Try A Little Kindness, Help A Brother Out, However You Say It, Encourage Your Pastor When He’s Discouraged!

We’ve all seen it play out either before our eyes or in cyber space. A pastor is discouraged about something. Before you know it, that pastor has resigned a Call and has joined another fellowship. Maybe he has disqualified himself from office. Maybe he has had enough of pricking against the goads of his flock who do not have ears to hear. Maybe the wounds are self-inflicted from a sinful man saying or doing a sinful thing. Whatever the case, a pastor did not have anyone to encourage him in a time of need.

It is a sad commonplace among us that we pastors tend to eat our young. Instead of being an encourager, a true brother to a hurting pastor, we ignore his problems and tell him “I’ll pray for you” while not praying for him. God knows I am guilty of that act. We don’t wish to get involved while he hurts. Granted, a pastor should do everything not to interfere in certain matters. That is not his business. But it ishis business to show kindness to a brother pastor when he is hurting.

Encouragement of a hurting pastor is the right thing to do. And you don’t have to be another pastor to encourage a pastor. All it takes is having the intestinal fortitude to say to your pastor, “You look down and out. Is there anything I can do to help you?” Don’t be surprised if your pastor doesn’t dump his sorrows on you. He’s been taught to remain stoic in every circumstance. However, you may encourage him by praying for him and with him right then and there. Pray he remains faithful to his Divine Call and faithful to his Lord. Pray he also remains faithful to his wife and children, if applicable.

Encourage him also to return to what he’s given to do: study God’s Word and pray for his flock. Prayer and labor in the Word is meant to refresh the pastor in his daily dealings with sin and grace. It may be the greatest effort he can do right now even to say the Lord’s Prayer! At least it is a start. One never knows how deep the discouragement goes.

Another good idea is to speak well of the pastor in public, even if it means a public rebuke of other Christians. I’ll give you an example from my days before seminary. I served on my home congregation’s council. One council meeting, the Treasurer of the congregation said that my pastor was willing to skip a paycheck because there wasn’t enough money to pay the bills and pay him. Another member of the church council (a man now asleep in Jesus, but forever in my thoughts) spoke up on this matter in a very forthright, but direct way. He was a quiet man, but when he spoke, everyone listened. The gentleman said it was a disgrace that pastor was asked to skip a paycheck until there was more money in the treasury. If it meant coming to church wearing an extra layer of clothes in the winter or going without air conditioning in the summer because we couldn’t afford to pay the power bill, that was fine. If it meant having to use the bathroom before he left home because we didn’t pay the water bill, that was fine. He ended his comments by saying that as long as he was a council member, this would be the last time his pastor was asked to wait two more weeks for his paycheck.

To you that may not sound like encouragement for a pastor. To my ears, that was a resounding “yes” and “amen” for my pastor. Let him be paid and let the other bills go. The man who preaches the Gospel and delivers the Gifts should be paid first!

God forbid we lose another pastor to Candidate status because no one cared to notice that he was hurting or that he was questioning whether or not he should be Lutheran, let alone a pastor. Take the time to encourage your pastor today. Your good words may be just the thing he longs to hear!

About Pastor David Juhl

The Reverend David Michael Juhl was born June 1, 1972 in Du Quoin, IL. He was born from above by water and the Holy Spirit on June 18, 1972 at Bethel Lutheran Church, Du Quoin, IL. He was confirmed on March 23, 1986 at Bethel congregation. He attended Du Quoin public schools, graduating from Du Quoin High School in 1990. He attended John A. Logan Junior College, Carterville, IL, and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, graduating with the Bachelor of Arts in Radio and Television in 1994. Before attending seminary, Pastor Juhl was a radio disc jockey, working for WDQN Radio in Du Quoin, IL and volunteering at WSIU/WUSI/WVSI Radio in Carbondale, IL while a student at SIU. Pastor Juhl is a 2002 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN. He served his vicarage at Faith Lutheran Church, Tullahoma, TN. His first charge after graduation was Trinity Lutheran Church, Iuka, IL, where he was ordained and installed on July 7, 2002. He served Trinity until March 4, 2007, when he accepted the Divine Call to serve Our Savior Lutheran Church, Momence, IL. Pastor Juhl is married to the former Rebecca Warmuth since October 3, 2003. They have one daughter, Catherine, born September 3, 2004, and two sons, Matthew, born October 11, 2008, and Christopher, born August 12, 2010.

