God calls us to bless those who bless us, and even shepherd our Shepherds:
Gal. 6:6 says, “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.”
Hebrews 6:10 reminds, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
Proverbs 11:25: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
We are all clearly called to reach out to build and bless those that build and bless us.
Recently, our ministry held a Ministry-Minded Marriage/ Clergy Couples Date Night to honor and bless those who serve so faithfully. Bill and I have spent our entire married life in some form of ministry. Around the world are selfless clergy couples who run to the side of others in need to give God’s love, so here are three things you can do to LUV your pastor or the clergy couples of your church (or parachurch) staff:
Listen—then take action: Tune in and get your eyes off yourself and ask honest questions to see if you really know what your pastor and his wife are dealing with personally. Some common struggles of clergy couples are economic distress or pressure; creating uninterrupted time together ; keeping a positive attitude in the middle of handling negative situations , or same stressors as anyone else: a strong willed or special needs child, a prodigal teen, health issues, or life stage drama like mid-life crisis. Be one of the people that surround the shepherd of your flock and offer a listening ear and tangible help. Your empathy and words of kindness and affirmation will also go a long way in helping easy this burden. (Read the Farrel’s Blog on How to Bless and Build Your Pastor’s Marriage)
Underwrite: Be generous. Give funding to the pastor(s) to for the kind of things that keep a marriage healthy. Send gift cards for dates, pay for a weekend away in a nice hotel or loan out your cabin. Often Christian conference centers offer free housing to clergy couples, so even a small church can raise money for the gas and a couple meals and partner with the local Christian Camp to give your clergy couple some time alone together. (Our book Red Hot Monogamy has 200 ideas to keep passion in the parsonage!) In the church budget should also be funds for an annual marriage conference for the clergy couples to attend. Also, if there are clergy denominational meetings or conferences, add in a little extra to sponsor the spouse to attend too. Ministry minded marriages that have peers and mentors who they can be authentic with will have people to turn to in times of stress or crisis and this will strengthen the ministry marriage. (Our book A Couples’ Journey with God can help ministry minded couples learn from some of what we experienced)
Volunteer: If you have a strong marriage, offer to help head up the marriage ministry at your church, or at least part of it: offer to run a small group for married couples; chair a marriage retreat committee, be the point person for a couples, date night, or write a blog on marriage for the church website or weekly bulletin. If your marriage has survived and overcome a particular challenge, offer to the pastor to meet with other couples who might come to him for the same issue. If your pastor has young children, volunteer to babysit (or arrange the childcare) so they can have a weekly date night. Also offer to be part of a prayer team for the clergy couple or offer to pay for counseling, or the cost of getting them to a ministry minded intensive (At Love-Wise we have a “Marriage On the Rocks?” resource list of multiple options to rescue and rebuild a relationship).
With a little bit of LUV we can show care for those who care so much for others. In showing these leaders and gatekeepers LUV and goodwill, they will often, in turn show you as an author, speaker, bookstore owner, or leader favor as well.
Pam and Bill Farrel have been a clergy couple nearly all of their 37 years of marriage. First in youth ministry, then Bill as a Lead Pastor for 15 years and Pam was a Director of Women’s Ministry; and then Bill as a Small Groups Pastor at Shadow Mountain Church under the leadership Dr David Jeremiah. Now the Farrels are international speakers, relationship specialists, and authors of 40 books. The Farrels are focused on helping individuals and couples become Love-Wise. (www.love-wise.com)