By Lynette Kittle, Crosswalk.com
Growing up as a pastor’s kid, as some refer to as a PK, along with being married to a pastor, gives me some insight and understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of a pastor during the holidays. It’s usually one of the busiest times of the year with all the special services and outreaches at the church for a pastor to be involved with, along with trying to include holiday activities with his immediate and extended family members.
With all the extra events, it can be a stressful and time-crunching season for the pastor and his family. He may feel at times like he is carrying the entire load of the church on his shoulders.
The following are eight ways to encourage your pastor during the busy holiday season.
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1. Pray for Him
We probably will never really know how our prayers make a difference in his life and ministry, but we know they are eternally worthwhile and will be at work for years to come because prayers do not have expiration dates.
Knowing what holidays can be like around a parsonage, with all the stresses and temptations that often come to pastors, ask God to help you commit to praying for your pastor, especially during the holidays when tensions can rise within congregations and families.
As 1 Timothy 2:1 states, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.”
Consider organizing a prayer team, especially for your pastor during the holidays, by meeting together once a week, through a Zoom call, or via email requests.
As well, ask the pastor if he would like the group to come weekly and pray personally with him. Or, if he doesn’t have time in his schedule to do so, to let you know any specific prayer requests he might want the group to pray concerning him.
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2. Speak and Write Encouraging Words to and about Him
Consider making extra efforts to speak or write encouraging words to your pastor, either in person, or a voice mail or text, or a card or note. Be specific, if possible, of things that will bring joy and encouragement to his heart and mind.
Colossians 4:6 encourages, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
As a veteran PK and pastor’s wife, I can assure you that the negative comments often outweigh the positive, encouraging words, so heartfelt words to build him up, are many times far and few between, but so uplifting for a pastor to receive.
Ephesians 4:29 remind us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
3. Volunteer to Help Him Out
Holidays usually bring more church activities and events, which means the need for more help, such as someone to open and close the church, turn off lights, overlook the parking lot, restock the bathrooms, pick up supplies, and more.
Ask the Pastor if there are areas to volunteer that will meet a need and also relieve him of some of the responsibility. Hebrews 13:17 encourages us to, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
Does the church need holiday lights or wreaths put up? Volunteer to help if you're available or even take off a day from work to help. Many people desire to reach out and help, yet often don’t take the first step of volunteering on their own.
Seeing others step out to lend a hand makes it easier for them to follow suit and join in on volunteering. When we take the initiative in doing so, we have the potential to motivate others to follow us.
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4. Offer to Help Lighten His Load
Growing up, I witnessed how, as the pastor, my Dad also wrote and printed the bulletin each week on the mimeograph, as well as cleaning the church each Saturday morning, and mowing and trimming the church lawn each weekend. During the winter months, he shoveled the sidewalks, cleared the parking lot, and salted the walkways, too.
Looking back, I don’t know if my Dad just wanted to do all these extra jobs or if there wasn’t anyone stepping up to help him out. At a small church, there often aren’t the funds to pay someone to do each of these chores. And, of course, because my Dad was doing all these things, so was I and my family, we all pitched in to fill in the gap.
Since pastors, especially at smaller churches, may wear many hats, consider asking if there are ways to help them cover some of their extra workload and church chores. Even if just for a couple of weeks, during the busiest times, your assistance can be a great relief and blessing to him, helping in ways that provide him with much-needed rest and respite.
Ideas to help lighten his load include running errands and picking up churchgoers who need a ride. Like Galatians 6:2 urges us, we can pitch in and “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
5. Support His Efforts
Consider going the extra mile to help support your pastor’s holiday efforts. Is he trying to put a caroling group together, or collect food for the needy and shut-ins? If so, consider joining in to sing-along, as well as collecting and donating food to his drives.
Hebrews 10:24 urges, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Are there special church services and outreaches during the holiday season? Consider attending as many as possible, along with inviting and bringing guests, in support of your pastor’s efforts.
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6. Offer Some Extra TLC to Him and His Family
The classic 1947 film, “The Bishop’s Wife,” starring Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young, follows the story of a pastor’s family during Christmas time after he asks God to send him help.
With all the church holiday demands and responsibilities, the pastor is consumed by his work and neglecting his wife and daughter. When God answers his prayer, by sending him an angel to help him, it’s not what he was expecting and hoping for, or the kind of help he thinks he really needs. Needless to say, he isn’t too receptive or pleased by God’s idea of divine assistance.
From rewriting his sermon to decorating his Christmas tree, the help God sends this overworked pastor stirs up his church and home life in a way that makes him irritable and uncomfortable.
Through the film’s depiction of clergy life, we see how easy it is for a pastor to get caught up in holiday church activities, along with the pressure of trying to please his parishioners, that he ends up neglecting his family.
As portrayed in this movie, real-life pastors often need divine assistance, too, to minister to their congregations and also to their families, not only for their family’s sake, but also for their own sake, to help them recognize how to be present and attentive to their needs.
Growing up, my Hawaiian Sunday School teacher, who also taught as a career, would take me out for the day a couple times each year, buying me a new outfit and taking me to have my hair styled on her modest teacher’s salary.
Not only did she make me feel loved and valued, but she also met a practical need for my family by covering the costs of my childhood excursions.
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7. Drop Off Some Holiday Goodies for Him
When mixing up holiday treats, why not mix up some extra goodies to drop a plate off for his family? For years, someone gave our family a huge box of homemade chocolate candies. As well, baked goods like breads, muffins, cookies, and more help the pastor and family to celebrate and also host family and friends for holiday gatherings.
If you're really feeling ambitious, drop off a turkey, ham, roast, or bacon for the holidays. With rising grocery costs, holiday meat may be harder to come by for many pastors on small salaries.
8. Express Sincere Generosity to Him
1 Timothy 5:17 urges us to take good care of our Christian leaders, stating, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and “The worker deserves his wages.’”
Likewise, Philippians 2:4 urges us not to look at just our own interests but for each of us to look out for the interests of others, too, including our pastors.
Of course, cash often comes in handy for a pastor and family during the holidays, with all the extra expenses usually involved in celebrating and gift-giving.
Also, in an ever-changing economy, the following are often welcomed by pastors who may be living paycheck-to-paycheck, working part-time to help pay the bills, or trying to survive on a meager salary.
- Fill his car up with gas
- Drop off or have holiday grocery items delivered to his home
- Give gift cards for a variety of things, such as cash, restaurants, fast food places, grocery stores, gas stations, car washes, along with fun family entertainment places like miniature golfing, video arcades, movie theaters, bowling alleys, pottery-making or art studios, and more
Like Jesus encourages, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).
As God blesses us, we are given the opportunity to bless others, including our pastors. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11).
Paul explains further in Acts 20:35, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
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