There is a danger in my writing about this! I’ll address that below.
If you’re a Christian not in the church of Christ you already know October is Pastor Appreciation Month or in some circles Clergy Appreciation Month. Like most of the holidays, somebody made this up. According to THIS ARTICLE, the beginnings of it are fairly recent, going back to 1992. Hallmark started selling related items in 2002. One site I read declared that the Apostle Paul started Clergy Appreciation Month. Doubtful.
Anyway, in churches of Christ we do not emphasize a clergy/laity system, thus there can be no Clergy Appreciation Day or Month. The change to “Pastor” appreciation day probably made some more conservative evangelicals feel better about the title.
The danger in me writing about this is that it could appear that I am attempting to draw attention to myself and seek approval from my church. So, how can I make an appeal for Christians to encourage their pastors / minister / clergy without the appearance of hoping to benefit from this myself? Like anyone, I appreciate encouragement but I can only promise you that this is not my purpose. My church is very encouraging! I hope you’ll believe me.
But I do post this on behalf of other pastors/ministers. In Churches of Christ, we do not refer to our ministers as “pastors” because the origins of that word seem to relate to the Elders of the church, not the preachers. For non-Church-of-Christ people, that probably sounds petty, but it just is what it is. That does stand in the way of a “pastor appreciation” effort!
I saw this infographic today. I cannot attest to its origin nor the reliability of the stats here, but I’ll share it.
You can exchange the terminology if it makes you feel better. I’m going to guess some will doubt these statistics. Given the number of ministers that I know and am in contact with, I believe them all.
I actually think we should consider encouraging our ministers year round, not just once a year. The work being done by ministers is stressful and the fruit of the work is not always evident. The pressure to reach out to an unbelieving world and also try to keep the believers happy while mostly and primarily upholding God’s Word, well, it’s a lot. So here are a few ideas – several of these are things that the good people at my church do well, so this is also an expression of appreciation for them.
*A text every once in a while that simply says, “I’m praying for you” – and really do pray for your minister.
*A card or call every once in a while to the minister’s wife that expresses friendship and encouragement. Include her in some ladies lunches or some projects where she doesn’t have to be in charge.
*Refusing to participate in critical gossip or church power plays. In addition, correcting those who are.
*A gift card to a local coffee shop (or other places your minister frequents) would remind him that you know he needs a break every once in a while.
*Support your church’s social media efforts. Liking and sharing posts from your church helps to spread the word to the community but it also affirms to your minister that you are on the team and ready to help out.
*A kind and encouraging word. I know it’s cliche to say “good sermon”, and you may be able to be more creative than that, but a word that expresses appreciation
If you are a leader in your church on a Board or Eldership, your support is key to the success of the minister. Like everyone who works hard and does well, it encourages the minister when:
*There are annual raises, even if they do not change income appreciably. Sometimes it really is ‘the thought that counts’.
*Urge your minister to take his days off, and time away. If he needs help making that possible, offer that. One elder, now passed, used to exclaim to me, “What are you doing at the building on your day off?” He noticed. That meant a lot.
*Be open, honest, plainspoken, trustworthy. It’s better for your pastor to know what you are thinking than to try to guess. Let your minister get to know you as a person, not just someone to whom he reports.
*Work together as a team. When the minister doesn’t know what the board is trying to accomplish, he can’t do his work well.
Finally, I would like to say that I know every minister isn’t working hard. I know that some are at odds with members and leaders. Some have a negative attitude and it’s hard to work with them. So, it’s hard to think about encouraging them. I wonder how many ministers are perceived this way because they are not viewed as friends who need encouragement?
Most ministers I know are not looking for a trophy or a plaque. They aren’t expecting to get a big raise or have the whole church singing their praises. The vast majority of preachers don’t want to be singled out as church superstars. When they started in ministry they understood that it wasn’t about them. They do want to partner in friendship with godly people and reach out to the world with the gospel. When you know people are ‘with you’ in that mission, it’s a great day no matter what day it is.
If you are one of those ministers who is discouraged and ready to give up, reach out. You are needed, loved, and appreciated – even when it’s hard for you to see.
I’m so thankful for those who have ministered and ‘pastored’ me. I’ve been blessed to know many outstanding ministers.
Thanks for reading.