I have pastored churches in Missouri, Kentucky, New York, and Florida over the last 21years of my life. There is no greater privilege than being called to the great responsibility of shepherding the beloved people of God as an instrument in the hands of the Great Shepherd of our souls. Pastoring can be hard, but the joys of work far outweigh the heartaches. There is nothing I would rather do with my life than caring for God’s people so that they grow up into Christ. Colossians 1:28 says, “And we proclaim Him (Christ), admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.” For this purpose the pastor labors fervently in prayer and the ministry of the word.
Pastoring is a lot like farming. There are long mundane days as well as seasons of almost ceaseless activity. Great patience, determination, and endurance is required for a crop that does not sprout overnight, and yet sometimes, after months and months of work, the harvest fails. The day to day work of the pastor is not glamorous nor are the results often spectacular.
It requires careful watering, pulling weeds, and ever vigilant watchfulness. The work can be easy and delightful one day and the next emotionally or physically exhausting. The ever present deadline of Sunday morning, the constant emotional strain of caring for hurting people one after another, the pressure to produce visible results, the guilt of never having done enough, or the incessant criticism of believers, whose words are like rocks in the bottom of your shoe, can wear a man thin. If not for the supernatural strength God provides we would all fail.
Yet, the joys are so exquisite that I cannot imagine doing anything else. It is amazing to see a husband and wife forgive one another and begin making strides toward a healthy marriage for God’s glory and their good. It is glorious to watch God convert a broken sinner into a believing follower. It is extremely satisfying to see a growing hunger for God and His word develop in the congregation as you labor at preaching the whole counsel of God’s word.
Watching a church family begin to deny themselves, sacrifice their desires, and choose to obey Christ against the flow of the culture both individually as well as corporately brings a joy that is indescribable. There is the sweet fellowship with Christ that comes through persecution. Yes, I love being a pastor. I love God; I love God’s precious people; and I love pastors.
I write today because my heart breaks for some of my brother pastors. For the last six years I have pastored the Macon First Baptist Church. I have never served a church who lavished such love, appreciation, and care upon their pastors. Every October they set aside a service to honor and appreciate their pastors with words of encouragement, cards of encouragement, and gifts of love. Yet, their love for us does not stop there. We are cared for in every conceivable way all year long. Their generosity and love is truly overwhelming. I am so thankful to God for our church family. Yet, I know that many of my brothers have never experienced such love, honor, and consistent care from their church family. This is what motivates me to write today.
Your pastor will probably never tell you that he is exhausted, that he feels like a failure, or that his family is struggling financially. I write because they will never tell you themselves. I write because it is scripturally right to honor and care for your pastor. “Let the elders (pastors) who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages’” (1 Tim 5:17-18). I write because I have the privilege of pastoring a church that excels in obedience to this Scripture. I write because I believe many of our pastors are not being cared for as they should be.
This October I challenge you to honor your pastor by providing for his family’s needs in such a way the stress of provision is lifted from his shoulders so that he can devote himself wholeheartedly to the work of the pastor. Cards of encouragement are extremely meaningful.
Gift cards are very kind and thoughtful. Yet I want to challenge you, brothers and sisters. The majority of our pastors are either bi-vocational or just barely vocational so that the strain of finances is a constant plague on their hearts. Can you as a church give your pastor a substantial raise this year? If you have the means to, especially if the church has been growing, why do you refuse to care for this man of God materially as He cares for you spiritually? If you cannot, then that cannot be helped and God will provide for his servant. If you can, then you are the means of God’s provision for His servant. When a pastor is pleading with God for provision because he is robbing Peter to pay Paul every month, and you have the means as a church family to lift that burden but simply refuse to do so, how do you think that sets with God?
“So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Cor 9:14). It is right for pastors to make their living shepherding the people of God. It is right for churches to lovingly, joyfully, and willingly support their pastors verbally, prayerfully, and financially. Pastors are criticized for being greedy if they request a raise or move to another church who can support their family more faithfully. This may be true some of the time, but most of the time it is not. These men have a responsibility to care for their families just like you do, and yet they are at the mercy of everyone’s personal opinion regarding how much they should get paid. Brothers and sisters, let us stop neglecting the care of our shepherds who keep watch over our souls. Take a look at the MBC website and see if your current pay package is reflective of what pastors are making in situations similar to yours. More than that though, take a look at the church bank account. Are you able to increase his salary substantially? If so, then you must ask yourselves how it is right before God to keep a man financially strained when you have the ability as well as the responsibility to do something about it.
My heart aches for my brothers who are working 2 jobs to provide for their families and still do all the work required of a pastor. My heart aches for my brothers whose churches have the means to help but refuse to think a pastor should be paid more than he was 20 or 30 years ago. My heart aches for my brothers who have no other option but to humiliate themselves and ask for a raise because they are about to break financially and no one in the church cares enough to raise the issue to the congregation. This October is pastor appreciation month.
Encourage your pastor but I challenge you to give him a raise. It is also the time we begin planning the budget for the next year. Let us care for these faithful men who have given themselves to our spiritual care. We will be healthier for it.