I’m a preacher’s kid and a friend of pastors. (I am a pastor also, so for this not to be self-serving, understand I am writing from my experience and not for my benefit.) I have seen the very best that ministry offers and I have seen the very worst pictures of pastor abuse. I am not sure who made October Pastor Appreciation Month—probably the same folks that declared Valentine’s Day or Talk Like a Pirate Day—but, nevertheless, October is a month where we appreciate those who lead our local churches.
Warren Bennis, the late leadership guru, postulated that second only to the presidency, being a pastor had to be the most difficult leadership position. I serve alongside a host of men and women called to ministry whose job and calling blur between profession and family. The role is 24/7 and you don’t leave work at work—you take the all tears, pain, hardship, and tragedy home. The expectations are simply laughable and accessibility into personal lives is carte blanche. For these reasons and many more, let me give you some tips on how to minister to those who serve in the local church.
- Make your words specific! An encouragement note is great, but telling them how you have been personally affected or how you have seen specific results of their service is honoring.
- Serve those who serve! Finding a thoughtful area of need to meet in a minister’s life is a blessing. Offer what services or expertise you have as a blessing to them.
- Invite! Have them over to dinner or better yet, out to dinner. Get them a babysitter and take them out on the town. You would be surprised how little they are invited into the homes of those they serve. You would be shocked to know they are often left out—except for weddings and often then only on the periphery. It’s a lonely business at times and a simple invite without agenda can be a blessing. Tip: Don’t talk about church or grill them with your theological inquiries; just get to know them.
- Bless with a gift! Ministers are compensated below equivalent roles in the workforce. They aren’t in it for the money but they do have houses, cars, and kids like everyone else. A gift card or cash is sometimes the biggest stress-reliever blessing you can provide.
I read the cynical remarks about pastors on Facebook and I’m sure there are a few who are driving Bentley’s. But, 99% are faithfully, quietly, and sacrificially serving you and your family for the good of the Kingdom with little recognition and few earthly rewards. So, if you want to appreciate those who minister to you, those are some simple, practical ideas.