In Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Unchartered Territory, author Tod Bolsinger tells about a 90-year-old woman in a church he pastored in California. Her name was Ruth. He says she was a real treasure.
“Boy,” she said (she was one of the few people in the church who could get away with calling Dr. Bolsinger “Boy’). She said, “I pray for you every day.”
Bolsinger said, “Thank you, Ruth. That means a lot to me. I can use the prayers. You know all these changes we are making here at our church are hard on many people. Pray that God will bless what we are doing.”
To his surprise, she said, “I’m not praying for that. I pray for you to keep preaching the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. Just keep preaching the Bible and don’t get off track. That is what I pray for you every day.”
Every pastor worth the call wants godly intercessors to call out his name before the King of kings. Some pastors have gone through the trauma and stress of a lifetime in the past 18 months and would welcome even much more prayer—much deserved prayer, for their pain is great.
The spiritual oversight and shepherding the flock of God in the context of the Covid pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on many of the great men of God. A seminary education or a great apprenticeship never was designed to prepare church leaders for this time in history. It is unique, and the ministry landmines sown by the enemies of the church are more plentiful that anyone could ever imagine.
But God is faithful and continues to be our provider, protector, and source of help for those who look up and long for His presence (Psalm 121).
October is a golden moment to bless the man of God, the pastor in your life who has worked so very hard to feed you the truth from God’s Word, who listens to you in times of trouble, who equips you to walk by faith in the tall weeds of a broken world. For 10 years, every September, we have encouraged local churches to shower appreciation on their local pastor—giving to the one who gives to help people be who they are in Christ.
The size of a congregation, the pastor’s length of service, or the current state of the pastor/church relationship has little to do with sharing a blessing with your pastor. It’s the right thing to do. Pastors are not any more perfect than a church is perfect. But as a church, you need him and he needs you. Bless him. The Lord always honors gratitude. While you are at it, don’t forget the former pastors of your church that God used to pour into your life words of truth and encouragement.
One of the first expressions of appreciation for a pastor is for the people of God to be healthy members of the local church. Your participation in worship, your study of God’s Word, your witness for Christ in your home, neighborhood, and marketplace, your stewardship of God’s resources are all measurables that speak into the heart of the pastor. When complaining lips and words of criticism are not found in the body of Christ, pastors feel they are making progress toward leading a church toward greater faith in the Lord.
Secondly, remember to mobilize. The more organized the church is with their expression of appreciation, the more meaningful it is to the pastor and his family. It’s like “crowd sourcing” inside the church. Collecting a basket of cards (with gift cards), handwritten notes, a money tree, whatever you choose to do, plan to work together with your hearts and your heads. The result will be respectful, honorable, and a blessing.
Third, be bodacious! Just because most pastors receive mediocre salaries, this is not the time to cheap out. Make a gift worthy of the God who called him to serve your church. Be extravagant with the pastor’s bride and his family. And October is almost here.
One idea I heard about was such a gift. They scheduled 31 October Days of blessing their pastor. Families chose a day and on that day each family would send a prayer card with a gift card or take the pastor and family out to dinner. Two families teamed up and gave the pastor and wife two nights out while a third watched their young children. For that to happen, someone had to plan and work the plan.
Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC Executive Committee, tells of an event 25 years ago when 31 men walked into a private prayer room, where they were confident they would find their pastor. The spokesman for the group said, “Pastor, we are here today to give you a special gift. Each of us will fast and pray for you one day each month. Here is the commitment we are making to you.” The group of men presented Dr. Floyd a commemorative letter that had each of their names on it. (Advancing the Vision E-newsletter from Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Sept. 15, 2021)
Whatever your church does to express appreciation to your pastor, remember to give “double-honor” (1 Tim. 5:17) to spiritual leaders who handle their duties as servants of the Lord.