Discover the 5 LOVE Languages of Pastors

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How can you speak a love language to your pastor?

With apologies to Gary Chapman for playing on his well-known “Five Love Languages” theme, I asked 24 pastors how a church member might speak to each pastor in his own love language. And though 24 people do not constitute a massive survey, I was amazed at the consistency of the responses.

To fit the theme of five, I determined at the onset that I would only report the top five responses. To my surprise, there was an obvious break between the fifth and sixth most frequent responses. The five love languages thus were a natural fit.

So how can you speak a love language to your pastor?

Here are the pastors’ top five responses in order of frequency. I offer a representative response from one of the pastors for each of the five.

1. Books.

I have a limited family budget, so I can’t just go out and buy a bunch of books. But I sure do love books. One year a deacon gave me a $200 gift card to a Christian bookstore. I was ecstatic!

Now the church gives me a $300 book allowance each year. I know it’s not much for the type of books I get, but I sure am grateful.

2. Encouraging notes.

I treasure every word of affirmation I get. It helps to soothe the pain of the criticisms. I keep all of my notes of encouragement in a box, and I sometimes read many of them at one time just to remind myself how blessed I am.

I particularly appreciate handwritten notes. I know the church member took some time to write that to me.

3. Time guardians.

My most encouraging church members are those that try to help me protect my time.

They do everything they can to make sure I have enough time to prepare sermons and to spend time with my family. They are able to speak to other members about my time constraints in a way that I’m not able to.

Thom Rainer Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources ( Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.

More from Thom Rainer or visit Thom at

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  • Simon Peter

    My love language indeed (except for the books). At the same time I feel blessed to have a lot of this in place, but in all humility, I could use more.

  • Pastor David Clift

    Books? Wow, that one would even be on a Top 10 list for me.

  • Pastor David Clift

    Sorry, books would NOT even be on a Top 10 list for me.

  • Patricia Rudolph

    Excellent article!!! Thank you for reminding me to keep my pastor encouraged for his labor in the Lord as well as present idea.

  • Oliver White

    I am lifted spiritually when members come to me and share with me that they feel comfortable in discussing concerns and matters with me, knowing that it will stay within the confines of my office. They know that as a pastor, I am aware of the nasty viruses that be spread by repeating what people say. As a christian, we should all carry the ability within our spirit man to mask our mouths and prevent the spread of the ugly diseases such as is gossip or any other information, loosed into the air, that bring hurt, or maybe even spiritual death to a brother or sister in the Lord. God give us spiritual wisdom!

  • Wayne Moore

    I love to see people responding to the Word of God. I’m not just talking about coming to the altar to pray or saying, “Good sermon” as they go out the door. I’m talking about consistently becoming more like Christ and living out biblical values more and more as time goes by. This is what thrills my soul more than anything and energizes me to keep going.

    • Rodger

      You, sir, are a pastor that everyone should love just as sheep love their Sheppard.

  • Joe Rhoads

    Two of my best days: a couple came to me because they had a theological disagreement with me with something I said in a sermon. They came to me armed with several pages of handwritten notes from their study of the passage I had preached from. They were both nervous about our meeting together, and although we still disagree somewhat (a minor, secondary issue), they found out they could talk with me, I found out that I didn’t explain some things well enough, and we’ve been friends (and not to mention, I gained defenders) ever since. Years ago, one of the first times I ever preached, a man came up to me several weeks later and told me he applied something I had said in the sermon and that it made the situation in his life better (I think it was strained relationship with his boss). Those were good days.

  • Bro Gordon

    Great article but how do you tell your people how to make you feel wanted without sounding selfish.

    • Bro Gordon

      I guess nobody can answer this?

    • Rodger

      Jesus never seemed to worry much about feeling wanted. He just healed them and fed them and died for them. Then he arose to be our King. How could we not love him? Stop worrying about how YOU feel and get so close to Jesus that others will look at you and see HIM. You don’t need to tell people how to make you feel wanted if, when they look at you, they see JESUS.

      • Bro Gordon

        Well your correct on many things you say rodger but considering this artical was about how to make the pastor feel loved not sure how that answers my question. Iam a pastor of a small church get paid literally nothing so Lord knows I ain’t in it for the money. (I work a full time job also). But hey I guess if your in the same position as me and you need no support or feeling of ppl wanting you then I guess your more of a man than I am. Cause I am human and want and need to feel wanted and needed. And I can go into where my church is at aa far as what they do and dont do but that’s irrelevant.


    As a Pastor, i want to Thank God for you, bringing this subject into light. I can identify with all the 5!!!!

  • Pianogirl

    Thom, what a great article. Wish every church member could read it! Only one omission: not even a nod to the one who stands as the buffer behind the pastor, who is his encourager, care-giver and protector: the Pastor’s wife! W/o her commitment to and involvement in his ministry, he is a dead duck!
    My recommendation for #6:
    Be nice to my wife! I really am married to her!

    • DougK

      I agree with this observation…love my wife would be in my top 5, replacing ‘books.’ My wife should not just be viewed as “the pastor’s wife.” My wife is an amazingly resilient godly woman who has an identity & calling of her own. I couldn’t do what i do without her prayer support, encouragement and correction.

  • Ben

    i can understand why Paul said something about being single. you don’ have to split your time with wife and church. Ben

  • Santiago

    This has already been asked and answered it’s called the 5 Love Languages of Appreciation. It should be read and applied especially for the church and its; staff both volunteer and paid, pastoral and laypeople. Applying correctly will help the leadership of church work well. As for this survey; I would hope that any “bootleg” version of the truth should be looked as that “bootleg”!

  • Matt H

    I would say all 5 of those hit home for me! I guess I would add for myself is when people give me compliments in regards to my wife. I love when my wife i complimented and people share with me why they appreciate her. As my wife being my best friend, it means a lot to hear my best friend being lifted up with encouraging words!

  • Dan Chalikeme

    My language would be; 1) people who are passionate about serving Jesus in ways they have been equipped. Nothing beats passionate co-workers for me. 2) Board leaders who can see past the past, recognize the reality of present and believe we can have a better tomorrow with God’s help.

  • mara

    From a pastor’s wife? Cash. Not gift certificates for a restaurant, book store, whatever. When our children were younger, a gift certificate to a nice restaurant went unused because we would have to pay $30 bucks for a babysitter. Bookstore was great for pastor, but diddly for the family. One of the most touching gifts was a card & check that a couple gave to me (not him) to show their appreciation. This may sound mercenary, but it’s the truth.

  • RevRJ

    As part of the time guardian, I would add the people who wait to talk about things until after the service on Sunday morning, or just take care of things themselves. The last thing any pastor needs five minutes before the service starts is to be notified about a facilities issue, or asked about a staffing issue, or if they have looked into something that was discussed at a meeting a few days earlier.


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