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Encouraging the Pandemic-Weary Pastor

By Dr. Wayde Goodall
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COVID-19 has been a significant challenge for all of us. The certainties of life and the foundations we’ve depended on have vanished, or at least been rocked. Dr. Wayde Goodall encourages pastors to be as innovative as possible to create ways to communicate and remind their congregations that Jesus Christ is our foundation.

Encouragement, affirmation, and prayer are powerful ways to bring hope to your pastor.

No doubt, COVID-19 has been a significant challenge for all of us. The certainties of life and the foundations we’ve depended on have vanished, or at least been rocked. Pastors are being as innovative as possible to create ways to communicate and remind their congregations that “Jesus Christ is our foundation” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

The impact on most pastors has been challenging and often overwhelming like never before:

  • 26% of pastors are concerned about their relational well-being.
  • 31% are struggling with their emotional well-being.
  • 41% feel exhausted.
  • 39% feel sad or panicked.[1]

The emotional, psychological, and spiritual impact on these leaders can be devastating. Pastors feel these deep-seated emotions because they care. They love their congregants and want to be there for them. Loneliness has become a trial. Concern for their constituents is constantly on their minds. When speaking to a group of church planters recently, discouraged was the most common word used to describe how they felt. “I have a hard time getting out of bed,” one young pastor said.

The opposite of discouraged is encouraged. During times of pastoral appreciation, what can we do to hold up our pastors’ arms, and give them strength and support?

  • Praying for your pastors and communicating that you are sincerely praying for them and their ministry will bring comfort and strength.
  • Telling them how a sermon, conversation, or program in the church changed you for the better brings pastors a sense of accomplishment.
  • Mailing them a handwritten note with words of affirmation can be powerful.
  • Dropping off or mailing your pastor and spouse a gift card to a grocery, restaurant, or local store with a note of gratitude can bring joy and deep significance to your pastor’s whole family.
  • Finding a way to bless your pastor’s spouse and children will also bless your pastor.
  • Emailing or texting your pastors when their online message impacted your life for good will help your leaders feel that their ministry is effective.
  • Volunteering to call other parishioners to check up on how they’re doing is a tremendous help and blessing.
  • Offering to locate people in your church who might have food, shopping, or safety needs, then getting supplies to them will lift a weight from your pastor’s shoulders.

Often these seemingly small gestures can make the difference between a pastor staying or leaving, feeling strong or weak, and encouraged or discouraged.

I was recently talking to a person with a new baby (3-4 months old). I asked the husband how they were doing. This young father said, “Because my place of employment was closed, I don’t have any funds to buy baby formula, diapers, and other things we need for our baby.” I was shocked; I didn’t expect that answer. I asked him to stay where he was, and I immediately went to a convenience store and purchased a large enough gift card to enable them to purchase these basic items and more.

Pastors are commonly asking, “What needs do my people have?” “Who am I missing?” “How can I shepherd them when I can’t meet with them?”

You can be a wonderful asset to your pastor’s ministry by bringing affirmation, prayer, and hope to the person who is “keeping watch over your soul” (see Heb 13:17).

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12


[1] Barna: “State of the Church, COVID-19 Conversations: Many Pastors Are Tired, Overwhelmed and Lonely,” May 20, 2020.

© 2020 Wayde Goodall. All rights reserved. Used with permission. 

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