Pastors are quitting today for many reasons.
Pastors, as a whole, can be a troubled lot. Unfortunately it comes with the territory. But much of the remedy would come if somebody would simply offer them some genuine encouragement.
To encourage means “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope, or to spur on” — a very powerful antidote to an increasingly troubled world.
Smartphone technology has created a self-absorbed world, one where we have 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?” But that’s a weak excuse. You have all the time you need.
The Apostle Paul was so serious about encouraging people that his letters usually focused on encouraging someone or trying to get others to encourage someone. For example, he writes, “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 and burned out. It’s not hard to see why we have so many dropouts and failures in the ministry. And COVID-19 has only added to the stress.
The Apostle Paul was so serious about encouraging people that his letters usually focused on encouraging someone or trying to get others to encourage someone.
The church I served the longest did things that encouraged me, often just when I felt like quitting — but they never knew that. Here are some things that really encouraged me. Consider one or more of these suggestions to encourage your pastor.
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. Recently, after leading a funeral for an elderly man, the family wrote me a note and said, “Even though it’s been a long time since you served at our church, you’ll always be our pastor.” How powerful was that! I read it all the time.
Give your pastor a break.
Every pastor needs regular breaks from his responsibilities to rest, relax and recover. Find out his favorite place, like the beach or mountains, and send him there, all expenses paid. October is Pastor Appreciation Month, so you have a great built-in opportunity. And if your church is struggling financially, 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 a cabin or beach house, loan it to him for the week. One family did this for us many times. It was a lifesaver.
Give your pastor a gift.
This should be 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 retreat ever!
Consider your pastor. Pray for him and follow his leadership, but go a step further and really encourage him. It will build him up. Way up.