Comments

Try A Little Kindness, Help A Brother Out, However You Say It, Encourage Your Pastor When He’s Discouraged! — 25 Comments

  1. Good ideas! And if their Pastor needs anything, I hope the laity will heed them and attend to him.

    Meanwhile, I hope more is going on behind the scenes for Dan Chambers than is obvious here on the blog. There’s someone who is hurting physically (probably mentally and spiritually, too, since his congregation has left him by the side of the road) and could use some help.

    See the Augustana Ministerium topic, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

  2. Wow, you hit another cord, “pastors tend to eat our young”. Yes, fellow pastors are some of the worst supporting fellows to other pastors. We are way to quick to beat down a pastor doing the same work we all do, bringing the Gospel to the world. We pastors are way to quick to beat down other pastors before we take a breath and take in the entire situation, before we beat down, and rebuke a pastor, especially a hurting pastor trying his best to administer his called office the best he is able. Yes Pastor Juhl, even a rebuke can be done in kindness.

  3. Try a little kindess?  How about the way some pastors publicly broadbrush their circuit, district and synod officials?  The viciousness I see among some pastors exceeds what I saw in the business world.  Fortunately such pastors are a small, irrelevant minority.  

    Your posting is excellent.  We (especially I) need to be reminded to encourage and pray for our pastors and leaders.   We need to carefully investigate and get the facts before challenging their judgement.

  4. I’ve been told the story by a couple different folks about one of my predecessors: His wife had just given birth to one of their kids. The hospital was (is) 45 minutes away. One of the Trustees (or another officer–don’t remember for sure) happened by the church while the wife was still in the hospital, and the pastor was there in the office. The officer asked how his wife was doing, and why the pastor wasn’t down at the hospital with her. the pastor told him that he didn’t have gas money to get there. The officer first filled the pastor’s tank and told him to go (*told* him, not suggested) and then at the next voters’ meeting addressed the issue to make sure that such a situation never arose again.

    Fwiw, they’ve always taken good care of me and my family.

  5. bless the faithful who preach and teach truth-even losing all for truth—and brothers head for the hills

  6. At my first call, I invited my Thrivent rep to help me prepare a personal budget, so I could start saving. He came over and plugged into his laptop all my numbers for income and out-go, then pushed Go. He showed me the bottom line and explained that the parentheses meant it was a negative number. He told me he couldn’t understand how I was managing to pay my bills, let alone save anything.

    Did I mention that he was also an elder? At the next supreme voters meeting, I got a raise!

  7. A bunch of pastors calling on everyone else to be nicer to pastors. In my experience, this call for caring for discouraged pastors is a fabulous game of manipulation. All pastor has to do is make a sad face and pull parishioners aside individually and whine and make them feel bad for him. This prevents the parishioners from calling him on his B.S. and makes people bite their tongues more than they should. I think you have a bunch of bitter brothers, frustrated visionaries, and perpetual malcontents who don’t need care or encouragement but rather a swift kick in the rear end. If being an LCMS pastor in America is such a horrible ordeal, why not go be a missionary? The truth is, it’s a pretty good gig. Is the money often less than what you could make elsewhere? Sure. But then you couldn’t make your own hours, have so much flexibility in your days, and be allowed to build your own little kingdom. We have more pastors than we need for the ever-shrinking American church. We have factions of pastors squabbling with each other. And we have a little closed society of pastors, other professional church workers, and their spouses and families (who live off the church) that whine and complain about how the laity doesn’t support them enough. In reality, you often have volunteers who seem to care more than the folks who make their living from the church. Stop whining. If you don’t want to be a pastor, then don’t be one.

  8. Somehow the LCMS has money for the International Center, for fancy board rooms, for building new libraries, and for all sorts of other expenses. And yet pastors are all supposedly living in poverty? Maybe there’s just too many pastors for the number of people who actually show up and give offerings. Maybe if a congregation can’t support a full-time pastor, then it shouldn’t get a full-time pastor. Maybe that is the DEFINITION of a congregation that needs to merge with another. Maybe the splintered nature of the LCMS, maybe the divisions among clergy, maybe the screwed up priorities demonstrated in how Synod, and Districts, and congregations spend their money is more of an issue than how much kindness the laity are showing. Maybe if the clergy had functioned together in a healthy manner to preserve sound teaching and proper practice over the last several decades, you wouldn’t now be reaping the disappointing harvest that you have sown. Maybe the problem isn’t the laity and their kindness.

  9. You’re generalizing too much, L Brown.  The pastors whom I know personally are humble, dedicated, not bitter though they have little personal time.  This is especially true for congregations with schools.

    The LCMS I know personally is in a different universe than the one I read about on blogs.

  10. @L Brown #11
    A bunch of pastors calling on everyone else to be nicer to pastors. In my experience, this call for caring for discouraged pastors is a fabulous game of manipulation.

    Hmm… L Brown, not all of us here are pastors.
    And Pr. Juhl’s article was needed because some congregations have been and are downright mean to their pastor, while still expecting him to “be there” when they decide to call him, 24/7. Pastors are people, too. Between the pressure from above to produce more money and more numbers for district and the pressure from some of the congregation to say little about sin (and less about giving!) they can get discouraged and lonely. It’s risky to make a good friend of a member: either the pastor will be accused of favoritism, or the member sometime down the road may stab him in the back. [I’ve seen it.]

    Yes, I’ve had a pastor who wanted more sympathy than he ever had to give, and claimed to be “poor” when he was paid over “scale”. [Just one of those, in 60 nomadic years.]

    The guys who are really low paid and put upon seldom tell you about it… you find it out from someone else. Congregations have to be willing to cooperate and share the pastor’s time to make a dual work. Too often, the congregations each want to pay “half time for four days’ work”!

    Maybe if the clergy had functioned together in a healthy manner to preserve sound teaching and proper practice over the last several decades, you wouldn’t now be reaping the disappointing harvest that you have sown.

    There is some truth in this statement… however, we have a congregational system. If the Voters is “supreme”, the laity also bear responsibility for allowing poor teaching and practice. Too often they were/are more than willing to be entertained rather than taught.

  11. John,
    You say you speak from experience. So do I. I am not quoting what someone else wrote on some blog. If your experience tells you that my words are nonsense, I think that’s great. Honestly.

    Helen,
    I know not everyone here is a pastor. Further on in my comments I said “a little closed society of pastors, other professional church workers, and their spouses and families”. And I think that describes the overwhelming majority of people chiming in to chastise the laity for not showing more “kindness” (i.e. MORE MONEY). But I’m sure there are a few apple polishers who have no personal or familial connections to the pastoral office.

    You say “The guys who are really low paid and put upon seldom tell you about it… you find it out from someone else. Congregations have to be willing to cooperate and share the pastor’s time to make a dual work.” and “the laity also bear responsibility for allowing poor teaching and practice. Too often they were/are more than willing to be entertained rather than taught.” ABSOLUTELY TRUE. And none of that contradicts anything I said. Regardless of the congregational polity no man is forced to be a pastor or to take a call or to serve any congregation, ever. I repeat, maybe if a congregation can’t support a full-time pastor, then it shouldn’t get a full-time pastor.

    The truth is that there are more pastors than are needed for the size of the church. The real size. Not the one that gets recorded on official documents to make things look good. And why do men continue to sign up for such horrible jobs with such awful, terrible congregations??? Because it’s their calling? BULL. If that were the case they’d go be missionaries. Plenty of work in the mission fields. But that’s not as cozy as a parish pastor position.

