How do you care for your pastor?
I started to understand this when I read an article that was later turned into a small pamphlet titled Praying for Sunday: You, Your Pastor, and Your Next Sermon. It’s a practical resource that provides tremendous insight.
After serving in pastoral ministry for six years, I know addressing pastoral care can be awkward. But it doesn’t always have to be.
Here are seven simple ways church members can care for their pastor.
1. Pray for and with him.
This one’s probably the most obvious. During my first year pastoring, the qualifications struck me to the core (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:7–9). There is a vast difference between studying them and realizing your position depends on them.
Pastors need prayer every day. Not only are they bombarded with menial administrative tasks that steal their time, they’re assaulted with temptations to pride, laziness, and lust, among other things. We ought to pray for their perseverance in remaining qualified—which includes being “above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:2).
Further, pray with your pastors. Seek them out. Their hearts are as heavy as yours. And there is no greater joy than knowing the people of God are praying for you.
2. Talk to him about his sermon.
On average a pastor will spend anywhere from 10 to 20 hours on sermon prep. If he preaches two to three messages a week, that means he’ll spend 20 to 45 hours on sermon prep alone.
If your pastor is an expository preacher, come prepared to hear God’s Word. If he is preaching a topical series, contact the church office to acquire upcoming topics and passages. Study the text before coming to church and ponder thoughtful questions to ask.
A faithful shepherd finds great joy in explaining the Word of God. Ask what he learned from his study. Ask a question you had while reading it. Ask what theological issues the passage relates to and how. Begin a conversation about the sermon. After 20-plus hours of preparation, you have a source of wisdom before you.
3. Tell him how God is growing you.
When I was a pastor, one my greatest joys was hearing sheep tell me how they were being refined. It was so encouraging to hear what they were learning and how the Lord was growing them.
Notice Paul’s response to hearing from a previous congregation:
But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you—for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. (1 Thess. 3:6–7)
This report brought great comfort and strength to Paul. It put wind in his sails. And it will rejuvenate your pastors to hear about your growth in the Lord.
4. Care for him financially.
Pastors typically make little money. Your pastor may even qualify for food stamps, though he’d never tell you. True, he ought not shepherd the flock of God for sordid gain (1 Pet. 5:1–4). But if your pastor isn’t being paid generously, his mind and heart are likely divided:
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and “the laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Tim. 5:17–18)
We ought to make sure our pastors are financially stable. The local body combines their financial resources; they give to their pastor to free him to shepherd without concern for his poverty.
Watch his kids to give him and his wife a date night. Provide them with a family outing on your dime—perhaps anonymously. Be creative and generous with your financial care.
5. Care for his wife.
The pastor’s wife has a difficult role. As a pastor, it always discouraged me when I heard about a problem in the church from my wife. “How’d you hear about that?” I’d ask. Someone in the church told her.
Caring for your pastor means helping him protect his wife from much secret and ugly stuff in your church. I promise you, she doesn’t need to know everything.
Moreover, have realistic expectations of her role. She’s exactly like you, a servant of Christ. She’s exactly like you, a wife trying to honor her husband. She’s exactly like you, a struggling and discouraged mother. She’s exactly like you, a woman trying to honor the Lord with her life. She’s exactly like you, an ordinary church member. Love and serve her, then, as you would others in the body.
6. Build his library.
Your pastor’s library is one of his prized possessions. He loves his books and, he needs them. And he likely needs to acquire more. They will help him become a better pastor, theologian, Bible interpreter, counselor, husband, and father.
Note the short list of items Paul desired as he neared the end of his life: “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Tim. 4:13).
At the end of his life, the imprisoned apostle wanted the companionship of his closest ministerial friends and reading material.
Don’t necessarily buy your pastor books you’re reading or think would help him. Do some digging. What’s he preaching on? What’s he studying? Does he love biblical languages? Ask one of his trusted friends. Does he have an Amazon wish list? If not, ask him to create one.
7. Follow his leadership.
I purposely saved this one for last. Submitting to your pastor may be difficult. But you’ll bring joy to his heart—and to yours—if you fall under his godly leadership:
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. (Heb. 13:17)
A direct correlation exists between your obedience and your elders’ joy. Work hard to submit—gladly, not begrudgingly—to their leadership. It’s your Savior’s means of providing spiritual oversight to your soul.
It may be helpful to start a conversation with your senior pastor, elders, or others to determine what this might look like for you. If you struggle to submit, be honest about that with others in your life. There are times it’s wise to leave a church. Either way, initiate the conversation.
How are you presently caring for your pastor? What are some other ways you could care for him? I pray you’ll be encouraged to do so and begin implementing some of these ideas.