A pastor never gets to say “It’s after office hours, I’m off work.” There is no punching out at 5.30pm. More often than not, pastors have to miss countless family outings or have them interrupted to minister to hurting people. They play multiple roles—from mediator to organizer, or cheerleader to teacher, they juggle many roles and responsibilities when caring for the congregation.
A pastor is often seen as strong, never tired, with an endless amount of passion, never discouraged, and ever-ready to pray and minister. Yet, they do have struggles you know not of, and fears that are never publicly displayed—only reserved for pouring out unto the Lord.
The call of a pastor extends beyond the individual; it also involves their families. Many times, a pastor’s family is deprived of their father, mother, son or daughter. Weekend family gatherings are almost impossible for pastors. For many pastors, turning up for these gatherings after an exhausting weekend is hardly being present at all. Family holidays are just as difficult to arrange. Church camps take place during the school holidays. Special church events are held on public holidays. What about Christmas? You get the idea.
Spouses become part of the waiting ministry as 10-minute conversations extend into hour-long counseling sessions. Children face intense scrutiny as their lives are measured against the yardstick of godliness. The pressure to be perfect is compounded by expectations from the congregation.
The sacrifices made when individuals answer the call to serve the Lord and His people in the ministry are not to get a pat on their backs. It is driven by a call higher than themselves. Their life motto is to serve. Their end goal? To glorify God. Their reward is received in the form of transformed lives, and souls saved for eternity. Giving of themselves to their congregation or their ministry helps equip and grow the church in loving God and doing His will. Their times of prayer in solitude provides spiritual covering for the church. Their deep study of the Word provides spiritual food for a strong church. Their leadership gives direction so their congregation is not scattered. For the sake of the call, pastors do much for their sheep at great expense of their own lives and their families.
Two decades ago, Focus on the Family started the annual Clergy Appreciation Month, choosing the month of October to be a time for congregations to intentionally appreciate their pastors. Some might wonder if it’s necessary. After all, pastors are just doing their job! They knew what they were getting into!
It’s important to understand that the concept of honoring our pastors is biblical. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12, Paul commands us to “acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.” Moreover, they are to be held “in the highest regard” (5:13) and are worthy of “double honor” (1 Timothy 5:17).
Honoring and appreciating our pastors doesn’t just benefit them, it is also for those who receive their ministry. In fact, being thankful is powerful!
Firstly, being thankful protects us from taking our pastors for granted.
I will not be the leader I am today if not for my mentors who believed in me and saw past all my shortcomings. When we reflect upon the goodness we have received from our pastors, we learn to appreciate that our growth in the Lord is not in our strength or ability but by the Lord’s provision of men and women to teach and disciple us.
Secondly, being thankful prevents a complaining spirit from spreading.
“The new worship pastor is too loud”, “The preaching was sort of lackluster today”, “The Word is not deep enough”, “The church is getting too big” etc. Complainers think grumbling is a form of discernment. It is not—in fact, it is toxic and it can spread. Ephesians 5:4 (ESV) “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Give thanks and allow the Lord to change your focus, and renew your mind and heart.
Thirdly, being thankful pleases God and releases His blessings.
When we obey God’s command to us to honor our pastors and leaders, divine alignment happens and opens up the door for continued blessings in our lives.
I look forward to see how our hearts of thanksgiving will change the atmosphere in our hearts and in our churches.
Here are a few ways you can honor and appreciate your pastor:
Pray for them
“I urge you, brothers and sisters…to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” – Romans 15:30
The greatest form of support you can give your pastor is prayer. Even Paul urged the church to pray for him so that he could continue to be an effective leader.
Here are some areas where you can cover your pastor in prayer:
- Provision for every need
- Strong family relationships
- Quality rest and good health
- Wisdom and discernment in ministry.
Write notes of encouragement
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4
Just as a farmer must wait patiently for their crops to bear fruit, pastors wait weeks, months, even years to see their members grow.
Don’t make your pastors guess whether their ministry has made a difference. Share how they have impacted your life by writing them an encouraging note! Thank them for times when they have ministered to you after “office hours”. Share specific instances where they have helped you become more like Jesus. Affirm that their work matters!
Serve alongside them
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10
The task of running a church doesn’t fall on the pastors alone. We all have skills, talents and gifts that can be used to build up the body of Christ.
From serving to being a lay leader, partner with your pastors to create vibrancy and unity in services, prayer meetings, and carecells. If you see a problem, don’t complain about it—be part of the solution!
Imitate their faith
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” – Hebrews 13:7
Pastors are very much human and are equally imperfect beings like any of us. Their struggles are real and we can allow their lives to inspire us in following Jesus and living out a life that obeys and honors the Lord’s commands.
Learn from their example. Imitate them as they imitate Christ.
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” – Hebrews 13:17
While it’s great to be able to agree on everything, that doesn’t quite happen in reality. People are bound to have differing views and opinions. Recognize that leadership is appointed by God. Choose to respond in a manner that honors God and the leadership.
It’s important to talk about differences, clarify misunderstandings and hear their heart for you. Ultimately trust that your pastor desires God’s best for you and choose to align to God’s purpose for the church to remain united.
Speak their love language
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” – 1 Timothy 5:17
Honor your pastors by showing them how much you care. For example, if you live close to them, offer a ride home after service. Or if their family enjoys watching movies, bless them with tickets.
Discover their love language. Find out their needs.
Then, love lavishly.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25
Regardless of their love language, you can bless your pastors with gifts or a meal! Consider simple gifts (vouchers for a local bookstore or restaurant), personal gifts (a new pair of shoes, a new suit or dress), generous gifts (an all-expenses-paid trip to a resort or a staycation for their family) or even practical gifts (an iPad, coffee capsules, sports equipment that he/she might enjoy using).
Love their families
“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:12-13
Honor your pastors by loving the ones closest to them. Every family has its own struggles, including your pastor’s family. Don’t expect them to be any better than your own. Eliminate unrealistic expectations and regularly extend grace to your pastor’s spouse and children.
Speak well of the church
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 15:5-6
As a minister, there’s nothing more disheartening than hearing members speak ill of the church. Remember that the body of Christ is made up of imperfect people. Extend the type of grace you would want extended to you.
Instead of complaining and criticizing, comparing and critiquing, speak well of the bride of Christ. Lift up her strengths, live out her values, and embrace her God-given vision.
About Rev Dominic Yeo
Reverend Dominic Yeo has been serving as the General Superintendent for the Assemblies of God of Singapore since April 2010. He also serves as the Secretary of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, Chairman of the Asia Pacific Assemblies of God Fellowship, and is part of the Advisory Council of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.
Reverend Yeo is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Christian Centre, a church with an average weekly attendance of 7,500. Under his leadership, Trinity has become a local church with global impact through 1,700 lay leaders, a missions program reaching over 40 nations, a social service arm serving the local community, and an accredited multi-disciplinary Christian college.
Having been dramatically transformed by God in his youth, he carries the heart of God and has tremendous relentless belief in people to fulfill their God-given destiny. Known for his visionary and strategic leadership, he trains and provides consultations to churches, helping them to experience transformation and break into new levels of growth. Reverend Yeo also mentors senior pastors in the areas of spiritual and organizational leadership.