Be a friend to your pastor

I received a lovely email today from a friend who has been listening to my sermon podcast. He took the time to listen, express appreciation, the personal benefits he received from the sermons and a reflection on his perception of my progress in ministry. It was a refreshing email to receive.

You slog away week by week in preaching preparation and can in low moments wonder what impact it has. And in preaching ministry you are often fielding criticisms from people, or a general lethargy towards listening and learning and engaging. It can be wearing.

So don’t forget to take the time to encourage your pastor from time to time.

In his book Going the Distance, Peter Brain lists a bunch of different kinds of friends a pastor needs: the sponsor, the affirmer, the rebuker, the intercessor, the partner and the pastor. It’s a very helpful section.

About the affirmer he writes:

Some church cultures, and certainly the Australian ethos, downplay encouragement. Somehow we feel it might go to a person’s head, or it might not be giving God the honour, if we give praise or thanks to something done well. Affirmation is totally different to the ‘empty compliments and plaudits that are ceaselessly tossed about in human relationships’. Affirmation is not flattery, ‘it is not given with the motive of obtaining reciprocal favour’.

Affirmation is genuine appreciation, expressed quietly to another person, for what they have done…. Affirmation is that thoughtful word, expressed in person, on the phone, or by letter, that demonstrates how helped you were by your brother or sister.

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