October is quickly approaching! And if you didn’t already know, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. While it certainly doesn’t rank up there with Christmas or Valentine’s Day as a nationally celebrated Hallmark holiday, it does bear value in helping us remember to honor the leadership in our churches.
Our pastors and church leadership have very stressful jobs. They are basically on call 24/7 with the expectation that they need to be ready to be available and “minister” no matter what they personally have going on. We may only see them for a few hours a week on Sunday mornings and maybe Wednesday nights, but their week is full of administrative duties, counseling, decision making, organizing, planning, writing, budgeting, researching, praying, and handling other people’s personal crises… to name a few. Plus, your pastor probably has a spouse and children. Most pastors are also paid a salary that is usually substantially lower than many of their congregants’ salaries. Pastors are not going to complain about this as most feel called to their position, but it does play a part in the stress of their job.
Most pastors are far too humble to remind their congregation that October is Pastor Appreciation Month, but I think if you are an active and faithful member of your church, then you would make it a point to celebrate and honor them during this time. So what does that look like?
4 Ways to Honor Your Pastor this October
1) Say Thank You
Your pastor hears criticism and complaints almost every day. We, as humans, are quick to share criticism and negativity far more quickly than give positive feedback. If you want to be a blessing to your church leadership, and particularly your pastor, then write a thank you note or send an email. Pastors love to hear personal stories sharing ways something they have taught or said has helped someone grow in their faith. These kinds of stories give them the energy and motivation to keep going when they get discouraged. I know many pastors that keep these encouraging letters and emails because they come so rarely that they will look back at them when they need to be reminded of why they continue to minister when they get incredibly weary.
2) Pray for him and let him know you are praying.
You may never know the silent and personal struggles your pastor has to wrestle with, not only personally but as he carries the cares and burdens of your entire church body. But you can help him carry this load through prayer. Praying daily for your pastor, for his spiritual, physical and emotional health, for the strength of his marriage, for his wisdom in parenting, for insight as he leads, and for his strength, is a tremendous gift to him. The reality is that 75% of pastors think of quitting due to burnout and 40% usually do within the first 5 years. Our pastors need our prayers.
3) Give them grace.
There are certainly times when it is perfectly justified in sharing a concern or even criticism with your pastor. They understand and need accountability. It will of course be more highly valued when it comes from a previous relationship of encouragement and positive communication. However, more often than not, if you feel a concern about something your pastor has said or done, before giving him your opinion, perhaps consider taking 7-10 days to really pray for him about it first. The Lord may remind you during that time that your pastor is under great stress. Maybe a family in the church is having a lengthy crisis that has required him to be at the hospital late every night that week so his sermon last week was not his best. Or maybe he chose to skip the Fall Festival this year because his wife’s parent’s 50th anniversary was the same weekend and he made the choice to love her well by going with her.. I think we would do a better job of living out the Gospel to our leadership by giving them grace and giving them the space they need in their lives to minister to their own families before they minister to their congregation. If our congregations would commit to love and serve their pastors, with half as much time and energy as we expect them to serve us, the statistics of clergy burnout would decrease dramatically.
4) Give them good gifts.
Honor them and love them well by giving them gifts this October that show you care and understand a bit of the weight they carry. You would be surprised how hard it is for your pastor and his wife to have an actual date night and money for fun activities with their kids is probably not on top of their budget list. Some gifts I guarantee your pastor will appreciate though are:
- gift card to local restaurants that are favorites in your community
- gift card to Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts (coffee for the win)
- gift card to places their kids might enjoy (family time is a win)
- gift card to the movie theater
- a babysitter for date night
- gift card to buy something specifically for him to enjoy
- note offering your personal services – babysitting, petsitting, cleaning, yardwork, etc.
We want our pastors to remain faithful and faith-filled as they lead and minister. We need to do our part by certainly honoring them this October in tangible ways, but also by committing to encourage and bless our pastors all year long. Wouldn’t it be great if we remembered to send our pastors an encouraging note or email more often than just during Pastor Appreciation Month?
What are you going to do this October to encourage and bless your pastor and church leadership? Do you have other ideas of ways we can bless our pastors?