Six Things My Pastor Taught Me

This post could also be called “Six Reasons Why I Love My Pastor.” My senior pastor is an amazing man of God and I have learned countless things from him while under his leadership. This post contains just six of them, in no particular order.

Love, eat, breathe, bleed, use, memorize, respect, and preach the Word.

It is often said that our pastor bleeds scripture. He spent a good deal of his Christian life memorizing scripture (with references) so he often quotes scripture throughout his sermons and counseling. He not only reads and memorizes the Word, he gives it preeminence. In a day where the Bible is left up to personal opinion, it has been life-saving to have a pastor who prioritizes the Bible in his ministry. He doesn’t just talk about how important the Bible is, He shows us how important it is by example. The Bible is our life-blood and he treats it accordingly. I remember the day I heard a prophecy that included the words “this church will be safe in the coming storms because my messenger holds fast to My Word.” I thank God every time I remember that prophecy.

Authority comes from being under authority.

One of my pastor’s favorite scriptures is Luke 7:3-9:

When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

Our pastor often says that the centurion understood authority (and therefore Jesus’ authority) because he was under authority himself. Our pastor loves order. Coming from the military and business community, he saw how groups thrived when there was a clear leadership structure. It’s not about titles or positions, but rather doing things in decency and in order. I’m grateful for this order. I know people who have declined to be under authority and it directly impacts how much fruit their lives bear. Personally, I can be quite blind and foolish. I’m glad to be under leaders who can both encourage and correct me. In fact, the more I submit to them, the more I find myself in a place of (humble) authority.

God loves people (both the lost and saved) so make every effort to love them too.

My pastor will run his life ragged loving and reaching people. You can tell that he has the passion of a missionary or evangelist. His greatest passion is to see souls saved. He wants every person that he crosses paths with to feel loved and cared for. He is remarkably unselfish when it comes to this. I often wonder when he has free time. He is constantly visiting people at the hospitals, meeting with people for a cup of coffee, etc. Watching him love people has taught me that they are worth loving because God loves them.

Ministry is a hard, suffering call from God.

This may be a weird point to some. Recently in America, church ministry (particularly pastoring) has been cast as easy and fun. It mainly comes from high-production, hyped ministries who sound like they live on a mountain top all their life. But that’s not how the New Testament describes Paul’s, Peter’s, John’s (etc) life. Paul often said he was “sorrowful, yet rejoicing”. My pastor doesn’t put on a mask, trying to show that the ministry is easy. Rather, he is vulnerable enough to show us how hard it can be. God spoke to Ananias about Paul in Acts 9:16, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  As a leader and as someone feeling called to bi-vocational ministry, this is a gift. I am grateful to see the true life of a minister lived out in front of me, with all of its trials, pains, joys, struggles, frustrations, hopes, plans, ideas, and passions.

Legacy and your tenure in God matter.

My pastor often says that “God is looking for great finishers.” In America, we often esteem those who are popular or are doing extraordinary/miraculous things. We tend to ignore ministers who have served faithfully for decades and have an extended legacy. We tend to praise the short-term success of people rather than cherish the long-term sowing and reaping of a minister’s faithfulness. I look at my pastor and his (biological and spiritual) children and pray that I can live my life in such a way that my life bears fruit like his.  I want to see my marriage lasting passionately for decades, being an example to others. I want to see my children seek God. I want those around me to be stirred to everlasting love for God. I want my life to impact others. These things matters and I learned that fact by watching my pastor.

Moral excellence in ministry.

There is not a month (many times a week) that goes by that I don’t hear of a well-known minister falling into sexual sin. Both my senior pastor and his staff have shown that God is faithful to keep us holy if we are willing to be severely aggressive about not tolerating even a hint of sexual immorality in our lives. The integrity of the church staff is mind-boggling to me. I am humbled to be under authority of these ministers of God.

