1. PRAY for your pastor. The pastor is the spiritual catalyst for the church. That makes the pastor a great big target for the enemy. Pray for the pastor’s spiritual health. Pray for protection. Pray for wisdom. Pray that the catalytic gifts of apostleship, prophecy, teaching, evangelism, and shepherding will grow strong in your pastor. The most affirming words that a pastor ever hears is “pastor, I’m praying for you everyday” (Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11).

2. AFFIRM your pastor. Pastoring may be one of the most difficult jobs in the world these days. Pastors live in a highly concentrated environment where they see the results of sin on a daily basis through caring for humanity. While the average person may see a death, injury, illness, or family conflict occasionally, the pastor lives through these things on a weekly basis. Though pastors don’t live for affirmation, words of validation do provide a lifeline of strength through treacherous times. Those little notes saying ‘pastor, you’re making a difference,’ may be the very thing that helps your pastor make it through another day (Acts 4:36).

3. BLESS the pastoral family. Pastoral stress leaks into families and is enough to test all the family bonds. Throw in a few wild expectations about how a pastoral spouse and pastoral kids are supposed to behave and you have a recipe for a family meltdown. The antidote is the blessing. Bless the spouse. Bless the kids. Let go of any expectations and treat the family with a rich blessing of heaven’s grace. And of course to relieve the financial pressure, return a faithful tithe so that the pastor is secure in getting a regular paycheck (1 Corinthians 9:14).

4. RELEASE the pastor from constant ministry so renewal can take place. Pastors who go 24/7 for days, weeks, and months on end will inevitably self destruct. Mandate that your pastor takes weekly breaks for spiritual renewal as well as annual extended breaks for study leave and vacation. It is a small price to pay for the rich spiritual energy that comes as a result of regularly releasing your pastor from ministry (Matthew 14:23).

5. TALK with your pastor, not about or around. Complaining about the pastor to someone else is corrosive for the entire church family. Writing anonymous critical notes to the pastor are acts of spiritual terrorism (by the way, smart pastors just throw them in the trash without reading them). If you have a problem with the pastor, talk directly to the pastor and try to work it out. If resolution can’t be found, then bring a spiritual leader with you and seek resolution. And then (and only then) if resolution is not found, bring together a larger group to dialog with the pastor. Challenge privately. Affirm publicly (Matthew 18:15-17).

6. FORGIVE your pastor for falling short of your expectations; because no pastor will perfectly satisfy your ideals. Remember that your vision of what a pastor should be is probably unique to you. Everyone else in the congregation also has unique expectations. Many of the expectations are mutually exclusive. Your pastor will also make some mistakes. All pastors do. Extend to your pastor the same grace that God extends to you. If your pastor knows that he/she practices ministry in a safe, grace-filled congregation where risk taking is expected and stagnancy is deplored, your church can become spiritually turbocharged (Matthew 18:21, 22).

7. FEED yourself spiritually. Don’t expect to live on a limited spiritual diet of thirty-minute weekly sermons. Going seven days without eating makes one weak. Even with the best sermons you will spiritually starve to death. The role of the shepherd is not to stick grass in the mouths of sheep but to lead the sheep to green pastures. As you listen to the great sermons that your pastor preaches may you be inspired to get into the word yourself everyday in prayer filled Bible Study (Psalm 23:2).

8. BOND with a small group. Don’t expect the primary pastoral care to come from the pastor. It is mathematically impossible, and primary care is not his/her role. Regular spiritual support occurs in small groups. When you are plugged into a weekly small group you will grow together, pray for one another, care for one another, and support one another through all the ups and downs of life. The pastoral staff and lay pastors can serve as a safety net for those not in small groups as well as care for those in life transitions (Matthew 18:20).

9. FOLLOW the leader. The pastor is not the CEO of the congregation, that role is reserved for Jesus. However the pastor has been given the gift of apostleship and you should take your cue from the pastor and follow after Jesus. Let your pastor lead. With leadership comes change. Things will be different. Since the founding of the church God has brought a succession of quality pastors, each one with leadership to take your church to the next level. God gives your pastor vision. Help the pastor flesh out the vision and then do your part to turn the vision into reality (Hebrews 13:17).

10. EXERCISE your spiritual gifts. Pastoral gifts don’t do much by themselves. However if you let those catalytic gifts energize your gifts, you will come alive spiritually. Let the pastor equip you so that your church family can reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure the fullness of Christ. Take advantage of the teaching and ministry opportunities at your church. Place yourself in optimal places for spiritual growth (Ephesians 4:11, 12).

Dave Gemmell is an Associate Ministerial Secretary for the North American Division (NAD). His role is to discover, develop, and distribute resources for the pastors of the NAD. He also serves as a volunteer Associate Pastor for New Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fulton, Maryland, USA.