October is Pastor Appreciation Month. It’s a time dedicated to reminding your pastor and his or her family how much they are appreciated. You may not think about it, but your pastor probably has crazy hours. He or she works every Sunday morning, maybe even getting to church early to turn on the AC or heat to make sure the sanctuary is comfortable. Who stays late to make sure the building is locked up after worship service? What about all those evening meetings when things happen at church? Your pastor can’t simply say, “I’d rather stay home with my family.”
Some people liken Pastor Appreciation Month to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Instead of waiting until October, you should really make sure your pastor knows that you appreciate his or her hard work all year long. Don’t take this person for granted. Need some gift ideas to show that you understand the vocation is more than a career and a paycheck? Here are some thoughts.
Don’t Nickel and Dime
Does your pastor make a salary that is commiserate with the job? Can your he or she support a family? You can’t spend one month of the year showing your appreciation when this person is worried about expenses the rest of the year. Does your pastor have a discretionary account that can be spent on helping people or resources that are required to do the job? Does he or she have to justify every financial decision? If you trust your pastor with your soul, you can certainly trust this individual with money.
The next time you pick up the phone to call your pastor, think about what time of day it is and whether you could be interrupting important family time. Show consideration by setting boundaries around when you contact him or her. Promise yourself that you’ll only call during business hours unless someone is dying. Give your pastor time to answer your emails and calls, and don’t get upset when your message isn’t immediately answered. Know that your pastor has a life and doesn’t have to be at the beck and call of the church 24/7.
Give the Gift of Vacations
Make sure that your pastor gets a real vacation every year with his or her family without distractions. Don’t act disgruntled that this person might miss some important meeting. Reschedule or carry on. Treat the guest pastor with respect and go with the flow when service isn’t how you like it. You might also consider offering the pastor a time of retreat every year for inspiration and renewal of spirit. Many monasteries and denominations around the country have special times for pastors to learn and grow. Send yours on a retreat or to a convention for his or her spiritual growth.
Provide the Benefit of the Doubt
Your pastor holds the emotional weight of the church and must balance dozens, if not hundreds, of people’s needs against the best interests of the church. You don’t have to agree with every decision that your pastor makes, but you can give him or her the benefit of your support. This person probably knows more about every situation than can be said. If you are part of a denomination, not only does your pastor answer to you and the church board, but he or she also answers to the leadership of the church. That can be a lot of pressure. It’s hard to please everyone in a church.
Appreciation Doesn’t Stop in November
Get your pastor a nice gift in October, but don’t stop there. Make sure he or she knows that you appreciate his or her work all year long.