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The Advocate Newsletter
Winter 2014

The Encouragement Issue

Be Encouraged

By Greg Twitchell



I recently read a book called, "How Full is Your Bucket," by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton.  In this book, the authors point out the value of encouragement on several levels:

  • In the workplace
  • In marriages
  • In schools
  • For extended lifespan
  • And even in POW camps


In each study they share compelling evidence that shows us:

-          #1 Reason people leave jobs is because they don't feel appreciated

-          Employees who receive regular recognition and praise:

  • Increase their productivity
  • Have increased engagement among colleagues
  • Are more likely to stay at that job
  • Receive higher service ratings from customers

-          65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year

-          9/10 people say they are more productive when around positive people

-          Marriages are significantly more likely to succeed when there is a 5 to 1 ratio of

    positive interactions to negative ones.

-          Mayo Clinic reports that increasing positive attitudes can lengthen your life span by

 10 years.


But all of this should come as no surprise to Believers.  We see all through scripture the value of encouragement.  In Acts 11:23, we see Barnabas, the "Son of Encouragement" doing what he does best.  "News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts." [1]  Through Barnabas's teaching, and encouragement, the Antioch Church would go on to become the sending church of Paul's three missionary journeys.  Encouragement matters!


Solomon mentions the virtues of encouragement several times in Proverbs:  "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." [2]  and  "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." [3]  There is tremendous value in coming alongside one another, in the church, in marriage, or in the workplace to speak words of encouragement.


In John 14 Jesus tells the Disciples that he is going away and leaving them.  This was not good news toward the end of his ministry.  He was not a popular guy in Jerusalem and the disciples somehow knew that they would be lost without him.  Jesus understood their fear and promised to send them the "paraclete" (v. 16) which means encourager.  Jesus doesn't leave them with a leader, or a manager, or a teacher.  He gives them an encourager.  The Holy Spirit is many things to us as believers, but one of his primary functions is to encourage us on this journey of Faith.  God knew that in this world filled with self interested people, that more than anything we would need encouragement.  It's easy as human beings to get focused on our to do list, or agenda, our looks, our performance, our trip up the corporate ladder.  But as believers shouldn't we be the first ones to take our eyes off of ourselves and offer an encouraging word.  Especially to our Pastors.  Will you lead the way in regularly praising the Shepherd of the flock?  There are already way to many who are ready to tear him down.  How else can you apply this lesson in your everyday life?  How many times per day do you offer an encouraging word?

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Ac 11:22-23). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Pr 16:24). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Pr 25:11). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


Pastors Need Your Care
By Jason Helopoulos


Pastors need your care. They aren't above it, no matter what they may think. Even as pastors are to care for their congregations, so elders and members of the church should care for their pastors. Pastors need your care-no matter how old, seasoned, gifted, or confident. Today, we will suggest a few ways members of the congregation can care for their pastors. Tomorrow, we will look at a few suggestions for how elders can intentionally care for their pastors.


How members of the congregation can care for their Pastors:

  •  Hunger to hear the Word of God preached.
  •  Invite your pastor and his family over for dinner (everyone assumes they                          receive a lot of invitations, but in many cases they don't).
  •  Pray for him regularly-that he would faithfully preach the Word, seek the Lord,             delight more in the Lord, and have a love for the people he is blessed to minister to.         
  •  Refrain from Monday morning emails, unless they are an encouragement.                        Mondays are hard days for many pastors.  
  •  Be willing to graciously challenge him if his teaching or preaching was in error
  •  Respect his day off. Most pastors work long days and many evenings. They need              a good day off. 
  •  Don't expect him to come to everything. Your pastor still loves you even if he                  doesn't make your child's ballet performance, son's honor society banquet, or                  even your mom's funeral.    
  •  Send an encouragement card every once in a while.
  •  As tempting as it may be, don't compare your pastor to "celebrity pastors"-Be                  thankful for him and his labor in your midst. 
  •  Babysit his kids for an evening, so he and his wife can go out on a date.
  •  Insist that the church provide a good salary and benefits for him-be generous.
  •  If you have a new ministry idea, don't propose it unless you are willing to do the              hard work of setting it up and serving to see its vision realized .
  •  Refrain from telling him what you disliked about the sermon as you shake his                    hand on the way out of the sanctuary .
  •  Speak well of him to others in the congregation.
  •  Have no expectations regarding his wife and her service in the church beyond                  those you have for any other woman in the church.
  •  Be especially kind to his children.
  •  Understand that your pastor will not be gifted in every area of ministry and be                  content with that.  
  •  Be teachable.
  •  Often remind yourself that he has a lot of different sheep under his care.
  •  Give him the benefit of the doubt regarding decisions, leadership, vision, etc.
  •  Don't ride your hobby horse too much and too often.

 The greatest care you can provide for your pastor is to pursue Christ with all that you are and serve the church with an uncommon zeal and humility



Top 10 Sources of Discougagement for Pastors
by Thom S. Rainer  


I love those men and women who serve local churches. I love their commitment and sacrifice. And I wish I could do more to help them remain energized and encouraged.

In this post, I share the results of an informal Twitter poll where I asked pastors and church staff to share with me those areas of ministry that discouraged them most. My motivation for doing so is primarily my love and concern for these church leaders. It is my prayer that this awareness will encourage church members to be even more supportive of and prayerful for these leaders.

Here are the top ten sources of discouragement of pastors and church staff listed in order of frequency. Admittedly, there is overlap in some of these responses, but those who responded often made their own distinctions. A representative quote follows each category.

  • Conflicts/complaining/murmuring. "I find myself physically exhausted at the end of the week just from dealing with naysayers. My problem is exacerbated by naysayers using social media as their outlets."
  • Lack of fruit and spiritual maturity in church members. "I invested two years of my life in him. But his life today is as carnal as it was two years ago."
  • Apathy. "The low level of commitment of so many of our members really discourages me. Sometimes I wonder if my ministry is making any kind of difference."
  • Church members who leave the church for seemingly silly or no reasons. "It breaks my heart to lose a church member just because we made a slight change in the times of worship services."
  • Expectations by members/lack of time. "It seems like I am expected to be omnipresent. I just can't keep up with all the expectations of me."
  • Performing tasks where the pastor/staff does not have competencies. "I know nothing about finances. I am not a good administrator. But both functions consume my time."
  • Meetings/committees. "I would rather get my teeth drilled than go to our monthly business meetings. It's nothing more than a forum for complainers and whiners."
  • Family concerns. "The attacks on my wife for no good reasons have caused me to get my resume out. I can't stay any longer."
  • Staff issues. "Every day at the church is stressful because of staff conflict."
  • Lack of volunteers. "So many church members seek their own preferences, but are unwilling to serve others."

 Some of the other sources of discouragement that did not make the list but had multiple votes are: loneliness; communication problems; members who hold tenaciously to tradition; divorce/family problems among church members; low pay; and counseling.

Please pray for your pastor and staff. They are under attack consistently. They not only need your prayers; they need your clear and consistent encouragement.


Recommended Reading

How Full Is Your Bucket
By Tom Rath & Donald Clifon

What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew
By Denise George

Why Pastors Quit
By Bo Lane

How to Keep the Pastor You Love
By Jane Rubietta

15 Characteristics of Effective Pastors
By Kevin Mannoia and Larry Walkemeyer

The Advocate Newsletter is published as a ministry of the Eastern Regional Association of the Advent Christian General Conference.


Gregory Twitchell, Superintendent,

Carolyn Schaeffner, Administrative Secretary, 


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