Every pastor I have ever known has experienced discouragement. And many of the “great” preachers / pastors in church history have battled seasons of depression and melancholy. Spurgeon being the classic example here.
We pastors are human and our calling baptizes us daily in trench spiritual warfare. Sometimes our discouragement is unwarranted. A pity party for which we must humbly repent. But sometimes our discouragement arises out of holy zeal for God and a desire to see His kingdom advance and His people grow more like Christ.
Discouragement sometimes comes at the hands of the flock we shepherd. Sometimes, though thankfully very infrequently for me, members purposely discourage a pastor. But most often it’s unintentional. The vast majority of church members do not want to discourage or disappoint their pastors. At the risk of sounding too depressed and negative, I have compiled a list of ways members discourage pastors. My hope is that you may recognize if you are personally involved in such activity, even if unwittingly, and ask God to help you change your ways. While no church member should feel it his or her duty to be 100% encouraging all the time (after all, pastors sometimes need rebuked too), I trust true followers of Jesus do strongly desire to encourage and build up their pastors. So, contemplate the list below, then do the opposite!
So, here are ten sure fire ways to discourage your pastor:
- Sleep while he preaches.
- Do not take the sermon to heart and do not discuss its truths or applications with anyone throughout the week. Just show up, hear the sermon, then go about your week as if it never happened.
- Do not ask the Pastor any questions about the sermon, and do not ever ask for resources to help you further study a specific doctrine or truth from the sermon.
- Ignore or neglect the pastor’s heartfelt pleas as he leads the church. Calls to prayer? Don’t show up. Call to fast? Laugh it off as you gobble down a steak. Pleas to engage in disciple-making? Pawn it off on others.
- When it is obvious your pastor’s heart and soul are truly “all in” for a certain biblical ministry or emphasis or vision for your church, do not follow where he leads. Better yet, vote “yes” on his vision but then do nothing personally to make it become a reality.
- Do not follow through on your commitments. Be inconsistent, especially in your worship attendance and participation.
- Rarely if ever invite the pastor and his family over for dinner, or coffee and dessert, or take him out to lunch. But definitely expect him and his family to host every single member and guest that comes through your church doors.
- Expect him to do everything and know everything and oversee every single ministry effort, all the while staying disengaged from ministry and church life yourself.
- Do not pray for him daily.
- When your primary preaching pastor is on vacation, do not attend the worship service.
While I have experienced all nine of these (plus others that didn’t make the list), I confess I am truly blessed to serve Corydon Baptist Church, a flock that loves me and my family and has encouraged me more than any church body I have ever had the privilege to serve. I offer the list not to grumble, but just to help us all, me especially, keep learning by God’s grace to encourage people who love Jesus and want to see Him exalted in His Church.