Does your pastor or minister know you appreciate them? Now’s your chance to let them know: October is Clergy Appreciation Month, when churchgoers are encouraged to give thanks for their pastors, ministers, and leaders. (And yes, Hallmark has cards for it…)
It’s easy to take your pastor for granted, not noticing (or bothering to find out) the amount of work that goes into their everyday ministry. Pastors don’t “just” prepare sermons and lead worship services—they visit the sick, counsel the struggling, take the lead point on countless church ministries, and in many cases manage a staff and tend to the countless little details that keep your church running smoothly. Not to mention graciously listening to complaints about the length of their sermons, the choice of worship music, and the type of coffee served following the worship service!
Even when they don’t realize it, people place very high expectations on their leaders. And that’s not entirely inappropriate—the Bible also sets the bar very high for people called to the ministry. Read this quote from pastor and writer A.W. Tozer on the burden of responsibility pastors must bear… and consider what it would be like if these expectations were added to your job description:
“What a great responsibility God has laid upon us preachers of His gospel and teachers of His Word. In that future day when God’s wrath is poured out, how are we going to answer? How am I going to answer? I fear there is much we are doing in the name of the Christian church that is wood, hay and stubble destined to be burned up in God’s refining fire. A day is coming when I and my fellow ministers must give account of our stewardship: What kind of a gospel did we preach? Did we make it plain that men and women who are apart from Christ Jesus are lost? Did we counsel them to repent and believe?” —A.W. Tozer, “Pastoral Ministry: What a Great Responsibility!”
Yikes! That’s a heavy burden for one person to bear, which is why this month is a great time to express your gratitude to, and support for, the pastors and church leaders in your life. Maybe that means stopping by your pastor’s office with coffee and a word of encouragement, or looking for ways to ease the pastoral workload by volunteering at your church, or stepping in to help your pastor’s family through a financial or other struggle, or extending extra grace when your pastor says or does something you don’t like.
Commit this month to encouraging your pastor in some concrete manner, perhaps with one of those ideas or in some other appropriate way. To help you get in the right spirit, here are a few links and resources to read through:
- Something to think about: a pastor asks his church “How many hours must a pastor work to satisfy the congregation?” The answers he gets are sobering.
- ThrivingPastor.com has a lot of useful advice for making your pastors and their families feel supported, including a Clergy Appreciation Month planning guide (PDF) with ideas and suggestions.
- At the bottom of this Lifeway.com article on Clergy Appreciation Month is a neat little worksheet you can use to record things your pastors and family will find most useful. You could fill out that sheet or come up with a list of your own.
- You might point your pastor to some of our free online devotionals aimed at leaders—Tozer on Christian Leadership and The Ministry Advantage are good ones to start with, but there are many more leadership-related devotionals and email newsletters available.
- If you’re looking for a gift for your pastor, might we recommend something from the Bible Gateway store? There’s a special Clergy Appreciation page with some ideas for you to peruse. (You might also ask your pastor if there are any books on their wishlist.)
I quoted A.W. Tozer above, and it seems fitting to wrap this post up with another quote from him—this time, a serious and sincere prayer request on behalf of pastors everywhere:
“Will you pray for me as a minister of the gospel? I am not asking you to pray for the things people commonly pray for. Pray for me in light of the pressures of our times. Pray that I will not just come to a wearied end—an exhausted, tired, old preacher, interested only in hunting a place to roost. Pray that I will be willing to let my Christian experience and Christian standards cost me something right down to the last gasp.” — A.W. Tozer, “Pastoral Ministry: Please Pray for Me”
- New Daily Devotional for Leaders: Tozer on Christian Leadership
- The Ministry Advantage: A New Newsletter for Pastors and Church Leaders
- New Poll: Does Your Pastor Refer to the Original Greek or Hebrew During Sermons?
- Ministering the Master’s Way: A New Devotional for Pastors and Church Leaders
- Pastor Jim Cymbala: The Bible Verse On My Mind in 2013