Before I start, let me mention that this is not intended for anyone involved in my church. I don’t write this to make you all aware of this, as it is something you have already done and done well. This isn’t me fishing for more appreciation.
October is a special month in the life of a pastor, or at least it should be. October is officially “Pastoral Appreciation Month”. I don’t know who named it that, why they have October, or why they just limit it to a month (ok, I understand why they did that), but I thought I would make everyone else aware of what this month is. This is an opportunity to show your pastor/shepherds what they mean to you and to help repay the encouragement they have brought to your soul.
Obviously, this is something that should be a year round practice, but it is nice to focus on a month for this. Our church here in San Gabriel is full of people who write in notes, give gift cards, and hugs of encouragement every year during October. And on one Sunday, the pastors are called up on stage during the service and publicly thanked. The wives are given lovely flowers, the pastors are given a gift card, usually to a restuarant, and this year the children’s program made folders of papers the children made thanking each pastor. It is small, but it goes a long ways.
So what can you do for your pastor? Here are some helpful hints from one!
- Write a note about what his ministry and preaching have meant to you. The more specific you can be, the better. A pastor can receive no better encouragement than specifically recalling ways his preaching has challenged you and helped you to understand God and His desires for you.
- Give a gift certificates for dates. The family life of a pastor can be very taxing on everyone, and one of the greatest ways you can support your pastor is to give him a night away with his wife. Find out what they like to do together, what their favorite restaurants are, and give them a free date. If they have children, offer free babysitting! This will do a lot to recharge the batteries of the pastor, ease the mind of the wife, and give them valuable time together.
- Give to the wife of a pastor. This woman shares her husband with hundreds of other people, sometimes at the most inopportune times. When a pastor is called out last minute, there is usually a home he is leaving behind. Meetings add up and it usually ends up taxing the wife of a pastor. Find out what she likes, what hobbies she has, or pay for some pampering and relaxation!
- Support the pastor’s study. Each October I can always count on at least one gift certificate for my favorite book store. That is shortly followed by a big annual sale at that store, so the timing is perfect. Pay for a conference, a class, or just books. Unfortunately, many pastors find themselves isolated, with not a lot of ways to challenge their hearts, souls, and minds. Great and encouraging conferences abound, and when your pastor will get back, he will be excited and recharged.
- Maybe the most significant thing you could do is to put a hand to the plow! We all know of the statistics that 10%-20% of the people do 80%-90% of the work. Often times, this is most reflected in the life of the pastor. Certainly they are paid, but much encouragement comes from those that also see the value of the local church, and those in the church that the pastors know they can count on to help. Be dependable, be prayerful, be studious, and take initiative. If you see a need, instead of making the pastor aware of it, ask yourself how you can meet or fix this need. Of course there are things that must be run through a pastor, but often times things can be taken care of without his active involvement.
- Prayer. Let them know you are praying for them, building them up in daily times of petition before the Lord. If you don’t have money to give to the pastor, pray for them! Wake up early on Sundays to pray for your pastor as he prepares to preach. Find out what day he does most of his sermon preparation on and spend time that day in prayer.
I hope that some of these things find themselves useful in your desire to show your appreciation to your patsor. I know that October is almost over, but I don’t think that they would mind if it carried over into November!