Over the last several years, the Christian community has designated October as a time to honor pastors. I think it is a splendid idea, and I encourage you and your church to make October a special month to give honor where honor is due.
I know of no time in my life when there are more challenges for a pastor. The world in which he ministers is more challenging than ever. The myriad of problems that confront a pastor as he serves his flock are mind boggling. The complexity of the issues requires the wisdom of Solomon. Jesus’ description of the people He saw while traveling from village to village is an apt exposé of our society (Matt. 9:36).
In the past, the pastor’s job consisted of preaching, witnessing, baptizing, performing weddings, conducting funerals, pastoral care, and leading. Today’s pastor is often called upon to be a master of business, organizational planner and master counselor. While the joke that he only works one or two days a week may bring a laugh, the schedule most pastors keep is exhausting. In fact, when you consider that a large number of pastors in Oklahoma churches are bi-vocational, the time pressures are even more remarkable. Trying to work a secular job plus ministering to a flock of spiritual sheep calls for superhuman effort.
Consider the pressure to produce two or three sermons a week. Seems easy when you just sit and listen, but the study and thought that produces a sermon requires an extraordinary amount of time. In earlier years, a preacher might have been compared to another preacher down the road that people heard at a special meeting; now the preacher is compared daily to some of the best preachers in the world via television, radio and the Internet.
All this to say, your preacher deserves a break! He is worthy of people who love him and his family. He needs people to passionately pray for him and his family regularly. He deserves a church that seeks to lighten his load by serving alongside him in the ministry of the church. Yes, a pastor needs a church family who is patient and willing to give him a break when things do not go just the way they should.
I am convinced one of the most important ways a church honors a pastor is by caring for his financial needs to the best of the church’s ability. “Cheap” churches defy the very nature of God—Who withheld nothing to meet our needs. A pastor is worthy of his hire. If God blesses a generous giver, he will also bless a generous church. A church should demonstrate respect for the pastor and provide the very best salary possible and by including health insurance and retirement benefits. Walk the halls at one of our Baptist Villages and you will meet several former pastors and/or pastors’ wives who must rely on financial help to survive. Why? Because many of them served in churches receiving low salaries with minimal or no benefits. In some cases, the church was not financially able to do better, but in many cases higher salaries and benefits were simply not made a priority.
This month is a great time to do some smaller and very kind things for the pastor and family. Doing something special does not mean spending a lot of money. Why not have an old-time food pounding for the pastor and family? Plan a special night to take the pastor’s children to do something fun, and give the pastor and wife money for a special date night. Send them on a weekend trip with expenses covered by the church. Take a love offering as an expression of your love. Gather cards and notes written by members expressing love and appreciation for the pastor. Include in those notes times, events, or sermons that have been especially meaningful to you and your family.
One of the most significant things you can do for a pastor and family is pray for them. I know it sounds trite, but I promise you it is of utmost importance. During this month, have a time in the service where the deacons or church members gather around the pastor and family to pray over them. I encourage individuals to seek out the pastor and take a moment to pray over him. Write your pastor a prayer. Commit to pray for him daily for the rest of the year and let him know you will do so. He and his family could never receive too much prayer support.
You are creative people, and you know your pastor and his family. Go ahead and knock yourself out creating multiple ways to say to the pastor, whom God has sent to shepherd your church, three simple words—“We love you!”