Pastors are a gift from God to the church, and we should show our appreciation. Eph. 4:11-12 says “And He gave some to be… pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Pastors and their families are dear to my heart because they are gifts from God to the church. It was a pastor of a small church who led me to the Lord, and it was a pastor who mentored me in ministry. Strong’s Concordance defines the pastor as a shepherd, a feeder, protector and ruler of a flock of men.
Hance Dilbeck preached a sermon recently in which he highlighted the role of the pastor from 1 Pet. 5:1-5. In that passage, there are three powerful words used to define the role of the pastor: the word “elder,” the word “feed” and the word “oversight.” These God-called men, who are gifts to the church, have immense responsibilities as shepherds of the church.
There are nearly 1,800 churches in our Oklahoma Baptist family, and our churches have been given pastors to feed, to protect and to lead. More than 50 percent of these churches have pastors who are multi-vocational. They not only faithfully serve the church that God has given them, but they work in secular employment to provide the financial support, so they can feed, protect and lead the church of which God has called them.
October is nationally recognized as Pastor Appreciation Month. Some churches have long standing traditions of honoring the pastor and showing him how much they appreciate him faithfully discharging his call in the church. If your church does not traditionally observe Pastor Appreciation Month, let me ask you to seriously consider it. Here are two reasons why it is important.
- Pastors face discouragement. Discouragement falls on pastors of large churches as well as pastors of small churches. Pastors do not have special immunity from discouragement. No matter how godly, wise or anointed pastors may be, they are still human. Because of this, we should remember that they also have their limitations. They have weaknesses and needs. They have moments of discouragement.
- Pastors are overworked. In my 31 years as a pastor, this question was asked often: “Pastor, what do you do?” The truth is, very few people know what the weekly schedule of pastor looks like. All they see is the hour he works on Sunday morning preaching. Who wouldn’t like a job where you only worked one hour a week?
Thom Rainer once did a study and found that pastors spend an average of 22 hours a week preparing sermons. Furthermore, pastors spend several hours a week providing counseling; doing hospital visits, weddings and funerals; sharing the Gospel; doing custodial duties at the church like opening and closing the building, turning on and off the lights and general cleaning of the building.
Would you consider asking your church leadership to show appreciation to your pastor and his family this month? Here are some suggestions:
- Take up the challenge to pray for your pastor specifically every day through the month.
- Volunteer time to take some of the workload off your pastor.
- Thoughtful gifts also would be appreciated. You might ask the church to receive an offering to send the pastor and his family on a vacation.
Pastors usually are wary of receiving gifts, but Pastor Appreciation Month is the perfect opportunity for the church to be pushy and say, “No, we insist! You have sacrificed for us, let us, the church, bless you.”