As I mentioned Sunday evening at Double Springs Church, it’s awful tough for me to speak openly about “Pastors Appreciation”. It really is. Think about it for a moment…who among you would dare stand in front those you worked with/alongside and say, “Hey! You should appreciate me!”? It’s just awkward!
That being said, I love Pastors and I know firsthand the joys, heartaches, victories and losses that come with the Pastorate and I know that setting aside time to express genuine appreciation toward your Pastor (whoever he may be) does him a world of good.
If I may, I’d like to give you a few practical ways you can show appreciation for your Pastor (this blog is far-reaching and many readers are members of other churches so I’m speaking in general here, not church-specific)
Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. – 1st Thessalonians 5:12-13 (HCSB)
Many people show their Pastor appreciation through a card, a financial gift and so forth and believe me…we pastors are SUPER grateful for those things. As a matter of fact, the generosity of Gods people during Pastors appreciation months in the past has blessed my family in ways that I can’t even begin to describe. However, I’m going to share a few ways that you can “Appreciate” your Pastor that may have slipped your mind…..
Show Him Grace – This should probably go without saying, but sadly it doesn’t. Pastors are people. They fail, they struggle, they misspeak. The Pastorate is a learn-as-you-go experience as many of the things you’ll encounter in ministry weren’t addressed in Seminary or Bible college. For this reason, you’ll have to show him much grace. Personally, going into ministry, I had no idea how to effectively minister to a family at a graveside. I didn’t know how to conduct a business meeting. Officiating a wedding was a brand new experience. Uncharted waters, if you will.
Thankfully, the first church I served as Pastor allowed me much grace. I was fortunate enough to have a retired minister in my congregation and I “learned the ropes” by mimicking every move he made but I made many, many mistakes. They showed me grace and I’m forever grateful for that fact.
Today, I’m still learning (as all Pastors are). I’m still trying to figure out how to be better at what I do. How to “improve my craft”. I’m thankful for a church that shows me grace as I go.
Love His family – I’m going to speak for myself here but I do feel very confident that my Pastoral peers would echo my sentiment….One of the greatest blessings you can bestow upon your Pastor is to love his family. I mean that. Again, I’ve been very fortunate in that the churches that I have Pastored have deeply loved my family (granted, it’s hard NOT to love my family. they are pretty awesome…but I digress). It’s really, really hard being the Pastors kid(s) or the pastors wife. Love on them. Generously. It means so much.
Be His Friend – I know that sounds strange. Let me explain. The most negative aspect of the Pastorate (in my estimation) is that many of the people he comes in contact with on a daily basis will simply not be “real” with him. For instance, I’m pretty heavily involved with local little leagues here in our neck of the woods. Last season I stuck up a conversation with one of the coaches in our league and we connected pretty quick. It looked as though we’d begun a really cool friendship …until he asked what I did for a living. All of a sudden, his demeanor changed, his level of authenticity changed. He guarded his words, sat up straight and acted as though he thought I’d try to exorcise his demons every time I came around! Sadly, that’s not an isolated event.
Again, I’m very blessed to have many friends who are themselves whether I’m in the room or not. Most Pastors just don’t have that. Be yourself. Be his friend. he needs you.
Support Him – I’m not saying that in order to show your Pastor appreciation you must blindly follow his leadership (no Pastor is above accountability). I’m not saying that if you’re not following him lock, stock and barrel that you are doing him a disservice. What I’m attempting to convey to you is your Pastor needs your support. He needs to hear from you that you believe in Him. That you see God in and through Him. He needs to know that his people are daily lifting him in prayer, petitioning the throne of God on his behalf. He needs your support.
He does NOT need grief. He gets enough of that from Satan every time he steps behind the pulpit. He feels the pressures of ministry on a daily basis. He sometimes hears “through the grapevine” of those who dislike him, even despise him and those who make it clear that they want him gone. He hears all that and it hurts. Your Pastor often puts too much of a load on his own shoulders, he is very aware of his failures and takes it personally when things aren’t well. Your pastor notices when this one or that one begins to pull away from the church for whatever reason and whether right or wrong in doing so, he believes that ultimately it’s his fault. Your Pastor needs your support. Sometimes, oftentimes, desperately.
Do you want to know what I really believe is the best gift you can give your Pastor during this “Pastor Appreciation Month”? – Give yourself wholly, fully, radically over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Commit yourself to Jesus and serve Him through the church. That’s the best gift you can give your Pastor. If he’s worth his salt, that’s his goal for you anyway.
I’m so grateful to God to Pastor the dear people at Double Springs. It’s one of the greatest joys of my life. Are there challenges? Yes. Bad days? You bet. But at the end of the day, I believe at the very core of my being that I’d have to “Take a step down” if I were to leave the Pastorate to serve as the leader of the free world. There’s no other place, no other people I’d rather serve. I mean that.
This Pastor Appreciation Month, don’t assume your Pastor knows that you love him. Make it evident.
Double Springs Folks – This Sunday night at 6:30 p.m., we’ll be having a Chili Cook-Off and fellowship to honor our Pastors. It’d mean the world to both myself and Pastor Paul if you would join us. We love you.
Soli Deo Gloria!