It’s October, a month when many churches observe Pastor Appreciation Month. That means there will soon be hundreds of gift cards and thank you notes stuffed into envelopes faster than you can say “Pumpkin Spice Latte.” There’s nothing at all wrong with this. I can think of far worse things that could happen to a pastor than having a three-month supply of Whataburger gift cards in his desk drawer.
But there are other ways you can show the pastor or pastors in your life appreciation. Consider blessing your pastor in these ways:
When I think about our Southern Baptists of Texas Convention pastors—most of whom lead small, rural churches—I think about men who are overloaded and, frankly, more prone to do things themselves than ask for help. That’s why it blessed my heart so much when, as a pastor, I’d hear stories of church members caring for and meeting one another’s needs. It made me feel like all the weight of caring for people wasn’t just on my shoulders.
Want to show your pastor appreciation? Ask him if you can make a follow-up call to one or two of the people who visited your church this past Sunday. Go see someone in the hospital who needs a visit. Help him carry the burden of caring not only for your members, but the people who wander into your church every week looking for answers and help. You can’t imagine what a gift this will be to your pastor.
Protect his boundaries
As a first-time lead pastor, I thought it would be noble to let our members and guests know I would always—always—be available to them. What I meant was, “Hey, if you find yourself in crisis at 2 a.m., call me and I’ll be there as soon as I can.” What a small fraction of them heard was, “Hey, when you’re driving your semi and bored at 4 a.m., give me a call and we can talk college football!” It didn’t take long for me to realize I needed to adjust the expectations I had set for myself.
Want to show your pastor appreciation? Beat him to the punch when it comes to respecting his boundaries. Remember that he’s got a wife and kids who have schedules of their own and a dog and bills and all the things you’ve got—in addition to caring for people in the church. Be patient and understanding when he doesn’t immediately answer your emails and texts. Keep in mind he may struggle to get two consecutive days off in the same week, and if he does, he’s likely going to try to take those days on a Friday, Saturday, or Monday.
Honor his family
God doesn’t call individuals into ministry. He calls entire families, and each member of a called family experiences the pressures of ministry. So whenever and however you honor your pastor—be it gift cards or words of gratitude—remember to honor his family as well. Even a simple acknowledgement of the entire family’s service to the church will go a long way toward warming your pastor’s heart and making him feel appreciated not just this month, but all year long.