How can you love and care for your pastor(s) well? In his book The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Would Read (but is too embarrassed to ask), Christopher Ash seeks to answer this question. Why should you consider how to love and care for your pastor? After all, isn’t that what he’s supposed to be doing for you? If your pastor is faithfully doing his job, yes! However, the church (surprising as it may seem) is not all about you! In fact, as Ash persuasively argues, if you want your Pastor to continue in faithful love and care for you over the long haul, it’s in your best interest to faithfully care for your pastor(s) (Heb. 13:17).
Before Ash dives into practical ways you can care for your pastor, he begins by pushing back against the notion that pastors are mere ministerial robots. It’s easy for members to think of their pastor in terms of what they do, instead of first, who they are (Ash, 13). Your pastor is human, just like you, made in the image of God, and is first and foremost a church member. To help understand this, Ash helpfully paints several fictional backstories of men before they came to be pastors and how that might affect the current thoughts and struggles of their ministry. Ash highlights these men’s family upbringing, outside pressures and expectations, insecurities, life situations, etc… Understanding that your pastor is a person, who has been redeemed by grace, but who nonetheless experiences struggles, fears, and insecurities is the first step in knowing how to care for your pastor well.
The majority of the book, Ash devotes his thoughts to seven virtues of church members that will help their pastor, and will in turn, help them. What’s interesting about this section is that Ash not only gives the seven virtues of church members, but he also helps us see the parallel vices when those virtues are absent.
VIRTUES THAT HELP YOUR PASTOR
1. Daily Repentance and Eager Faith (2 John 4; 3 John 3-4)
2. Committed Belonging (Ephesians 4:12-13)
3. Open Honesty (2 Corinthians 6:11-13; 7:4)
4. Thoughtful Watchfulness (1 Timothy 4:12-16)
5. Loving Kindness (Acts 28:15)
6. High Expectations (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
7. Zealous Submission (Hebrews 13:17)
Each chapter starts out with a brief story of how each virtue helps the pastor and how the opposite (the vice) can harm the pastor and even the church. This literary tool helps the reader to see real life examples of how their actions can either help or harm the ability of their pastor being able to shepherd them.
The last chapter concludes by calling for the church to have a plan for specific people who actually know their pastor: his personality, his strengths and weaknesses, how he re-energizes, what he likes to read, etc…These questions can only be known if your pastor is known. How can you love your pastor if you do not first know him as a person. Whereas the seven virtues may be applicable to all church members, the charge to know your pastor looks different in every congregation, because each pastor is uniquely different.
This book is recommended for every church member who is being shepherded by a pastor. If this is a topic you have thought about and you are already doing what’s been commended, this book is an encouragement. What you are doing is normal and should compel you to keep caring for your pastor faithfully. You may even find other ways to help your pastor that you may not have thought of before. If you are a church member and this topic has not been on your radar, let this book be a priority on your reading list. The imperative in Hebrews 13:17 should ignite, in all church members, an eagerness to do what is necessary for your pastor to shepherd you with joy for your benefit.