A pastor demonstrates love and respect for his congregation in a thousand ways. Here are some of them …
1) He prays for his people in private.
I strongly suggest that in most cases, the person praying for someone not tell them “I prayed for you today.” The hard fact is that some of us spend more time telling people we pray for them than we do actually praying. The best evidence that I believe in the power of prayer is to: a) do it, and b) not tell you I’m doing it but simply trust the Lord to hear and answer.
A pastor friend of mine used to have his church members on a rolodex (remember those?) so he could pray for certain ones each day and move the card file along for the next day. However we do it, we should.
2) He speaks of his members to others with respect.
He is proud of his people. I keep thinking of Solomon’s prayer as he assumed the leadership of the nation. “Lord, who am I to lead so great a people?” (See I Kings 3:9. One wishes this son of David had retained that humility and appreciation for the privilege of leading instead of seeing the throne as his right and abusing the opportunities.)
The pastor does not refer to his members as “my bunch” or “that group” or “those people.” They are the Lord’s disciples; imperfect, yes, but the Lord’s nevertheless.
3) He does not demand that his people follow him but earns their trust by serving them.
Few tests will reveal more about a pastor’s true character than how he behaves when the congregation votes down a project dear to his heart. At this point, you are about to learn whether he is a mature and godly servant or a spoiled brat.
4) When the lay leadership balks at something he is proposing, a pastor who loves his people will take that to heart and back up, to listen, to reconsider and to revise his plans.
I fear for the pastor who never gets a comeuppance from a balking congregation. It feels awful, but in the long run, this can be one of the finest gifts a people can give a maturing pastor.
5) A pastor respects his congregation when he treats the lowliest and poorest as though he/she were the greatest, the most powerful, the most deserving.
You and I serve a Lord who said, “When you give a dinner, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind” (Luke 14:13).
If you ever catch your pastor in an unguarded moment when he thinks no one is watching and you see him showing kindness to the panhandler on the corner or giving a hug and a prayer to the poor elderly widow in the congregation, you have just learned a thousand things about your pastor.
And all of them good.
6) The pastor respects his people when he celebrates the achievements and victories of the children, the youth, the elderly, etc. in the same way he does the key leadership.
The pastor learns that one of his members is receiving a farewell send-off for his retirement. That member sits on the back row in church and would be surprised to know the preacher even knows he’s there. To his amazement, the pastor shows up at his retirement party. For the rest of his life, he remembers that. It took a half-hour from the pastor’s day, but one person was encouraged forever.
There are so many ways we show our respect for the people to whom God has sent us. In doing so, we honor the Lord and strengthen the church. We set a great example for God’s people, and we blacken the eye of the devil.
Anytime you can do all those things in one day, you’ve had a great day.
Pastor, when we pray for ourselves each day, let us pray this also, that we will honor these precious souls who have been entrusted to our keeping. After all, we will some day stand before the Great Shepherd of the sheep and give account for how we treated them.