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. Though 24 persons don’t 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. Thus, the five love languages 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.
Express Your Gratitude
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 estatic! 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.”
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 to remind myself how blessed I am. I particularly appreciate handwritten notes. I know the church member took time to write that to me.”
Time guardians. ” My most encouraging church members are those who try to help me protect my time. They do everything they can to make sure I have enough time to prepare for my sermons and spend time with my family. They’re able to speak to other members about my time constraints in a way I am not.”
Compliments about children. “There are times I feel sorry for my three kids. They’re good kids, but they aren’t perfect. They live in a glass house, and any wrong move they make usually gets the attention of a church member. But I have a few church members who go out of their way to tell me the good about my children. One sincere compliment about one of my three kids makes my day.”
Defenders. “You know, I deal with critics, and I realize that in any leadership position, there are those who will judge. My greatest hurt takes place when my supporters remain silent in the face of intense criticism toward me. They’re more afraid of rocking the boat than speaking the truth. But I have one church member who always speaks a defending word for me unless he thinks I’m wrong. Then he speaks to me privately. I could use a dozen church members like that.”
Church members, do you speak any of these love languages to your pastor?
Thom S. Rainer serves as the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys in life are his family: his wife, Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog at thomrainer.com and can be found on Twitter and Facebook.