Fourteen Sentences That Brought Joy to Pastors

I just received a letter from a delightful lady. She was a member of a church where I was ordained in the ministry. What I remember most about her was the way she offered encouragement to the pastors of that church.

The letter reminded me of so many good laypersons who served sacrificially in churches where I have been. With that in mind, I asked several pastors to recall something very positive said to them by church members. I asked them to try to summarize it in one sentence. Though I shouldn’t be surprised, each of the pastors did not hesitate to offer one “joyful sentence.”

Here are the fourteen I’ve accumulated thus far. They are only in the order I received them and wrote them on my iPhone.

  1. “I would like to babysit your kids so you can go on a date with your wife.”
  2. “Pastor, let me tell you specifically what I learned from your sermon and how it helped me.”
  3. “Your wife should have the freedom to be herself in the church.”
  4. “I confronted your critic about those unfounded claims he made about you.”
  5. “I’m setting aside five minutes every day to pray for you and your family.”
  6. “I explained to the personnel committee how a package is not the same as your salary.”
  7. “Your kids should be able to live a normal life.”
  8. “Thank you.”
  9. “I want to help you recruit people to do ministry.”
  10. “I am so thankful for the time you spend in sermon preparation.”
  11. “We don’t expect you to attend every meeting or function.”
  12. “Let me do that for you.”
  13. “Tell me how I can most help your wife.”
  14. “Here is a gift card to get you some books for your library.”

Yes, ministry is tough. Yes, we run into some difficult people more often than we like. But the reality is there are so many good people, so many good church members. These are but a few of the reminders of how pastors have been blessed by those church members.

What would you add to this list?


  1. says

    Thanks for the wonderful ministry you provide here, Thom and team! I’m new to it and really enjoy it. The examples that come to mind of comments having the most positive impact on me: 1) an older gentleman in our fellowship said to me recently,”Everytime I get around you, it makes me love Jesus more.” 2) a little girl was approaching with her family in tow as they were leaving the church, and I overheard her say to her mom, “I want to say bye to Jesus.” 3) my 4 year old daughter boldly proclaimed that God had told her something, my wife asked, “What does he sound like?” She thought about it and replied, “He sounds like my Daddy.” All 3 comments blessed me tremendously, and made me want to get on my face and pray. It’s very humbling to hear such things when you know you are just a servant in His Kingdom.

  2. says

    My husband has been a pastor for 37 years. I have had a ministry to pastors’ wives for about 8 years. I say your list is quite good. Right now, we’re both burnt out. Our churches have no system for a sabbatical. We cannot afford one. This year we got absolutely nothing from our church for Christmas. One guy claims they forgot and let it slip. Hmmm.

    In my work with pastors’ wives, I hear everything. Ladies are hurting so much. Unless you’re in a mega-church, it seems you’re fair game for everything.

    The hope I offer to ladies is simply the love of Jesus Christ, and love from me, and time to get away from it all for a couple of days in a safe place, at no cost to them.

    • Melissa says

      Thank you Laura for you truthfulness! Ministry is very fulfilling and very LONELY! My husband has been senior pastoring for 10 years at our church as of January 1, 2014. It has been a long 10 years with many ups and downs, as you can imagine. The past few weeks have been frustrating for me because our church didn’t get us anything for Christmas and no one even recognized our ten year anniversary except me.

      • says

        Melissa..we’ve experienced that as well. Yes, I know many of those ups and downs. After my husband’s firing, I did a study of Jesus’ last week or so before his death and resurrection in the Gospels. I placed myself there…walking with Him…smelling the smells, hearing the crowds, etc. Trying to use all my senses. I took it very slow and let the words sink in, and what happened. He endured their secret meetings, betrayl, rejection, conspiracy to get rid of Him, talking behind His back, and eventually the death they handed over….all for us. He’s gone through absolutely everything we have. And He was the perfect Son of God. It made me realize that the leaders of the day would and could do that to Him, and He promised persecution to us – sometimes at the hands of those who claim to follow God. So nothing I go through is new to our Savior. He will walk through it all with me. You can find me on facebook, I’m available with my ministry to pastors’ wives. I offer hope in Christ, love and care. Bless you.

