Leaving

The proper care and feeding of your preacher

In 2006 Laura Schlessinger, the tart-tongued television personality wrote a book called The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. It’s worth a read. But I wondered about another group that needs care and maintenance.

Your preacher.

You probably already know that preachers are the modern equivalent of Middle Eastern Bedouins – wandering across the landscape, from one church to the next. Of course sometimes the fault lies in the preacher. If he is teaching something false, if he refuses to repent of some deep immoral practice, then of course you should not keep him.

But can we say that most times when a preacher leaves, his departure is unnecessary? Perhaps he should have been a little less sensitive; perhaps someone in the congregation might have done something to prevent him from leaving. Perhaps we could be more ambitious still and see to it that his morale is so great, that he is properly cared for, that he can do the best he can for your congregation.

Here are some ways to properly maintain your preacher.

  • The fact that your preacher needs care and maintenance at all might come as a surprise. Remember however that he is human, and just as any church member needs encouragement, so does he.
  • Remember that he has a family. He has a God-given responsibility to care for them.
  • Sometimes a preacher feels like he has 200 bosses. Every member of the congregation feels like it is his role to chasten the preacher for forgetting to mention something, for grammatical mistakes, for not greeting someone. Try not to be his boss; try to be his brother in Christ.
  • The factor that ends more ministries than any other is when he feels his family is suffering from his profession. If you have a complaint against your preacher, please, please do not send that complaint through his wife. Don’t treat his children differently because you have a problem with him.
  • If you have the ability, send him a gift card. Tell him, “Take your wife and children out to eat.”
  • Send him a card of encouragement. Most preachers keep these cards in a shoe box and refer to words of encouragement for years afterwards. Say “Thank you.” He’ll live on that for a month.

The vast majority of preachers are good men, trying to do a work that is bigger than all of us. In the words of Paul, “who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16, ESV). Be a ministry supporter, not a ministry killer.

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Stan Mitchell

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