October is pastor appreciation month. Let me tell you how to let your pastor know you appreciate him. Gifts are fine and a vacation or money is always helpful, especially if the pastor has a family he is trying to provide for. But, he didn’t become a pastor for the money. He wanted to impact lives for God’s Kingdom. That is what he gave his life to years ago. Every pastor is different, I know, but many pastors that I’ve talked to feel most appreciated when the following happens. I thank God for every instance of this that I experienced:
1. When he preaches, don’t just say, “Good sermon.” Give him a call and say, “I heard what you were preaching about recently. How can I help you carry that out in our church and community?” That one statement would blow him away and is what he most wants to hear. He isn’t just interested in hearing “good job.” He longs for cooperation.
2. Honor him as God’s ordained spiritual authority. Yes, we are all priests before God and I know that we are all uncomfortable with recognizing anyone as an authority over us lest they abuse it (that scares some people to death and it is understandable), but actually ask the pastor what he thinks about big decisions in your life. Ask him for guidance. Ask him to pray with you about things coming up. Bring him into your world. Listen to him when he tries to direct you in certain ways. So many church members try to prove they don’t need a pastor that it is easy for the pastor to wonder what his role is.
3. Don’t try to keep him humble. That isn’t your job. It is God’s job. Don’t ever say, “Well, pastor, I don’t want you to get the big head …” Be an encouragement. He gets enough discouragement just through the course of a normal day dealing with people and their issues. It is a very emotionally taxing role because you carry the burdens of people constantly and struggle to let them go. Help him carry those burdens by giving him some encouragement through cooperation and “getting” what he is trying to do. Then, offer to help.
4. Celebrate with him. Life is full of frustrations and disappointments. But, when you see your pastor excited about what God is doing, don’t sit in the corner with your arms folded because it wasn’t “your” thing. Celebrate with him about what GOD has done and encourage your pastor to keep going.
5. Encourage his gifts/calling. Every pastor is different and has been shaped by God in different ways. Let him be who God shaped Him to be and encourage that. You might just benefit from it in ways you aren’t expecting.
6. Cooperate with him. I’m not encouraging a pastor to be a dictator, but there is nothing more draining than realizing that every idea you have will be opposed by someone who decided they didn’t like it the moment they heard it and they weren’t going to cooperate. If you want to appreciate your pastor this month, follow his leadership – not blindly or into anything that is opposed to God’s Word. But, a pastor is not a chaplain to just care for you. He is called to lead the flock. Let him do that.
7. If your pastor calls a special prayer meeting or calls for the church to engage in outreach/mission in a special way or calls for a renewed emphasis in discipleship or member care, make every effort to participate. Everyone is busy and there are many things that come up, but listen for the special emphases. Make sacrifices. Let your pastor know you have his back and you’ll be there to pray and serve as you can. And, if you can’t, let him know that too.
8. Minister to the Body of Christ and beyond. It isn’t the pastor’s job to do everything. He is trying to equip YOU to do the work of the ministry. Let him do that. Let him train you and value his instruction. Humble yourself and seek to learn. Just because you have ministry experience or have done things doesn’t mean that you know what is needed in the next situation. The spiritual life is dynamic and God is always working. Let your pastor equip you and thank him for it.
Your pastor is usually the only person in the church that sees the whole picture. I had been a youth minister, had gone to seminary, had taught Bible studies, had served as an associate pastor for over 4.5 years and was essentially an interim pastor for a year. I’d preached, studied, read, and served. About 3 months into my role as senior pastor for the first time I remember leaning back into my chair in my office and thinking, “I had no idea how hard this was.” Even though I knew a lot and was well prepared, I didn’t have any idea as to the load that I was going to carry. The real truth is that unless you have served as a senior pastor of a church, then you really have no idea what is involved or how someone’s heart can be so tied to the call and so affected by what he sees and engages in. It is a wonderful calling and vocation and it is full of blessings every day. But, if you want to appreciate your pastor, the list above is a pretty good place to start and it doesn’t cost you anything monetarily – and, it is something that you can do all year! I thank God for the people who did those things for me and I can tell you that they made a huge difference.