5 Do’s and Don’ts to Help Pastors and Ministers at Christmas and in the New Year

By December 21, 2015Church, Family, Leadership

I posted something similar several years ago, but decided the subject needed mentioning again. One of my goals in ministry is to help protect the ministers and their family. Through this blog I reach thousands of men and women who serve God in a vocational role. My heart is heavy when I hear from those who are drowning with burnout and whose family is suffering.

Having been on both sides of the pulpit – as a pastor and a layperson – I have a unique view of the pastorate. I am very thankful to be serving in a healthy church, which encourages my family time, but I hope to encourage those who struggle to balance family and ministry.

I also realize the size of my church helps. We have a great staff and dedicated, trained volunteers. We even have several retired ministers in our church who can help fill in when needed.

With the Christmas season here – and really thinking into the new year – I thought I would share a few things you can do and a few things not to do to support the ministers you probably love.  The reality is the December calendar is packed with activities – as they are for everyone. The difference is many times a pastor doesn’t feel the freedom to control their schedule. People in ministry have accepted a call of God to care for people. Most ministers have a hard time saying no to people and can easily become overwhelmed with the never-ending demands of their time. That’s especially true during certain times of the year.

If a minister is not careful, they will spend so much time with others their own family will feel neglected.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions to support your pastor or minister:

DO:

  • Pray for them during the holidays (and always) – This is an especially stressful time for everyone – and it may be one of their most stressful times of the year. 
  • Let them off the hook from attending every social event. They simply can’t do everything and still be ready for Sunday, care for the rest of the church and their family.
  • Invite them to your social – without an expectation they will come. They will love knowing you thought of them and wanted to include them – that you see them as regular people who like to have fun. 
  • See if they have specific needs at the holidays. Many ministers, especially in smaller churches, have a hard time financially at Christmas.
  • Encourage them. People in ministry usually have tons of critics. Find some time to encourage them. It may be their greatest gift.

DON’T:

  • Expect them to be everywhere. It’s simply impossible – and unreasonable.
  • Show them disappointment when they can’t make your event. Don’t take it personal – it probably isn’t. It may simply be practical – they can’t be everywhere and do everything – just as you probably can’t – or shouldn’t try. 
  • Make them feel guilty when they aren’t where you want them to be . They will likely take it personal and it will weigh heavy on their heart. They wouldn’t be in ministry if they didn’t love people. And, some of them even struggle with being people-pleasers. 
  • Hold them to a higher standard than is realistic. Remember, they are simply human. 
  • Place unrealistic expectations on the minister’s family. They probably enjoy just being a family – as your family does.

Find ways to support those who have accepted God’s call to ministry. You would be amazed how a small gesture can make a difference in their life and the life of their family. Plus, you’ll be playing a part in Kingdom-building – strengthening one of God’s servants.

Pastors/Ministers, what else would you add to my list? Do you feel especially stretched this time of year?

Related Posts

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

More posts by Ron Edmondson

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • Katherine says:

    I would "Amen" the finding ways to appreciate your pastor and express that in the Christmas season. Our condo is littered with gifts and wrappings from all of the tokens of appreciateion that my husband, a tennis pro, has received from his club members — just as when he was a teacher. My expressions of appreciation from the church — are exactly zero.

  • Wayne says:

    I think also people place inappropriate expectations upon the pastor/congregation to be the perfect parent/family that the congregant may not have had. As such, the anxiety from the family system gets dumped onto the pastor. As if the stress of the season is not enough. If you have a “helpful critique” for the pastor, wait until after the New Year to give it. If it is still important then say it. But I am guessing it will have greatly decreased in importance.

  • Travis says:

    This is the first year I'll be missing a family event because of having services at church. We're having 3 services on December 23rd, which is when I'd typically go with my wife to have Christmas with her family. This year she'll be taking the kids without me. I don't mind being at the church because it's something I love, but I do hate that my wife and kids suffer. I'm just not sure what I can do about it.

  • jimpemberton says:

    Excellent considerations for how a congregation should treat their pastors. I have two things to offer in support what you've said here.

    First, the relational well-being of a pastor and his family in regards to their church is akin to the relational well-being of a husband and wife in regards to their children. One of the most important things parents can give their children is a good marital relationship with each other. This is similar to a pastor and his family. If a church is driving their pastor to neglect his family, the whole church will suffer. One of the best things a church can do for itself is to make it easier for a pastor to care for his own family by giving him the time he needs to spend with them.

    The other thing concerns requiring the pastor to be everywhere all the time. If a pastor is required to be at all events, it limits the scope of the ministry of the church to one man. That one man's job is to equip the saints to minister on their own. If you require the pastor to be at every event, then you demonstrate that you haven't been very good students. If you need his approval for some questionable aspect of the event, that's one thing. But short of that, if you remove this requirement from the pastor, then the church is free to do more than the pastor could ever attend. The church is open to grow in its ministry because the congregation is functioning as it should. Additionally, if the church grows numerically with such faithful believers, then the staff will grow so that perhaps someone from the pastoral staff will be able to attend most of the events, but the church is also healthy enough that it won't fall apart if no pastor is present. That's the state of my own church at the moment.

  • […] Ron Edmondson on 5 do’s and don’ts of how to deal with pastors during the christmas season. […]

  • mapreader says:

    It would be nice if they'd realize we most of our family is 8 hours away, in 2 towns 3 hours apart. If we're going to do everything they want us to do on Christmas day, they'll have to allow us some other time somewhere to share Christmas with our parents, brothers & sisters, etc.

  • Lea says:

    Can add this one?- Don’t get mad when the minister and wife leave the event earlier? LOL! At least we made it right? This season is the busiest ever!!! BUT also the Happiest! =D

    • ronedmondson says:

      Yes, that's true. I go to as many as I can. In some churches, I know pastors who can make 3 or 4 a night….
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  • Theresa says:

    I have no expectations other than you love the Lord with all your heart and for you to expect the same of me and mine.
    Twitter: mrsmilton0304

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ron Edmondson, Gil Burgos, George Tallmage, davebiser, Brenda Chance and others. Brenda Chance said: Five Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing with Ministers this Christmas | @Ron Edmondson http://bit.ly/ev65Qi […]

  • Rev. BT says:

    Wonderful thoughts. More pastors should follow this list for themselves.

Leave a Reply

Have you Subscribed via RSS yet? Don't miss a post!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.