4 Ways We Can Honor Our Pastors
by Dianne Jago
1 Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
My father-in-law has been a senior pastor at his church for 19 years, and my husband is in seminary training to be a teaching pastor and chaplain. In observing their ministry experience, I have come to appreciate the above verse. The men who faithfully and obediently pastor their churches are undoubtedly worthy of double honor.
Pastor Appreciation Day is just around the corner, and with that in mind, here are four ways we can honor our pastors:
We honor our pastors by speaking well of them.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph. 4:29)
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul, and health to the body.” (Prov. 16:24)
We live in a consumeristic age, and it’s tempting to carry that mindset into our church experience. After a draining week, we step into church, hoping to be filled. When this is our mentality, it’s easy to say things like, “I got nothing out of that sermon” or, “I don’t like the pastor’s jokes.” It’s easy to criticize the way a pastor chooses to approach a text. It’s tempting to skip the next Sunday because we don’t enjoy every word that comes from the pulpit. We know that God despises gossip (which includes unhelpful conversations about the pastor and his family), but even if our intent is not malicious, we must be careful how we speak to others about him. It’s one thing to express loving concern if a pastor is disobedient to his calling to preach the Gospel, but it’s another if he is a faithful minister of Scripture and we nitpick his preaching style. We do not see the countless hours these men pour into prayer and study as they prepare for each sermon. We do not grasp the inner turmoil they feel as they preach topics with which they are still wrestling in their own lives.
This point, of course, is not limited to preaching pastors but includes other pastors whose ministry may not be so obviously seen every Sunday morning. Let’s be gracious and consider our words before we speak them to others.
We honor our pastors by personally encouraging them.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11)
Pastors often hear feedback, and, unfortunately, it is not always encouraging. If your pastor faithfully preaches the Gospel, thank him. If an illustration or sermon point speaks to you, go out of your way to express that to him. If his counseling transformed your home or marriage, don’t keep silent. If he has blessed or encouraged you in some way, let him know!
I’ve watched my husband teach a class and leave discouraged that he didn’t communicate as clearly as he intended to. But a simple text message or encouraging comment from a student afterward showed him that God still worked through the lessons he felt he botched. We can encourage a pastor by simply walking up to him after a service and thanking him or writing him a note and dropping it off at the church office.
And, if you have the means to do so, this might include also sending a gift. Drop off a cup of coffee, or offer to babysit his kids! Consider a gift card to his favorite bookstore. (This can be better than buying him a book. As an editor, I am sent books all the time and understand how tall those “to-read” stacks can get!) Physical gifts are not a pastor’s motive for preaching, but they sure can encourage him.
We honor our pastors when we pray for them (and their families).
“ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12)
Spiritual warfare is a real battle, and our pastors are not only fighting for themselves and their families, but also their flock. We cannot comprehend what spiritual attacks they deal with privately, and we should pray for them.
Not only that, but family life is often difficult for a pastor. For example, I’ve witnessed my father-in-law called into meetings or visitations late at night. Family plans are canceled for unexpected funerals. Private counseling sessions cannot be discussed with spouses. Not only is their job physically exhausting, but it is also mentally exhausting.
These are just a few specific areas where they can use prayer. Let’s pray that they:
- continuously delight in the Lord (Ps. 37:3-4)
- have the wisdom to lead their congregation well (Ps. 37:30-31)
- have the understanding to expound Scripture well (Luk. 24:27)
- cling to truth and promote sound doctrine (Tit. 2:1)
- have the strength to fight every temptation (Eph. 6:10-11)
- continue to love their congregation well (1 Pet. 5:2-3)
- walk in a spirit of humility (Mat. 20:26)
- remain faithful in their marriages (Eph. 5)
- do not grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9)
We honor our pastors by being healthy church members.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . . . And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:42, 46–47)
It’s easy to imagine that a pastor’s only job is to preach, but in reality, he juggles so much more than that. Pastors are involved in counseling, planning, visitations, and even extinguishing the fires of church drama.
When church members walk by the Spirit and maintain an active prayer and Bible reading life, they guard themselves against sinful habits that overflow into church relationships. When church members use their gifts to serve the church, the load doesn’t fall entirely on pastors and staff. When congregants tithe and give faithfully, the pastor doesn’t have to worry about meeting (or cutting) this year’s budget.
Imagine the pastor of a church whose members are not stirring up divisions or causing quarrels, whose members are forgiving one another as Christ forgave the Church, whose members are loving others as themselves. Of course, the Church will not be sin-free until the day we move from this life to the next, but our aim should be to model what Scripture commands.
Pastor Appreciation Day is October 13th. Let us all make an effort to show our pastors gratitude. When we honor our pastors, we honor the Lord. Let us give thanks to God for the faithful men he has chosen to lead us. Their impact is eternal, and they are most definitely worthy of double honor.