Q: The other day, a pastor friend told us he's thinking of quitting the ministry because he's discouraged and doesn't feel like he's doing a good job. We tried to encourage him, but what can we do? -- Mrs. L. McK.
A: Being the pastor of a church is harder than most people realize, and it also can be discouraging (particularly if they face criticism all the time instead of support). I hope your letter will encourage church members to appreciate the work their pastors do -- and let them know it. The Bible tells us to "encourage one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13).
Sadly, however, some people seem to enjoy criticizing everything their preacher does. (Perhaps you've heard the old joke that some people's favorite Sunday dinner is "roast preacher"!)
But it shouldn't be this way.
Instead, if God has called someone to be the pastor (or part of the pastoral staff) of your church, you should be praying for them and doing all you can to encourage them. Satan loves for Christians to criticize each other, because it blunts their witness and closes their ears to the Word of God.
What can you do? First, be a friend to your friend. Encourage him also; remind him that when God's Word is faithfully preached, God has promised to bless it -- even if we don't see immediate results.
Urge him, too, to examine his schedule to see if he's trying to do too much. Preachers can "burn out" like anyone else, and some quit simply because they're exhausted. Urge him also to rejoice in Christ's love, and to turn to Him for fresh vision and strength.
Most of all, assure him of your prayers and concern. And if you have opportunity, privately urge members of his congregation to pray and encourage him.
Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; or call 877-2GRAHAM.