I posted the blog below last year, and it bears repeating... particularly in light of this extraordinarily challenging year. While healthcare, retail, delivery, and education workers have been recognized in our culture as being "front line heroes"... pastors have been left out of that list. But the reality is that they have cared for others, completely re-thought how they work and minister, been on a steep learning curve, faced financial challenges, and more. Please consider how to encourage and appreciate the pastors around you this year!
My Love-Hate Relationship with Pastor Appreciation Month (2019 post)
A couple of nights ago, I spent a couple of hours preparing facebook posts for the next month. These are posts to go on our Genesis Conference facebook page, reminding people that October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I spent the time doing it, because I want to see our pastors loved, supported, and appreciated by those they serve. But all the time I was getting these posts ready, I kept thinking...
I WISH PASTOR APPRECIATION MONTH HAD NEVER BEEN INVENTED.
The fact is, pastors these days could really use love, support and appreciation. Being a pastor in a local church is a weighty, stressful business as you deal with the tough stuff in people's lives (I've recently read two different articles that named "pastor" as one of the most stressful careers you can have). For what is required, pay is low. It can feel to a pastor like everyone in the congregation is your "boss" and gets to evaluate your performance (that's not the way our system actually works, but it can feel that way). Since everyone in the congregation has different expectations, that means the pastor is always falling short in someone's eyes. (I remember a number of years ago, asking the members of the church that I pastored what were the 2-3 things that I - as their pastor - MUST do. At the meeting where they were replying, the list grew so long that another pastor in the room exclaimed "no human could do all that!" Yup).
So why do I wish Pastor Appreciation Month had never been invented?
Because now that it has, there's a new weight that it brings. If you are a pastor, and no one appreciates you during the month of October, it can be like a dagger in your heart... and all before you start into the crazily demanding season of advent. Sure, you hope that it's just that everyone is too busy to recognize you. Or the organizers never got organized. (And most often, this IS the case!). But in the back of your mind... you wonder. And you may wish this month had never been born.
So why did I spend a couple of hours two nights ago writing up facebook posts that highlight this month that I have a love-hate relationship with?
Because I love my pastors. I really do. I love the ones that are pastoring beautifully... and I love the ones that are in a mess. I love the ones that are encouraged and enjoying their jobs right now... and I love the ones that are discouraged and ready to give up. I love those who are looking for something new. And I love the ones that I will have to have hard conversations with about being in a place where their leadership is no longer effective.
I love my pastors... because no matter who they are, I know they have sacrificed in order to follow this call of God on their lives. They have given up time and money. They have given a chunk of their heart. They have been bruised and battered, and celebrated and commended... and through it all, they have followed this crazy thing called a "call."
A "call" is that whisper from God that invites you into the ministry. A call can be exhilarating or exhausting. It can be beautiful or haunting. It can be embraced or ignored. A call becomes part of who you are, part of how your heart beats, part of how your heart bleeds.
And because of all this... I wish that every pastor I know would be thanked and celebrated and appreciated and prayed for, not just this month, but every month.
Friends, if you've take the time to read all of this, you have the time to do something for your pastor. Pray for him and drop him a note to tell him that you did. Send her an email talking about that message of hers from months ago that wrecked you in a good way. Buy a box of candy, or a gift-card to a local restaurant or movie theater or amazon, and anonymously leave it on their desk with a simple note that says "thanks for all you do!" Pick some flower from your garden and leave them with a thank-you. Do something that encourages and thanks the entire pastor's family. Use your skills to help them out (Volunteer to change their oil! Babysit their kids!). Remind your small group to send notes as well. These things don't have to be big, or expensive... they just need to let the pastor know that all they do is noticed and appreciated.
And most of all? Pray for your pastor. Pray for their walk with God, and their relationships. Pray that they would receive a fresh wind of God's Spirit. Pray that their needs would be met and pray for their spiritual protection. Pray that they would love well, and be well loved.
For those who are caring well for their pastors? Thank you.