A guest post from my favorite guy, my husband James:
October is a month traditionally known in church circles as Pastor Appreciation Month. But just because October has now come and gone doesn’t mean you can’t continue to show your church’s pastoral staff how much you truly appreciate their work all year long.
Being an associate pastor, this is a subject I don’t normally don’t talk about very much and I get the feeling that most pastors skip over talking about something like this. The last thing you want is for the members of your congregation to feel as if they haven’t lived up to your expectations. Or worse, that you are in it for yourself. But I do feel like it’s something that needs to be discussed and I’m happy to do so with an audience not necessarily attending my church every week. It’s truly for the benefit of all other pastors out there that I share this with you. (And if you are a member of our church reading this page, please know that I love you, our church and our community. And anything listed would be greatly appreciated. What? You thought I would say it’s unnecessary?)
If I can be real for you for just a minute, being a pastor is not all glitz and glamour. Not that you thought it was, but our society is programmed to think that anyone standing on a stage is living the life. It’s very easy to see the pastors that are on television or speaking a large conferences or with volumes of books at your local bookstore and think that they are just another category among of our culture’s rich and famous. And for some that may be the case, but for the average pastor, they aren’t doing the job for fame and fortune. It’s a labor of love born out of a desire to see you come into an abundant life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ.
I could easily share with you the frustrations of being a pastor, but after careful consideration I don’t think this is the place for that. Suffice to say that just like any of you have moments of frustrations in the work you do and times that you really don’t feel appreciated by those whom you work with or for, your pastor has those days just the same.
5 Ways to Bless Your Pastor All Year Long
So, I thought with this chance to take advantage of my wife’s amazing blog audience I would give you a few ideas for appreciating your pastor year round. Most of these things will cost you nothing other than a little bit of selflessness. And I think we can all agree that the world could always use a bit more of that. Here are five ideas that would make them feel like the most loved church leader in the world:
Invite them over for dinner at your home
If you’re reading this blog, you already know how important the dinner table is in our home. So much great stuff happens as we sit around the table. Life is shared in a special way as you gather around the table. Do you think it was an accident that some of the most meaningful interactions Jesus had with people in Scriptures centered around meeting at the table (Eating with sinners and the Last Supper just to name two)? I don’t.
Friendship happens around the table. Don’t ever take for granted that your pastor has enough friends. Especially if all you ever hear him talk about is “pastor friends.” Do you know what “pastor friends” talk about when they get together? They talk about church stuff. Your pastor needs to come to your house to talk about the World Series, Monday Night Football or The Walking Dead. He or she would love to have you invite them over to watch Netflix. Regardless of what some may think, they aren’t always scouring your life for their next sermon. Sometimes they just want and need to hang out.
And don’t ask them to pray for the meal. Everyone does that. Show them that their leadership has made a difference in your life and be the spiritual leader for your family and all those who come into your home.
Babysit for them
I admit that this doesn’t apply to all pastors across the board. However, if you have a pastor or other ministerial staff that has children, a free night of babysitting so that mom and dad can have a date night is an awesome thing! In fact, I should probably just go ahead and tell you not to read any further and just give your pastors a free night of babysitting once a month.
Seriously though, making sure you give your spouse the time they deserve is one of those things that is very easy to preach, but very hard to make happen. In fact, most of time, my wife is a single mom when we are at church. When I’m there, I’m on the job. So even though my mantra is all things Family Ministry, it’s a lot harder for me to practice what I preach in the place that I preach it. Just last week I saw my family as they walked into the church for about 5 minutes and then I was off to teach a Bible study, followed by a ministry team meeting and a counseling session. They went on to eat dinner without me and I grabbed something on the way home. I walked in the door close to 10pm.
You’re probably wondering “What about the kids?” If you’re missing time with your family, and you want babysitting, then when do the kids get you? That’s just it, if anybody gets the parent pastor’s time, it’s the kids. A lot of the time our spouse gets what’s left as we are struggling to hold our eyes open at the end of a busy day.
So yeah, if your pastor has kids, offer to babysit from time to time.
Be a cheerleader
This one is huge. Pastors always hear the negativity. If someone doesn’t like a new program, a point that was made in the sermon, or the red Converse you wear while preaching, you are going to hear about it. Maybe from that person or maybe through a strategically placed grapevine message. Do you know what pastors don’t hear very much of? Yep, the good stuff.