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How To Bless Your Pastor

I went to a youth leader’s conference last weekend. They had several awesome main sessions and a bunch of good breakout sessions. On the list I saw that they had a breakout session called “How To Bless Your Pastor”. I was really glad to see a breakout session taking time to teach how to do this. Even though I didn’t go to the session, thoughts of how to bless my pastor have been circling in my head for a few days and I wanted to post some of them.

Pray for him

This is the most important and, if I am honest, the one I do least. There are things that pastors face that only God can help and resolve. By praying, I am petitioning God to do what only He can do. I also try to make sure that I pray positively. I pray for wisdom, strength and grace for my leadership and as a result I am helping cut through the demonic attack against them and helping God encourage their souls.

God has been challenging me to pray for them instead of criticizing them. I used to say I pray for my pastor, but then God challenged me track how much I prayed versus how much I spoke negatively against him. The result shocked me. He reminded me that in James 3:10 the Bible states that “blessing and cursing flow from the same mouth…this should not be”.

Stand up and defend him in times of criticism

What pastors need are people who will shield, guard and defend them. They need people who will speak out for them and be their voice when they hear someone criticizing them especially since the majority of criticism comes from behind the back of a pastor). They need people around them who believe and trust them. In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan’s armor bearer believed, followed and protected his leader in whatever his leader wanted to do. Abishai was one of David’s “mighty men” and he was constantly defending and protecting David. He went so far to ask David if he could kill those who slandered him (David said no.). Where are the people who long to protect and defend their leaders in every way possible?

I try to do my best to defend my leadership, sometimes to a fault. One of the reasons I think I do it is because of how I was raised. At the church I grew up in, the senior pastor fell into a serious scandal, yet my family would not participate in any rumors or criticisms of the pastor. Why? Cause it’s a principle in the Bible. David would not speak against anyone the Lord had anointed, no matter how deceived they were or how much sin they were in. God doesn’t approve of all of His anointed ones’ actions, but He requires us not to speak ill of them, or “touch” them (in a harmful or negative manner) in any way.

Help, love and support his family

One of the most encouraging things for a pastor to know is that you not only support them but you also support and love their family. Pastors are blessed when people not only help out the pastor, but do whatever they can to help out the entire family, especially when hard times come.

Please understand, many pastors don’t get to spend Christmas or other special days with their families. They respond to church family emergencies and many times their own family suffers for it. People who come along side the pastor and help them in whatever way they can to make sure their family is taken care of and loved  is truly a blessing for anyone in leadership. Sometimes it’s you taking the hospital visit, fixing dinner for their family or taking their kids out to the beach for a day of fun.

Serve, serve, serve (and don’t argue or complain about it)

Words without action do very little in life. I may say I support my pastor, but what am I actually doing to prove it? I try to do everything I possibly can to help my pastors out. This sometimes can be taxing and frustrating, but showing love and support often is. That’s the hardest part about serving. It calls you to deny your flesh, take up the towel and wash another’s feet, whether they are a stranger, friend or leader.

I remember one time that I did not have any desire to serve (for whatever reason) but then I read in Luke 16:12 where Jesus asked His disciples:

And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

I realized that even when I have no desire to serve, by serving today I am investing in my own ministry and life one day. I want people who will help me one day fulfill the call of God on my life, so according to that scripture I must help others fulfill theirs.

Speak words of encouragement (this will benefit both parties)

This is very easy and practical to do. Saying how much you’re thankful to a pastor or how well of a job they’re doing in a particular area encourages a pastor to keep going. Even if they’re doing a lot wrong, everyone does something right so try to focus on that. One of the tricks of the enemy is to make a pastor feel that they’re not being effective. Another way to combat this (after prayer and defending) is to verbal tell them what God has done in your life through them. The testimonies that you give them with help them wage war with the “accuser of the brethren”. It will bring hope and cheer to his soul, and when your pastor is encouraged and he is happy and joyous, it will benefit the entire church, including you.