Aaron and Hur provided Moses rest, even in the heat of battle. Here are six things any church member can do to give their pastor rest.
By Jacob Lewis
Lifeway Research’s Greatest Needs of Pastors study found 45% of pastors say it’s challenging to rest consistently. It can be easy for readers to ignore the story behind the statistic, but that 45% should be sobering and alarming for church members. Statistically, nearly every other pastor you meet is on the verge of spiritual, and at times physical, burnout.
When I think about exhaustion in ministry, my mind immediately goes to the story of Moses and the battle with the Amalekites in Exodus 17. As long as Moses’ hands were lifted, God’s people prevailed. In spite of the supernatural work being done through Moses’ lifted hands, he was human. And fatigue set in. At the moment of exhaustion, Aaron and Hur stepped in. “They took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down” (Exodus 17:12, CSB). Moses needed someone to come alongside him and provide opportunities for rest, even in the heat of battle.Pausing from the work, even momentarily, can feel like a retreat in the ongoing spiritual warfare and work that is taking place in every congregation. — Jacob Lewis Click To Tweet
Oftentimes, those in ministry struggle with the discipline of rest. Pausing from the work, even momentarily, can feel like a retreat in the ongoing spiritual warfare and work that is taking place in every congregation. So, how can we minister to our ministers when the battle gets long and their arms grow heavy? I wouldn’t recommend bringing a stone for your pastor to sit on next Sunday, but below are six things any church member can do to honor their pastor with rest.
1. Honor them with prayer
There are multiple instances in Scripture where God calls his people to pray for their leadership. I am always moved by Paul’s requests for prayer, like the one found in Ephesians 6:19: “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (CSB).It’s one thing to pray privately, or to mention that you’re praying, but it’s another ministry entirely to find times where you can pray with your pastor as he ministers. — Jacob Lewis Click To Tweet
It should go without saying but allow me to echo Paul’s plea. Church member, pray for your pastor. More importantly, let your pastor know you’re praying for him. I cannot tell you how often it has blessed me to know that there are people in my church praying for me daily. Most importantly, pray with your pastor. It’s one thing to pray privately, or to mention that you’re praying, but it’s another ministry entirely to find times where you can pray with your pastor as he ministers.
2. Honor them with people
One vital aspect of any pastoral ministry is that of feeding the flock. When a pastor begins planning for a time of rest, one question we must ask is, “Who will feed the flock?” James 3:1 tells us that those who feed the flock are held to a higher standard: “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgement” (CSB).
It can be hard to leave the pulpit for rest when pastors don’t have someone reliable and trustworthy to fill the space. This is where church leadership and even other members can help. Do you teach Sunday School or lead small groups in your church? Make yourself available to the pastor. You may be the perfect candidate to speak on a Sunday night while your pastor is recuperating. Perhaps you don’t feel comfortable leading a Bible study or devotional, but you can still help by getting your pastor in touch with other lay speakers that you know are biblically sound and ready to assist.
3. Honor them with resources
It’s important to remember that pastors are people too. We don’t live at church and sleep in the baptistry. Pastors enjoy hobbies and exploring new places just like anyone else. God may have blessed you with special places or hobbies that bring you rest. If possible, share those with your pastor. Have a boat? Take him fishing. Have a favorite spot to eat? Feed him. Have a getaway spot at the beach or mountains? Arrange a stay. Over the years, other church members have blessed my family by providing us with resources that allowed us to rest and enjoy that season.
If nothing else, I would strongly advise checking with local and state level denominational groups to find out about events and retreats for pastors and their families. Not only will they be provided with the resources needed to recharge, but they might also come back with new tools for church life.
4. Honor them with time
Pastors are strange animals. They are often exhausted but at the same time totally unwilling to step back from work. Like Moses, they see the battle their congregants are fighting, and it feels like betrayal to step back and let them fight alone. Most pastors will not go out of their way to plan and ask for multiple seasons of rest in the year, but they need them.Do not let a pastor’s unwillingness to rest serve as an excuse to overwork them. — Jacob Lewis Click To Tweet
Church member, I speak directly to you now, avoid being the church that takes advantage of your pastor. Do not let a pastor’s unwillingness to rest serve as an excuse to overwork them. Make it a priority on your end. Lay aside multiple times during the year when your pastor should be able to leave without any difficulties. Being able to say, “Pastor, we’ve got our services and ministries covered for this week, take your family and enjoy some time together” is such a wonderful gift to give those in ministry.
5. Honor them by bearing burdens
Pastors will overextend themselves with things like cleaning bathrooms, changing road signs, and folding bulletins if you ask them. Pastors wear many hats in ministry, let your pastor focus on his calling and ministry as its shepherd by taking a few hats for yourself.
In Ephesians 4:12, Paul argues that every believer has their own ministry, not just church leadership. Get involved and share the burdens of ministry with your pastor. You may end up receiving the blessing, as well as your pastor.
6. Honor them with your respect
Pastoral work often defies scheduling. They’re on call for late-night emergencies and early morning meetings. It’s a calling that requires flexibility and 24/7 availability. With this in mind, please respect your pastor’s time. There are always emergencies and exceptions, and I’m sure any minister would echo the statement that you can, “call them anytime.” However, if it can wait until after dinner time, after family time, after the week they’re on vacation, let it wait. Be respectful of those moments of rest and give your pastor time to draw more strength from personal times of devotion and reflection.Hold up the hands of your pastor, give pastors an opportunity to find rest on those days of battle. — Jacob Lewis Click To Tweet
Pastors, keep fighting the good fight. God sees your service and your servant’s heart. We should remember that He sees and will repay the unseen work we do. Matthew 6 tells us our secret giving, praying, and fasting will all be rewarded by our Heavenly Father.
Church member, let God use you as he used Aaron and Hur. Hold up the hands of your pastor, give pastors an opportunity to find rest on those days of battle.
Jacob serves as the Pastor of Haw Bluff Baptist Church in Kelly, N.C. Jacob holds an M.Div in Apologetics from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and currently serves on the Board of Directors’ Mission Catalyst Committee for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.