    I used to by all this stuff. I used to be concerned about all these poor put-upon pastors and their families. I used to give, in all the ways I could, to try and help. And then I found out it was all a big scam. Is it true for some folks? Sure. But just as you accuse me of over-generalizing, I point the finger back at you.

    Furthermore, the fact that you, like so many of these malcontent pastors and their followers bring up the congregational polity makes it even clearer to me that the real issue is the closed society I spoke of earlier (call it a movement or a club or whatever else you prefer) that wants to CONTROL EVERYTHING. A bunch of little popes who want more obedience, more money, more power, and more drones for their army.

  12. “Pastors are people, too.” Yep. And some people have all the same problems with their job (if not more) and all sorts of personal problems too. And then they give to the church in their spare time as volunteers. On top of all their other crap. While those who live off the church whine and complain and craft their visions for how they will remake the church in their own image, and use the church to push their agendas. Lots of people have very demanding jobs. Many of them far more demanding than the back breaking labor of reading books and talking to people and pontificating on whatever suits their fancy. And most of them don’t have a bunch of sycophants helping them guilt people into feeling bad for not fluffing their pillows sufficiently. Spoiled brats.

  13. @L Brown #15
    I repeat, maybe if a congregation can’t support a full-time pastor, then it shouldn’t get a full-time pastor.

    Maybe not. But if that’s what they call, and claim they are going to support, they have a responsibility to do that. If you’ve ever listened to an installation, there is a very clear word in there about the way the congregation is supposed to treat this Pastor they’ve called.

    [To answer you, the congregation doesn’t have to call a pastor it doesn’t want to support, either. They find out more about him in advance than he usually finds out about them.]

    If you’ll look at the statistics, most pastors are “sole Pastors” …as in “alone” … they hardly have “a bunch of sycophants” (unless that’s what you are calling the members who do try to treat the pastor like a human being).

    I don’t know exactly what your problem is. You seem to have encountered a bad apple. It doesn’t follow that all apples are bad.

    Furthermore, the fact that you, like so many of these malcontent pastors and their followers bring up the congregational polity …

    Wait a minute! Congregational responsibility is what I brought up, sir. We can’t, like the Methodists and the Roman Catholics, sit back and say, “Well, the bishop picked him but we don’t have to like him.”
    The congregation calls the pastor, (supposedly with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but I sometimes have to wonder if they ever considered Him). They have a choice. Having made that choice they need to hold up their end and not start plotting to drive the Pastor out the minute he suggests that there might be sinners in the room. [There isn’t anyone in the room who isn’t!]

  14. “start plotting to drive the Pastor out the minute he suggests that there might be sinners in the room” If you think this is really widespread and is the cause of so many problems, fine. I think that’s silly, I think that is seldom true for more than a minority of any congregation, and I think that has little to do with the problems referenced in this post. The shrinking church in America, the excess of pastors, and the growing realization among the people that they’re paying for a sham has a lot more to do with this subject. And again, plenty of work in the mission fields.

    “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” – James 3:1

    Boo. Hoo. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. And don’t become a chef.

  15. Live off the church while doing nothing but whining and complaining about the church. Looking down on the people, and demanding they do more, give more, and be more obedient to your will. The personification of arrogance and ungratefulness.

    YES, there you have it.

  16. @L Brown #20

    Mr. Brown:

    I have no idea to whom you are referring in your responses. Name names. Call out pastors whom you believe are, as you put it, “living off the church” and not caring a tinker’s cuss for the sheep.

    Out with it. Name names or repent of defaming the Preaching Office.

  17. Dear Mr Brown,
    From your remarks using key words such as “visions remake church”, agendas, demands” (works) & guilt (trips)…..I can see you are a dislocated Lutheran from a Lutheran Church Growth (Ablaze/TCN) church experience.

    I am sorry you had to experience that, it’s not Lutheran. No one gave me a warning either. Peace be with you…..don’t take it out on Pr Juhl, he’s an honest pastor and as much a victim as you are.

    cw

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