How To Help a Hurting Pastor

What are some helpful things you can do to ease the pain of a fellow pastor who either is in conflict within himself, within his church or within his ministry? Here is some practical advice.

Make a Personal Visit to the Home of the Hurting Pastor
A phone call is good, but it does not fulfill your pastor-friend’s needs— someone to talk to face-to-face, someone who sincerely wants to ease the pain. When you phone the pastor, the conversation usually is begun with the question, How are you doing? A pastor who is hurting will hesitate to share his true feelings on the phone because he has no eye contact with you. Eye contact gives you the opportunity to share with the hurting pastor that you really do care how he is doing and that you are not just being ministerially inquisitive.

Reach him out and write an Understanding Letter
Letters can have an amazing, healing effect on one who is hurting. They serve two important purposes in the healing process. When one receives a letter of compassion from a friend, he has the opportunity to read it several times. He might not remember what you verbally say, but he can keep available for his reference what you write. Second, not only does the friend get to read your letter, but he has the opportunity to share it with another person. That might be crucial for his own personal self-image.

Perform a Tangible Deed of Love
A sensitive pastor/friend can do several things to help ease the hurt of another pastor. Probably the first thing to do is to ask yourself, “What would be most helpful to me if I were in his shoes?” By answering that question, you can better understand the needs of a person who is abruptly terminated from a ministerial position. Few more things for your consideration:

Show up some day or evening with the offer (or make advance arrangements) to take the children out for an activity to allow the hurting couple to have some precious time alone.
Show up some day or evening to take the minister out for coffee or just for a drive to give him an opportunity to share his feelings. This also will give him time to get away from the situation. Your wife could do the same for the wife of the minister.

Money, food, and housing needs may soon be critical. Your awareness of this fact will allow you to know that talking about these needs will be most difficult for the terminated pastor as well as for you. You will have many opportunities to minister through love offerings, poundings, and providing shelter for the family.

Pray for the pastor’s situation and encourage other like-minded pastors to pray also. Be sure to let the pastor know you are praying for him.
No one solution will meet every need. Every hurting pastor and family is different; thus, the healing will be different. Your sensitivity to his heartbreak and to his feelings of failure will do more to allow you to minister to his needs than anything else. Remember, everyone needs a hand to hold onto at some time. May you be that hand of support for someone today.