Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to October! I love this month! Crisp air, beautiful changing leaves, pumpkins, good apples and cider, wiener roasts, college football, and fun-filled events at church!
Did you know October is Clergy Appreciation Month?
Your pastor does not need to be given any undue special treatment just for doing his or her job. But your pastor does deserve appreciation, respect, and affirmation. Being a pastor today is not easy. In fact, in my 24 years of pastoral leadership, I have seen ministry become far more difficult, complex, and discounted.
Church consultant Lovett Weems suggests that many of our congregations will show some sort of appreciation for their clergy leadership during this month. While such gestures are thoughtful and appreciated, most clergy would settle for more modest ongoing respect and encouragement.
Here are five suggestions from Lovett Weems’ article, “Showing Appreciation for Your Pastor” from his Leading Ideas newsletter:
- Pray for them. Prayer helps you and your clergy leaders understand your partnership in ministry and your mutual dependence on God.
- Respect them. It is crucial that you do not talk to them in ways you would not want or permit them to talk to you. Clergy can handle questions and criticism. They need them. But it is essential that you not add a layer of hostile attitude or attribution of motives to your conversation.
- Respect boundaries. It is easy for a pastor’s life to become 24/7 — with all members feeling their situation, meeting, or question is the exception to respecting the pastor’s personal time. It is the pastor’s family and the pastor’s well-being that often suffer the most from such blurred time boundaries.
- Be positive. Practice reframing both your concerns and those of others into opportunities to advance God’s work through your congregation. Ask about things other than Sunday School room assignments. Pastors enter ministry because of their desire to help others know God through Christ and to grow as disciples. They invest years in study and then hours each week in preparing to preach and teach. They would gladly welcome thoughtful inquiries about the substance of their messages.
- Support the mission of the congregation. Good pastors most want their congregations to take the next faithful step that God has for them. No amount of personal affirmation can match the example of dedicated laity who are serving that vision.
I am sure there are other ways to participate in Pastor Appreciation month, but my point is this: As you offer appreciation to your pastor this month, make sure to support and encourage them all through the year.
In Christ’s love,