Recently, I wrote about why good pastors are leaving their ministries (Seven Reasons Why Pastors Are Dropping Out):
- The pastoral “call” isn’t what it used to be.
- The home church isn’t what it used to be.
- Pastors are rethinking the current pastor paradigm [the full-time superhero trying to excel at every task that God assigned to elders].
- A hard-to-live-with performance value has replaced the old loyalty ethic.
- Pastor’s wives have changed.
- Respect for pastors isn’t what it used to be.
- Ministry is increasingly difficult in a sin-dominated society.
Last week I began sharing the good news that there are things which church members can do to keep a pastor whose ministry they are being blessed by (How To Keep A Good Pastor, Part One):
(1) Pray for him, seriously and often.
(2) Pay him a salary which is commensurate with his gifts, training, experience, wisdom, responsibilities and work ethic.
(3) Encourage him to be courageous as he faces his daily, spiritual battle.
Here are three more.
(4) Live like a real disciple of Jesus. Make your worship service attendance a matter of conviction, not a matter of convenience. Develop a strong personal relationship with Christ and become a “self-feeder,” not an infant waiting to be fed. Become a real worshipper, not just a singer of Christian songs. Send your pastor notes and emails letting him know that God is changing you through his ministry. Share your faith and invite your unbelieving friends to church. There is nothing that will encourage your good pastor more than to see that God is using his ministry in the lives of people like you.
(5) Teach and practice the priesthood of the believer. Here’s how Peter put it in I Peter 2:9:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
The priesthood of the believer was one of the central truths of the Reformation. It affirms that God didn’t establish a professional Christian priesthood. He made us all priests; people who can barge right into the presence of God and pray in Jesus’ name. As priests we can also represent God to man, speaking words of love and reconciliation to sinners who do not yet know Christ.
Professional, vocational “priests” came into the Church only by way of the Conversion of the Emperor Constantine and the subsequent, opportunistic “conversion” of scores of pagan priests.
Most Christians are AWOL priests and it’s killing the full-time elders to whom we’ve given the title “pastor.” Teach and practice the priesthood of the believer and give your pastor a break. It will bless you and your church by freeing him up to pursue the leading/equipping/teaching ministry that is more appropriate for the one full-time elder which most churches still have (Ephesians 4:11ff; I Timothy 5:17).
(6) Allow your pastor to re-think the pastor-as-superhero paradigm. I probably need to explain myself.
God assigned certain awesome responsibilities to teams of men called elders (Acts 20:28-32; I Peter 5:1-4). These responsibilities include teaching correct doctrine to the “sheep” (Christians), as well as leading the flock, managing the work of the flock and protecting the flock from error, destructive sin, conflict and predators who would arise from both inside and outside the congregation. This is a boatload of responsibility.
Truth be told, very few pastors are skillful in all those areas. Those few who are that gifted don’t have the time and energy to maximize their amazing abilities. If they try, they destroy themselves, their families, their churches, or all three. A good alternative is to expect your pastor to excel in one or two of these tasks, but not all of them. Expect him to work out a job description with your congregation’s lay leadership that is reasonable and realistic.
Are you the kind of disciple that encourages your pastor?
Are you fulfilling your own priestly ministry as a mediator between God and mankind?
Are you expecting your pastor to be a superhero?