It was the first Sunday service of our church plant. Our launch team had done an incredible job setting up and welcoming people into the high school theatre. Finally, it was time for me, their pastor, to step up and preach the kickoff message. I don’t remember much of the message that day, but I do remember our lead usher making a point to meet me as I left the stage at dismissal. He encouraged me with a hearty “great job, Pastor, what a great message!”.
That was fifteen years ago, but I still remember how it made me feel. After such a nerve-wracking but important day, he took time to recognize the moment and encourage me with those few words. It felt good to be appreciated.
Your pastor has ministry moments like this every year. Moments perhaps known only to him and God. Sometimes these moments are big wins for the Kingdom. Sometimes they are heart-breaking hurts that make him doubt his calling. This is why it’s so important to take time to appreciate our pastors. They need support. Wins should be celebrated in community and losses grieved together.
God values them; so should we.
The Apostle Paul instructed the Church to honor and celebrate pastors
1 Timothy 5:17 (NIV)
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 (NIV)
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
It feels like good pastors are in short supply these days. The last couple years have been extremely challenging for pastors and people. Pastors are gifted as spiritual shepherds to gather the sheep, but the sheep have been scattered for a multitude of reasons. And many have made it clear they don’t want a shepherd or a sheepfold.
Many pastors have left the ministry as they grapple with discouragement, loss, and lack of resources. There are very few “pats on the back” and few think to encourage the one who has made a life of encouraging others.
Men, you have a strategic opportunity to encourage your pastor right now. Don’t just think good thoughts. It is always the time for thoughts and prayers, but thoughts and prayers alone are not enough. Do something. Tell them you appreciate them. Honor them by articulating and showing their value. Your pastor would love to hear from you. It will strengthen his resolve – and it pleases God.
Jesus wants his church to have a healthy culture of care and respect for his pastors
When church members appreciate their pastors, it creates a healthier, more generous culture within the church. Trust me, your pastor gets his share of criticism, harsh emails, and bad news. Telling him and showing him that you have his back will help him keep his head up. Don’t keep him guessing if you support his ministry – tell him.
Ephesians 4:11 says that pastors are ministry gifts given from Jesus himself. They guide, teach, and equip Christians to grow spiritually. We appreciate pastors because they are Jesus’s gifts. He gave them to us because we need them. The polite response to a gift is always, “thank you”. You should do no less for the gifts Jesus gives. We should be grateful for them.
Here are a few practical ideas for Pastor Appreciation Month or other times of the year:
- Find out what your pastor likes or needs and gift it to him. Big or small, gifts should always be thoughtful as well as generous. Blessing your pastor has no downside.
- If your pastor needs a getaway or a ministry break, help fund it and make it happen. Let him feel good about being blessed and getting some time away to be refreshed.
- Find out, then honor the number of years your pastor has been in pastoral ministry. Ministry milestones should never be overlooked by a congregation or celebrated alone.
- Celebrate occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas with gifts and kind words. A congregation is also the church family, and families celebrate these things.
Appreciation should be given personally
When is the last time you shared some kind words of support with your pastor? I know it can be difficult for many, especially introverts, but it’s worth stretching yourself. Your pastor will never look at you quite the same when you honor him personally. He knows it wasn’t easy to do that. It will bless him that someone took the time to say something positive, not negative.
Appreciation should be given publicly
Behind the scenes, the congregation can easily plan a surprise or a special moment in a church service or event where your pastor is honored publicly. Cards can be signed, gifts can be given, and trips can be planned or announced. Make sure someone publicly articulates the church’s appreciation at this event and represents the congregation well. You will need to ask a board member or staff member to help facilitate this beyond just a good idea. Going through the appropriate channels will garner more support. If no one else has ever thought of doing something like this, you get to be the first one!
Do something soon. Plan it. Get other people onboard to help you start working on it now. Take the time to appreciate and bless your pastor; your church will be better for it.