For Pastor Appreciation Month, we are reposting this article on Supporting your Pastor.
Have you ever taken someone for granted? As sinners we all have. We take our spouses, parents, children, coworkers, and neighbor for granted on a daily basis. It’s a sinful trait we can’t get rid of, our self-centeredness. Have you ever taken your pastor for granted? Have you supported him the way you should? Have you supported him outside of his service to you as a pastor? Have you gotten to know the man who proclaims forgiveness to you and your family in the stead and by the command of Christ, the man called to preach the Word of God and administers the sacraments? Supporting your pastor isn’t only about paying his salary; it’s about supporting and loving him in his vocation as your pastor.
Your pastor, is your PASTOR.
To help support your pastor, you first need to understand what your pastor has been called to do in your church. Simply put, the role of your pastor is to preach the Word of God and administer the sacraments. Now there are plenty of times when he does more than that. He may design your church’s website or help with the church’s budget. These aren’t examples of pastoral duties. When you pastor goes above and beyond word and sacrament ministry, he is acting out of love for his neighbor.
Your pastor should have a solid understanding of the scriptures and The Lutheran Confessions, to which he subscribes to at his ordination. With respect and love you should be able to talk to him about anything. You should feel comfortable to address any concerns you may have about your church’s holding to the Word of God and The Lutheran Confessions. Along with the confession of the church, you should be able to confess your sins in private confession. While that may be uncomfortable, your pastor wants to help you with specific sins that trouble you by absolving them. He also wants you to hear the Word of God by attending the divine service. He wants your ears to be open to the scriptures and to receive the sacraments. He will always be your pastor, for the things he was called to do.
Your pastor, the man.
Getting to know your pastor as a person can be difficult. Pastors can be intimidating and many are quiet. Believe it or not, they are human. They don’t spend all their time reading theology in their study. You know that study, the one with about a million books and pictures of Luther and Jesus on the wall. They have hobbies, families, and interests outside of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They may enjoy beer, cars, or even watching horrible football teams. Your pastor can even be a friend outside of his ministry, but we must be careful to not blur the line between his vocation of pastor and friend. When considering the man your pastor is, we are reminded of the man he is descendant from, Adam.
Your pastor, the sinner.
If we are going to talk about the human side of your pastor, we have to talk about his sin. Yes, your pastor is a sinner. He stands with you and confesses his sins in every divine service. At times laymen, including myself, put their pastors on a pedestal of righteousness that no man can ever achieve. Pastors often turn to other pastors to confess their sins, which is appropriate as those pastors can absolve their sins. This should not stop layman from making themselves available to their pastors if they need to talk. Pastors have problems, concerns and anxiety like everyone else. We’re all sinners. Our pastors are included in that “we”.
Attacks on your pastor.
Pastors are constantly under attack from the devil, the world, and their own sinful nature. The devil understands the vocation of your pastor. The devil doesn’t want your pastor to preach the word of God or administer the sacraments. The devil will tempt your pastor to try new things in the divine service which take away from the proclamation of the gospel. He will tempt your pastor think to if he can just do this or that, then the congregation will grow. The world will tempt your pastor to worry about numbers and souls saved. The world says your pastor must be active in the community, friendly, and not ruffle any feathers. The world will quote random bible verses to criticize your pastor. All of this piles on the pastor. We must stand together with our pastors against the devil, the world, and our sinful natures. We must stand together and confess our sins and confess Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus Christ, for your pastor.
We will continue to fail our pastors, but Jesus Christ will never fail him. Jesus Christ knows how to support your pastor. The Word of God supports your pastor. The sacraments support your pastor just as they support us all while we bear our own crosses in this life. Jesus Christ took our sin, lack of love and support for our pastors to the cross. All of our sins are washed clean with the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. His support is perfect, sinless, and everlasting. With Jesus our support is now perfect, sinless, and everlasting.