Ten Ways to Treat Shepherds That Safeguards Peace
Spoil them? Really? I never imagined writing such a post. It seems rather self-serving for a pastor like me to post an article like this. But my experience last week changed things.
Along with several other men from our church, I attended this year’s Shepherds’ Conference in LA. I gotta tell ya. Those guys pampered this pastor from start to finish.
They paid my way, made me ride shotgun in the vehicles, waited in line to save a primo seat in sessions for me, got me some coffee and food, sprang for some books, and even bought me a gorgeous all-leather messenger bag! They insisted the economy canvas version I had purchased wouldn’t do.
If all that didn’t blow me away, they then catered to my request to leave the venue early on the last night to livestream the final message back at the hotel. That meant I/we could get to bed at a decent hour for the marathon travel day ahead.
Good grief, I felt loved!
OK, so “spoiled” may be a bit over the top, but I can make a biblical case for contributing significantly to your pastors’ joy.
After all, they are God’s gift to your church (Eph. 4:11-12). You are commanded to follow in a way that serves their leadership happiness (Heb. 13:17). And they exist to work with you for your joy (2 Cor. 1:24).
Here are ten ways you can “spoil” your pastors in the interest of eagerly preserving church unity (Eph. 4:1-3).
One, pray for them (2 Thess. 3:1). If you do anything on this list, do this. A family in Orlando still prays for me DAILY, even though I stopped shepherding them over a year ago!
Two, obey and submit to them (1 Cor. 16:16; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:5). Or to put it as the Greek imperatives suggest, cultivate an easily led disposition.
Three, respect, honor, and esteem them very highly in love (1 Thess. 5:12-13). Their work demands this–see chapter 9 in The Peacemaking Church.
Four, pay them well (Rom. 16:1-2; Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17-18). Give toward your vocational elders’ adequate financial support. No ox-muzzling please!
Five, protect them from false accusations (1 Tim. 5:19). When someone takes aim, refuse to entertain charges without sufficient witnesses.
Six, when necessary, practice biblical peacemaking with them (1 Tim. 5:20). Tough love–that’s what that is.
Seven, refresh and encourage them (1 Cor. 16:18; 2 Tim. 1:16-17). Think of the myriad of ways to do this from writing a note of appreciation (aim for ten affirmations per one constructive criticism) to treating them to a meal and more.
Eight, imitate their godly example (1 Cor. 11:1; Heb. 13:7). What shepherd doesn’t do cartwheels of joy when that happens?
Nine, partner with them in the ministry (Phil. 4:2-3). Don’t sit on the bench! Get in the game by using your spiritual gift (1 Pet. 4:10-11).
Ten, look out for their interests (Phil. 2:3-4). They are attending to yours. Return the gospel favor.
If God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7)–and surely he does–then God loves a cheerful pastor too.
You can make a difference in your pastors’ joy and not just during Pastoral Appreciation Month every October.
Spoil on, sheep!