What an incredible year this has been. All of us have been stretched, tried, and tested in many ways. This is also true of our pastors. Creating virtual connections, managing new ministry initiatives, caring for the convalescing, and ministering to the mourning. All this on top of the usual preaching, teaching, planning, leading, visitation, and general care for the church. Pastor Appreciation Month is here, so, if your finances are low, here are a few ways to encourage your pastor without spending money.
At times pastors can feel like they are the head of the complaint department. On those kind of weeks, pastors can see another complaint coming a mile off, so remember to smile. There is nothing that can brighten a pastor’s life on a dreary day like an encouraging smile. You may have heard it said that it takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 muscles to smile. Studies have shown that facial expressions can prompt us to feel the emotions we associate with them. So, when you smile it will help your pastor smile with you!
Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings.” When is the last time you spoke a compliment to your pastor? The Bible has many stories that reveal the power of a spoken blessing. It’s great to think good things about your pastor, but your pastor is probably not a mind reader. Speak those encouragements. Release those words and let your pastor hear them. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).
So, you’re not a talker? No problem. Send a note. This gives you more time and opportunity to craft your words and get them just right. The extra time and effort to write a note is meaningful in itself, but these written words can be saved and reread over and over again. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24). “Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25).
Most pastors feel overworked in this season, so how about finding one thing you can do and take it off the pastor’s plate? Making phone calls, visiting hospitals, or running errands can all be a great gift in a hectic season. “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
If the pastor is busy, the whole family is impacted. Think of ways you can serve the pastor and his family. One idea might be to clean the pastor’s office, home, or car. Things and spaces that are newly organized and cleaned not only lighten a burden and free up time, but they provide a calming sense of peace. Uncluttered rooms also unclutter minds. “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
Listen and let your pastor share his personal good news or private struggle with you. Be with your pastor in the celebration or sorrow. There is a Swedish proverb that says, “A shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” Pastors are people, too. If you hit them, they hurt; cut them, they bleed; continually work them and they get fatigued. They, too, have personal issues, pains, frustrations, and fears. Give the pastor the freedom not to be the strong one for a day and listen to the pastor unload for a change. What a gift! “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
I know we are listing ways to encourage your pastor without spending money, so I am talking about spending time. Spend time caring for the pastor’s children. Give the pastor some free childcare and time for a date night, or if you are bold enough, a date weekend. Rest, relaxation, and renewal does not have to be in long increments. Sometimes just a few hours, a night, or a day can be so very refreshing. Psalm 55:6 is not only the psalmist’s plea, it is also a pastor’s hope, even if just for a little while: “If only I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and find rest.”
Stop and pray. Praying for your pastor in your private time is awesome, but I am suggesting that you stop your pastor, lay your hands on his head or shoulders, and pray out loud. Your pastor spends day after day and week after week praying out loud for others. There is something powerful about having someone laying hands on you and hearing them calling your name and concerns before the Almighty. It is humbling; it is encouraging; it is strengthening. 1 Timothy 2:1 says, “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone.” Everyone–that includes your pastor.
Yes, there really are many free ways you can support and appreciate your pastor. After years of successful ministry in the kingdom for the glory of God your pastor will be able to reflect back on you like Paul does Onesiphorus in 2 Timothy 1:16, “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.”