It’s not that pastors are hard to love. We’re just not always sure how to do it. So we stumble at the door with a compliment. Or we say something like, “Pastor, I’m praying for you,” and his face wears a quizzical look as if he’s saying, “I wonder what I did now for her to say that!” Or we keep a safe distance from the pastor, settling for a weekly handshake.
For those who want a deeper relationship with their pastor (and I still think most people do), I suggest these intentional ways of loving your pastor.
1. Trust him. If he’s worth his salt, he really cares about you and wants the best for you. Trust him enough to let him know your needs, the decisions and conflicts you’re facing. At his best, your pastor will help bridge the distance between you and God’s Word and will. Trust him with that. Few gestures of love are more poignant than the trust we give another by sharing our needs.
2. Speak well of him. It’s easy to criticize public leaders. Since the beginning of the church, gossip and rumor, critique and complaint have swirled around pastors. Make it a point to find your pastor’s strengths and to affirm those strengths again and again with him and with others.
3. Tell him the truth. So many conflicts in the church, especially between pastor and congregant, can be mitigated by simply “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). Say the hard thing with a gentle spirit, always eager to forgive reconcile and build a stronger relationship.
4. Feed him. All the pastors I know love to eat. Have the pastor and his family over for supper or take them out to eat. So often we “have the pastor for dinner” metaphorically, if you know what I mean. Why not do it for real, and bless the pastor with the gift of our hospitality?
5. Give him sermon material. This is another form of “feeding your pastor.” I’m not suggesting you do something so grandiose or so bad that you make it into your pastor’s sermon. Rather, if you see a worthy news article or film, if you read a novel or catch a video on YouTube with biblical overtones, let him know about it. Pastors are always on the prowl for sermon enhancements.
6. Be a friend to his family. It can be lonely being married to a pastor or growing up a P.K. (Pastor’s Kid). Little acts of kindness, modest gifts and genuine words of affirmation go a long way to make up for the many sacrifices a pastor’s family makes.
7. And, yes, pray for him. Serving as a Christian pastor is one of the most difficult jobs there is today. If you see gaps in your pastor’s personality or skill set, pray that God will fill those gaps by empowering him or others in the church to fill those gaps. Ask your pastor, “How can I pray for you this week?” Then pray for him regularly and specifically. I’m confident that a result of your prayers will be a stronger pastor and one who knows that he is deeply loved.