“Pastor, I know I never said anything over the last ten years that you served as our pastor, but I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate you for all that you’ve done for our church.” These are familiar words of thanks and appreciation that are typically given at the going away party of the pastor on his last day. Talk about delayed gratification!
These kinds of comments should have happened much earlier (like in year 1!) and more frequently, which might have even postponed a last day for the pastor. Well, church members everywhere have the opportunity to do this month as October is designated as Pastor Appreciation Month.
Whether you know it or not, pastors in the church work very hard. They do a lot of things publicly like preaching, teaching, visitation, and leading but they also do quite a bit behind the scenes like counseling, studying, planning, and praying. Unfortunately, for many pastors, it has become a thankless job. For this reason alone, it would be important for you to appreciate your pastor.
It is surprising to me that so few people know that such a celebration exists. Even in my seminary classes, very few students who are preparing for the ministry are aware of this practice. Historically, the event has existed since 1992 and the second Sunday of October is specifically designated as Pastor Appreciation Day. This year, it occurred on October 8.
Let me begin by noting some important reasons to appreciate your pastors.
First, there are many biblical mandates to do so
For example, in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, it says, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.” Additionally, Galatians 6:6 tells us “let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.”
Finally in 1 Timothy 5:17, Paul writes, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” The phrase “all good things” in the Galatians passage and “double honor” in the 1 Timothy passage could even be interpreted as monetary or financial gifts for the pastor.
SECOND, pastors need encouragement because of all the pressure and stress
Another reason to appreciate them during this time is that pastors need encouragement because of all the pressure and stress that comes with the duties of the ministry.
This includes sermon prep, budgeting, setting the vision for the ministry, meetings, training, and last but not least, taking care of the congregation members. All this adds up to a lot of hours and a lot stress.
Having been a pastor myself, there are times when I felt discouraged because I didn’t feel like the sermon went as well as it could have been. This feeling increases when anonymous critics confirm this with a nasty note or critical statement on a comment card. So the need for encouragement is necessary to help get through this weekly grind. Your pastors need a lot of encouragement for what they do. Please don’t wait for their going away or retirement party to thank them. That’s way too little, too late!
So what are some ways to encourage a pastor? Let me provide a list of some possible ways to encourage your pastor and his family:
- Give a handwritten note or letter to your pastor.
- Get an Amazon or Starbucks gift card for him.
- Offer to babysit the kids so that he could have a date night with his wife.
- Volunteer to serve or help out with the ministry in some capacity.
- Take the pastor and his family out for a meal.
- Send the family to an overnight trip somewhere and pay for the expenses.
- Ask your pastor if he has any prayer requests, and then pray for him.
- Offer to pay for the pastor’s wife for a manicure and a pedicure.
- Get the pastor a membership to a gym or health club.
- Arrange to have a family picture taken with a nice frame for them.
These are just a few ways that you can appreciate those who lead you in the church. Please plan ahead this year to celebrate the whole month of October with your pastor!
Ben Shin is an Associate Professor of Bible Exposition and Director of the Asian-American Ministry track for the Doctor of Ministry at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, CA.