October marks Pastor Appreciation Month. In my past blog, "Ten Reasons Your Church Can't Keep a Pastor," lack of appreciation is a strong reason pastors leave their pastorates and ministries. A pastor friend of mine shared over a cup of coffee, "You know Don, I haven't received a 'thank you' in over a year. It's not required to do my job, but it would be nice once and a while." That pastor recently contacted me for some information. He is looking elsewhere to pastor.
Imagine your church without your current Lead / Senior Pastor. Now, imagine your church absent of all its pastors. Far-fetched you say? I currently can name two churches whose pastors all resigned within two months of the Senior Pastor's departure. A Little Appreciation could go a long way.
Here are 5 Ways to Show Appreciation for Your Pastor
1. A simple "Thank you." Every now and then, I'd find a "thank you" card in my box at church when I pastored. It always encouraged me, especially early Sunday morning when entering the building to prepare for Sunday services.
For the Coffeeholic pastor, such as myself, a gift card to a local coffee house proved more than a nice gesture. Often, when using that Starbucks or Caribou coffee card, thoughts towards the giver were of appreciation and gratitude. Just a simple "thank you" might be the best investment you can make in your pastor.
2. Agape Gifts. "Agape" is that Greek word used in the Bible to indicate a sacrificial love acted upon by decision; not feeling. Agape love suffers inconvenience to do something beneficial for another. Once while driving home after visiting a member in the hospital two hours away, I dreaded my arrival. The dread exacerbated itself due to 18 inches of falling snow turning my drive into five hours of treacherous journey through rural roads. Thoughts of needing to blow the snow from my driveway before being able to park my car in the garage soured my tired mood. Upon my arrival, a newly plowed out driveway awaited me. APPRECIATION x 2! I never found out who plowed out my driveway that night. Thank you, whoever you were!
3. Do something nice for your pastor's family. Pastors' wives and pastors' kids (PK's) are the unspoken heroes of a successful pastoral ministry. Pastors' families are singled out for criticism more than any family in the church. During my many years as a missionary in South Africa, occasionally a package arrived at our home right there in SA. As we opened the box, my young sons' eyes popped at all the great little gifts presented to us by a thoughtful supporter. From Twizzlers to Matchbox cars, my sons still talk about it to this day twenty-five years later. I always reminded them, "It's because you are missionary kids (MK's), and you're special people." Make your PK's and pastor's spouse feel fortunate to be part of your church!
Besides, think of it this way. Would you enjoy listening to your husband or dad preach every Sunday for the rest of your life? Imagine never missing church one time just because your dad is the pastor? lol! Show em some love!
4. Take something off his plate. Why does your pastor mow the church lawn, lock the doors after services, wipe the windows of the main doors before service, ready the physical facilities for every funeral, deal with every financial issue, service every member's complaint, and visitors too!
Once after sharing a message on "Our Caustic Critical Tongues" from James 3, a visiting woman from the South launched into me. She exploded, "Why don't you do alter calls in your church?!" My response didn't mirror my message, "Because people like you who need to come forward in an alter call wouldn't get it." Refusing to break eye contact with her, she huffied herself out the door never to be seen again. Yes, I know I made up a word in that sentence. Sorry. :-)
5. Give Your Pastor a Break! Why not send your pastor on a cruise? Or, how about a weekend getaway? What about that conference he's always wanted to attend. Give him first class accommodations in a classy hotel. Send him on that fishing trip in Canada, or that desired mission trip. Give him a generous paid sabbatical. What? That's too generous? That's way too over the top? You get what you pay for, and you're more likely to keep an appreciated pastor.
October is pastor appreciation month? How will you appreciate your pastor?
Just My Thoughts,
Dr. D. J. Mingo
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Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.