Become a Fuel Depot

blog May 02, 2024

By Sam Chand

I’m totally conflicted. I want to be happy about it, but I can’t. 

When I published Leadership Pain in 2015, I did not expect a worldwide response. I haven’t traveled anywhere in the world where people didn’t come up to me and thank me for writing the book. Since 2015, hundreds of books have been published in the Christian leadership category. In spite of all those, Leadership Pain consistently toggles between No. 1 and No. 30 on Amazon’s best sellers list.

So, what’s not to like about that? Wouldn’t any author be ecstatic to be on a best-seller list for all these years? The reason a book resonates and thus sells is because there is a great need. But I can’t be happy because it is obvious that leaders, especially Pastors, are in pain the world over. Why? Of all professionals, Pastors see more of the underbelly of life than any other.

An attorney deals with legal issues. An auto mechanic repairs cars. A doctor addresses physical problems. A psychiatrist cares for mental and emotional distress. A banker manages finances. An educator provides learning. A funeral director coordinates funerals and burials. Pastors deal with all of these!

A Pastor is with a family from the womb to the tomb, conducting a funeral on Saturday morning, a wedding the same afternoon and a baby dedication the next morning. A Pastor is there when babies are born and when death occurs in the family. A Pastor is there when people give their lives to the Lord and when they struggle with their faith and return to a life of sin. A Pastor is there when people move into a new house to celebrate, as well as when foreclosure and eviction are looming. A Pastor counsels people with mental, emotional and relational issues. A Pastor is in the hospital, the funeral home, the courtroom, the banker’s office. The Pastor—or a pastoral care team member—is there 24/7/365.

Pastors see more of the wear and tear of life than anyone else. I should know—I was born in a Pastor’s home, have served as a Pastor and now serve Pastors all over the globe. Pastors are my heroes. They are my heroes because they serve with a pure heart. In comparison to other professionals of equal education, experience and responsibility, Pastors are grossly underpaid and greatly underappreciated. Their future, unlike employees of most corporations, is rarely secured. Most Pastors have no nest egg awaiting them and rely on meager savings and government assistance. Once they retire from a church, they rarely have another source of income.

Many churches celebrate their Pastors through pastoral appreciation events. This is good. However, more is needed, and there are healthy and dysfunctional ways of caring for Pastors.

The apostle Paul writes, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5;17). But what does double honor look like today?


Because of the perception Pastors are closer to God than others, gifts and appreciation toward them sometimes come with mixed motives, whether to be noticed, curry favor or gain access to someone with perceived spiritual power. Some people shower attention on Pastors in the hopes it will earn them points with someone higher up the chain of command.

For others, the church is a battleground of interests and political intrigue. Those accustomed to leveraging gifts (or withholding them) to manipulate others may assume the same approach will work with their Pastor. Favors, extravagant gifts and flattery may be used to earn a position on the board, special attention or proximity to power in the church.

While a healthy and appreciated Pastor can see the dark side of these efforts at caring, an underappreciated Pastor is vulnerable to these tactics, even when the appreciation clearly comes with strings attached or mixed motives. Healthy appreciation flows from genuine gratitude and concern for those who bear the heavy load of soul care.

Healthy care for a Pastor—or anyone for that matter—is carried out without wanting anything in return. It flows out of genuine gratitude, versus manipulation. It is driven by generosity that recognizes we are blessed in order to be a blessing to others. It is accompanied by prayer, and it is contagious. In other words, those who are generous in their care of Pastors do not seek to position themselves as the sole benefactors, but they recruit others and serve as advocates for the healthy care of those who lead them.

Whether encouragement, affirmation, prayer or gifts, a common denominator in caring for a Pastor is that there are no strings attached. Nothing diminishes the authenticity of a gift or the joy of receiving it more than the sense that something is expected in return.


Why is it Pastors are often so neglected? First, we don’t have a biblical understanding of the gifts we have in Pastors. Ephesians 4:11-12 identifies Pastors in a list of gifts given by Jesus to the church: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the Pastors and teachers.” Those who do not appreciate the gift that Pastors are to the church are demonstrating ingratitude toward the One who gave them.

Sometimes, it’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind,” and we wait for the special occasions in which it is expected—holidays, pastoral anniversaries or Pastor’s Appreciation Day. Not to mention, it’s unlikely a Pastor will bring to the attention of the church their need for appreciation. Often words of encouragement at the right moment can carry a pastor through a challenging season. Because a Pastor’s trials are often not known to those around them, due to the need for discretion and privacy, those in proximity may not be aware of the heavy weight their Pastor is carrying. A discerning heart, however, can identify the right words to say—and the right time to say them.

There may even be people who avoid expressing appreciation or gratitude in an effort to evade some of the excesses noted above. No one wants to give the impression they are exerting improper influence or manipulation through gifts or recognition. Some may even feel their gift will be too insignificant. Surely, the Pastor is constantly receiving affirmation and encouragement, they may think.


Encouragement. Sending a note of encouragement when a message from your Pastor impacts or transforms you can be a simple way of caring for them. The timing of such correspondence can have a disproportionate effect to the positive. Mondays are particularly challenging, as Pastors come down from the stress and excitement of Sunday services and often find themselves second-guessing themselves. Also, if your Pastor is speaking outside the church, and you have an opportunity to show up, do so. There’s nothing like a familiar face in the crowd to bring encouragement.

Submission. While submission sometimes sounds like a dirty word in today’s culture, Scripture commands us to submit ourselves to rightful authority, including pastoral authority (see Romans 13:1-2; Hebrews 13:7,17). This does not entail unquestioning allegiance to corrupt leadership, but it requires us to recognize that our response to human authority reflects our respect for divine authority.

Finances. Sow seeds of generosity—financially—into your Pastor’s life. Find creative ways to say thank you. This is not just about dropping money in the plate once a year for Pastor’s Appreciation Sunday. Throughout the year, give gifts without a reason. Most Pastors are undercompensated, and such gifts are greatly appreciated.

Prayer. Although gifts and financial remuneration are appreciated, any Pastor would also acknowledge the power of prayer. How many Pastors have been consistently carried along by the prayers of those in the congregation who may not have the means for extravagant gifts? Ministry is spiritual warfare. It impacts the Pastor and their family in every way. Unfortunately, some people unwittingly contribute to the attacks by engaging in gossip and backbiting. Instead, exercise reverse gossip: always speak about the Pastor with highest regard, and stop people dead in their tracks if you hear them bad-mouthing the Pastor.

Advocate. Most churches have annual business meetings at which topics like finances and future ministry plans are addressed. While meetings like these can be tense, they are also opportunities to ensure the Pastor’s family is cared for; to advocate for sabbaticals, vacations and spiritual retreats; to recommend staffing support that helps lift the Pastor’s load; to support their vision for the future. The Pastor’s family lives at center stage, often unduly scrutinized by people in the church and outside it. Be sensitive to the needs of the Pastor’s family, recognizing that their children didn’t necessarily choose the role they’ve been given.

Remember, when the Pastor is encouraged, the church is encouraged; when the Pastor is stress free, the church is joyful; when the Pastor is fulfilled at home, the church is peaceful. Let’s bless our Pastors as they watch for our souls.

When my wife and I transitioned from Pastoring to the next chapter of ministry and relocated geographically, we determined that we would be our Pastor’s biggest encouragers. That we would be those people we always fantasized and prayed for to partner with our church. We determined to be our Pastor’s gas station. We would provide fuel as needed. We work at it intentionally. We look for opportunities to bless our Pastor.

Be your Pastor’s encourager, blesser—fuel depot.


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