During the month of October, there is much to celebrate such as Columbus Day, Breast Cancer Awareness, Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. One event particularly worthy of recognizing is Pastor Appreciation Month. God has given us pastors to teach us how to live a godly lives and to help us grow spiritually strong.
Now, the call to minister is not one to be taken lightly. It’s very different from receiving a phone call from a family member, neighbor or even your spouse. When God calls, it is for a divine purpose that often those who are selected don’t believe or sometimes run from in fear of the responsibility. It requires a great deal of sacrifice, commitment and dedication.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:12, the Apostle Paul urges believers to recognize those who labor among you and over you in the Lord. He also says that we are to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Why such an emphasis to acknowledge our spiritual leaders?
First, ministers stand before God on our behalf daily. They have to be able to discern the voice of God so that the congregation can be properly fed spiritually. Ever felt like a sermon your pastor was giving seemed to speak directly to you? I can recall several Sunday or mid-week services where I thought God was literally sitting right next to me. Yet, it’s through your elder’s fellowship, faithfulness and prayer time with God that he is able to bring a message that nourishes the spirit man of the congregation.
In addition to hearing from God, pastors are instructed to counsel the people of God. This is a big sacrifice, especially if your spiritual leader has a wife and children. He could get a phone call during dinner or just before he leaves the church. A member of the congregation may need prayer or suddenly be rushed to the hospital. There could also be a situation where an individual just needs godly advice on how to love their spouse, cope with a miscarriage or financial challenge. Pastors are often willing and ready to sacrifice no matter the issue.
Pastors go beyond the call of duty to ensure the congregation is in the Lord’s perfect will. They may also instruct new Christians when they come to Christ, which requires time. When people have problems, pastors often stay with them all the way through the problem not just initial contact. Spiritual leaders need to live a life worthy of the calling. They should conduct themselves in a Christ-like manner and above all have a continual heart of a servant.
The Lord has given the people of God a leader to teach, encourage, discipline and to prepare the congregation for the return of Jesus Christ. But we are reminded in James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (NKJV). Our appreciation and gratitude lets them know we admire all that they do to ensure we are growing spiritually.
If you could think of a way to express appreciation for all that your pastor has done in the past year, what would you do and why? In case you need some ideas, check out the list I compiled to help you give recognition to your spiritual leader.
Ten ways to thank and recognize pastors
- Develop a video presentation. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a video could truly tell a story. The video can showcase your pastor giving his most impactful sermons throughout the year. Adding some of your pastor’s favorite music would be the icing on the cake.
- Surprise your pastor and his wife with a weekend cruise or vacation package to a special destination you’ve heard them talk about.
- Create a church skit which features activities that your pastor and wife were involved in over the year and compile these into a skit entitled “A Day in the Life of Our Pastor.”
- Place a gift basket in the lobby where members of the congregation can put notes of encouragement for your pastor.
- Take your pastor hunting, fishing, golfing or provide him tickets to a sporting event he enjoys.
- Pray for him and pray with him. Perhaps you don’t have money to buy an actual gift. The best thing you can do that is free of charge is to pray for your pastor. You can email him or give him a handwritten note.
- Gather testimonies of members who were impacted by a sermon your pastor taught, which truly encouraged them.
- Send your pastor a clever cartoon or joke that explains a point he made in a sermon. This will be a good idea especially if he has a sense of humor.
- Find out your pastor’s favorite brand of coffee and bring it to him in a special mug he can use.
- Collect money from deacons and ushers to order a T-shirt that reads, “Best Pastor in Miami, Fort Lauderdale or the city where your church is located.”
Whether you choose to plan an appreciation banquet or send your pastor and his family away for the weekend, make it memorable. Let your spiritual leader feel as though you not only care, but also appreciate him answering the call to minister.
Tyrone Hall is a recent graduate of Florida International University and a freelance writer. He can be reached at [email protected].