Pastor Appreciation Month
The month of October is “Pastor Appreciation Month.” I have no idea where the concept originated, and I haven’t thought about it in a long time.
I remember back in the day, when I served as a pastor in another denomination, the person overseeing the churches in my state sent notice that I was to submit the names, addresses, and phone numbers of church board members to his office. I thought it was a bit odd but, as always, I complied.
Later, I discovered that all the churches in our state were given the same instructions to submit their own lists. That shared information was how our state leadership contacted local board members to tell them that Pastor Appreciation Month was coming up and encouraged them to do something appropriate. It is, after all, very difficult for a pastor to say to his church, “Hey! October is coming. Appreciate me!”
I don’t know how others were “appreciated,” but, for the most part, my folks did something nice almost every year. It might have been a plaque, an extra check tucked into my pay envelope, or people writing nice testimonials.
The very best gift I was given was a free trip to Israel for my wife and myself. Unfortunately, the situation in Israel became unstable and the trip was put off. No one ever brought it up after the situation calmed so we never took the trip. It was the nicest present I never received.
Truthfully, though, what I want from the folks in my church has nothing to do with cards, gifts, recognition, trips, plaques, or even money. Maybe other pastors need the warm strokes of a special day, but I tend to see it like I see flowers at a funeral — too little, too late. I think most experienced pastors would agree with me.
If I had a wish list, Pastor Appreciation Day would be celebrated every day, not merely once a year. Here is a list of gifts that I think every pastor would like to receive from each and every member of his or her church family:
1. Come to church every single Sunday, except when you are working, sick, or on vacation.
2. Participate fully in the activities of the church. If something is offered, take advantage of it.
3. Support the church with your giving. The tithe is the Old Testament standard. The New Testament standard is giving everything, without limit. I would be happy with something in between.
4. Be kind to all church members and give them the benefit of the doubt. Gossip and back-biting can kill a person’s spirit just as surely as a weapon can kill the body. Stop it.
5. Be loyal to your fellow church members, the staff, and the organization. And the pastor, of course. Once you have settled on a church home, stay there and be dependable. If you do leave, do it with class and don’t throw grenades on your way out.
6. When a wedding occurs, show up if you are invited. When a death occurs, show up at the funeral whether you receive an invitation or not. And, if someone is sick or in the hospital, at least send a card — drop by the hospital for a brief visit if you can.
7. Be positive. Nothing good comes from being negative.
8. If you are offended by someone or something in the church, including the pastor, discuss the situation with the person involved — not everyone else.
9. Tell other people what you like about your church. If you can discuss the Falcons, the Braves, and the Dawgs, surely you can tell them about your church and why you like it.
There are some other items I could add to the list, but space is limited. If the above occurs, I can pretty well guarantee that a pastor will feel appreciated, his satisfaction level will increase, and his own personal stress level will diminish.
So, Pastor Appreciation Month is here. What are you going to give?
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese, which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org), and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U.S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]