First let me point out that pastoring is also a great joy and blessing. But the truth is, it is very difficult; impossible, even, apart from the grace of God.
But God's word teaches us that believers can help keep their pastors from burnout!
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17, ESVThis verse gives believers two commands concerning local church leaders. By the way, this assumes that Christians will be a committed part of a local church under the leadership of local elders. First, we are commanded to "obey" our leaders. Rebellion in the church is not only harmful to the witness of the church, but it is a good way to drain a pastor. Obedience is commanded.
But the second command is to "Let them do this with joy and not with groaning." Believers are to actually give thought to the joy of their pastor. This is because a pastor with no joy is "no advantage to you." In other words, by purposing to make yourself and your family a joy to the elders in your local church, you are helping those leaders be of advantage to the church; you are removing hindrances in your church!
How about you? How are you doing with this command of Scripture? Are you contributing towards your pastor becoming one of the 1500 who give up every month?
How can you help your pastor and elders care for the church with joy?
1. Pray for your pastor and his family, and let them know it.
2. Give encouragment and positive feedback, not just criticism. Sometimes a word of disagreement, spoken in love, will be necessary. But don't let that be the only kind of feedback your pastor ever hears from you. Does your pastor associate you with words of encouragement or words of criticism when you cross his mind?
3. Do your part in the ministry of the church. Let's face it: when a job is not being done in the church, it is usually the pastor who will do it. This means that if you are not doing your share, the pastor will do his share plus yours. Get to work! Look around and see what needs doing, and then do it! Exercise your spiritual gifts, do your share of the chores, carry your load. Remember that the pastor is not here to do all of the ministry, but to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12).
4. Know that your pastor needs family time. If you have a good pastor, he will love to be there for you whenever you need him. If you do need him, please contact him. But know that there is a whole church full of people who are calling, emailing, texting and stopping by. Could another brother or sister in the church help you instead of the pastor? Especially in the evening, remember that your pastor has a family who needs his undivided attention.
5. Bless your pastor. Look for little ways to make your pastor's ministry a joy and not a groaning. Offer to babysit so he can go on a date with his wife. Send him to a good encouraging conference or get-away. Think of specific ways you can be a joy to your pastor.
"One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches" (Galatians 6:6).
6. Be a friend to your pastor. Strive to be someone who is 'safe,' not someone he feels he must 'walk on eggshells' when he is in their presence.
In general, just be thoughtful and sensitive. Ask yourself, "What if I were a local church elder? How could those I serve help make my ministry a joy?" Answer that question, and then go and do likewise for your pastor or elders.
As we obey this command and make our church leaders' ministries a joy and not a groaning, the entire church will reap the rewards. A joyful pastor is good for the church! Don't let your pastor be the next statistic. Stand with him and his family and be a blessing.