Summary: How can members of a congregation best support their pastor?
Pastoring isn’t for sissies. That’s why it’s important to a have a sense of call. If one doesn’t have a sense of God’s call to anchor them to the task, they will go adrift when the storms come. Part of the reason for those storms is that all hell is against the pastor. 1 Timothy 3:7 speaks of a pastor falling into “the Devil’s trap.” A trap is something set intentionally. In other words, Satan sees pastors as a threat, and one of his highest priorities is to take him out.
That’s why we need to know how to support our pastors. If all hell is against him, we need to be careful that we don’t help Satan along. After all, “Pastors are already targeted for defeat by God’s enemy; they don’t also need to be trampled underfoot by God’s people.” Paul says:
1. Show respect by being positive - v. 12
Especially, Paul says, when they are demonstrating competence when working among you (ministering), looking over you (leading), and standing before you (preaching).
Ministers are often the object of criticism. If there is a legitimate matter that concerns a leader, it should be addressed to him personally; and if discipline is necessary, there are clear guidelines (1 Timothy 5:19-20). But criticism behind one’s back doesn’t help anybody, and neither does gossip. So don’t listen to gossip or slander about your pastor.
If you hear negative comments, respond with a positive one. And if misinformation is being spread, correct it. It’s amazing the damage that can be done to a pastor and a church if negativism goes unchecked.
Jonathan Edwards was one of the greatest preachers & theologians in American history. He was mightily used of God in the first awakening in America. He served the same church for 23 years; but though they were hearing from the greatest theological mind in the world at that time, they were unappreciative and in year 23 a group ran him out of the church and did everything they could to destroy his reputation. He ended his ministry with a little more then a dozen Indians, speaking to them about the very basic things of the Christian faith. After all that time, all that profound and blessed preaching, they threw him out of the church.
Some folks could have one of the greatest pastors of history at their church and still be negative. Don’t be one of those kinds of members.
2. Show regard by being prayerful - v. 13a
To regard someone means to care about them. And what’s the best thing to do for a person we are concerned for? Pray. A pastor’s day is filled with mountaintops and valleys. He needs our prayers.
A. He needs prayer for the work he does among us (ministry).
Interestingly enough, the main thing that qualifies a pastor to minister among God’s people is his ministry to his own family.
“If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” - 1 Timothy 3:5 (NIV)
As you pray for him to succeed in his work among us, pray he would succeed, first and foremost, in ministering to his family. Few families face the kinds of pressures and expectations as the pastor’s family. So in praying for him to succeed in ministry, start with his family. As God answers that prayer, he will be qualified to minister to others.
Neglecting his family isn’t the only danger a pastor faces. He can also neglect his health. Serving a church can drain a pastor’s energy. Pray for his spiritual health. Pray that he will have a God dependent walk. The work of a pastor can only be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for his mental health - for wisdom. Pastors face dozens of decisions weekly, requiring wisdom. Pray as well for his physical health. Pray for him to experience the peace only God can give.
B. He needs prayer for the work he does over us (leadership).
“Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” - Hebrews 13:7 (NLT)
A pastor leads by example. So, in an effort to keep him from being effective, Satan will seek, any way he can, to ruin a pastor’s reputation. Why? Because he knows something we need to be reminded of.
“I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” - Mark 14:27 (NIV)
If Satan can bring a pastor down, the work of a church will be hurt. So he will do all he can to ruin a pastor’s reputation. It shouldn’t surprised us, then, when we hear of a pastor’s moral failure. The devil will use anything - greed, adultery, anger, addiction - to ruin him. But God is more powerful than Satan. And He works through our prayers. So pray for your pastor’s protection so he might set a good example to lead by.