A little boy wrote a four-sentence essay on Socrates. “Socrates was a Greek. Socrates was a great man. Socrates told people how to live their lives. They poisoned Socrates.” Telling other people how to live is hazardous work. Yet this is precisely the task of every minister.
The true pastor is a God-appointed man to proclaim a God-given message to the world. He is not supposed to tell people what they want to hear but what they need to hear.
Your pastor has a difficult task. No man can please everybody. In fact if he tries he will immediately become ineffective. Don’t expect him to be perfect or a miracle worker. When the church does not prosper as it should, don’t place all the blame on him. Every church operates on volunteer help and on freewill offerings. Unless the people support the work, it will not prosper.
While you may expect many things from your pastor, you also owe him some things. Dr. John F. Anderson suggested four things you should do for your pastor:
- Help him. Don’t hound him. The family deserves something better than “roast preacher” for Sunday dinner. He is not the star player. He is the coach, and the congregation is the team.
- Hear him out. Don’t hush him up. A sermon is beneficial in one of two ways: some rise from it greatly strengthened; others wake from it refreshed. Some people give their prophet of God all the freedom of the pulpit he wants, but his tongue is tied by their deliberate deafness.
- Hug him. But don’t hurt him. A little love and respect is better than a load of empty sentiment. Ministers are like tomatoes—when squeezed too hard they spoil. Let him be shepherd of the flock, but do not turn him into a pet lamb.
- Hold him up. But don’t hollow him out. Many preachers give empty messages because they have been drained dry and no one has been manning the spiritual pump of prayer.
Why not adopt the petition of the late Senator Robert Kerr for your very own:
“Lord, let me be a pillar of strength to hold my pastor up, and not a thorn in his flesh to sap his strength, nor a burden on his back to pull him down. Let me support him without striving to possess him. Let me lift his hands without placing shackles around him. Let me give him help that he may spend more time in working for the salvation of others and less time in gratifying my vanity or struggling with my indifference or repeated neglects. Let me strive to serve the church more and be happy as he serves me less and others more. Amen.”