How to treat your minister

Roy E. De Brand, Professor of Homiletics Emeritus, Campbell University Divinity School
May. 05, 2014 @ 09:29 AM

“Pastor X” wrote a book a few years back entitled, “How to Murder Your Minister.” It was an insightful analysis of the predicament many ministers are placed in by unreasonable demands on their time, undefined position in society, robbed humanness and fish bowl living. While the book was definitely one-sided, written as it was from a hurting minister’s perspective, it was an eye-opener to many ministers and laypeople alike. It’s something all of us, on both sides of the pulpit, should be keenly aware of. There are hazards in ministry.

I’d like to offer some alternative methods for murdering your ministers.

• Kill them with kindness. Some of the greatest gifts one person can give another are a smile, a kind word, a loving affirmation and a thoughtful act. Treat your minister to a meal. Take his or her kids to the park, or babysit them for an evening gratis so your minister and spouse can have a date. Bake them a cake for their birthday. Many ministers would die with gratitude if any of these kindnesses were offered. But what a way to go!

• Heap tons of encouragement them. Cars run on gasoline, but ministers run on encouragement. You can encourage your ministers by your words. “Good sermon,” will be music to their ears. Your presence at services will be heartening. A note or card is a marvelous sparkplug for sagging spirits. And don’t forget that Mondays are often “down” days for those in ministry; timing is important. Pile up the encouragement. There are enough who want to pull out the rug from under them. You might be surprised at what a better minister yours becomes when properly encouraged.

• Push them off the pedestals some people place them on. They don’t want to be there anyway (OK, some do, but most don’t). But many people place ministers on pedestals without really thinking about it. To hold ministers in high regard is a fine thing, but to hold them up to false standards or expectations isn’t fair. Get them off those pedestals! “How,” do I hear you asking? • Acknowledge their humanity; they’re just like everybody else in this regard. Give them time to be with their families. Don’t expect more of them than you expect of yourself. When they goof up, as we all inevitably do, forgive and forget, and get on to whatever’s next. Don’t put ministers up too high because they have no angel’s wings if they should fall.

• Bury them in love. The Apostle Paul said love is the greatest thing in the world (1 Corinthians 13:13). It is. Love your ministers. Speak your love to them. Show your love in kindness toward them and their families. They will love you in return.

• Undying gratitude will be extended to you if you murder your ministers in any of these ways. They will die to themselves and be better able to live for God and serve others if you will practice these suggestions. You can think of others.

And by the way, it wouldn’t be bad to treat other people this way either!