It begins with a divine call from the Father. The call is to devote one’s life to serve the local New Testament church as a pastor.

For some, the call comes while in their youth. Increasingly, God seems to be calling out men who have already spent half or more of their adult life in another profession.

The call is often followed by three or more years of seminary training. For others ,it is followed by years of self-disciplined study. For all, it is a labor of love to become the best possible preacher, leader and shepherd.

Serving as a pastor of a local church is both wonderful and demanding. Few things can be more rewarding than having the privilege of serving God’s people.

A pastor stands with us like an anchor in the midst of stormy times in life. Marital difficulty, problems with children, joblessness, tragedy and death are made tolerable with our pastor by our side. He counsels us when life doesn’t make sense. He laughs with us and cries with us. He loves us when we aren’t loving. He isn’t perfect, but he gives his best—and often finds that his best falls short of expectations.

Perhaps nothing he does has more meaning or impact than his faithful preaching and teaching of the Word. Sunday comes every week. Regardless of hospital calls, funerals or weddings, we expect him to have a fresh word from the Lord for us when he steps into the pulpit.

He prays and prepares for us. His satisfaction comes when he sees us living the truth God has given him to share with us.

But he is not alone in the task. Most have a God-called spouse who walks by his side. She, more than anyone else, knows the price he pays to serve God’s people. Indeed, it is a price she pays as well.

She must always share him with the congregation. Time is rarely theirs to share. The pastor’s wife walks through the valleys behind the scenes with her husband. She far too often is required to watch her husband pour out his life for the church, only to hear people criticize his ineffectiveness. She sits alone while he serves the congregation.

Don’t misunderstand. She does so without complaint because she loves her Savior and the people served just as much as he does. She is his partner in ministry. For me, she is the real hero of the parsonage!

This is Pastor Appreciation Month, a time set aside to honor those who give their lives to bless us. It is a special time to demonstrate our love, appreciation and encouragement to the pastor and his wife, who God has given us.

What can you do to honor your pastor? Does it have to be something big? Do you have to send them on a cruise to the Bahamas? No, but it’s okay if you want to do so!

The purpose is just to appreciate them. Notes and cards expressing your love to them would be a place to start. Have your children draw a picture for the pastor or ask your teenager to write a poem. Offer to baby-sit and give them money for a dinner date. Invite them to your home for dinner and simply speak loving words to them. Take time to go by the pastor’s office and pray over him.

“Appreciate” is a verb. It calls for action—actions of love. Be creative. It doesn’t have to be extravagant financially, but it does need to clearly express your love.

To be called as a pastor is an honor beyond description. To be served by a faithful ministry couple is a blessing beyond compare. Don’t wait. Act now. Let your pastor and his wife know your deep love for them. No two people deserve it more.