I’ve often asked this question at churches where I’m speaking — People are dying today for a lack of (fill in the blank)?
The audience typically responds with things like good medical care, food, hope, etc.
After a moment, I say, “People are dying today for lack of encouragement.” You can see the audience’s agreement.
To encourage means “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope, or to spur on.” A very powerful antidote to an increasingly troubled world.
Honestly though, smartphone technology has created a self-absorbed world, one where we are having a hard time seeing beyond the end of our arms. Even if we did ask people to encourage someone they would say, “when would I have the time?” Uh, like right now. You have all the time you need.
The apostle Paul was so serious about encouraging people that his letters usually were encouraging someone or trying to get others to encourage someone. Like this example: “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). He knew encouragement builds up. Way up.
Pastors need this more than anyone I know. Most pastors give and give and give until they are exhausted, stressed out and burned out. It’s not hard to see why we have so many dropouts and failures in ministers.
The church where I served the longest often did things that encouraged me (usually when I was thinking of quitting, but they never knew that). So I feel certain that if you will follow my lead on this, it will work for your pastor, too.
- Write your pastor a personal note.
Not type a personal note, or email a personal note, but write a personal note. Writing letters and personal notes is a lost art. But it’s far more powerful than anything electronic. Honestly, of all the things people have done to encourage me, this has been the greatest. I’ve kept many of these notes and read and reread them. My favorite was from a little girl who handed me a handwritten note in crayon which said, “You’re the greatest pasture ever.”
- Give your pastor a break.
Every pastor needs regular breaks from his church responsibilities to rest, relax and recover. Find out his favorite place like the beach or mountains and send him there, all expenses paid. Don’t wait for Pastor Appreciation Day (it’s often disingenuous anyway). Ask a few other couples to go in with you and pick up the tab. He and his wife will be shocked, and they will never forget your kindness. And if you own one, give him your cabin or beach house for the week. One family did this for us many times. It was a life-saver.
- Give him a gift.
A real gift, a gift that he would want, not the one you would like to give him. But you’ve got to know him to know what it is. Listen to him speak, and you will get some clues. I was speaking at a conference once and made a joke about my golf bag that had a hole in it. At the end of the two-day event, one of the attendees came up and presented me with a brand new golf bag. I had just met them the day before! Are you kidding me? Greatest event ever!
Now, consider your pastor. Of course pray for him and follow his leadership, but go a step further and really encourage him. It will build him up. Way up.
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