Appreciate your pastor

FROM THE NATIONAL DIRECTOR: Pastors deserve to be treated with kindness

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While pastoring at Pine Acres Church in Weatherford, Oklahoma, from 1991 to 2004, my wife, Janna, and I experienced a congregation that wonderfully supported and loved us.

However, I remember several times during those years, as I shared our good experience with fellow pastors at conventions or other gatherings, many said they weren’t experiencing the same thing. Often, we’d hear pastors and their spouses share stories of intense conflict, pain and disillusionment. I remember thinking how fortunate we were to have such an encouraging congregation to serve and love.

I made a lot of mistakes as a young pastor. I was rather “green,” so to speak, beginning at Pine Acres Church right out of seminary. But the people were so gracious. I remember several older members who, with a smile, would say things like, “Pastor, we don’t necessarily like some of the changes that are happening, but we want you to know that even though it’s hard for us, we support you; we’re behind you; we’re praying for you.” You cannot imagine how uplifting those words of encouragement—and acts of sacrifice—were to me.

Listening to pastors is one of the privileges I enjoy in my current position. Many, many pastors and ministry leaders share their joy in serving Jesus through serving their congregations—feeling loved and supported.

But allow me to share that far too many express that they feel beat down, even harassed, by the people they have been called to serve. They convey feelings of great sadness, experience deep loneliness and yet don’t know what to do to change things. What once had been a confident impression of being called by God to serve as a pastor has become pain—deep, emotional anguish.

I’m not saying that pastors are without fault and that most congregations are cruel. But I am saying that even if a pastor isn’t knocking it out of the ballpark, they do deserve to be treated with kindness, encouragement and Christ-like conversations.

When a pastor says to me that he feels “beat down,” that he receives derisive emails and texts during the week and even antagonistic facial expressions while he’s preaching … folks, this is just not right.

The principles expressed in Hebrews 13:17 apply to what I’m writing about: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

If you are one who disparages your pastor even to the point that they feel harassed, please, stop!

If you often share derogatory evaluations of sermons or are that person sneering at your pastor while he’s preaching, please, stop!

If you feel the need to ridicule your pastor, consistently placing them in a negative light with other church members, please, stop!

This is not being the church that Jesus calls us to. Instead, let’s appreciate and encourage our pastors. If you have a disagreement, invite your pastor for coffee and talk openly with them in a Christ-like way.

Just as Paul writes to the church in Colossae, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:12-14 ESV).

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