Published October 24, 2017
Do you feel encouraged and energized when someone compliments you on something you've done or are doing? Of course you do.
The same goes for pastors. And, because October is observed in many churches as Pastor Appreciation Month, this is a great time to re-evaluate how well you're expressing your appreciation to, and support for, your pastor.
One pastor recently wrote that being a pastor, depending on the day, is either the best job in the world or the worst. Pastors, he said, regularly experience God's power in accomplishing salvation, restoring families, empowering preaching and healing broken lives. But, he added, they also see people at their worst, including Christians, who sometimes take out their anger, fears and bitterness on their pastors.
Indeed, a recent Barna Research study of pastors found that, of those surveyed, 54 percent said that they "sometimes" experience emotional or mental exhaustion. In fact, another 21 percent said this was a frequent occurrence.
Fortunately, this stress is usually offset by the fact that more than two-thirds of pastors (68 percent) say they feel "well-supported" by those close to them. And the one thing that goes beyond even that for a good pastor is a profound sense of God's call to do what they're doing.
Gary Dull of the American Pastors Network says, "We know from research that pastors can feel isolated and sometimes unappreciated. Those feelings can sometimes lead to early burnout and today's churches need committed pastors who are sold out to preaching the whole counsel of God, now more than ever. Even a small word of encouragement or gesture of appreciation can make all the difference in a pastor's life."
Absolutely! And, although there are many more, the APN gives these five reasons to appreciate pastors:
- Pastors are "on call" 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They often must break away from their own families to help someone in the church through a difficult situation. (Growing up as a "PK," a preacher's kid, I saw this first-hand and we understood this was all part of Pop's very significant job.)
- Pastors are selfless and make daily sacrifices for their congregations.
- Pastors make the Word of God and His truth plain and simple so we may apply it to our everyday lives.
- Pastors are people, too! Churches tend to put their leaders on a pedestal, but they also have joys and struggles, hobbies and favorite things.
- Pastors have followed God's call to give up their own life and their own desires to serve others.
There are many possible ways to show appreciation to your pastor, but the APN suggests these as starters:
- Send a personal thank you note or card and let your pastor know how your life has been bettered.
- Tag your pastor in a social media post with the hashtag #pastorappreciation and tell your friends, family and fellow church members what you appreciate about your pastor.
- Make and deliver dinner to your pastor's family, invite them to your home or take them out for a meal, not only to express appreciation, but to also get to know them better.
- Find out your pastor's hobbies and interests, and consider giving a gift card or certificate for an experience to enjoy "off duty."
And, I might add, encourage others to do likewise.
Honestly, now: When was the last time you personally thanked your pastor for his sermon? Even better, when was the last time you told him about something specific that he said in his sermon that helped you in some way? When was the last time you thanked him for his service to you, to your congregation and, especially, to the Lord?
Each of us needs encouragement now more than ever to continue our work for the Lord. Today you don't have to wait until Sunday today would be a great day to encourage someone personally and to encourage them in their ministry, whatever form that ministry takes as a pastor or otherwise.
Ask the Lord in prayer what your pastor or others really need to hear. And then let the Lord encourage them through you today.
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