1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) - We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
My husband was once a full-time minister and continues today to be involved in lay ministry and church leadership. We also have several friends and family members who have been or are currently serving in the pastorate or some other form of ministry. So, I can say with certainty, being involved in ministry, whether full-time or part-time, is hard work and is not for the faint of heart. But those who are involved in it have their reasons for being involved. They have chosen to serve in this way because they believe this is how they can best utilize the gifts God has given them. They have a desire to serve God and to serve others. This includes pastors, teachers, deacons, elders, missionaries, or any others who have a leadership or supporting role in a Christian organization/ministry. These ministers consider it a joy to encourage other believers in their faithful walk, and to help us all grow closer to the Lord.
Please consider this: For our ministers to lead and encourage us, they need us to encourage them as well. Believe it or not, our spiritual leaders do become discouraged. The people they are serving often expect to have their needs met, and if they aren't met to their satisfaction, the leaders are sometimes lectured or rebuked. People forget that, yes, these leaders are servants of the Lord, but they are not superheroes. They can't do it all but are often expected to. When dealing with so many different types of personalities and situations, there is no way to completely satisfy everyone, or to be everywhere at once. But when they are expected to be, there are times when our leaders feel alone, exhausted, misunderstood, and may even feel like failures.
This week, I challenge you to find a way to encourage your pastors, leaders of your church, or those who are serving in any other type of ministry. Show them you are on their team and give them some inspiration to keep going. Here are a few ideas for you, but be creative and do anything else you feel led to do.
1. Send them a “thank you” card, or a note of appreciation.
2. Type out an email telling them what you learned from their sermon or Sunday school lesson.
3. Take them to lunch or invite them over for dinner.
4. Offer to babysit their kids so they can have some time alone.
5. Commit to a monthly gift of support for the church or mission agency you belong to.
6. Give them a Dairy Queen gift card or invite them over for banana splits and game night.
7. Send them a care package with various gifts that let them know you are thinking of them.
8. If you have a complaint or concern, be kind in the way you mention it and be sure to offer some helpful suggestions in return. Better yet, offer to BE the help they need.
9. Offer to go with them to visit the hospitals or nursing homes.
10. Ask how you can pray for them, commit to praying for them daily, and be sure to let them know you are praying.
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