October is Pastor Appreciation month. This is the month when many churches will take some time to show their appreciation to their pastor for his love and ministry over the past year.
Some churches will take up a love offering for their pastor. Many will put a basket in the vestibule in which members can place cards with kind sentiments they want to share with their pastor. A few churches may even have a dinner or a reception to show pastor appreciation, a nice time to get together, to express their feelings for their pastor.
All of these things are nice and good for pastor appreciation. In fact, I believe it is a great idea for a church to take one month out of the year to do something special to show just how much they appreciate the time and effort, love and concern their pastor has for them.
I know I’ve been blessed in recent years by a church that does just that. Now, it wasn’t always that way. When I first came to Temple, I remember when one of our new staff members, who had come from a larger church in North Carolina that evidently knew how to show their love for their pastor, approached Temple’s deacon chairman and asked him if the church ever had some sort of a pastor appreciation day. The chairman got a funny look on his face and said: “No. We never have. We just always paid ‘em good.” My new associate shared how strange that sentiment was to him. He just couldn’t understand how a man so successful in the business world could overlook something so simple as expressing love and appreciation for a year’s worth of ministry. I remember him telling me how his former church would try to outdo themselves every year when it came time for Pastor Appreciation month. I know that pastor had to appreciate all they did to show him their love.
As I was driving to the office this morning, I was thinking through some of the gifts I know I have appreciated over the years as a pastor and thought that I would share what I believe are the top 10 gifts you should give your pastor, not just during Pastor Appreciation month but the other eleven months of the year as well.
1. Your prayers
This is the greatest gift you can give your pastor. If you don’t love him like you should, begin to pray for him and you will. Of course, if you already love him, then you’ll naturally want to pray for him. I’ve had several of our senior adults tell me when I call just to check in on them how they pray for me every day. That’s fuel for more ministry!
2. Your love
A pastor who really shepherds his people will expend a great amount of love. His heart will be stretched and often broken. Next to your prayers, the greatest thing you can give your pastor is your love. By the way, if you love him, let him know it. Despite what some people think, I don’t know of any pastor who has the ability to read minds. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a card expressing a member’s love and prayers just when I thought nobody in the church liked me, much less loved me.
3. Your unconditional support
Dr. Jim Henry told our deacons recently that researchers say that other than being the president of the United States, the most stressful “job” is that of being the pastor of a local church. I remember years ago when one of our associate pastors was preaching, he made a statement that at first made me think he was going to have to make a trip to the pastor’s office. He said, “The pastor is not always perfect …” I knew that. Everybody knows that. I just didn’t think somebody would say it from the pulpit. Then he added, “But he is always the pastor.”
4. A little grace
I’m amazed at how often people get their feelings hurt in church. Often it is because of something somebody did or said, or didn’t do or didn’t say. Sometimes that somebody is the pastor. The next time you start to get upset with your pastor, take just a minute, breathe and consider the possibility he might just be human too. Maybe, like you, he actually has good days and bad days. You never know what burden he might be carrying, what issue he’s having to deal with. It might be something at church or at home. So, give a little grace and cut him some slack. You would want him to do the same for you.