By Alex Gonzales
Have you ever needed encouragement?
Have you ever needed advice?
Have you ever needed friendship?
Have you ever needed a miracle?
Of course you have.
Eight years before I took my first pastorate, I experienced two dear friends being mistreated by the churches they pastored. I’d grown up in the church but never really understand how cruel some church-going people can be.
Because I remember what my pastor friends suffered though, I desire to regularly encourage pastors and churches—especially those who are part of our state convention. I like what Chick-fil-A founder, Truett Cathy once said: “How do you know if someone needs encouragement? If they’re breathing!”
That includes pastors.
Here are four ways you can become more intentional in encouraging fellow pastors.
1. PRAY FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES.
You already pray for your family and your church, but when was the last time you were intentional about praying for another pastor in your city or state? Surely you know one or two. If not, do a Google search for local churches and start making a list of the pastors who minister there.
During your regular devotional time, focus on a few of the pastors’ names on the list and spend time praying for them. If you invest 10-15 minutes a day praying for them, five days a week, you’ll spend an average of around 60 hours a year praying for fellow pastors in your city.
Imagine the healing and encouragement the Lord may choose to bring His servants through your faith and prayers. Consider Colossians 4:3-6 as an excellent example of how to pray for other pastors:
“Pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, so that I may make it known as I should. Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.”
2. GO WHERE THEY ARE.
Many pastors are regularly involved in their local association or state convention. If you’re part of a similar group, find out when they conduct their meetings, trainings, and conferences. And go!
The point is to be a friend to pastors. Some people who serve in vocational ministry tend to isolate themselves, almost in self-defense, due to the many hurts and scars they carry. Don’t let that slow you down, even if it takes you months or years to build deep relationships. Keep going and keep encouraging.
3. MAKE A PHONE CALL.
Exchange phone numbers with the new pastor friends you make. Chatting on the phone doesn’t come naturally for many people—especially pastors who are introverts. Nevertheless, you have to be intentional about connecting.
You can’t expect that new pastor you make an acquaintance with to call you. You have to be the one to initiate a conversation and a relationship. There’s a chance that pastor might not return your call right away. It might take a few calls to finally connect.
4. SCHEDULE A MEAL TOGETHER.
While you can always a meet over coffee, there’s something about enjoying a meal together than can powerfully unite people from different walks of life.
Such meals can take place on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly schedule, but I wouldn’t extend it beyond that. If you stretch things out too much, it becomes easy to keep postponing. Eventually—and often unintentionally—life happens, and before you know it, you’re right back to square one.
Even if your fellow pastors’ personalities are the complete opposite of yours, persevere in connecting regularly with them.
Hopefully, the connections you make will turn into lifelong friendships that consist of intentional relationships where there’s shared wisdom, accountability, and partnership in ministry.
ALEX GONZALES (@alex_g_gonzales) is the husband of Tabitha, father to Cody and Avery, and pastor and church relations ministry associate for the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention.