Hebrews 13:17 …Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden…With this command, God really raises the bar. There are a few people in most churches that are really a pain for pastors. They are a heavy emotional burden. They have the potential to drain enthusiasm or even damage hearts. On the other end of the spectrum are those that really make the pastorate a blast.Where are you in this spectrum? On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being “a burden” and ten being “a joy,” where do you think most of your present or past pastors would rank you? A five? A seven? Maybe an eight? Hebrews 13:17 calls every Christian to be a ten!Pray about making this a goal and ponder what kind of changes in your attitudes and actions would help you to improve. Here are a few questions you can ask of yourself:

  • Are you a cheerleader or a party pooper?
  • Do you elicit a smile or a grimace?
  • Do you warm hearts or create heartburn?
  • Do you grab an oar or throw in an anchor?
  • Do you give grace or require it?
  • Do you shine or whine?
  • Are you a comforter or a wet blanket?
  • Do you give service or say “serve us”?

 The Christians in the Thessalonian church provided great joy to the Apostle Paul. “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed you are our glory and joy” (I Thessalonians 2:19-20 ). From them we can gain a better understanding of how we can be used by God to bring greater joy to the Christian leaders that are in our lives.

Some of the joy had to come from the closeness of their fellowship. The church is a family and when you pray together, play together and engage in collective ministry, affection grows. Just thinking about various people in the churches that I have served is an emotional pick-me-up. I treasure them deeply.

That was true in Thessalonica. In unbridled transparency, Paul said, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8-9). The feelings were mutual. “But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you” (1 Thess 3:6).

While all of this is true, there is another major reason that the Thessalonian believers were a source of joy. It is stressed repeatedly through Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. You will see it immediately in 3:8-9: For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

Paul was thrilled that these Christians were doing well spiritually. When he saw the godly fruit in their lives, he couldn’t help but break into prayers of thanksgiving.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ… 2:13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”

Your pastor will be jazzed by spiritual growth in your life. David Wayne writes,

“‘Nice sermon pastor” and “you’re a good pastor” are wonderful to hear but what we really want to hear is that you are growing in your walk with Christ. This is why we are in ministry, we want to see people come to Christ and grow in Christ. We take your spiritual growth seriously and one of the greatest encouragements to us is to see you taking it as seriously as we do.

I was involved in a church plant one time and a group of us were doing some painting in a rented facility. The pastor joined me in the room I was working in and made the comment that he really enjoyed doing this painting because he could see the results of his work immediately. In ministry we don’t really see the results of our work unless the numbers are growing and budgets are increasing. We also know that increasing numbers and budgets aren’t the best measure of effectiveness and we know that alot of significant ministry can be going on where the growth is minimal.

But again, even where growth may be happening we don’t often see it and many of us struggle with whether or not we are really making a difference in the lives of our folks. By taking your spiritual growth seriously that encourages us that we are making a difference.

Are there ways that your pastor’s ministry is helping you grow? Tell him. One pastor said, “I need to know that you hear me. If something you heard in a sermon has made a difference for you, posed a challenge, made you question an assumption, gave you a word of comfort, whatever, let me know about it! Most of the time I feel like I’m preaching into a vacuum. Are my sermons having an effect?”

If you want to lift a pastor’s spirits, open the windows of your life and let him see what God is doing in you. Tell him about what you are learning from God’s Word. Share testimonies about what God is doing in your life. Demonstrate Christ’s love as you care for others. Activate your spiritual gifts through a particular ministry. If you display Jesus in you, your pastor will echo Paul in saying, “Indeed you are our glory and joy” (I Thessalonians 2:19-20).

I carry in my heart a giant picture album filled with the images of the many, many people that have made my life and ministry such a positive experience. I thank God for blessing me with each of them. May your pastors be equally delighted with you.

In the novel, The Potluck People, Pastor Mike Lewis experiences a roller coaster pastorate that is filled with blessings and trials. Even though he has been wounded by the attitudes of some, he realizes at his farewell potluck what a precious flock this is. The novel ends this way.

… Mike also laughed as he took them all in. Then he surprised himself by suddenly breaking into tears.

He must have shook a little as he held his daughter on his lap because Jennifer turned and said, “What’s wrong, Daddy?”

“Nothing’s wrong, honey. Daddy is just a little emotional.”

Sandy squeezed his knee.

No, nothing was wrong. Mike knew that it was God’s will that they move on to a new ministry. It was just that… he really loved these people.

You have the opportunity to give encouragement, enrichment and joy to pastors. May they always remember you with deep appreciation.