I know a secret. Having pastored for several years, I have made several close friends with other pastors and church leaders. I have talked with them on the phone for hours. We have met in offices and over lunches to discuss our hopes for our churches and the inner struggles we face. The more I walk the pastor’s road, the more I have come to notice a pattern. I know something about your pastor that you may not know. He may not appreciate me telling you about this inner part of his life, but I will tell you.
Here is the secret. Your pastor wants to be appreciated and he wants it done in a particular way. Within every pastor is the normal human desire for affirmation. Every sports coach knows the value of building positive encouragement in the players. We all like to hear, “Good job” or “Way to go.” Your pastor is just human enough to enjoy and respond to positive encouragement. But that is not the real appreciation he wants.
October is Pastor Appreciation month. My church family is wonderful at showing their love and appreciation. Many congregations will find ways to show appreciation to pastors. Some will send a thoughtful card, take the pastor and his family to dinner, or give a kind gift. I can promise you this is a very positive encouragement to your pastor. I want you to do all of the above and more. The pastors in our generation face new trials and temptations. The counseling of the flock is more intense and more demanding. The preaching of the Bible is a labor intensive task and too often many pastors just run out of time to prepare for Sunday. Add to these personal issues of health and family and you have a man that soaks up encouragement like a dry sponge. Encourage your pastor with cards and gifts; it will be a blessing. But that is not the real appreciation he wants.
When a pastor walks out of the church on Sunday evening, locks the door, and heads for home his mind is filled with the day’s events of preaching the best he could, leading meetings with committees, and handling confrontation with a church complainer. (Every church has at least one.) What is it that brings encouragement to your pastor when he has given his all? What gives him lasting joy? What puts a smile on his face and a spring in his step?
Here is the secret. This is how to appreciate your pastor in the way he may never tell you. Live the rest of your life in joyful service to Jesus as King. Your faithful life is what makes the heart of your Pastor jump and flip like an Olympic gymnast. The Godly pastor feels the hand of appreciation when the message he preaches is quietly practiced by the sheep he loves. There is no greater joy than to see a lost soul respond to the gospel message or to see the believer live for the Lord we love.
The best gift of appreciation for your pastor actually has little to do with him and more to do with you. Godly pastors serve churches from a call by God. Their heart and soul is poured into the lives of other people and they are honored by your appreciation. Bless your pastor with a gift. Appreciate him with a card. But, if you want to see his heart dance for joy, live your life for Jesus Christ without waver and with full faith. That really is the appreciation every pastor wants, to see God’s people living for His glory and in obedience to His Word. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3Jn 1:4 KJV)