Once upon a time somebody decided that October would be Pastor Appreciation Month.
Far be it from me to disagree!
Some may wonder why pastors should get such attention. Indeed, within my own social media circles a storm has been brewing for several years, thundering on about the spiritually barren climate in many of their churches, laying blame at the clay feet of many a pastor. Some have found the storm to be cathartic, washing away years of grief, while others have observed its tendency also to destroy some things that are good.
I’m not entering the debate today.
But I will happily stand with all my brother pastors who fulfill our Lord’s calling with grace and love and humility and the power of the Holy Spirit. And I will stand with all of Christ’s flock who are blessed to know them. They are uniquely gifted men, trained uniquely, uniquely called, and who daily face unique challenges that most of the world cannot understand. And it is right that we should appreciate them.
I’m writing for them. The church I am blessed to pastor has shown such love and appreciation to my family and me, probably more this year than ever before, so I’m not writing for me! I’m writing because there are ways to appreciate our pastors that go far beyond a financial gift, a special book, or a heart-felt note. These are welcome tokens, but let me mention some other less tangible ways of loving those whom God has given to serve us.
A few years ago, I wrote a short article for our local newspaper, in a traditionally church-friendly community. I’ve since added one item to the list (#3 in this version). Unedited, here is “What Your Pastor Wishes You Knew…”
October is Pastor / Clergy Appreciation Month, and it’s time to show our love to those faithful Shepherds of our souls! So, have you shown your Pastor how much you appreciate him? How would one do that, you ask? Well, gifts are fine, and your Pastor is very thankful, even if he doesn’t feel especially deserving. But here are five other things you might do that would encourage him far more than you could imagine…
Love his God
Football, softball, hunting, and shopping all have their place, and your Pastor probably enjoys them as much as you, but God is at the center of his heart, and the order of his life reflects that. He dreams of a congregation full of passionate worshipers and bold witnesses, Christians who get excited about God and His glory. And he probably wouldn’t mind if you shouted like you did the last time your team scored a winning touchdown!
Read his Bible
He’s been trying to get you to do this for years, and his heart’s desire is for you to know it, believe it, and live it. Study this book, and ask him questions. Memorize it, and use it when talking with other people. Oh, and when you’ve done all this and then offer to teach it, and he has a heart attack, he’ll probably still have a smile on his face!
Believe his Gospel
He’s always talking about Jesus because he wants to see you in heaven. He knows that your faith must be in Jesus alone and not in your deeds, your church, or – heaven forbid! – in himself. So, he wants you to see how great Jesus is and how he died and rose again to do everything necessary to take away your sin and make you right with God. He also thinks that if you believe this, you’ll want to tell other people, too. Show him that you do!
Listen to his Sermons
He spends untold hours each week carefully and prayerfully preparing to bring you a message (or four) from God’s Word. This is what God called him to do, and he’s been trained to do it well. He talks about you to God all week to discover just what you need. If he’s preaching from the Bible, listen intently, ready to obey God’s message. Even better, put it into practice Monday morning! (Of course, this all implies that you’re there to hear his sermons. Regularly. No one’s snoring, right?)
Pray for his Family
The wife and children of a Pastor are privileged and burdened like no others! Unlike most men, if a Pastor loses control of his family, he loses his job. So where do you think his enemies (seen and unseen) attack first? Besides this, your Pastor’s wife often bears silently many burdens she cannot share with anyone else. “Hedge of protection” may be cliché, but pray one around your Pastor’s family.
If you appreciate your Pastor like this, you will find in time that you will have far more to appreciate about your Pastor! October comes and goes, and some folks get by with giving coffee mugs. But if you respect your Pastor and honor what he lives for, try appreciating him like I’ve mentioned and watch how you grow together in the joy of the Lord!
Dear Christian brothers and sisters, no pastor is perfect, and there are many called “pastors” who have no right or business to carry the name. Unfortunately, these often attract the most attention, and their numbers are blown far out of proportion. We might even think that they represent the lot of us.
But there are legions of godly pastors out there, humbly serving God’s church. We’ve not heard of most of them because they are exactly the sort of men who would never draw attention to themselves and who deflect whatever attention they receive right back to their Lord, who alone is worthy of glory. I hope you know one of them.
If not, I am terribly sorry. I pray that you find one soon. And when you do, and you discover what a gift Christ has given to the church, I hope you appreciate him. Maybe you more than anyone else will be able to do just that.