Nearly two decades ago, before God called me into full-time evangelistic ministry, I was blessed to pastor a church in North Carolina.
I loved being a pastor. I considered it the greatest honor to shepherd a flock, walk beside them through the good times and the bad, and—most of all—open the Bible and share with them the truth of Scripture every week.
Pastoral ministry is a difficult, 24/7/365 calling. It can be challenging, stressful, and heartbreaking.
No, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
As we wrap up Pastor Appreciation Month, I would like to offer some words of encouragement to both laypeople and their pastors.
For the readers who are not leading a congregation, I encourage you to go the extra step in caring for your pastor. Pray for him, encourage him, bless him and his family, and be available to come alongside him in ministry to your community.
As Aaron and Hur physically held up Moses’ arms during the battle against the Amalekites (Exodus 17), support your pastor as he stands for the Kingdom of Christ in your city. Pastoring a church can be a lonely and discouraging calling, and your support will mean more than you could ever imagine.
Now, for the pastors who are reading this:
1): Pursue righteousness in your own life and faith. I know you’re busy and tired, but make sure that you’re taking the time to grow in your own walk with Christ. Study and meditate on God’s Word. Spend time in prayer. Deepen your relationship with the Savior.
As the shepherd of your congregation, you need to be growing spiritually each and every day.
Your ministry, and your evangelistic witness, will suffer if your community (or your family) watch you live one way during the week, and then act a different way in the pulpit on Sunday.
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy, “But you, O man of God … pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
The same goes for you. Pursue righteousness—for your sake and for the sake of your flock.
2): Proclaim Christ in your community. It’s easy to become internally focused. You’re working so hard to minister to your own congregation, to tend your own church, that you might lose sight of the desperate and dying world outside your doors.
In Romans 10 we read: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? …
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:14 & 17)
That community outside the walls of your church needs Jesus. Which means they need you! They need to hear the words of the preacher. Never miss an opportunity to proclaim the hope of Jesus.
3): Equip your congregation to reach the community as well. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus chose 12 disciples, and then He sent them out to minister in the surrounding area. Later in the New Testament, Paul had Barnabas and Timothy, among many others, to help proclaim the Good News.
Likewise, you are not on your own. As we’ve already discussed, you’re busy, you’re stressed, and you may very well be burned out. Instead of carrying the entire burden yourself, pour into the leaders in your church. Ensure that they are rooted in Scripture, and then equip and deploy them to further your church’s reach into the community, in the Name of Jesus.
This will likely take some time on the front end as you mentor and minister to your own flock, but your impact will multiply as your people shine the light of Christ.
My friends, whether you’re a pastor or a congregant, we need to stand together in these dark days. As the world falls into disarray, we must anchor ourselves to the Word of God, grow in our faith, and proclaim it in our communities. No less than eternity is at stake.