Their work is often thankless. It rarely can get done within 40 hours a week. It’s comprised of many hours in hospitals, in counseling chambers, in prisons, in study, in preparation, in prayer, in anguish. It’s called for at any hour of the day when someone in the church family has a need. It sometimes takes priority over the minister’s own family needs. It can challenge the minister’s heart, soul, mind and strength … sometimes all in the same day. Sometimes all in the same hour.
It can take the form of wedding the betrothed, consoling the bereaved, burying the dead, baptizing the penitent, mentoring the willing, soothing the suffering, rejoicing with the triumphant, empathizing with the disheartened, seeking with the seeker, reconciling the discordant, persuading the sinner, teaching the curious, leading the lost, following the Savior — all these and many more.
If your minister’s work is burdening, share it. Help with it. Take on the yoke in the Spirit of Christ and be Him for your minister. Pray for your minister — lovingly, wholeheartedly, deeply, frequently.
Your minister is a part of a diminishing breed of believers willing to shoulder that burden for, usually, much less than could be made ministering in another profession. Cherish that dedication. Recognize the honor it gives God.
Don’t deny your minister the refreshment of silence and solitude … of time away on ordinary vacation … of the fellowship of others in ministry and the opportunities to learn and grow at conferences, workshops, lectures; and to speak to other churches and organizations.
Don’t muzzle the ox while treading out the grain! Pay your minister well.
Remember that your card or letter or even e-mail of appreciation and encouragement can make your minister’s day. A compliment on the sermon is nice, of course, but different sermons reach the needs of different people. Be supportive of your minister’s other ministries, family, personal choices, example.
If you must be critical of your minister, let it be in private and face-to-face. Be critical of yourself first. Examine your motives in being critical. If you disagree with your minister, let it be handled the same way. If you must correct or reprove, do so in love … care … concern. Be willing to accept reproof yourself, humbly and without guile. You could be wrong, and this could be an opportunity for both of you to ferret out God’s will together.
And, because it bears repeating: pray, pray, pray.