Some have heard the maxim that pastors of mid-size churches leave over the opposition of fewer than seven people. In other words, a church of 500 active members could lose their pastor because of a handful of vocal and dissatisfied church members.
There is another number that needs to be considered—the number one. Sometimes it only takes one encouraging voice to help a frustrated or discouraged leader stay faithful in the place of their calling.
More than once this past week I witnessed firsthand the power of encouragement, and the lack of it.
Here are five things to pay attention to if you hope to encourage your pastor or other ministry leaders:
1. Pay attention to impressions: When you have an unction to reach out and say hi to your pastor, or another ministry leader, act on that impression. There is no need to be especially dramatic with the call, but just check in to hear how things are going. Giving a person a chance to talk may open the door for them to discuss something that is on their mind.
2. Pay attention to words: When you are in conversation with a leader, take time to listen and ask good questions. Leaders often deal with a difficult matters and need to talk to someone who will listen and give helpful feedback. You can be that person. Ask good questions, especially those that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how. Your active listening may allow the other person to open up and hear your perspective on the matter.
3. Pay attention to circumstances: If you know your pastor, or another ministry leader, has been under a great deal of pressure recently, then you can also know he is likely under a spiritual attack. Satan and his demons look for weaknesses and often attack when we are most vulnerable. That is a good time to reach out with a text or phone call to check in to hear how things are going.
4. Pay attention to complaints: If you are hearing criticism about your pastor or other church leaders, then you can be sure they are hearing it also. You do not have to necessarily reach a conclusion on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the complaints to be an encouraging friend. Some of the greatest encouragement I have received in ministry came on the heels of major leadership blunders on my part. At those times it was good to know that I still had a friend or two who knew my mistakes but still valued me as a person.
5. Pay attention to encouragement: You may think your pastor hears lots of encouragement related to his preaching, his love for the church, his leadership, or even his care and kindness toward critics. Do not let that stop you from telling him what you appreciate. If you found his sermon helpful for a major decision in your life, then send a note and let him know. If you hear someone share an encouraging comment, then take the time to pass that good word on to him. It will mean a lot.
The Lord uses His people to encourage one another. Your kind word might be exactly what your pastor needs to be faithful to God’s calling at the exact moment. When you are obedient to encourage, your pastor is strengthened, and you will receive joy through serving.
Will you be the one to offer a kind word and a listening ear to the ministry leaders in your life this week? Proverbs 3:27 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” When you have the power to encourage your pastor, or other church leaders, go ahead and do it. You will be glad, they will be encouraged, and God will be glorified.