In the church-going world, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I’ve been in a church leadership position for most of my life. My husband and I were associate pastors for eight years and senior pastors for four years. From that standpoint I’m grateful there’s 31 days set aside for people to remember and be intentional about appreciating and honoring the church leaders in their lives.
But now that my husband and I are out of the senior pastor or even associate role, I feel qualified and even compelled to address this issue. And that’s the issue of pouring out your heart, soul and even physical body to serving a congregation of people – no matter how many or how few – and feeling less than appreciated, less than honored.
Often, people have no idea what kind of service, time, and sacrifice our leaders are putting in and giving out. Church people can take for granted the personal care, leadership, and service that a pastor gives and feel the, often measly, paycheck they hand over should cover a job that’s on call 24/7 and 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This should not be so.
And so I want to encourage church-goers to, not only, take advantage of this month to appreciate your pastors but also to remind you to appreciate them throughout the year. Send a note just thanking them for their leadership. Ask if you can bring a meal (when no one is sick or just had a baby!) just to help them out and bless them. Gals, take your pastor’s wife to coffee. Men, take your pastor to lunch. Honor them. Thank them. Let them know that you see the hard work and sacrifice of their life and you are so grateful.
“Brothers and sisters, we ask you to show appreciation to those who are working hard among you and those who are your leaders as they guide and instruct you in the Lord – they are priceless. When you think about them, let it be with great love in your heart because of all the work they have done…”
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (The Voice)
And then, I also want to encourage pastors, and those in leadership, and remind you what to do when there seems to be no honor or appreciation. And that is, to watch your heart. Give your service, again, wholeheartedly to the Lord. When it comes down to it, He is who you are sacrificing to – your time, your energy and often your own finances – as you lead. Remember that HE is the rewarder. Let Him fill the part of you that needs a ‘thank you’, that needs to know that what you do matters. Don’t get bitter, don’t get resentful, don’t grow weary in well-doing. We need you and we need your role in our communities!
“May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist.”
Galatians 6:9 (The Voice)
**This article is dedicated to my own pastor and his wife, Mitch & Melanie Ivey. They are incredible in their hearts and their service, not only to Grace Fellowship but to the entire community of Kearney, Nebraska. I love you both and appreciate your leadership in my life!
Mitch & Melanie Ivey, Pastors of Grace Fellowship, Kearney, Nebraska