I am a pastor. I know the challenges of pastoral ministry from personal experience. I also interact with a lot of pastors and witness first-hand the hardships they face.

Here’s one thing I have learned about churches and pastors over the years: as the pastor goes, so goes the church. What do I mean by this? It’s really quite simple. If the pastor is treated well and cared for, most likely, the church will succeed. But, if the pastor is beat down and treated poorly, the church will fail.
Obviously, there will be exceptions. Some pastors feel very loved by their congregations, and the church is declining. Other pastors are treated very poorly; yet, their church is growing. But, as a general rule, you can be sure that however a church treats its pastor will determine the direction and overall health of the church.
Every local church is composed of many believers that make of the body of Christ in that particular location. Every person is needed and important. But, much like a professional football team that needs a quarterback to win, a church must have a good pastor to succeed.

My point in writing this is simply to say this: if your pastor works hard, preaches the word and loves the people, treat him with love and respect. Do this, first and foremost, because God has commanded Christians to do so. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17). Secondly, treat your pastor well because he is a human being. Most pastors are doing the best they can, and in many cases, they’re not seeing the results they want. They’re tired, frustrated and discouraged. Your criticism and harsh treatment don’t help them. It’s also hard on their families. Pastor’s wives have it rough. They take the beatings with them. Every time the pastor suffers, his wife does too. Remember they are people who have feelings and need love and support just as much as the next believer. Your pastor is not immune to hardship and criticism. He is not a spiritual superman. Thirdly, treat your pastor well for the sake of your church. Let them do their “jobs with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17). I can’t believe more Christians haven’t figured this out. It’s right there in the Bible. If you treat your pastor bad, it hurts your church, which means it hurts you. Practically speaking, when your pastor is beat down, his preaching won’t be as effective. He won’t feel like studying very hard. He will be dry and lifeless in the pulpit.

Furthermore, his care for people will diminish. As he is depleted spiritually, he won’t have anything to give. Furthermore, he may just feel like people don’t want him around.

I could go on and on about this topic, but suffice it to say, if you want your church to thrive, treat your pastor well. I am not saying, don’t hold him accountable. I am not saying, all pastors are perfect. But I am saying, that most pastors are doing the best they can, and many church goers don’t realize how unreasonable they are in their treatment towards their pastor. Nor do they realize how unrealistic their expectations are of him. If you have never been a pastor, you have no idea the weight we feel and the battles we face. So, this week, I want you to call your pastor and just thank him for his service. Take him out to lunch after church. Show him your appreciation. Work to create a culture at your church that builds him up and doesn’t tear him down. And in doing so, watch your church benefit as a result.

Thanks for reading!

Brandon Sutton is the pastor at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church and the founder of Sutton Church Consulting (Suttonconsultations.com). You can email him at pastor2334@gmail.com