When I opened the outer door to the church office, I could see something had happened. To my left beyond the secretary’s desk, was the door to my study. Normally, I had it covered with funny cartoons. But this day was different. It was covered in cards, cash, scribbled notes and a sign in a large font that said, “Thank you for being our pastor.”
I stumbled across a file the other day that still houses those thoughts of appreciation and kindness. When I looked at them afresh, a lump jumped into my throat. It was a new opportunity to pray for those special people. I was and still am humbled by the thoughts of those gracious people who used the month of October to share their appreciation with their pastor.
Appreciation and gratitude expressed are contagious. It is healthy for us to express appreciation for the people who are impacting our lives and families. How a church treats the man of God on assignment to their local community is a powerful statement about the character of a church.
What will your church do this year to honor your pastor (or ministerial staff)?
May I suggest the following:
Demonstrate respect—One of the most powerful things followers of Christ can do is to demonstrate they respect the office and the one called to the office of lead pastor. In this context, an “office” is not a cubical in a building. It is an important role of New Testament leadership to be the man of God (1 Corinthans 16:13-14). He is the leader assigned to shepherd the congregation through the Word, prayer, relationship building, witnessing and godly character. While he isn’t perfect in his duty, he takes the lead in showing what a devoted follower of Christ looks like. He monitors activity and sets strategy for how the local church can maximize its Acts 1:8 mission. As congregants, one of the most important things we can do is respect the man God has placed in our lives for this moment in history.
Join him on the journey—There are many things a pastor monitors to determine his effectiveness. One of the most important measurements comes about as a result of listening and watching to see if church members “get it”—to see if church members capture the New Testament vision of discovering, developing and deploying disciples. How he does that is by listening to the words you use, by your personal actions when you face a crisis or by your generosity toward the mission of God through the local church. He wants to know if you are with him in the journey.
Pray like you are engaged in a war—The war is not against flesh and blood. However, there is an enemy that opposes your church and your pastor. A couple of decades ago a testimony was given by someone who learned about a concerted effort by individuals who were opposed to devoted followers of Christ and specifically pastors. They were chanting to their failed god that pastors’ families would be destroyed. As I write this column this week, I have learned of three pastors’ families in serious trouble. My heart is broken for them. The enemy of our faith is opposed to the man of God and his family. Your intercession is more valuable than you could ever imagine.
Be a vehicle of blessing—The local church that learns the art of blessing the pastor understands that love is often more than words. The local church is the primary vehicle of provision for the man of God. Even if he is bi-vocational or dual-income, the provision the Lord wants to provide through the local church is not always measured in dollars. It is often measured by intangibles like words of appreciation, random acts of kindness in his family’s behalf or blessing the man of God with a gift. Or do something creative. Churches have ways of being very creative.
Some of the blessings I have learned about through the years include:
- a money tree,
- 31 days of encouragement with someone from the church family assigned to each day,
- a notebook of blessing from the members of the church family,
- bless him with a tank of fuel or a set of tires,
- the blessing of a pair of new boots,
- a new suit, shirt and tie,
- a study tour to the Israel (Not sure who gets the most blessing from this, the man of God or the church who listens to him teach the Word from a new perspective),
- pray daily and write an encouraging note to his wife and children,
- volunteer to keep his children while he and his wife get away for a weekend retreat.
Whatever way you chose, use this month as your opportunity to express appreciation for your pastor.