“And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, The Message)
This Scripture encourages, even commands, that we honor our pastors. Show me a church where the pastor and people love, respect, and honor one another, and I’ll show you a healthy church that is making an impact for the Kingdom on their community and the world. October has been set aside as “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Jeanne and I served for 34 years as senior pastor of four wonderful churches. It was a three-and-a-half decade long honeymoon! It was a real blessing and joy to serve those fellowships.
The first congregation I served, a church with an attendance around 35, loved us for nearly three years and never missed an opportunity to show their appreciation. I was only 20 when I became their pastor and will be indebted to New Hope Baptist Church in Leakesville, Mississippi the rest of my life. Vancleave, Morristown, and Sevierville left marvelous marks on our lives as sweet, visionary, incredible places to serve the King and His bride as pastor. Great Commission work was carried out in all four of those churches in a spirit of joy, an environment of grace, and a laser focus on constantly keeping the main thing the main thing. And the pastor and his family were able to really enjoy the journey!
A little encouragement goes a long way in blessing your pastor and his family, and nothing encourages more than an occasional recognition of his calling and his hard work as under-shepherd to The Great Shepherd. These are a few ideas that could possibly help you honor your pastor during this special month:
Share a collection of letters from the congregation, specifically reminding your pastor how he was there for you during a particularly difficult time in your journey.
Let him know of specific ways the Holy Spirit has used his preaching and teaching of the Word to help you grow.
Present a plaque commemorating your pastor’s service…men love trophies!
Send the pastor and your church’s First Lady on a trip to the Holy Land.
Do something to tangibly affirm and encourage his wife and children (for instance sending his wife for a pedicure and manicure and presenting age appropriate, fun gifts for the children).
Surprise him with a raise in compensation; a special contribution to his retirement fund; send your pastor and pastor’s wife on a “dreamed all my life of” vacation; give your pastor a sabbatical; a reception in his honor inviting his extended family; a new suit and/or new shoes; or if you just want to be lavishingly generous—all of the above.
How about this? Simply, but publically say, “Thank you for being our pastor; we love you.” There are hundreds of pastors dying to hear those simple words.
By the way, this is also a good time to honor our great Associational Directors of Missions serving across Tennessee!
It is a joy to be with you on this journey…appreciating our pastors.