October is Pastor Appreciation Month. It’s admirable to want to make sure your pastor is appreciated, but one month can’t undo the damage of the rest of the year. Pastors are especially prone to burnout and exhaustion. Pastoring a church is not only spiritually taxing, it can also be physically and emotionally demanding. Small churches can expect a lot from the pastor, from opening the church doors on Sunday to closing up every meeting throughout the week. Here are a few things you can do for your pastor to show your appreciation all year long.
Treat your pastor as well as you do your co-workers and boss. If you’re on the committee that oversees the finances in the church, make sure you worry just as much about the pastor’s benefit package and salary as you do your own. Think about fair labor laws and regulations, then think about all the things your pastor does that probably go way beyond what he needs to do.
Guard Your Pastor’s Time
Very few pastors get a true weekend, so make sure he or she is taking time off through the week. Give your pastor permission to set boundaries on time and ministry. Sure, there might be times when serious problems do arise. Always ask yourself, “can this wait?” before asking the pastor to meet with you on his or her day off.
Does This Have to Be Addressed Sunday Morning?
Have you ever thought about all the things your pastor does on Sunday morning to get ready for worship service? The sermon might be ready, but there are still dozens of details that have to be worked out before church begins. Would you air your grievances to your boss right before she walks into an important meeting? Would you expect your boss to provide dates for an upcoming event right before he goes up to talk with the CEO?
Think about timing when you’re bringing your problems to your pastor. Consider this when you’re emailing the pastor, too. Do you enjoy coming into work on Monday with a list of problems in your inbox? Maybe hold off on that Sunday evening email. Bring it to the pastor in person or to a deacon, elder or other leader.
Show Up and Be Attentive
Turn your phones off before you walk into church on Sunday. Pay attention during service, especially to the sermon. Be engaged with the worship. Have a good attitude, even if you disagree. Come to meetings through the week. No, you don’t have to attend everything, but do be active in the congregation.
Have a Positive Attitude
You won’t always agree with the pastor, but you can have a good attitude about the programs and ministries. Give your pastor the gift of compliance and happiness, even if you believe he or she is heading down the wrong direction. Voice your concerns and look for solutions. Your pastor will appreciate the support.
Pray for the Pastor and His or Her Family
This should be obvious, but be honest. When was the last time you prayed specifically for your pastor and his or her family? Prayer reminds us to be grateful and to think about what the pastor is going through. Not only will prayer bless your pastor, but it will also change your heart and attitude toward him or her.
Overlook the Small Stuff
Your pastor is human and probably juggling way more than you realize. Don’t take things personally. Let your pastor make mistakes and try new programs. Give him or her the benefit of the doubt, because there’s probably more to the story than you realize. Can you imagine trying to make 50, 100 or more people happy with every decision and action? Your pastor is trying to make the church a better place.
Remember that your pastor has a huge job. You can either be part of the solution or part of the problem.