  3. says

    Sentence #6, “I explained to the personnel committee how a package is not the same as your salary.” is so dead on. So many members don’t understand the bulk of a salary package doesn’t apply to wages. The majority of people in the work place do not understand the total cost of being employed. The cost of benefits by employers today can be as much as 50% or more increase to wages. What is sad is churches that even apply a pastor’s mileage that he travels for the church’s affairs are forced to be taken from his salary package. Enjoy your posts. You have a pastors heart. Thanks for supporting them.

    • Mark says

      I’ve had about two things a year said to me that really stood out. Last year, one of my former students told me “I wouldn’t be here (Bible College) if it wasn’t for you.” I did the thing I always do because I am afraid of praise and she wouldn’t back down as I deflected it.
      Second, I received a letter from one of my Bible College Professors telling me that his Aunt, who attended my last church and whom I loved, had passed away. He shared with me how encouraged she was and how loved she felt by me. Nothing she had not personally told me, but coming from my professor it meant much more.

      This past week I was told “Your message Sunday was hard but we needed to hear it. I’m praying for you and your family as well as praying that you can get through with this series. I have really been grieving our Churches death and I pray we can turn that around.” All I had done was call this lady about window treatments in her Sunday School room.

      • Beth says

        Mark, I get it, but when you say, “I did the thing I always do . . .” isn’t it perhaps time to do something different? Like maybe practicing simply saying “thank you” when someone pays you a compliment and also practicing closing your mouth immediately thereafter lest some hedging words pop out? It’s hard, I do know, but when we deflect, whether we intend it or not, we’re actually insulting the giver of the compliment, implicitly saying that they’re not very bright or insightful or aware if they’d offer us a compliment. Really, it’s worth the effort to change. I promise.

  4. says

    I’ve just recently started to minister to my pastor and two other local pastors. I’ve found your website extremely helpful in finding out how I can best assist and pray for them. Thanks for doing this.

  5. says

    I’ve been a pastor for less than a year (first pastorate) and I’m 31 years old. One of the deacons told me early on, “Pastor, you’re a generation younger than our previous pastor, and you’ve got a young family at home [2 kids, one on the way]… you should be at home with them a lot. Family first, Pastor. Don’t forget that.” He’s reminded me of that a few times since. I’m so grateful for the deacons here… to God be the glory!

    • says

      I agree…to hear “I love you” from those in our churches would be life-changing…to know they mean it. Trust is a huge issue for pastors’ wives, so they need to patiently love and care for us.

  6. George Adkins says

    I have been a Pastor for almost 15 years. This is my third church. All my churches have gone through some form of split before I was called to Pastor there. The physical and spiritual pain in each has been heart breaking. I am tired emotionally and spiritually, and Pastor friend said, “looks like I am starting to go through depression.” I am frustrated easily, lost my desire for Preaching and Pastoring. I am not happy, I nknow God’s joy but loosing the rest and peace. The church where I am the Pastor is doing good, growing a little but everytime I walk into my office I feel like an anchor has been chained to my shoulders. I have no motivation to financial paperwork completed or the desdire to have meetings with any committees.

  7. KStock says

    We once received a letter from a couple in the church (I’m translating from memory):

    “We believe that (a specific ministry) is missing in the church and with your permission, we would like to take on this task.”

    Notice the following:

    – they are not attacking the leaders (there was not a hint of criticism in the letter)
    – they are thinking carefully about the needs of the church
    – they are not just indicating a problem, they are also offering a solution
    – they are looking for ways to serve in the church

    I wish we could have received more messages of this nature. You won’t be surprised to know that (1) they were already active in the church, and (2) we took them up on their offer.

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