Monday, December 28, 2015

Your Pastor and Your Trust, Respect and Encouragement

Strange as it seems,
Though I’m here to serve you,
And though Christ has called me,
I’m needy too.
I wonder if you know,
Just how much I need,
Your regular encouragement,
In order to succeed.
Not that I can expect you to know,
What I shouldn’t expect,
But I’m human too,
I hope you won’t forget.
So may I ask of you,
Dear parishioner of mine,
To indulge me this luxury,
It’s worthy of our time.
SOME people who aren’t pastors won’t understand this, but there are many who aren’t pastors who do.  Pastors ordinarily give of themselves to such a degree that they live the call of their faith in their roles — and are hence completely at the beck and call of others at the behest of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes, and indeed very often, there are sacrifices of time that the pastor makes that only their family truly knows about.  That’s because they spread themselves over the congregation in ways that most only see a snippet of what they give in terms of time and other sacrifices.
The astute elder will see and appreciate the lengths their pastor goes to.  And, in the case of team ministry, the senior pastor who doesn’t expect too much of their pastoral staff, and, very importantly, are careful to lead by very good example — managing their own workload so they’re not pushing burn out — are great leaders.
It has to be said that pastoral work is a privileged trade — time and freedom is given such that a spiritual ministry may be formed.  That time and freedom is not only a privilege, it’s also a responsibility.  Pastors who are not especially diligent may give the ministry as bad a name as the minister who falls from grace.  Pastors are expected to work hard and should be valued and appreciated when they do.
Sometimes there are jealousies in a congregant, or even in a fellow pastoral staff member — those envying the perception of a particular pastor’s power, freedom, charisma or ability.  When we’re unaware of these jealousies, the length of grace we’re prepared to extend is drastically shortened, and we can be quickly judgmental, and even slanderous.  Then again, it can be easy to compare how hard a life a congregant has in comparison with the ‘easier’ life the pastor has. Perceptions matter.  Perceptions are key and ought always to be valued before they’re challenged.
Pastors need to be valued, respected, trusted and encouraged — consistently and regularly.  They need to be valued for the gifts they bring to their church community.  Their personality needs to be respected.  Their character needs to trusted.  And they may wither under the strain of ministry without a steady stream of constructive encouragement.
The congregant must assume that their leaders are performing their function and working hard.  The pastor must be duly diligent, and, like everyone, striving always to improve. The elder has a responsibility for monitoring the spiritual temperature of the church and for helping augment an appreciative culture; as does the senior pastor.  And how beautiful is it when all parties respect others for the contribution others are making in the building of God’s Kingdom.
NOTE: I need to say in finishing that, like most of the articles I write, there is nothing stirring in my own personal circumstances that’s projected through this.  I don’t feel underappreciated or undervalued at all — certainly not at present.  I try to make it a practice not to post articles when I’m emotionally entangled in what I’m writing.  I think that places me best to handle the topic respectfully.  That’s my hope here.
So, encourage your pastor, giving him or her the trust and respect they deserve, for you never know how important it might be.  Value them for the work of God they’re doing within your faith community.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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