Pastor appreciation month… from a Pastor’s perspective
It may sound kind of obvious or even weird for me to say, but I appreciate Pastor/Clergy appreciation month.
The fact that somebody, somewhere took the initiative to highlight and promote the value and importance of what I have done for the past 20 years is truly meaningful to me.
Why do Pastors or clergy need your appreciation?
While it’s true that most jobs have their vital contributions to make, there are certain vocations that have a deeper or larger impact on individuals and groups simply because of the nature of what they do (assuming they do it right and well). The pastorate is one of those vocations.
Reasons to appreciate your Pastor
I write this hesitantly, because I know that members of my own congregation read this blog, and I don’t want to seem like I’m fishing for something personally. So please know, that’s not my motive.. honest.
I’m taking that risk because too many Christians actually DON’T GET why their Pastor’s job is so vital, or what they actually do. So, in that sense I’m wanting to “go to bat” for my fellow Pastors out there. With that in mind, let me give you some food for thought…
What other professional is EXPECTED to do the following as part of his normal duties each week?:
- Present a well-prepared, heart-stirring, biblically faithful, public “speech” between 30 minutes to an hour in length, every week – 1 Timothy 5:17. (How long would it take YOU to adequately prepare?) Some Pastors do this more than once each week.
- Ensure that his own heart is adequately prepared to humbly but boldly instruct others (think, “take the log out of your own eye” on this one – Matthew 7:5).
- Do this when their own life is going well… and do it when their own life is heavy or full of pain – 2 Timothy 4:2.
- NEVER have the option to “not go to church.” Even when they’ve had a rough week, are tired, stressed, coming down with a cold, just had an argument with their spouse, are struggling with their children, or just don’t feel like it.
- Be available for anyone (church member or person off the street) who comes in the door… or at least be able to make time to meet with them in the near future.
- Know how to wisely and sensitively juggle those kinds of sometimes-conflicting priorities.
- Give wise and timely counsel in every one of those situations… counsel that is truly helpful (Colossians 1:28-29).
- Know the names and life situation of anywhere from 40 to 150 people or more. (I think I’m on the “low end” here…), and actually CARE about them.
- Wisely oversee various administrative functions, or the people who do. Consider the variety and weight this: buildings, schedules, curriculum, consumable supplies, equipment, assets, funds, property, fund-raising, recruitment, community outreach, publicity, inner-organization relationships, volunteers, etc.
- Effectively and continually recruit and equip an ENTIRELY volunteer pool of people to serve the needs of the church and community.
- Keep tabs on how those volunteers are doing week to week, both in their service and in their morale.
- Doing what is necessary to keep those volunteers excited/motivated about what they are doing… and why.
- Effectively hold those volunteers accountable without the “leverage” of salary or other types of tangible motivation (it’s almost an art-form to do this well… and I personally have to work very hard at it, and still don’t do it well.)
- Effectively have and communicate a gripping vision to those he leads.
- Motivate the individuals in his congregation toward continual growth/change, on a heart level.
- Counsel, guide, teach, and equip individuals and families who are experiencing situations he’s never encountered personally.
- In some cases, oversee, encourage, and hold accountable paid staff (from custodians to other ministerial staff).
- Faithfully and consistently pray for those under his care regarding their needs and concerns.
- Maintain his own spiritual walk with integrity and diligence.
- Do all of this while maintaining a healthy, exemplary family life at home (which is a qualification for his position) – 1 Timothy 3:4-5.
And I don’t even think this list is complete.
Seriously, do you know any other profession that is EXPECTED to do all this, every week without fail?
Do you know of any other position EXPECTED to fulfill such a variety of responsibilities with excellence?
Ideas for appreciating your Pastor
I love it when my wife tells me how I can love her better. That way I know, without any doubt whatsoever, that I’m doing something she values, something that speaks love to her.
In that spirit, I want to give you some ideas of what a person in the position of a Pastor would likely appreciate as a meaningful gesture of appreciation.
- SAY “thank you” to his face, and be specific. Your Pastor needs to HEAR it.
- WRITE him a note of appreciation. Don’t just buy the card and sign it. Make it PERSONAL.
- Write out a LIST of specific ways he’s personally positively impacted YOU and your family, and give it to him. Sometimes we Pastors can’t see the trees because of the forest.
- Say you are SORRY if there are past issues relating to you or the church where he or his family may have been hurt. Sheep-bites often get infected if not addressed and dealt with.
- Take up a monetary COLLECTION for him and his family. Pastors struggle financially just like you. Sometimes the best gift is one that relieves the stresses brought on by financial difficulties. (A side note… don’t tell him what to do with it, i.e. “This is for you to do something fun….”)
- GIFTS are always nice… the thoughts really do count.
- PLAN for him and his wife/family to have some time away from the responsibilities of ministry. A weekend getaway, a dinner out, a surprise week off… be creative.
- ORGANIZE a group of people to send a card/letter/note to him every day of the month. The slow trickle of appreciation can erode a great deal of pain, disillusionment, hurt, etc. that he may be feeling.
- ESTABLISH a “Pastor/Elder Encouragement Team” that takes this issue seriously year-round. Taking this kind of initiative will speak volumes of appreciation and care to your leaders – and it serves you best in the end (Hebrews 13:17).
- RECRUIT people to join you in showing appreciation for him. The more the merrier, and the more effective.
- DON’T FORGET his family. They pay a price to enable him to be in ministry. You truly don’t know how high a price. Make sure you don’t neglect them.