Every October, pastor appreciation month, thousands of churches throughout the United States and other countries find special ways to honor and express gratitude for pastors.
Pastors come in all shapes and sizes. No two are exactly alike. Some are more highly educated than your medical doctor, lawyer, teacher, governor or president. Some of our most effective pastors, however, did not have the opportunity for higher education. These pastors have spent many years in self-directed study.
Some of the best educated pastors I have known, and I have known thousands of them, were not graduated from college or even high school, but they spent years and hours each day in reading, serious Bible study, attending conferences, learning from others and relying on superb mentors to rise to the top of their profession and calling.
Many older ministers were not enrolled in a church pension plan early in their ministry and so their pension may be very small along with small social security checks. Most have retired and no longer pastor churches after the age of 75. Prices continue to rise and income remains where it has been.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are younger pastors who may have just completed their training and have large debts hanging over their heads. They often begin their pastoral careers with a large debt and small salary.
If you are actively involved with a church, there is the pastor, the older former pastors who are now retired and other pastoral staff members. Many ministers will rejoice and be glad if you remember to express your appreciation to them in some way or in many ways. St. Paul wrote, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers . . ." (Ephesians 4:11-12).
One church I know well, and others will follow, is presenting pastors with gift cards, gifts of food, money for clothes, funds to be put into an educational fund for their children, money for vacation expenses or an invitation to have a meal at a parishioner's house. All these gifts will be appreciated and so will a brief thank you note.
These are a few of the things pastors appreciate. Younger pastors with small children need this kind of help and even a few free baby-sitting days by adults.
The older minister, a former pastor, the pastor who is ill and he and his wife do not have the same work-energy they had when they were in their fifties, sixties and early seventies will need and deeply appreciate all the things you do to express your appreciation.
Think about it and you will come up with numerous ways to express your appreciation for a minister who has been important in your life and to your family.
I am what I am largely because of the influence of pastors and other ministers. I appreciate what they did for me. Enjoy letting your pastor know he or she is deeply appreciated.
Written and used with permission by Bill Ellis and ASSIST News Service.