October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Pastor Appreciation Month did not start at the local Hallmark store. It was birthed in Scripture.
“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.”
I Thessalonians 5:12-13
Why did Paul make such a strong appeal when it comes to expressing gratitude to those in pastoral church leadership? Two reasons: First, “for their work’s sake.” It is more about the mission than the minister. A little encouragement will lead a man to charge a hill in battle, run into a burning building to save a life, or make it through another extremely difficult day. A little gratitude will propel someone to a renewed commitment and a greater work. A kind, gracious word brings joy to the journey. Pastors have an incredibly difficult task, and when they fulfill their calling with all of their heart, they pour themselves into the people they shepherd. It will do the work of the Kingdom good to appreciate these faithful servants. Second, an appreciative act is the gateway to an environment of peace. “Be at peace among yourselves,” was Paul’s exhortation. Show me people that genuinely honor their pastor and a pastor who deeply appreciates his people, and I will show you a happy church. A church at peace is able to focus on Great Commission work without the distraction of disunity. People of this world have no appetite to step into the middle of a church where there is no peace. They have enough of that in their own lives.
Paul not only explains why we are to honor our pastor, but how: “Esteem them very highly in love.” Paul speaks to both the quality and the integrity of the love we show to those who faithfully lead us. The word “esteem” means “to lead out in,” or “to take the initiative.” God will honor those willing to lead the way in honoring the pastor (or pastors in a multi-staff church).
Demonstrating in a tangible way your love and appreciation for your pastor and his family will bless the entire church. It is needed, deserved and, above all, obedient to a Biblical command. Make a big deal in recognizing your pastor’s birthday or the anniversary of the day he become your shepherd, as well as special occasions like Pastor Appreciation Month.
For good ideas on how to honor your pastor, there are several ideas on the internet. Just Google “Pastor Appreciation Month,” or give me a call. I will be happy to share how four wonderful churches loved on me and my family during 34 years in the pastorate.
It is a joy to be with you on this journey.