Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

As we said in yesterday’s post, pastors need your care. They are not above it or beyond it. Yesterday, I gave a few suggestions for members of the congregation in their care for pastors. Today I would like to offer some ideas for elders.

How Elders can care for their Pastors:

  • Don’t let him get comfortable, but do help him to feel safe
  • Have his back. Don’t make him stand alone in the midst of conflict–dare to be disliked.
  • Grant him regular encouragement and have the needed hard conversations
  • See yourself as laboring with him, instead of under or over him
  • Brainstorm, vision, and pray WITH him about the future of the church
  • Inquire into the finances of his family on a regular basis
  • Get to know his wife and children and ask about them
  • Hire additional staff before they are needed
  • Encourage him to write, go to conferences, and pursue further education
  • Never talk about him in a derogatory or negative way with other members of the congregation
  • Monitor his relationships with the rest of the staff
  • Appoint an elder and wife to meet regularly with the Pastor and his wife for encouragement and  accountability. They should also help them wrestle through his schedule, family issues, needs, and celebrate joys.
  • Make sure your pastor takes a day off. Hold him accountable
  • Give him at least one week of Study Leave a year. You may think this is yet another week your pastor is away from the congregation, but it can be one of the greatest blessings to your congregation. He will return having been stimulated, challenged, and encouraged. Besides it is an inexpensive way to bless him!
  • Grant him adequate vacation time and require that he take it
  • Assign an elder or staff person to help with administrative tasks. Administration can steal too much of a pastor’s time–time that could be spent in much more valuable ways. It is also an area that pastors can get lost in, discouraged by, and even seek to hide in.
  • Ensure that the congregation understands his main tasks are prayer, study, and preaching. Most individuals in the church will have different expectations. If that is the case–change them.
  • Regularly encourage him that you value the time he spends praying, studying, and preaching–ask for fewer policies, spreadsheets, and even visitations.
  • Ask what he is studying and praying about
  • Help him discern what his “pastoral duties” include and what they do not include in this local church–he can’t do everything.
  • Ask penetrating questions about his prayer life
  • Give him an adequate book budget
  • Lean towards saying “yes” to his ideas, vision, and dreams, but be willing and courageous enough to say “no.”

Again, please suggest further ways that you have found helpful in the comments. The list should be long.

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14 thoughts on “Pastors Need Your Care–Part II”

  1. Derek McKinnon says:

    Many thanks for this list. I am going to save it. One need for one’s pastor is to pray for him on a daily basis. Also, if you disagree with your pastor, pray for the issue and for him before (if at all possible) you speak privately with him about it – it might be an issue that is not as urgent and/or important. If you do speak with him about it, always speak in love and always be willing to listen – nobody understands or knows all the issues involved, and nobody is perfect.

  2. Ross Bebee says:

    Great stuff, Jason. Thank you.

  3. JR says:

    I am a new elder. My pastor has taught me that the Bible says that all elders have the same responsibilities except the pastor has the added responsibility of preaching and teaching the Word.

    He also says that the pastor’s only responsibilities are preaching, teaching, studying and praying. The artcle above seems to support this idea.

    If both are true then it means the lay elders have no responsibilities. Can you elaborate on the responsibilities of the pastor elder and lay elder? Thanks.

  4. Flyaway says:

    How about encouraging him to exercise? Some pastors do exercise so that is good, but for those who don’t how would one bring up the subject? I have encouraged friends and relatives to think about what they did as a child for exercise and to look into doing that as an adult. I loved tap dancing so that is what I do.

  5. EricP says:

    “his main tasks are prayer, study, and preaching”

    Then who leads? What I’ve seen is it the members. All the ministries are led and run by lay people. Missions (usually international), community service, worship, sunday school, small groups, discipleship all led by people with full time jobs doing it on the side. The most motivated people spend their time providing leadership instead of performing ministry. Pastors occasionally do drive-bys to big events. That model seems fundamentally flawed.

    To be honest, I don’t know the history of how we went from a house structure with multiple prophets described in 1 Corinthians to our modern organization. It just seems we’re spending too much time inward focused.

  6. Nathan says:

    These are great, thanks!

  7. Justin says:

    This list is great! I’m a Pastor and I doubt any of the people of the church I pastor read this blog. How do I send this out without coming across the wrong way?

  8. EricP says:

    Justin,

    For this list, I would have a frank and open conversation with your elders. Do it gently, but you also need to be clear on what you need to be effective.

    For yesterday’s list about the congregation’s duties, I would again just be open and honest with them. You are human too, and you have limits. They don’t know you want to be invited to dinner. They don’t know how many people you visit each week. They don’t know how much time you put into the sermon.

    I’d set boundaries on when you are taking new ideas. Maybe the start of each year or every other year. Explain that you and your team have made a decision and that your not going to revisit it until next year.

    I would also clarify expectations about new ministries. Who do you expect to lead them? Someone on staff or the person who comes up with the idea? That puts everyone on the same page.

    I’d end with the benefits to them (and you) from taking this approach.

  9. Matt Waymeyer says:

    Jason: This is so very good–thanks brother!

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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