The pastor had been at his current church for a number of years. He was content to bring the Word each week but it seemed like the people weren’t with him. He was a little wobbly in his theology when he arrived, but eight years in and the Word had left a mark on him. He was stable and preached with boldness and care but he knew it was time to move on. Tears streamed down his face as he walked the early morning streets of his town. He prayed for his boys and wife as he knew there would be an upcoming move. After time in the Word he did his daily routine of searching for churches looking for pastors on the internet. He came across a opening at a church in another province and a long way from home but their theology lined up. He shot off a resume and didn’t think much more about it until they contacted him and said that he was being considered. They emailed him a series of questions and they were good…but one of them jumped out:
As a church, we want to be in support of our pastor. What is the best way that we can support you? How is it that we could meet your needs?
He smiled and savoured those sweet words. This church seemed to see the pastor as something other than an employee. This church seemed to see the pastor as part of the body. You see, a teaching pastor is to lead a body, with the other elders, but he’s not the head…Christ is. And the pastor is part of the body. He has needs. He has stumbles and fumbles. He has blind spots. He too is in the process of becoming more like Jesus.
So as this pastor considered the question, there were at least six answers. I’m sure as he gave it some more thought, he’d come up with a dozen more. Here were the first six that came to his mind.
1. Please help my family adjust when we land. Moving to a different community can be a tough go. Our family doesn’t know everything about the town that the locals have known for years. Finding out where to do grocery shopping, the cheapest place to find gas, finding the local library, the health club, the best spot in town for chicken wings…and all the other places that we may be looking for. You’re right, it’s easy to google all this stuff but a helping hand in finding our way around will make for a soft landing.
2. Please seek to be like the Bereans. Sometimes teenage girls get together and come up with a checklist of what a potential boyfriend or husband should be and do and that’s not a bad thing. Another list that this group should also put together is what should I be and do as a potential girlfriend or wife. Many times churches and search committees have a list as to what their next pastor should look like. Churches should want their pastor to be qualified biblically (1 Timothy 3:1-7). They should have the standard high because God has the standard high. But churches also need to know that many pastors have a list as to what their potential flock should be like because God has high standards for them as well, that can be met by His grace. At the top of many a pastor’s list is this: we want the flock to be like the Bereans or Jews in Acts 17.
 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11 ESV)
They wanted to see if what Paul said lined up with Scripture. Pastors love to hear the sound of pages turning on Sunday mornings…even though many use electronic copies. (I think they should come up with an app that makes the sound of pages turning when you’re looking in your electronic Bible!) We want to know what you’re discovering in your time with the Lord. We want to know what doctrines you’re wrestling through. We love to know about what the Bible students that sit under our preaching are learning and how they’re responding to it. And we also want to know if you disagree…and we’ll sit and listen and interact as we wrestle together with Bibles open.
3. Please seek to speak the truth to me, in love. Rarely does this happen. A pastor brother says that there’s a lot of lying done at funerals. I’d suggest that a lot of lying is done in church world, as well. There’s a lot of pretension with each other about personal sins. I’m not talking about oddities and quirks but I’m talking about sin issues. Don’t be afraid to do a Nathan with me (2 Samuel 12:1-15) but things like timing and tone are vital. Be sure to emphasize what I do well first but then gently tell me my issue. Most pastors know they’re not Super Pastors and all of us need to be shepherded. Many are never told our shortcomings until we walk out the door…and rarely do we hear it firsthand…and sometimes general comments are made without any examples to support the apparent blind spots.
4. Please support my ongoing learning. As we learn and grows in the study, at conferences, and in our ongoing education, you’ll grow. It’ll come out in our shepherding and preaching. The leaders of the early church avoided neglecting the Word of God and prayer in order to wait on tables. (Acts 6:2,4)
5. Please share your life with me and allow me to share mine with you. The gospel is foundational but Paul shared his very life with the body. Pastors and people have victories and defeats to share with each other.
 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
(1 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV)
6. Please encourage me. Praying for me and with me is a way that you can encourage. A positive word or email after a sermon can make my day. Try avoiding ‘that was a great sermon’ or ‘you’re a great preacher’ or ‘you hit a home run last Sunday and hit a triple this morning’. Many pastors won’t want the attention on themselves…they’ll want the attention on God. They’d much rather hear, ‘I love the God that you preach about’. Or ‘here’s what I better understood about God and our necessary response to Him this morning.’
For those of you who aren’t looking for a pastor, and already have a pastor, Christmas is just around the corner. Stuff in packages and boxes are nice but five from the list of six can work well (you can skip #1). Things like this could thrill your pastor’s very soul.