“Pastor, I need you to…”

Pastors hear this phrase a lot. As a spiritual shepherd, they receive many requests from their flock. Consider the following examples:

  • “Pastor, I need you to be at the hospital for my surgery tomorrow morning.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to share the gospel with my lost loved one.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to visit my elderly loved one in the nursing home.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to attend this meeting.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to preach more about ________.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to provide marriage counseling.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to pray for an unspoken prayer request.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to solve this dispute.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to recruit a new leader for this position.”

And these were just some of the requests they received before the pandemic. Since March, several requests have been added to the list:

  • “Pastor, I need you to call and encourage this lonely church member.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to figure out how to conduct the Lord’s Supper in a pandemic.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to set up online giving for our church.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to make sure everyone is wearing a mask.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to figure out when our church will restart ________ ministry.”
  • “Pastor, I need you to get a better video camera to record your sermons for Facebook.”

The list could go on, but you get the idea. Pastors are busy. They are inundated with requests on a daily basis. Their to-do lists are long.

Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not complaining on behalf of pastors. It’s what they signed up for when they answered the call to pastoral ministry. For most of the pastors I know, it’s a joy to serve their congregations. 

But it can also be exhausting. Many pastors (both full-time and bi-vocational) work long hours. Their efforts often go beyond the call of duty as they strive to serve their flocks well. In their concern for others, they sometimes fail to take care of themselves as they should. (Speaking from experience!) In other words, the volume of requests they receive can be mentally, emotionally, and physically draining.

That’s why I want to suggest 7 specific requests that will have the opposite effect on your pastor. Instead of draining his tank, these requests will fill his tank. Instead of burdening his mind, they will bless his heart. If you’re a pastor, please seriously consider these requests. If you’re a church member, I hope you’ll have some of these conversations with your pastor in the near future.

  1. “Pastor, I need you to take a vacation.” Many pastors have not taken a vacation since the pandemic started. After all, many vacation destinations are hotspots for the virus, so why waste the days off? Therefore, many pastors have chosen to keep plugging along. Unfortunately, if your pastor does not take some time off, he will suffer for it, and so will your church. Encourage him to take a vacation, and consider giving him an extra week that he can take later when it’s easier to travel.
  2. “Pastor, I need you to take a day off each week.” Sundays are a workday for pastors, and they are on call 24/7. In addition, their schedule varies week to week. Therefore, pastors often struggle to take a full day off each week. Ask your pastor to take off at least one day each week so that he can truly rest. And try not to contact him on those days unless it’s a true emergency.
  3. “Pastor, I need you to date your wife.” It can be difficult for your pastor to schedule a consistent date night with his wife. From coordinating childcare (if applicable) to navigating events on the church calendar, pastors’ wives sometimes receive their husband’s leftovers. Encourage your pastor to schedule a consistent date night with his wife and to make sure he guards that time. For a bonus blessing, consider giving him a gift card to a nice restaurant or offer to babysit his children.
  4. “Pastor, I need you to spend time with your family.” Similarly, your pastor may struggle to spend quality time with his children or grandchildren, and he may need your reassurance that he needs to do so. He will be your pastor for a season; he will be a husband and father for a lifetime. Encourage him to spend quality time with his family. For a bonus blessing, consider purchasing tickets for his family to travel to an amusement park or another fun activity.
  5. “Pastor, I need you to get a good night’s sleep.” I once heard a speaker in a seminary chapel service say that sleep was overrated and that you should sleep less in order to serve the Lord more. While I appreciate the speaker’s enthusiasm for serving the Lord, your pastor shouldn’t take that advice (and neither should you!). God does not require sleep, but your pastor does. He will serve your church better in the hours he is awake if he gets 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  6. “Pastor, I need you to let me help you.” Sometimes church members expect the pastor to do everything in the church. Sometimes, the pastor expects himself to do everything. Your pastor is an important part of the body of Christ, but he is only one part. He cannot do everything in the church, nor should he be expected to. Offer to help, and you will be a blessing!
  7. “Pastor, I need you to turn off your phone sometimes.” As I mentioned earlier, your pastor is on call 24/7. But he doesn’t need to be. Encourage your pastor to turn off his phone sometimes. So that he can be fully present on date night. So that he can enjoy his daughter’s dance recital. So that he can throw a baseball with his grandson. If a church member has a true emergency, they will find another way to get in contact with your pastor. Encourage him to enjoy those precious moments with his family without the distraction of his phone.

Your pastor receives many requests, but these seven are rare. Take some time today to consider how you can bless your pastor in these and other ways!

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