October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Let’s Make it Great!
Often before someone’s birthday, or Christmas, family members ask others to share a wish list of gifts they would enjoy. It alleviates the guessing game and gives an opportunity to simply share what they’d value. But when that gift-giving day comes, and when perspectives are right, the recipient of the gifts doesn’t place their joy in whether they receive the exact gifts on their wish list. They’re thankful to receive whatever gifts their loved ones chose to bless them with.
October is Pastor appreciation month, and I’d love for it to be a special time. Now, it may seem forward to share a wish list for pastor appreciation month, but it may surprise you to learn what would bring more joy than any earthly gift.
Pastors carry a special burden from the Lord. Hebrews 13:17 shares this burden, saying, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (ESV, emphasis mine. See also 1 Peter 5:1-4.)
Below are just a few ways you can bless your Pastor-Elders.
Grow in humility (Psalm 131; Matthew 5:3-12). Humility is the core virtue required for salvation as one surrenders their heart/will to the Lord through repentance and faith. C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.” Much like the Fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5, humility is not something to be sought after as much as it is the result of looking at Jesus repeatedly in his Word. Scottish pastor Robert Murray McCheyne (1813–1843) left us with one quote that has become quite famous, and for good reason. It goes like this: “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.”
Love sacrificially (especially those you may not know well). It is easy to get cozy in our niche of friendships. In fact, we ought to be thankful for natural friendships for the gift they are. But the Lord is building a unified Church, which happens through Word-centered, sacrificial service to others we’re not necessarily naturally drawn to but are drawn together by the Spirit of God.
Seek and extend forgiveness quickly. These are necessary steps in the ongoing work of reconciliation and peacemaking. Saying “I’m sorry” is good (so long as it’s not negated by qualifications), but it only goes half of the way toward reconciliation. When we sin against the Lord by wronging another, we ought to pursue peacemaking by fully committing to reconciliation. Saying, “I’m sorry for (specific wrongdoing). Will you please forgive me?” acknowledges the wrongdoing specifically and pursues reconciliation by asking the other to forgive them. Then, patiently wait on the Lord as he works in the other’s heart. (James 3:18; Matthew 5:9)
Express appreciation. Elders, deacons, community group, or discipleship group leaders, worship team, nursery workers, Sunday Core leaders, student ministry leaders, service teams, first impressions, and many more serve the Lord tirelessly and often with much criticism. Write a card, send a text, or personally tell someone how much you appreciate God’s love expressed through their ministry.
Engage in Discipleship and/or Serving. This is for your good, not for us, but it brings us great joy to see people loving God and others through discipleship and ministry. And we love nothing more than talking with people about where to get plugged in.
Nothing would bring more joy to your pastors than simply doing what is necessary to be just a little bit further along in your relationship with Jesus.