The pastorate can often be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a discouraging valley. Far too many pastors suffer from depression, and most of them go untreated. When I first came to The Courier, I wrote a three -part series on pastoral burnout, suicide, and forced termination. South Carolina was the leader in all three categories at the time. Some progress has been made, but not enough.
Clergy Appreciation Month is October, and the second Sunday of the month is recognized as Pastor Appreciation Day. It is an opportunity for church members to encourage with gratitude the pastor and other staff members whom God has called to serve and lead the church.
The idea for a pastoral appreciation month and day came from Hallmark Greeting Cards in 1992 and Focus on the Family about the same time. Hallmark began selling cards for pastors in 2002. While a card is good, don’t stop there! Be a source of encouragement to your pastor and build him up, support him, and value him. Monetary gifts are important, too. Most pastors are definitely not overpaid!
First Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” A pastor who leads genuinely, serves others deliberately, studies diligently, prepares ardently, prays fervently, and preaches powerfully is indeed a blessing to people in the church he serves. He often works long hours, and much of what he does goes unnoticed by church members.
What can you do for your pastor? Love and support him. Embrace his family with kindness and understanding (he often misses time with his family because he is helping someone in the congregation). As a church, give him some extra time off. Volunteer to babysit his children so he and his wife can have a night out. Aside from an official gift from the church, set up a basket or baskets and ask people to give the family a personal handwritten message with a gift card or money enclosed.
William James, sometimes referred to as the father of psychology in America, once wrote, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Most pastors serve because they have been called by God. But pastors and staff are like everyone else: They, too, need to be appreciated. It is not enough simply to know you appreciate them — show them. Your words of encouragement can lift their spirits. Telling them that you pray for them regularly can really bless their souls.
I researched some Christian superstar preachers recently and discovered what their estimated net worth was. It was astounding. Some as high as $40 million! But, for the rest of the preachers and pastors, their financial worth is not nearly as high as their spiritual worth. They do many things for us, but most of all they accurately feed us God’s truth. They probably do not push for recognition or reward, but they are deserving. The benefits of their work may be out of this world, but expressions of appreciation and gratitude should certainly be shown in this world and among those they serve.
October is the month to show pastors your appreciation in meaningful and tangible ways. But every month is the time to support, love, and value the ministers of God who lead you.