Pastor Appreciation…Month?

Note from Dan: The following article was originally written and posted in 1997, when CaseStudies was still in diapers. In fact, this was one of the first articles posted here. As of June, 2011 (when I did some updating and remodeling on the site) this is the #5 most read article on the entire site, with #6 being “Pastor Appreciation Revisited” posted in 1999 (#1 through #4 are the 4-part study on David and Bathsheba).
A few things have changed since this was written—we’re in a different church, for one. Rather than edit this to update the details, I decided to just leave it in its original version. What hasn’t changed is the role and value of Pastors, or the misunderstanding so many have of their jobs. Regardless what month is is when you read this, please make it a point to say or do something to encourage your church’s Pastor and other staff—today.

The month of October is “Pastor Appreciation Month,” a month in which we’re all being encouraged to “do something special” for our Pastors.

This year, our church showed it’s deepest spiritual side by honoring our Pastor with a “Sunday Evening Fellowship,” a time when we all get together and eat (an important spiritual event in our tradition). A few folks said some really nice things about him, we had a lot of fun, and gave him a special love-offering. Other churches have done other things appropriate to them and their people to give their Pastors special honor.

But—and you just knew there’d be a “but” here, didn’t you—I can’t help but wonder why it is that we actually need to have this “national observance,” with a month set aside to honor our church’s staff.

Honestly, if you need a special event like “Pastor Appreciation Month” to show your appreciation and support for your Pastor, I think you’re in serious need of a “Spiritual Oil Change,” and maybe a tune-up, too. Why limit your encouraging words toward your Pastor to the month of October? Why wait for a “special event?” Why do we even need to have a “Pastor Appreciation Month” in the first place? Could it be that we need to soothe our aching consciences for all the times that we take our leaders for granted?

I’ve had the privilege of being in close fellowship with a lot of Pastors. I’m afflicted with a “Pastor’s heart,” and have on a few occasions had the privilege of being the support person that a Pastor called on when he couldn’t go to his own flock for support. In fact, one of the best jobs I ever had (while it lasted) was one where I was
working closely with dozens of Pastors, helping them to utilize my medium of choice (broadcasting) to enhance their ministries.

Frankly, I’ve been appalled by some of the situations that these guys have to put up with. For some reason, many churches assume that the Pastor, as a person with a
“Spiritual” vocation, doesn’t have to be paid as much as similar people in the community. Folks forget to factor in the “Pastor Tax” (Self- Employment tax) when they talk
about salaries, and then they want to add up every single dime they pay—even for things like travel expenses, book allowances, and health insurance—and use
THAT inflated figure (the “total package”) to compare to their own salaries.

How many of us would like to have our employer decide that, since they pay $200 every month toward insurance, it’s fair for you to earn $2500 per year less than your peers in similar lines of work? Ridiculous as it might sound, it’s done all the time.

The financial pressures can be difficult, but there are also perceptual stresses. Most folks believe Pastors ought to be perfect people, and they put them under the
microscope regularly to examine them. Many of the folks in the pews are selfish, childish, and immature, and the Pastor is often found walking the “church politics tightrope” without a net. No matter what he does, someone goes away mad.

Don’t forget to factor in the schedule. Pastors put in a lot of hard hours preparing sermons and teachings, and they are routinely rolled out of bed in the middle of the
night because someone just died or was taken to the hospital.

Now, I know that your church is different. Still, you’d be surprised how many Pastors are discouraged, overworked, overstressed, and under-supported.

Please make it a point to do something special to encourage your Pastor. You’d be surprised how much just a little note of encouragement can do. Send flowers, send candy, or just send a note—the gift isn’t the important point. Let them know that you’re on their side, that you’re supporting them with prayer on a regular basis, and that you love them. They need to hear it.

And, by the way, for those of us with multiple-staff churches, the same goes for every single staff member. They all experience the same sort of pressures.

Don’t forget the Pastor’s wife, most important human being in your Pastor’s life. She’s the one that props him up when he doesn’t think he can go on, the one who he can
confide in. She’s sees him at his worst—and at his best—and often makes the difference between success and failure.

A husband and his wife arose one Sunday morning and the wife dressed for church. It was just about time for the service when she noticed her husband hadn’t moved a finger toward getting dressed. Perplexed, she asked, “Why aren’t you getting dressed for church?” He said, “Cause I don’t want to go.” She asked, “Do you have any reason?” He said, “Yes, I have three good reasons. First, the congregation is cold. Second, no one likes me. And third, I just don’t want to go.” The wife replied, wisely, “Well honey, I have three reasons why you should go. First, the congregation is warm. Second, there are a few people there who like you. And third, you’re the pastor! Get dressed!”

Thank God, Church, for the leaders that He’s given us. We’d be in a world of hurt without them. Why wait for “Pastor Appreciation Month?” Right now would be a great time to do some random and spontaneous act of act of encouragement and love for your Pastor.

Because you want to, not because it’s “Pastor Appreciation Month.”

You may also want to read Pastor Appreciation Revisited.

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