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.