I’ve talked with several pastor-friends recently who seem to be a little more discouraged than normal. I wouldn’t be completely honest with you if I told you I haven’t, myself, felt a little discouragement recently. It’s interesting how the devil will often use things that most people would never notice to get a pastor down. Of course, we expect major sins in the church or division among the congregation to bring discouragement. But it’s the little things, at times, that can really cause him to lose sleep at night. For instance, you may not know it, but it discourages your pastor…
➔ WHEN YOUR SEAT IS EMPTY
Every week I fight the battle hard. I’m thankful for who’s there, but I’m discouraged by who’s not. It’s not absent seats due to vacations, illnesses, or even work schedules that distract me, but it’s those who neglect to make God’s house the priority to later discover they chose a hobby, sleep, or yard work over worship. That’s discouraging!
➔ WHEN THERE ARE LACK OF VOLUNTEERS
It’s a continual cycle for us here in Charlotte when it comes to certain ministries. It seems like multiple times a year we are scrambling for nursery workers. I’ll be honest, I get low when there are lack of volunteers to help serve in needed areas of our ministry. Comments like “I’ve paid my time,” or “Let the younger ones do it” are difficult to understand and accept. If there are needs in ministry at your church, volunteer. If you’re already serving, don’t quit! It’s discouraging!
➔ WHEN HE HAS TO DO YOUR JOB
This is more related to church staff, but should be mentioned for those who serve in a church staff capacity. A pastor should never have to go behind paid staff to do what hasn’t been done or fix what has been neglected. The time that a pastor puts in to training and instructing staff is valuable. The expectations are much higher. Don’t discourage him by not doing your job.
➔ WHEN YOU DON’T TAKE YOUR MINISTRY SERIOUSLY
Whether you serve in an entry-level ministry or a ministry that involves greater commitment, take it seriously…”heartily, as unto the Lord.” Teachers, don’t show up to class not having your lesson prepared. Choir members, don’t be late for your rehearsals or skip out on your performances during worship services. Ushers, be sure you smile, greet, and give your best to Jesus. If you agreed to fulfill certain ministry responsibilities, be faithful to do it. It’s discouraging when people don’t take their ministry seriously.
➔ WHEN YOU ARE APATHETIC ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Few things are more challenging to the emotional state of the under-shepherd than those who are apathetic toward God. To preach and teach week after week only to watch some never respond to God’s Word and their relationship with Him. No matter how much our ministry grows, year after year I still struggle with the apathy of many Christians who refuse to allow God to work in their lives. If we’re not growing spiritually, then what are we doing?
➔ WHEN YOU DON’T SUPPORT THE CHURCH FINANCIALLY
God has equipped every believer with the grace and ability to support his church in tithes and offerings. It can be burdensome to weekly review the financial needs of the church while recognizing that there are those who do not consistently give to the Lord. Many of the recent pastors I’ve fellowshipped with have indicated discouragement as a result of financial needs and seemingly lack of faithfulness in church giving.
➔ WHEN YOU LACK EXCITEMENT ABOUT REACHING OTHERS
Of course, I desire for our entire church family to be part of our organized outreach program, but even more I long for them to have a daily excitement about sharing their faith. Witnessing to others and bringing the lost to Jesus is fruit of Christian growth. It is so encouraging to watch church members care so much that they bring co-workers, family, and friends to church with them to hear the gospel. On the other side, there are some that have never brought anyone to hear the gospel. That’s discouraging!
➔ WHEN YOU IGNORE GUEST FAMILIES DURING CHURCH SERVICES
The pastor should never be the first nor the only one to acknowledge and greet a guest. In fact, not a member of the church should ever cross the path of a guest without sharing kindness, love, and appreciation toward them for choosing their church for worship that particular day. When God sends a person or family to your church it is our obligation to greet them and make them feel at home. It can be discouraging for a pastor to watch members ignore those who are guests in the service.
➔ WHEN THERE IS NO FEEDBACK REGARDING THE SERMONS
This may sound a little selfish, but let me give you an example. Let’s say that you spent an entire week preparing meals to serve (in my context) over 300 people in one day. The work, the energy, and the excitement of taking on a task is overwhelming, but thrilling. Let’s say you do this again the next week, and the next week, and the next week. What if through all that hard work of providing over 300 meals none of the recipients ever expressed a word of gratitude or response regarding it? To be honest, it would get discouraging after a while. I think you get the illustration. I recognize that every pastor has one person to please – God, but inside the heart of every shepherd is a longing to know that the sheep are eating good and are growing as a result of it. All I’m simply saying is, let your pastor know from time to time that God’s Word is working in your life and you appreciate the effort he puts in to teach you and provide you weekly meals from God’s Word. Don’t take for granted the pastor that God has given you.
➔ WHEN YOU DON’T READ HIS BLOG
Just kidding. I didn’t want to end with a list of “nine,” and I needed a tenth. 😀
Wherever you may live and whoever your pastor may be, take some time to encourage him!