Do you want to see your pastor walking on cloud nine? Then be a cheerleader. Talk publicly about the great things that are going on at your church. I’m not talking about saying great and wonderful things about the pastor, but the church. Your pastoral leadership pours their hearts and souls into moving your church closer to God and when they publicly hear people talking about the positives it will cause them to swell with pride (the good kind, not the sinful kind).
Think about it. How do you feel when you know that people are happy with the results your work produces? Your pastor is no different. Hearing that their leadership is meaningful to the congregation will motivate them to work harder and ensure that they continue giving everything they have with a joyful heart.
Nothing says, “I appreciate what you are doing” more than joining the team. No matter how big or small your church is, it can’t operate without a great volunteer team. Your pastor can bring great ideas to the table all day long, but he can’t be the one to pull off everything that needs to be done in the church.
Try sometime to list all of the different volunteers that give their time in your church. Whether it’s Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, the audio/visual team, administrative volunteers, church musicians, children’s and youth ministry leaders, every church has to have a team of people to carry out the vision of the pastor. So be one of those people.
One of the most frustrating things for a church leader is to know that something would be hugely beneficial to the church but not have any buy-in when it comes to the volunteers needed to pull it off. Your pastor can’t do all of the work on his or her own. They need a team of volunteers ready to help them bring their creative ideas to life in ministering to the church and the community.
And don’t just be a warm body. Really jump in and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Pastors absolutely love it when they see their congregation latching on to the truths of servant leadership and volunteering to make sure the church can effectively meet the needs of all who attend. Find your niche and give it everything you’ve got. As an added bonus, you’ll grow in your relationship with Christ from this step too.
If there was one gift that I would (with a serious face) say is more valuable than all of the others, this is it. It encourages and motivates your pastor, but it also helps you grow. And your growth in Christ is the ultimate encouragement for your pastor.
Okay, so here is where I meddle into your life a little bit. Your pastor works hard. Regardless of what some people think, those sermons aren’t just downloaded off the internet, memorized and recited to you each week. And even if they were, have you ever tried to memorize and deliver a monologue every week? It can’t be easy work.
Your pastor, in addition to visiting those who are sick, counseling those who need guidance, dropping in on the senior adult luncheon, writing that article for the newsletter, leading staff meeting, teaching mid-week Bible study, fielding calls from “concerned” church members and taking time to talk to everyone as they drop by the church also has to pour over Scripture each week and study to deliver what they pray is a life-changing sermon for someone who will hear. And while the internet has made researching a topic so much easier, there is still plenty of time deciphering Scripture, praying for guidance and developing a message that is custom-made for the needs of the people of your church.
Can you imagine what a gut punch it is when each week well under half of the people on the church roll actually show up? Yet, the pastor never stops. Because next week might be the week.
Think about this. While your pastor loves that you have the time and resources to enjoy all of the long weekends throughout the year, he rarely gets one. Most churches require the pastor to use vacation time if he would like to miss on Sunday. So that three day weekend that you take for Labor Day would cost the pastor vacation time.
I don’t say this to give the impression that pastors mind working on Sundays. Of course they don’t! I share this with you to provide some perspective on how a pastor might feel when all of the hard work that you expect him to put in isn’t worth your time. The single greatest thing you can do to show your pastor that you appreciate him or her is to show up. Because whether you mean to or not, when you don’t show up, it can undo any other act of encouragement you give.
I want to leave you with this thought: your pastor loves you! And if you never show appreciation to your pastor, they will still love you. You may read through this and think, “But you will get your reward in heaven.” You are absolutely right. God will reward His servants for their faithful work here on earth and even on our worst days, pastors understand and are comforted by this. But, if for nothing else, I challenge you to take a moment to intentionally show your pastor some appreciation just simply because you also like to hear words of encouragement from time to time.
So there you have it: a few ways that you can show your pastor that you appreciate what they do all year long. Do you know of other ways to make sure your pastor feels the love? I’d love for you to share them in the comments here.
I would like to say that I’m really honored to be able to share with you all on my wife’s blog. I can’t tell you all how proud I am of all of that she does for our family and here on her blog. She’s such a gift to us and I thank God every day that he found me worthy enough to do life with her. I do hope that you’ll all forgive her for the drop in quality that her blog will suffer due to this post. In my defense, however, I didn’t realize when I agreed to write this that I would be putting the finishing touches on while trying to monitor what could be the last night of this year’s World Series.
Blogging is a family affair in iHomeschool Network’s Helping Mom Blog for the Day link up. Stop by and see what all of the guest post writers have to say!