21 Oct 7 Practical Ways to Encourage Your Pastors

As the father of five children, I have attended more back to school nights than the average parent. Each one includes a visit to my child’s classroom to hear from the teacher and parent volunteer classroom coordinator (my wife and I divide and conquer). The parent volunteer talks about drivers for field trips, who will host the Thanksgiving feast, and teacher appreciation. At my children’s school, teacher appreciation is a big deal—and rightly so. This is the person who will be spending a considerable amount of time with my child over the next nine months. I want them to feel special.

The parent volunteer closes with an explanation of teacher appreciation. Each month, two families will have the task of specifically encouraging the teacher. A list is commonly provided to provide them some direction. It might contain the teacher’s favorite cookie, candy, ice cream, pizza, color, song, author, or Starbucks drink. This is no secret. The teacher is commonly in the classroom as the announcement is made. At our school, this is just standard operating procedure. And you know what? I like it! Why not encourage the ones who will day by day pour their heart and soul into my children?

Similarly, at the close of every sports season, a designated parent will ask for five or ten dollars from every parent to thank the coach for volunteering his or her time. I gladly contribute. There are also organized efforts to say thank you to music teachers, dance teachers, and art teachers.

Here is where this becomes perplexing. Why do we appropriately go to such great lengths to express thanks to those who pour into our children’s lives, and yet, the ones who may pour into our lives more than anyone else—our pastors—commonly go a lifetime without being thanked with anything other than a verbal thank you? I’m not pushing for a gift (although that can be appropriate). I am pushing for you to find practical ways to express your love and affirmation to your pastor. Here are seven practical things you can do to show love to your pastors.

1. Pray regularly for your Pastors.

Pray for your Pastors’ personal walk with the Lord and the ability to faithfully proclaim the Gospel week after week. Pray for wisdom to lead, courage to make difficult decisions, and a spirit of humility. Text the word ‘pastor’ to 74574 to receive a daily text reminding you to pray for your pastor.

2. Protect your Pastors.

Your Pastors are laboring to protect you and your family from the consequences of sin. Let God use you to protect them from verbal attacks. Squelch gossip. If you hear a negative comment, respond with a positive one.

3. Express appreciation to your Pastors in writing.

A spoken compliment is always welcome, but a written one can be read over and over again for years. So, when you hear or see something you like from your Pastor, write an appreciative note. If you appreciate your Pastors, tell them!

4. Throw away your measuring stick.

Lay aside personal agendas and preferences. Instead, focus on how your leader is being used by God to do effective ministry now. By serving your shepherds, you will ensure that they will not only be encouraged but will feel appreciated and continue to minister with enthusiasm and energy.

5. Allow your Pastor to be real!

It is exhausting to go through life pretending you are better than you really are. Be patient and understanding with your Pastor. Do not expect your Pastor or his family to be perfect; they are human. James 5:17 teaches that a man of God has the same human weaknesses and temptations that we all face.

6. Understand: No amount of money I give buys me the right to be an antagonist in the Church.

No one has the right to be an antagonist in the church. While your motives may be good, do not presume that your faithful giving has purchased the Pastor’s ear.

7. Purchase a copy of Pastors are People Too.

This book will instruct you on how to more effectively care for your pastors.

Don’t wait to express gratitude to your Pastor. I have heard people in the church say ludicrous things like, “I was going to do something special for our Pastor, but I missed Pastor Appreciation Month so I’ll just wait until next October.” Every month is Pastor Appreciation Month! 

Jimmy Dodd is the founder and CEO of PastorServe, a ministry that exists to strengthen the Church by serving pastors. Jimmy is the author of Survive or Thrive: 6 Relationships Every Pastor Needs and Pastors are People Too. He and his wife Sally have five children and three grandchildren.