My Best Advice–12 Encouraging Words for Pastors

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"Change a few words around and I’d give this advice to any leader," says Ron Edmondson.

I love pastors. Each week, through this blog and my personal ministry, God allows me to partner with dozens of pastors, helping them think through life and ministry issues. I’ve learned that many pastors struggle to find people who will invest in them and help them grow as individuals, leaders and pastors.

Recently I had a pastor ask me for my “best advice” for other pastors. Wow! That’s hard to say. I’ve learned so much through the pastors who have invested in me and by experience. It’s hard to summarize all that I’ve learned. It could probably fill a book or two…but at least more than one blog post!

I put some thought into the question and decided to come up with a list of encouragement, one that I would give to all pastors, to answer his question. I’m sure there’s more (and you can help by adding yours), but this post is at least a start. Of course, wisdom is transferable to other fields, so change a few words around and I’d give this advice to any leader…some of them perhaps to any person.

Here are 12 words of encouragement for pastors:

1. Choose your friends wisely…but choose friends.

Don’t attempt to lead alone. Too many pastors avoid close friendships because they’ve been hurt. They trusted someone with information who used it against them. Finding friends you can trust and be real with means you’ll sometimes get injured, but the reward is worth it.

2. The church can never love your family as much as you do.

Your family needs you more than the church does. They can get another pastor. Your family doesn’t want another you. You’ll have to learn to say “no”, learn how to balance and prioritize your time, and be willing to delegate to others in the church. (You may want to read THIS POST from my friend Michael Hyatt on saying “no” with grace.”

3. If you protect your Sabbath day, your Sabbath day can better protect you.

You’ll wear out quickly without a day a week to rejuvenate. God designed us this way. Take advantage of His provision. Take time to rest. You may not rest like everyone else…for me rest doesn’t mean doing nothing…but you need time away from the demands of ministry regularly. Lead your church to understand you can’t be everywhere every time. You owe it to yourself, your family, your church and your God.

4. You have influence…use it well.

The pastorate comes with tremendous power and responsibility. It’s easy to abuse or take for granted. Don’t. Humility welcomes the hand of God on your ministry.

Ron Edmondson Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.

More from Ron Edmondson or visit Ron at

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  • Lencho

    Good stuff!

  • Ricardo Costa

    12. Lerne the to work in team.

  • Pastor Brown

    12. Be willing to listen! Listen to God first and allow yourself to listen to others! Many have great ideas. Remember, ministry is about community you just have to make sure it is Godly!

  • Pastor B. R. Ali

    Remember that the flock belongs to God’s and He is responsible for their suscess.

  • Link

    Run the church by Gods word, not your own

  • Geoff

    12. Don’t demand your people to “Submit to my authority, and accept my decision” and then expect them to follow. People follow you based on how you behave/act, not because you tell them to. Christ ASKS us to follow him and SHOWS his love by his actions. Sow these things as a leader:
    humility (your way isn’t the best because your the leader)
    collaboration (willingness to see others ideas/experience could add value to your decisions)
    transparency (be open to explain your decision – and see collaboration), and
    integrity (what you say from the front is what you do every day)
    And you’ll reap a loving, commitment, willing church.

  • Stephen lee

    Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”, or “I was wrong”. It tends to bring humanness to your position and quite frankly throws critics off balance. Remember, you’re God’s ambassador, not little brother/sister.

  • Steve

    When making a decision, don’t give your opinion first as people may be influenced by your position as pastor (or any leadership position). This way you get their unbiased opinion which may be different from yours and could be God speaking through your leadership. It gives you a chance to hear potetnially different options. Then you give you opinion. On the positive side if everyone has the same opinion as you, that could be God confirming you are on the right track.

  • DanielForster

    Meet with other pastors on a regular basis. Do not be afraid to cross denominational barriers. Combine efforts when you can, the more we are of one mind and one accord, the more the spiritual war we fight will be victorious in your communities. The more lives and souls will be saved.

  • gideon

    12: Never promise on a Sunday what you can’t fulfil on a Monday. The diary is for using not abusing, so be wise and don’t bite off more than you can chew. ‘Each day has enough trouble of its own’ don’t add to it!

  • Terry

    Keep learning. If I’ve realized anything recently it has been that I can’t sustain my passion for ministry without being inspired by those blazing the trail before me. I am excited to read, attend conferences, and network with others who will bring that out within me. With this, I cannot be threatened by others (size of church, scope of ministry, finances, etc). Instead I must celebrate the work of God through others while claiming the faithfulness he is working through me and my situation!!

