October is Pastor Appreciation Month

Editor's note: Pastor Appreciation Day is October 14.

Some of you may know that October is designated Pastor Appreciation Month in some denominations and congregations. This is not a major national observance, but some churches do use the designation to make sure they show appreciation for their clergy leadership. While such gestures are thoughtful and appreciated, most clergy would settle for more modest ongoing respect and encouragement.

It’s good to do something special during Pastor Appreciation Month to remind your pastors how much they mean to you and your congregation. But even better is to support and encourage them all through the year.

Here are some suggestions:

Pray for them. Prayer helps you and your clergy leaders understand your partnership in ministry and your mutual dependence on God.

Respect them. It is crucial that you do not talk to them in ways you would not want or permit them to talk to you. Clergy can handle questions and criticism. They need them. But it is essential that you not add a layer of hostile attitude or attribution of motives to your conversation.

Respect boundaries. It is easy for a pastor’s life to become 24/7 — with all members feeling their situation, meeting, or question is the exception to respecting the pastor’s personal time. It is the pastor’s family and the pastor’s well-being that often suffer the most from such blurred time boundaries.

Be positive. Practice reframing both your concerns and those of others into opportunities to advance God’s work through your congregation.

Ask about things other than Sunday School room assignments. Pastors enter ministry because of their desire to help others know God through Christ and to grow as disciples. They invest years in study and then hours each week in preparing to preach and teach. They would gladly welcome thoughtful inquiries about the substance of their messages.

Support the mission of the congregation. Good pastors most want their congregations to take the next faithful step that God has for them. No amount of personal affirmation can match the example of dedicated laity who are serving that vision.

So this October, it would be good to do something special to remind your pastors how much they mean to you and your congregation. But even better is to support and encourage them all through the year.

Editor’s note: This was first published in “Leading Ideas,” a newsletter published by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership in 2012.

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