Once again we’re in October, the month set aside in many churches for pastor appreciation. This is my first October in many years to not be appreciated! The reason is that I retired last May. I think this gives me a unique perspective on pastor appreciation month.
Through the years I’ve been blessed in so many wonderful and undeserved ways by the congregations I’ve led. One of my favorite honors was being given tickets to very good seats at a ball game. Another year we were given a DVD filled with words of appreciation by members of our congregation. Of course gift cards and cash are always welcome gifts.
I think pastors with children are especially blessed by being given a night out, including babysitting and the cost of a nice meal together.
Thinking in more general ways about pastoral care I think many pastors need to be encouraged to take some time off. These days most pastors have spouses who work outside the home. That means that their household seldom, if ever, gets time off together. Say the spouse works a Monday-Friday job. However, the pastor’s busiest days are Saturday and Sunday. That means they never get a morning to sleep in or enjoy some “us time” around the house. One way to bless your pastor is to arrange for your parsonage family to enjoy a long weekend once in a while.
Finally, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most pastors put a great deal of work into their sermons, Bible studies, etc. They may not openly admit it, but a lack of interest by their laypeople in this element of their ministry is rather painful. Pastors notice when ushers receive the offering and then disappear out to the church foyer for the rest of the service (specifically, for the sermon). They notice when people skip other services, like prayer meetings and Bible studies. It’s one thing to give the pastor an appreciation card during the month of October and something much better to allow the pastor to minister to you, fulfilling the calling of God on their life. One of the best ways to show appreciation for your pastor is to show an interest in their ministry. Stated rather bluntly, if you appreciate the pastor, stop hurting him or her by displaying a lack of interest in their preaching and teaching ministry.
An old preacher’s line is “saying ‘amen’ to a preacher is like saying sik’em to a dog.” In the context of pastor appreciation I’d say that letting your pastor minister to you and then, after the service, shaking his or her hand and telling them that you appreciated their sermon is where pastor appreciation starts.
Last Sunday we were informed that, in observance of Pastor Appreciation that the service the next Sunday will be lay led. Every aspect of the service will be handled by our lay people and then the Sunday sermon will be delivered by our assistant pastor. Following the service we’re going to be taken to a nice restaurant for a meal.
As you can guess that freed up my sermon preparation day (I made hospital visits instead). It’s nice being appreciated. It’s quite humbling as well.
We’re absolutely humbled by all the nice things being done for us by the good people of our congregation during pastor appreciation month this year. Apparently, folks have signed up to take a turn blessing us for practically every day of the month. We’ve received nice cards, gift cards, and invitations to meals. Last Sunday the song “Blest be the tie the binds” was inserted into the order of service. The first verse was sung as usual, but the rest of the verses were about the Lord’s blessing our ministry. It was sung in good humor, with laughter and it was fun and embarrassing at the same time for us.
Just to make things clear, we don’t deserve all this. I’m just an average pastor who is thankful for the privilege of serving some wonderful people. These days, I’m asking the Lord to help me, in some small measure, to live up to all the kindness I’ve been shown.
This month is clergy appreciation month and I am humbly grateful of the nice things my congregation is doing to make me feel truly appreciated.
For the past hour I have been trying to balance my checkbook. Most of the time, since I don’t have to please anyone but myself, and since I think my bank does a better job keeping track of my money than I do, when there is a difference, I note the amount in the checkbook (plus or minus). Then, if that amount is still there the next month I adjust the checkbook accordingly and that’s it.
This month, the difference was a larger amount and, since it was in the minus column on my side, I thought I had better figure out what was going on.
I went through the math first. With the help of a quickly done spreadsheet, I found a simple math error, but it still didn’t bring me into balance. Then, I found where I had the math right, but had written in the wrong number in the first place! But still not in balance.
Finally, I noted that the difference was exactly the same amount as one of the checks I hadn’t marked as cleared — I simply missed it.
Ah, the bliss of a balanced check book.
As I thought about my adventures in accounting I thought about our own church treasurer who I happen to know worked a good part of the day on Saturday in preparation for our church board meeting. I also thought of other treasurers I know who have served well and without complaint.
I’m being “appreciated” this month but I am well aware that there are volunteers, like church treasurers, who do a lot of hard work in the background, sometimes searching for the lost coin as the woman did in the parable!