One of the hardest parts of teaching my own children at home was carrying the responsibility. The buck stopped with me and from time to time I felt a huge emotional burden. fortunately I had a number of good friends who encouraged me when times were tough and I in turn encouraged others. The load of a home educating mom pales into insignificance when compared to the load carried by our pastors. They are responsible for our never-dying souls. This is an awesome load. How much do we encourage them?
Praying for our pastors is an obviously starting place: specific prayers, not just vague “bless him” prayers. Ask him what his prayer needs are so that your prayers are meaningful and effective. Pray privately and corporately for him and his work.
Words of encouragement can take many forms: gratitude expressed, encouragement to keep on keeping on, the value of a particular sermon etc. We also need to be careful about the kind of conversations we have with our pastors. If every time we talk to him we have an all-about-me-give-me-some-advice conversation, that can be particularly draining for him. Sometimes we need to have a general chat that gives him a break from work. If there is an issue you have with your pastor, take it up with him face to face and not behind his back.
Practical help is also needed: baby-sit so that he can have a night with out his wife; if he isn’t a Mr. Fix-it, offer to help with some odd jobs at his home; shoulder some of the leadership responsibility in the church where this is possible; write a letter of encouragement; give a gratitude gift (a book voucher?). Part of the practical aspect is following your pastor as he follows the Lord.You will be an encouragement if he sees that you are receptive to the Word preached, that you are openly attentive and responsive.
We live in very stressful times and know the need of encouragement. Let’s make sure our pastors don’t feel that they are going it alone. And the encouragement that is good for the pastor is good for his wife too, and every other person in the family of God. May the Lord grant is grace to build up and not tear down.