It happens over, and over, and over again. We hear about preachers losing their jobs or dropping out of ministry because the pressures are so great.
This article is not about who is right or wrong when a preacher loses his job. I’m certain there is enough blame to go around.
This is a plea from my heart that those of us who are preaching brothers will do everything we can to encourage one another.
With apologies to those of you who are reading this who are not preachers, it is true that there is no one who can understand the life and work of a preacher better than another preacher.
I have talked to more preachers than I can count who are suffering in silence.
They have been chastised by their elders, their deacons, or some well-meaning fellow Christian.
Their feeling is that they are under-appreciated. They feel that few really know all that they do. They feel that few really care about their families, their health, their mental well-being, and their spiritual walk with the Lord.
Okay, take a deep breath. I know that some of you guys who are reading this would say, “Jeff, I’ve never felt that way, and those who have need to get over it.” I’m thankful you’ve never been treated like that or that you’ve never been made to feel that way, but be careful brother, about saying someone who has needs to get over it. At least until you’ve walked in their shoes.
So, most of us who preach understand these thoughts and feelings. This is a plea to all of us who preach to encourage, strengthen, support, and love a fellow preacher who is struggling. Let’s consider how we can encourage and support one another. If you are not a preacher, why not join in with us as we seek to encourage one another.
OFFER WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT. As we mentioned earlier, there are enough negative and critical words spoken in our world. Those of us who are preachers don’t need to add to what has already been said.
Remember that as Christians we have been charged with speaking words, that are “good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Make a phone call or a personal visit, send an email, a letter, a text, or a Facebook message. Sit down with someone who is hurting and just listen. Listen with your heart. Show compassion and concern. There are many ways we can encourage.
ENCOURAGE A PREACHER’S FAMILY. If you know a brother who is struggling, be sure to ask him how his family is doing? If your wife is a good encourager, ask her to call the struggling preacher’s wife. Ask about the children. See if there is anything that can be done to encourage the family.
TALK TO OUR FATHER. It has been my personal practice to keep a running list of preachers who I know are dealing with difficulties, as well as preachers who have contacted me to ask for prayers.
I do my best to pray though that list on a weekly, sometime daily basis. One of the greatest gifts we can give to a brother who is struggling is the gift of knowing we are praying for them. If you tell someone you are going to pray for them write it down and be sure you follow through (If you would like to be added to my list please send me private message, no details needed!)
EXTEND GRACE & FORGIVE. There are times that the preacher who is struggling is the one who is in the wrong. Perhaps he has brought his struggle on himself. I am not writing this to say that preachers are always right.
I know from my own life that all of us have to constantly watch ourselves. Our own decisions and choices can bring pain to our lives and the lives of our family. That is why we must constantly examine ourselves to be sure that we are, “In the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
DON’T PRY OR ASK TOO MANY QUESTIONS. Some people (and this includes some of us who preach) pride themselves in knowing every sordid detail about every problem in the church. They want to be able to “report” to others about the heartaches of those who are suffering.
I have seen preachers who pry into the lives of people just so they will know. Be careful to not “stick your nose,” where it is not needed. Be careful about asking too many questions. Someone who is hurting will tell you what they want you to know or what they feel you need to know to be able to help.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ONE ANOTHER AFTER THE INITIAL CONTACT. Please don’t overlook this very important part of the helping process. Many times, we reach out to a hurting brother, pray for him, encourage him, and then we forget about him.
Hurts and pains don’t quickly go away. Make another phone call, send another note, reach out again, sometime after the initial contact. When a hurting brother knows that we won’t drop him it will mean the world to him. Since learning about the return of my wife’s cancer, one of my preaching brethren has texted me regularly just to say he is praying for us. It has meant more to us than he’ll ever know.
BUILD UP PREACHERS IN THE PRESENCE OF OTHERS. Work overtime not to be critical of a preacher in the presence of other preachers, church leaders, or members. If someone hears you “speaking out of school,” they will not feel that they can trust you when they need to be able to reach out.
Brothers, those of us who preach are blessed to be a part of a very special fraternity. The best friends I have in my life are preachers. Some of them are older, some of them are younger, and some of them are my age (some of you are thinking, that would be the same as the older ones)! God has blessed my life beyond measure by my preaching brothers.
Let’s help one another during difficult times. Let’s reach out to one another. Let’s thank God for one another.
Dear Father, we know that we have some brothers who are hurting right now. Help us, dear God to reach out to them. Help us to encourage them in every way possible. Help us to pray for those around us who are hurting. Dear Father, please give a special measure of Your grace to those who need it right now. In the Name of the One who will give us rest we pray, Amen.