  • Mark

    One of the major problems of “pastors”..they try to be preachers (windbags) instead of teachers..they talk down to the sheep, instead of teaching them God’s Holy word, and in particular the words of Jesus in the Gospels. These words are the whole basis for Salvation and the New Covenant/Testament….the preaching (being a windbag) causes the “pastors” a lot of stress to word it so the sheep like it, and to try and put a little Biblical reference in their “preaching” to give them credibility….try teaching the actual word….and relax…the gatherings will flow naturally without stress (that is if the “pastor” knows his Bible….and most of all remember Jesus said “if you love me keep my Commandments”..and He identified the ten commandments….and remember in particular the one the author mentioned in the article….”remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy”..this is the day God created on the seventh day of creation week, blessed it and made it Holy…try keeping it, and you will be surprise all the good things which will happen for you!

    • bob

      One of the major problems of guys named “Mark”…they try to say things they know will hurt others to make a point that may apply to a few of them, but probably not most. They shoot at a crowd with a shotgun and wound many innocent bystanders, while maintaining a self-righteous air.

      Try a little kindness and compassion, Mark (Pharisee) and you will be surprised at all the good things that will happen for you!

      In the meantime, take your judgmental spirit somewhere else.

  • Pedro Torres

    12. Do not expect the same level of commitment from everyone.

  • #12

    Stop reading this articles, because they just make me feel more like a failure.

    • Robin

      that is the enemy that makes you feel this way (there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus)! If there are things in your own life and ministry that needs to change… then change it… with Christ’s help… (your help comes from the Lord… maker of heaven and earth / you can do all things through Christ who strengthen you)! Are there other pastors / ministry leaders in your area that you can connect with that can help encourage and grow you? Not sure who you are or what church you lead… but just said a prayer for you. God is able to do abundantly more than we could ever think or ask… hold onto that! Love you brother/sister!

  • steve covin

    12. God will reveal to you… Rhema of the scriptures (Rhema not just Logos). They will come alive. As, the pastor you can expect this. This Rhema will excite you and really feed to congregation.

  • Michelle

    My #12: Take time to discover the hurts from the past that may affect how you see the people in your church. A pastor can never afford to deal with people based on his/her own personal bad experiences. Take time to learn who people truly are, and not just what you have stereotyped them to be.

  • Michael

    Great article Ron! I would add for my #12: Enjoy where God has you and what He has you doing. It is a great privilege to be chosen to shepherd one of God’s flock. Challenging? Yes, but a privilege nonetheless. Have fun. Build relationships, speak life into others and allow others to speak life into you as well. Be thankful and never take for granted that you’re “just doing ministry”. God chose you for a reason!

  • Robin

    Encouragement: Stop comparing your ‘behind the scenes’ with others ‘highlight reels.’ You are doing better than you think you are (Stephen Furtick – C3 Conference). Suggestion: Purposely invest in and raise up other leaders within the church who share your vision… build a leadership team. Leaders who share the vision can help shoulder the burden / workload. If you run your ministry in such a way that it could not survive without you… then you are basically limiting God’s provision (and purpose). No man (or woman) is above the mission.

  • Joseph

    These pointers are just awesome. Thank Ron. I am definitely challenged and encouraged to make better my service in the Kingdom and being zealous keep going. My number twelve (12) is: Make always every effort to serve God’s people with unconditional love.

  • Mary Jo

    Don’t be afraid to say,”I don’t know.” A Pastor is not suppose to have all the answers.

  • Pedro

    One of the major challenges for Pastors is to create an environment where leaders in his church participating in the proses te expand the Kingdom of God find themselves embraching a Plan that was constructed together from scriptures ,in prayer debate by all the leaders no onesided exercise but embrached by all because they experience it as being part and it belonging to all . I have seen many and mostly wonderfull Pastors that made major contribution to the Kingdom of God using the inclusive approach but also experienced the worst situations in churches being present because Pastors enforced his plan which he so called got from God futher he then took ownership of the Bible insisting on his interpertation being the only correct one. I also agree with some of the comments made below ,Michelle has a very valid point the hurts of the past influencing reactions to fellow humans this is not reflecting Jesus Christ. Mark touched on a very senstive issue and the reaction from Bob I understand with compation but Mark is correct some Pastors should be aware of this risk/mistake and make sure Marks comments does not apply “Pastors talking down to sheep” Insidently Pastors have a captive audience and this can be very deceiving and dangerous .
    Having said this I beleive Relationship can only improve if we listen to one another participate together to search and learn from one and another sometime accommodate who says we are right or have all the answers beware by playing God. Love one and another Relationships Relationship only grows if we reflect our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Only Unity in Christ will save us.No person should be excluded Note no Humanbeing
    I greet you as a servant of Christ and accept I may have mistakes or could have expressed myself incorrectly but my entension was to create unity and understanding for the sake of relations

