Pastoring people is hard. It’s tempting for pastors to look at the heady responsibilities of their job, like preaching and leading worship, and believe that those are the most important parts of their work. But nothing could be further from the truth: they’re not. The most important part of being a pastor is loving your people well—and that means building relationships with them over time. Here’s how I do it:
Effective pastoral ministry is relational, not tactical
Pastoral ministry is relational, not tactical.
Pastoral ministry is about knowing people and being known by them. Pastors are to be engaged with their people in such a way that they can sense how much they are loved by the pastor, who serves as an example of what it means to love God with all our hearts and minds (Matthew 22:37-38). This requires time spent together in community, whether it be worship services or small groups or simply hanging out after church on Sunday morning before going home together for lunch or dinner – whatever works best for your church community!
Pastoral ministry is also about loving God first so that we will pursue His kingdom above all else (Matthew 6:33). It means caring less about what makes us look good than having compassion on those who need help (James 1:27).
The best way to pastor people is to love them well
The best way to pastor people is to love them well. You may be tempted to think that this statement is too simple, but it’s actually quite profound. Pastors are subject to the same laws of human nature as everyone else, so effective pastoral ministry is relational, not tactical or strategic. It involves relationships with people – not just words on a page or screen!
Pastoral effectiveness has less to do with what you know and more about who you are: your character traits (humility vs pride), personality type (extrovert vs introvert), spiritual gifts (teaching ability), temperament traits (calmness vs anxiety).
It’s about relationships, not just words
If we want our churches and communities to thrive, if we want followers who are fully devoted and engaged in their faith lives with us (and not just during the service), then pastors need more than just knowledge of Scripture or preaching skills; they need character traits like patience, humility and selflessness that can only come through repeated exposure over time with those around them – the people they serve!
It’s about knowing people (and being known by them)
It’s not enough to know their names, or even all of their stories. Pastors are called to know their people – not just what they do at church, but who they are as individuals. This means asking questions and listening deeply so that you can learn more about each person’s story and how God has uniquely gifted him or her with gifts and talents, as well as struggles and weaknesses. It also means that when someone comes up with an idea for ministry in your church, you’ll be able to recognize whether it aligns with your vision for the future of the church (and if not why not).
The most important thing a pastor can do is love and be loved by his people
The most important thing a pastor can do is love and be loved by his people. The Bible says, “A faithful friend is the medicine of life” (Prov. 17:17). We need that kind of friendship in our lives – someone who will stick with us through thick and thin, someone who will listen when we’re hurting or confused, someone who won’t judge us but instead encourages us to be all that God wants us to be. In other words, we need friends who care about us as much as God does!
As you can see, there are many ways that pastors can love their people well. And while some of these things may seem obvious or even easy, they’re not always easy to do. The best advice I can give is to remember that we are all human and fallible, but God’s grace is always there for us when we need it most. Our hope as pastors should be in Him first and foremost; then our hearts will overflow with love for others as well!
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash