How to Treat a Pastor
An Important Matter
By W. E. Hatcher, 1898
This is a point on which many need to think. It is distressing to know how few people really seem to understand their relations with their pastor. We drop a few hints that may help.
Do not pet him. There are some soft and sentimental people, who treat their pastor as if he were a baby. They address him in endearing terms, hang around with over fond familiarity, and shower upon him their caresses. Do not do it any more. He is no doll baby to be raved over.
Do not over praise him. Have just as extravagant views of his excellence as you choose, but do not over-dose others with your praise of your pastor. It is bad for the pastor; it will surely work to his prejudice. We knew a woman who could not bear to hear any other minister praised, as if all the praise on earth must be reserved for her idolized pastor. Nor could she quite avoid mixing her boundless panegyrics of her preacher with comparisons of other men, and always at the expense of the latter. Such folly helps no pastor. Do not crack your pastor over other preachers' heads. A sensible man will never contrast with other ministers. Nor will he say, as many brainless folks are quick to do: "Oh, if our pastor were just like some other man!" He ought not to be other than he is, and you ought to rejoice that your pastor is not patterned after the other man. Let him be himself and rejoice that he is just what he is.
Be courteous to your pastor. Give him the best that your stock affords. Bestow upon him your brighest smile. Study his little wants and see that they are satisfied. Surprise him with delicate attention. If he looks tired after preaching say a cheery word to him. If you happen to know that some rude or thoughtless person has stung him with unkindness, show him that you love him. Do not let him know that you are aware of his trouble, but simply shine it away by your beam of life.
Remember that the best pastoral visit is the visit you pay your pastor, but do not overdo the thing. Do not build your tent in the pastor's house or study. Do not go to see. your pastor too often, do not go at the wrong time and do not spend the week when you do go. Go when you wish to see him. Go for some distinct purpose, and when you get through give his hand one warm squeeze and strike for the door.
Introduce strangers to your pastor. This is a superb thing for you to do. If you can carry new people to church, be sure to take them up and present to the minister, and always say in introducing him, "This is my pastor." That has a strong, affectionate sound. It will touch the pastor, and the stranger will at once infer that you think highly of your pastor, which, in point of fact, you ought to do.
Speak well of your pastor. Speak well of him at home. It is a burning disgrace for you to blurt out your snarls and frets against him in the presence of the home folks, and especially the children. It will do harm of which you little dream. Of course it is the essence of wickedness to talk ill of your pastor in the presence of outsiders. This is the dregs of meanness. This is the most effective possible way of destroying your pastor's usefulness and people's respect for you.
Finally, pray for your pastor. That is the truest bond of union with him. If you pray for him other things will come along all right.
[From The Baptist Argus, September 1, 1898, p. 2; via Baylor U. digitized documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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