Kip Nanninga is the Director of Marriage at Focus on the Family. He’s also part of the preaching team and a small group leader in the student ministry at Plum Creek Church in Castle Rock, Colo.
In celebration of Pastor Appreciation Month, Nanninga encourages pastors and church leaders to remember the good moments in ministry.
Here, he writes about a time in which the members of his church made him feel appreciated for his work. He also offers some tips to pastors on what they can do when times are tough, and they aren’t feeling as valued.
That time he will never forget:
“I had not been in ministry very long and was part of a great, small church in the Midwest where we only had a senior pastor, youth pastor and a part time administrative assistant.
“I was the youth pastor, and because this was a small church with an “all-hands-on-deck” mentality, I got stuck changing the marquee, collecting the trash and vacuuming the worship center.
“We had great people in the church who would come alongside my wife and me to let us know they cared. On one occasion during the month of October, I was asked to head downstairs to meet with a few students.
“I made my way downstairs, turned the corner to our big fellowship hall, and there was a huge surprise party for my wife and me! The parents and students planned a huge meal, gave us gift cards, framed hilarious photos and stocked the pantry in our small apartment with tons of food.
“They also had an open mic, where several students and parents got up to share meaningful moments of how we impacted their lives.
“We miss that small church and the people who took care of us, and we will never forget how to pay that forward with the pastors we work with now and let them know they are appreciated.”
What pastors can do when feeling lonely, frustrated and exhausted
Being a pastor is a tough job.
It can be lonely, frustrating, hilarious, inspiring, crazy and exhausting all within the timeframe of a week, or even over a weekend.
When I first started in ministry, I had great mentors who walked with me in the beginning of my vocation. They challenged me to remember that I had one of the most important roles in the Kingdom.
Here are just a few ways they encouraged me to remember my calling and the good moments in ministry:
- Keep the good notes, letters and emails in a file, and when ministry gets tough, pull those out and read them.
- Keep a journal and keep track of the weddings, baptisms, baby dedications – all the cool opportunities. Jot down a few sentences to remember what happened.
- Frame a few pictures of meaningful moments and keep them in your office.
- Mentor someone who is new to ministry and pass along your experience.
- Keep your first preaching messages and listen to them on occasion. They will be hilarious later.
- Get together regularly with other pastors your age over coffee and laugh.
- Block out time in your week to just sit back, dream and remember.
- Go to a conference each year where you will be inspired, challenged and can relax.
- Don’t ever forget to keep dating your spouse and make this a weekly, practical, fun event.
- Attend as many of your kids’ events as you can, and don’t let church meetings take the place of your family.
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17)
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.