October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and let me assure that, yes, your pastor could use some good ol’ fashioned appreciation! In fact, many pastors are not doing OK, and they need our help in a big way!
The solution to this problem is complex, but here are a few ideas on how you can make a difference:
Seven Ideas to Help Your Pastor This Month
Idea 1: Pray For Your Pastor Continually
- The requirements of pastoring are more than any one person can handle. As Steve Cuss said in a recent article, “Pastors are expected to hold an unusually broad skill set, and some of our required competencies actively contradict each other. It’s common for a pastor to run a board meeting, work on a budget, chat with a staff member about goals and development, host a funeral, and sit with someone who walked into the church asking for money—all in the same day.”
- Without God’s supernatural help, this is literally impossible for most mere mortals. What fills the gap? And an army of people like you praying for him or her!
Idea 2: Be A Cheerleader in Public
- Words of encouragement are many pastors’ love language. We can be our own worst critics, so we need others to point out what we are doing well.
- It is human nature to ignore 99 things going well and focus on the one thing worthy of critique. In reality, positively reinforcing what your pastor is doing right through kind words is much more effective!
Idea 3: Be a Critic in Private
- Not everything is praiseworthy. In fact, sometimes pastors do need to hear difficult truths and even be corrected.
- The most loving way to share your perspective with your pastor is in private. Set up an in-person meeting and share what’s on your heart in a spirit of love.
Idea 4: Help Your Pastor Say
- Boundaries are important in every part of life, but the role of pastor is notoriously difficult to put in a box. Is your pastor on-call 24/7? Does he or she ever have free time — a life outside of church?
- We wouldn’t tolerate a pastor violating other commandments, but we subliminally set our pastors up to break the Sabbath command continually. What would it look like for you to help your pastor take the Sabbath seriously?
Idea 5: Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
- Pastors have been trained for ministry and are energized by serving others — preaching the Gospel, discipling the next generation, evangelizing the lost, and feeding the hungry. Instead, on many days it can feel like pastors have been thrown into an endless, no-win political minefield.
- Run interference! Cut off all distractions! One of the biggest gifts you can give your pastor is allowing him or her to focus on the church’s mission of making disciples.
Idea 6: Let the Leaders Lead
- Most pastors are leaders. When most churches advertise for pastoral openings, they claim to be seeking leaders. However, something happens, and those same churches refuse to let their leaders lead.
- Hebrews 13:17-18 urges all of us to have confidence in our leaders and to submit to their authority so that their work will be a joy and not a burden. The writer of Hebrews even goes on to say that doing this is as much for you as it is for them! Submitting to all leaders (including elders and deacons as well) can be a joy, but it does take faith and humility.
Idea 7: Give Them Time
- I just read that the average tenure of a pastor is three to four years. I couldn’t believe it! As someone who is beginning his fourth year at a church, I know I’m just now beginning to hit maximum effectiveness!
- It will take any new pastor several years to understand your church’s culture, develop trust, and celebrate the effects of wise changes. If your church cannot stick with a pastor for longer than a few years, you’ll get stuck in a never-ending cycle of bailing out just before the good part.
None of these ideas are magic, but they are a start to addressing a serious problem. If you’re a pastor, I’d love to hear what makes you feel appreciated. If you’re a lay leader, I’d love to hear what you’re doing this year for your pastor. Reply, and let me know!