  • Gregg

    Let the Church be the Church. I realize my role as Pastor is to lead and guide as I am led and guided by the Holy Spirit and I take that responsibility seriously and with humility. Too often I’ve watched as Pastor’s seek to impose “their will” on the Church. It inevitably leads to a battle of egos with insecure members and Pastors feeling threatened and posturing themselves in an adversarial role. I realize that it’s likely that I will not be the last Pastor the church has, unless the Lord returns while I am there and calls us all home. I’ll be gone one day, and most of the Church will still be there. In short, I do my best to put myself in their shoes. They’ve had pastors come and go, some good, some not so good in their opinion. They continue on impacted by the decisions that Pastors who have been gone. In a perfect world, everyone would be obedient to the Spirit’s call, but we’re not in a perfect world yet. I don’t compromise the Gospel, I retain full authority at God’s discretion of the pulpit and the direction of the Ministry, but matters regarding decor, expansion, or functions other than revivals, I purposely remain neutral. Many churches have been left holding the bag after a Pastor comes in, makes wholesale and often expensive changes, building new buildings etc.. and then leaves. Keep the main thing the main thing. Focus on being the conduit that God uses to communicate to His people, and let the Church Body decide what color carpet to put in the nursery. You don’t have to be involved in every minute detail. You’ll sleep better, enjoy your opportunity to minister, and they’ll respect you for it. You might even find that they will come to you and ask you to decide for them as they realize what’s most important. We just finished building a new Sanctuary, it was a need, but was initiated, planned and completed by the Church Body, not me. I stayed out of the way and they did a wonderful job. Now it’s time to furnish the pulpit and they’ve asked me to “pick out” the furnishings that suited me. The entire process has been carried out with very little distraction from our most important task, carrying out the Great Commission.

  • Wellington Satee, Jr

    Hi Pastor Edmondson, I am so glad and filled with inspirations each time I received your notes on leadership. I am an ordained Baptist Pastor, Associate Pastor at the First Baptist Church New Kru town, Liberia. I would love to invite you to Liberia so as to conduct Pastors and church leadership seminar/conference. Please consider this plea from we pastors in Liberia. Rev . Wellington Wonders Satee, Jr +231886681382, Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church,New Kru Town, Liberia

  • learning to walk

    Dear Pastor Edmondson, I was until recently in a leadership roll in the church where God had planted me. I found myself in disagreement with the Senior Pastor. Instead of letting the Senior Pastor know openly, I did things secretly in order to hide my actions.
    I had been told not to speak to a person for three months. This person was a God fearing woman from Africa well respected, as a woman of holiness. My Senior pastor does not believe in divorce and was hoping that God would restore my relationship to my exwife, When I told my Senior pastor my intentions to remarry, He put together a meeting with two other senior men of God, and after a lengthy meeting asked me to accept this time frame, to wait on God and to be certain of what I was doing.
    I lasted one day, after notifying the woman I love of my Seniors Pastors forced request, her tears were enough to make me regret my promise. I felt I would be committing a greater sin by not continuing to pray.
    I never lied to the pastor, I kept quiet when asked questions. carefully diverting questions, always careful. I believed that if I was sinning God would expose my sin,
    I then went to Africa on a mission trip, stopped off in her country to marry her and ended up staying in her country until I returned to Australia. My Senior Pastor commented on the new level of authority that was in my prayers and speaking. And I was in my Senior Pastors good book, until I told him I had married the woman he had told me to pray over. I told my senior Pastor I had received confirmation by people of credibility, but as this confirmation had not come through him he felt I had sinned against God, in what happened next I wont go into detail, but my question is. When is it the right time for a person that has lost credibility to move to a different church?
    I dont desire to move, its just he is treating like an outcast. The following week after my punishment was dished out, he spoke on how Satan uses good people to divide the church. and this message was clearly pointing to me. Inwardly before these events I heard God say i was about to be replanted.

  • Dianne

    lead your folk with Love in your heart for God and others, the rest will follow

  • AdjustedSails

    i pray our pastors are freed of others’ opinions when they’re secure in God’s opinion. i understand and promote the need for accountability and believe there’s wisdom in a multitude of counsel, but i want our pastors to live with unabashed, reckless abandon for doing the will of God in the way He’s called THEM to specifically do it, whether others approve or not. the approval of man will never match the affirmation of God!