Recognizing Ministry Champions during Pastor Appreciation Month

shutterstock_6986275_insideThe U.S. Tennis Open Championship awards and celebration went over the top this September with prize money totaling $34,242,000! Novak Djokovic won his 10th Grand Slam title. All of the champions in the games now are known nationwide. These professionals became champions. They had to learn to enjoy the game to do it professionally. But the years before the 2015 games were filled with long hours of focus and effort.
That means they practiced when it was hot, so hot that no-one else was out there sweating their game. They practiced when all they could find was a machine to shoot tennis balls at them. They kept swinging in-between breathless moments from the extra effort and exertion. They gritted their teeth and shouted at themselves firmly, “I’ve got to be sharper, better, more skillful!”
What makes a future champion like that is more than the pay. It’s a heartset, a mindset. They press forward with deep conviction to accomplish the tasks and reach the goal. They push through the challenges with laser focus and commitment.

Caught in the act
My pastor is like that; I’ve caught him. When no one else knew at the time, he was giving sacrificially to help a needy child attend private school. He gave food to feed, a helping hand in need, an encouraging smile to the depressed, a word to heal someone stressed. This is not a fantasy person; this pastor is real.
In the face of unthankful, grumbling and unkind words of accusation, I’ve seen him give back love and care and patience to spare. He keeps his eye on the goal: the people he loves to serve, including me.
Much like the Apostle Paul, he says, “…I press on…reaching forward to those things which are ahead…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!” (Phil 3:12-13). And his job, he thinks, is the people he loves to serve, and he includes me.
This year is his seventh, and it’s another grand slam as far as I’m concerned. It sure would be nice to give him $34,242,000 in an award celebration. His job is so much more important to so many people though. We need him, and what he does so faithfully. He truly is a champion.

8 fresh tips to honor pastors
Other than financially gifting him, what extra-special can we do for a pastor like that? Here’s a few good suggestions learned over the years.

1. Hand write a thank you, appreciation note. A slick, pretty, expensive card is nice, but the hand written, crayon colored, heartfelt card with a thank you note from you and your family will get posted and kept for years.

2. Pictures of a group and a note from everyone is also kept for years. Again, it’s not the signature, but those little notes from you that make the difference.

3. Here’s a different one that we have seen recently which was treasured by the person. Enlarge a photo of your pastor, include the letters of their name along the side, and use each letter to start a word that describes his character and personality. Using the short example of J E F F, it might say Joyful, Edifier, Faithful, Fun! You will be sowing into his heart words of strength for those moments when he is alone and needs it.

4. Similarly, a professor treasures his photo set within a word-cloud of adjectives his class used to describe him. This is proudly hung on the wall of his university office for all to see.

5. Communicate a remembered and special moment. Give special attention to finding the special little things he has done…and maybe forgotten. Sometimes a leader feels taken for granted, but when we remember something little they did, it truly ministers grace. Sometimes they need heart healing from the ‘taken for granted syndrome’. You can be healing to him during this time.

6. Yes, the kids’ card shower is of particular delight to most pastors and teachers. They will be kept and read for special encouragement over and over for years.

7. Discover something little they like and shower them with it. One school principal loved ‘different’ styles of ties, so the faculty and staff included a ‘tie shower’ in a party for him. At a special signal from someone, the faculty and staff each brought up their gift of a crazy tie and hung it on his neck. That took about 20 minutes, and he looked wacky with that many ties, but it sure did make for a good picture!

8. Ask yourself the question, “What would make my day this year? If you would appreciate it, maybe that’s just the thing that he would find extra special as well.

And here’s one more little surprise for you. Showing appreciation not only helps the one receiving but the one giving. Social and psychological studies show consistently that gratefulness decreases negative emotion, raises our overall satisfaction with life, has a positive effect on calmness and blood pressure and increases our ability to achieve our own personal goals. In the workplace, teams with lots of mutual encouragement were found to be five times more likely to succeed than the opposite.
It certainly is true that we reap what we sow, and in the measure we sow. Let’s sow some genuine appreciation to ones who truly deserve it this month; our pastors.

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