No Christian leader should stop growing, but it happens. We get so busy in the day-to-day "stuff" that we fail to feed ourselves well. Here are some ways you can help your pastor continue to grow:
- Pray specifically for his continued growth. Too many church members complain about pastors for whom they've not prayed very much. Ask God to grow your pastor every week, and you'll be more patient with him as God does His work in him.
- Hold him accountable for taking his weekly day off and his annual vacation. When we don't take a break, our mind and our body get worn out—and nobody has the energy left for future growth. Weary people don't grow well.
- Hold him accountable for his overall growth (emotional, spiritual, physical, etc.). Maybe the elders, deacons or personnel committee in your church can gently and supportively walk beside your pastor in this area. At a minimum, pray he has a friend to carry out this role.
- Provide him a "resource" account in the church budget. Books and resources are expensive. Giving your pastor some additional funds (that is, not taken out of his salary) will encourage him to read more.
- Give him a "conference" account in the budget. Sometimes, it's just good to get away and learn from others—but we don't have the money to do it. Help make it possible for your pastor to go to at least one training/preaching conference each year.
- Encourage him to continue his education. I admit my bias here, but additional training is good for all of us. If you want to encourage your pastor in this direction, do these things: fund at least some of his education and don't count his days in class as vacation days. (And by the way, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more Southeastern Seminary's programs).
- Give him book gift cards for Christmas. Most pastors will be grateful for even more money to spend on books. Trust me.
- Ask him to lead folks in studying good Christian books together. For example, use one morning each week to study a book on theology, Christian living or spiritual disciplines. Your pastor will grow as he leads you.
- Give him a regularly-scheduled sabbatical. I know this topic is controversial, but I think it's wise to give your pastor an extended time to study, recover, learn and get replenished every five to seven years. A month or so of genuine focus on God can make a big difference.
What other ideas would you add?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.org.
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