Although pastor appreciation month is officially in October, we can reach out to pastors and their families to show our appreciation for them in our lives every month.
As part of a church community, pastors guide us through many of life’s major transitions: baptism, weddings, and funerals. They carefully prepare messages that help us understand God’s Word and to align our lives with God’s principles. They stand with us in life’s toughest moments of illness and loss. They carry our burdens and seek to make our lives better.
Bible Calls Us to Honor Pastors
Scripture exhorts us to respect and honor our pastors:
“But we ask you, brothers, to acknowledge those who work diligently among you, who preside over you in the Lord and give you instruction,” 1 Thes. 5:12 .
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you,” Hebrews 13:17.
Pastors Carry a Heavy Load
Pastors are often called to carry heavy burdens. They are expected to be Bible scholars, dynamic preachers, effective administrators, and wise counsellors. Many may wrestle with feelings of inadequacy. Because of the confidential nature of their work, many have few close friends.
A pastor’s care and concern for the congregation is a weighty thing. Paul certainly understood the pressure faced by pastors saying, “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28).
Pastors Families Share the Burden
Pastor’s families feel this strain as well. The pastor may work more than 40 hours a week. They are on call 24/7. Families are held to higher standards, feeling the pressure of perfection. Spouses can carry the weight of the church, expected to be comforters and eager volunteers, while maintaining the home.
Families can be incredibly lonely. Nearly half of pastors wonder if they should leave the pastorate due to unsustainable stress and loneliness. Hundreds walk away from the church every month. How many more pastor’s children leave their faith behind when they enter adulthood?
Stress of finances adds to the weight. 26% of U.S. pastors work at another job aside from their pastoring responsibilities. That percentage is much higher overseas. Pastors manage church finances – often wanting to do more but not having the budget to do so.
All these expectations demonstrate why pastors, and their families, need our encouragement and appreciation.
What You Can Do Today
- Words of affirmation and acts of service can go along way for pastors and their families. For specific ideas, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White could give guidance.
- Show them grace. Have patience and give space for mistakes. With pastor’s children, remember they have good days and bad days, just like you.
- A church is not just its pastors, so seek to encourage and appreciate other staff members as well.
- Tell your pastor that you are praying for them and their loved ones – and do it! Prayer is often the greatest gift that you can give.