Years ago, I had a job that paid ridiculously well and came with a juicy expense account. In those years, eating an expensive steak dinner out, whether with clients or just with my wife, became almost routine, but when I launched my first ministry-focused venture all of that changed. We went from what we called “the fat days” to a new reality.
Also around this time, I took on a major leadership role at my church, and although I was not paid, there my picture was in the staff section of the Lifetouch church directory. I didn’t anticipate this, but during my first October in that role, I was slyly handed a small envelope by a church member who said, “I little something to say, ‘thanks.’”
How surprised I was to open it and find a note of appreciation and a $200 gift card to my favorite steakhouse recognizing my service during Pastor Appreciation Month. Debbie and I savored that dinner more than any of the previous “fat days” dinners because we were living on less, knew the heart behind the note and card, and truly felt God’s blessing as we dined. So why do I, all these years later, do I remember this with such clarity? Because, I FELT appreciated.
With Pastor Appreciation Month upon us (October), I asked a dozen or so pastor-friends of mine to respond to this question, “can you tell me the top 2-3 ways you feel most appreciated during Pastor Appreciation Month?”
To help us all prepare to show our pastors how much we appreciate them, here are their answers as they wrote them, only revised to make them anonymous.
- I would say that any time that someone is able to identify and recognize the “behind the scenes” way that a pastor is making an impact, and they can be verbalized, it makes a huge difference. It’s kind of easy to “appreciate” the onstage stuff – but when you can notice the work during the other 6 days, it goes a long way.
- First, hand written notes. Just this morning, there was a note from a newcomer who as been active in a bible study… just wanted to express how much she appreciates my leadership. Second, gift cards for dinner out… with a short note of thanks. Third, just remembering that Pastor appreciation is a thing!… maybe via a post online. hmmm. all 3 are about words of affirmation: my top love language!
- Honestly simple notes of encouragement have meant the world. Too often we just hear the complaints. It’s nice to hear the things people appreciate. Oh, and the desserts too!
- I don’t know that maybe other than a card every once in a while that I remember much appreciation as a pastor because it was the month to do so, but it’s more so when I hear appreciation and gratitude and thanks for visiting someone in the hospital, performing a funeral or wedding ceremony or being a part of their baptism or counseling them one on one that I feel the most appreciated.
- #1 by far, is hearing from someone how they have taken a step of faith or growth because of something in or related to the ministry where we serve. #2 is probably anything that affirms something re: a character trait they have seen in me.
- Simply having someone recognize that in many ways it’s a thankless job. The church embodying the message of the gospel Allowing the pastor to have time away from his/her duties.
- What comes to mind is when people thank me for the little things – not a sermon or worship service, but making a visit or sharing an encouraging word with someone. It reminds me that people see the breadth of my ministry, and it inspires me to continue to serve in those ways.
- I feel appreciated with a simple thank you for my ministry or getting a cup of coffee with no agenda but sharing in the goodness of life together. A note of gratitude, and encouragement or simply letting us know if the spirit touches you in worship. Clergy (ok this clergy) tend to focus on what needs fixing often I need to be reminded about what is working
- Gift cards always bless me and give grateful moments to us when receiving them and using them. Thoughtful notes of how our ministry has helped someone.
- Words of affirmation (spoken or written) is one of my primary love languages – so that feels good.
- A simple word of thanks or appreciation. And of course a gift card to one my favorite restaurants or cafes always goes a long way.
I’m a huge words of affirmation guy. Also, from my experience, (white) city pastors rarely received appreciation during pastor appreciation month. Just wasn’t part of the culture. I guess this also goes in line with the words of affirmation. But I love to hear stories of the transformation or when people would respond to the application points of the sermon or key initiatives with the church. Man that fires up pastors. Also, when people give us Mercedes-Benz or Teslas that’s a real perk.
I encourage us all to contemplate these pastors’ comments and pray, “Lord, what do the pastors in my life need from You, through me this Pastor Appreciation Month?” Let’s listen and take action.
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