5 ways to encourage pastors
Church leaders, especially pastors and ministry personnel, are struggling like never before. I recently received a number from Christianity today and the cover story is “Voided: Tens of Thousands of Pastors Want to Quit But Haven’t.” What did it do to them? Let me first say that sometimes you need a break. Don’t apologize for needing a rest. And if God shows you a new direction, go with confidence. We’ve had a lot of guilt trips in the past. Sometimes you make a tough decision even when people don’t understand. So if you have left pastoral leadership for any reason, it is a personal spiritual matter and not one to be evaluated by the public. And how should we serve those who still serve on the front lines of the church? Those who have endured this pandemic, the social and political unrest and all that has happened in our world and our culture in the past two years? Two words sum up what we desperately need today more than ever: encouraging pastors.
Every leader I know needs a Barnabas right now who will encourage pastors without evaluation. Acts 9:27 says,
But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and told them how on the way he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. (NRSV)
Barnabas told the church in Jerusalem a simple thing about Paul:
Jesus, by the grace of God, made all the difference in this man’s life – you should listen to him.
There are many pastors and ministry leaders with whom I might disagree on theology, politics, and approaches to leadership and ministry. But I know they are good women and men because, by the grace of God, Jesus made all the difference in their lives.
Your words of confidence about a pastor or ministry leader, not just to them but to those they serve each week, can make all the difference right now. It’s energizing to be encouraged, both privately and publicly.
And just as every leader needs a friend like Barnabas, everyone needs a Paul and a Timothy (or more of each).
That is, we all have to be learn from mentors and learner mentoring. There is always someone in front of us, and always someone right behind us. It is a leader’s role and responsibility to give a boost to another leader.
5 ways to encourage pastors
1. Call another leader on the phone and frame them.
You don’t need permission to encourage pastors. You don’t even need to say that you frame them.
Just ask them a ton of questions about how things are going in their soul, family, and leadership area. Then offer encouragement and maybe some advice. And pray with them and over them.
2. Connect another leader in a valuable relationship.
I always say, “Oh, you must know this and that.” It’s my way of bringing people together when I think they need to learn from each other.
How many connections is too many? I have been connecting with leaders and connecting leaders to other leaders for years now and my ability to learn and be led by others has yet to be fulfilled.
3. Submit a book.
People tell me all the time what I should read next, but some of my closest mentors just sent me the book they knew I needed.
Personally, I have given or sent copies of these favorites to encourage pastors over the years:
- by Jeffrey Gitomer Little black book of connections. It’s not a faith-based book, but Gitomer knows how to influence others by adding value to their lives.
- Rich Villodas’ Deeply formed life. Rich reminds us that what keeps us stable is not our performance but our prayer life.
- Bill Hull’s The pastor who makes disciples. Bill’s book is a classic for gathering friends like Jesus did and helping them grow spiritually.
- by Brene Brown dare to leadbecause no one can help you go further, rid yourself of shame, and live boldly and authentically quite like Brene.
- Henri Nouwen The inner voice of lovebecause Henri was a man that any leader could identify with and that he indicated what really mattered: love.
- Joshua DuBois’ President’s devotion. A collection of the devotions Joshua sent to President Barack Obama each morning. (Politics aside, this is a good book.)
- by Shawn Lovejoy measuring success. Discouragement often comes from marking ourselves on the wrong scorecard and Shawn points us back to the factors that should be the source of our confidence.
And of course there are others too, but these are some of my favorites.
4. Ask a leader for help.
Asking for a favor empowers people. I like helping others, and you too. So bless others to help you from time to time.
A friend called me yesterday to advise me on an opportunity that was offered to him. The opportunity was out of my league, but he wanted to know what I thought of it. I don’t know if my advice was worth much in the end, but it meant a lot that he asked me.
Pastors are notoriously reluctant to ask others for help, but asking a pastor to help you with something as simple as advice opens the door to helping others.
5. Produce something for others.
I’m frustrated with the number of great leaders I know whose heads are filled with wisdom but who won’t write, blog or speak anywhere. It’s not that you have do these things is that you box and so should share your collected wisdom with others.
It’s free, fast and simple to start sharing your knowledge with the world. And it will only get easier. It’s a matter of being a good steward of the wisdom God has given you.
You cannot save the world. This is Jesus’ role and he fulfilled it and continues to fulfill it perfectly. But Jesus wants to involve YOU in its work of restoring, renewing and refreshing those around you. If you are one yourself, you can encourage pastors!