“I appreciate you, pastor!” These four words are life-giving to the man that God has called to speak the Word of Life to people.
He is a shepherd at heart and tends to live a lonely life. His responsibilities are unknown and unseen to many of the parishioners who attend a weekly service. They see a very thin slice of the pastor’s life, and he’s ok with this. He knows he is called to bear a burden that is both “easy and light,” but also “time consuming and public.” It’s balancing the reality of these seemingly contradictory roles that can consume a pastor.
“I appreciate you, pastor!” He thinks, “How? How have I made an impact in your life and the life of your family?”
Be specific in your appreciation
One of the best ways I’ve found to show our pastors that we truly appreciate them is to be specific on how they’ve impacted our lives. Being vague and using generalizations can leave pastors wondering if they really are making a difference. How we communicate our appreciation is important.
“Your message on grace helped me realize that I need to have more of God’s love for people who don’t think or believe like me.”
“Your word on forgiveness helped me restore relationships that have been severed for years!”
“I love the way you inspire me and my family to live out the Great Commission!”
When a pastors hear how they’ve made a specific difference in their congregation’s life, it encourages them and lets them know they are hearing from the Holy Spirit. They can draw from the encouragement when they feel alone. They will sense that appreciation by remembering, “…how good is a timely word spoken at the right time.” (Proverbs 15:23)
Write a thank-you note
A simple thank-you note goes a million miles. When I pastored, I would love it when I would find a thank-you note lying on the pulpit, or handed to me by one of the ushers. (And it doesn’t have to be just one time a year) It would always bring a smile to my face and let me know that my labor in the Lord was not in vain. (See 1 Corinthians 15:58) Again, it’s the spirit of encouragement that bolster our pastors’ spirits. Believe me, they get criticized enough. But an encouraging word is like a lifeline to our pastors!
Blast your appreciation on social media
Quote your pastor on social media. We live in a new era where millions of people can see what inspires you through myriad of social media platforms. I love to quote my pastor when he says something that inspires me to action, to love, or simply to live more like Jesus. Keep in mind, this isn’t posturing or bloating our pastors’ egos. It’s allowing the people who aren’t in the service or those who don’t attend church to hear a life-giving quote. We would be surprised how many times we are inspired and can turn into instant evangelists by sharing what has encouraged us to live out our faith.
Be an active listener
When I pastored, I felt energized when the congregation would nod in agreement, give an occasional, “That’s a good word!” or an “Amen!”
I understand that there are different church cultures that would not be open to this, and yet to many, this is common. In cases where a verbal agreement isn’t the culture, active nodding and eye contact with your pastor can be just as encouraging.
What is your pastor’s love language?
Don’t assume you know what your pastor wants or needs. Do the research. How does he respond to gifts, time, or service? What energizes him? What brings him to life? By doing a bit of research, you can find out what speaks to your pastor.
I know a pastor in the Northwest who loves to hunt. He told me that he loves it when his church schedules several weeks for him to go to a hunting cabin, where he can refresh and recharge.
“It makes me a better pastor” he said. “I can clear my mind in the silence of the woods, or the rush of seeing that elusive buck. I hear clearer on what the next message series will be. My congregation knows that I need this time, and they are more than gracious to provide it for me!
“I’m not only a better pastor for it, I’m also a better man, husband and father. I get to take my kids and wife with me sometimes, and we get to share in those moments as a family.”
Your pastor may not hunt, but what does he love to do? Can you buy him gift cards for date nights? Can you provide him with an amazon audio book membership so that he has access to great resources? When we do the research into what our pastor’s love to do, it humanizes our approach to how we show our appreciation.
Many churches simply rely on the general offering taken around this time of the year to bless their pastor. Don’t get me wrong – Don’t get me wrong. that’s great! Believe me, being a pastor and knowing that there will be a monetary blessing is really encouraging. However, in my 15 years of pastoring, when the gifts of appreciation were more personal, I felt it deeper. I guess I could say it met my personal needs and spiritual needs.
I want to leave you with one more thought… Sabbatical. People don’t use this term much, however, when the body of Christ can offer paid time off for their pastor and family (this isn’t to be confused with vacation time) and allow him to re-connect with the Father, take time to study, get vision for the church, and most of all, refresh his soul, he will be a better man for it.
When I stepped out of pastoring full time, I didn’t realize how tired I was. I was spiritually exhausted and needed time to rest and recover. If I had taken a sabbatical during pastoring, I am confident that I would have avoided what we all know as burnout! A sabbatical may be one of the best ways you can show your appreciation for your pastor. It can provide the time that he needs to rest, re-connect, and restore his soul!
In whatever way you show your appreciation for your pastor, know that it is life-giving for him. I would be remiss if I didn’t state that appreciation for your pastor can be an ongoing practice. It can be more than once a month, or one weekend a year.
Many pastors are grasping for any encouragement they can receive. They need the people of their church to be that voice of encouragement to them. It can save them from feeling alone, burnt out, and discouraged. Be a life-giving voice to your pastor today!
More information about Pastor Appreciation Month
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. It’s a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for the hard work, sacrificial dedication, and multiple blessings provided by these special people. For more information, go to FocusonTheFamily.com/pastorappreciation and TheFocusedPastor.org.