another, and support one
another through all the ups and downs of life. The pastoral
staff and lay pastors can serve as a safety net for those not
in small groups as well as care for those in life transitions
9. FOLLOW the leader. The pastor is not the CEO of the congregation, that role is reserved for Jesus. However the pastor has been given the gift of apostleship and you should take your cue from the pastor and follow after Jesus. Let your pastor lead. With leadership comes change. Things will be different. Since the founding of the church God has brought a succession of quality pastors, each one with leadership to take your church to the next level. God gives your pastor vision. Help the pastor flesh out the vision and then do your part to turn the vision into reality (Hebrews 13:17).
10. EXERCISE your spiritual gifts. Pastoral
gifts don’t do much by themselves. However if you let those
catalytic gifts energize your gifts, you will come alive spiritually.
Let the pastor equip you so that your church family can
reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God and
become mature, attaining to the whole measure the fullness
of Christ. Take advantage of the teaching and ministry opportunities
at your church. Place yourself in optimal places
for spiritual growth (Ephesians 4:11, 12).
Dave Gemmell is an Associate Ministerial Secretary for the North
American Division (NAD). His role is to discover, develop, and distribute
resources for the pastors of the NAD. He also serves as a
volunteer Associate Pastor for New Hope Seventh-day Adventist
Church in Fulton, Maryland, USA.