Thursday, October 22, 2015

Have you noticed—October is Pastor Appreciation Month?

Have you noticed—October is Pastor Appreciation Month?
I know some churches and individuals make a big deal out of it and have a church supper in honor or their pastor/s—complete with gifts. Some congregations even send their pastor and spouse on a cruise or similar vacation.
Then of course there are other congregations that don’t even know the occasion exists, or perhaps pretend they don’t.
Your pastor prays for you.
It seems that many people are clueless about just how tough it is to be a pastor. Some believe their pastor simply reads his/her Bible, prays, and visits sick people.
The reality is that the job of pastor is much more demanding and complex than that.
I didn’t grow up in a pastor’s home and I’m not a pastor’s wife, so I’ve not have that personal experience. But I’ve know many pastors and have been friends with several pastor’s wives and children. I’ve observed some of the many trials and challenges they go through on a regular basis.

In an article written by Philip Wagner*, himself a pastor, he states: Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said that the four hardest jobs in America (not necessarily in order, he added) are:

·         The President of the United States

·         A university president

·         A CEO of a hospital and

·         A pastor   

He goes on to list some of the unique problems pastors face. Here’s a brief synopsis:

1. Pastors face a lot of criticism from many directions and for many reasons.

2. Pastors experience a lot of rejection due to the nature of their position and the nature of congregants coming and going.

3. Pastors often face betrayal, as they work with their staff and minister to people. It’s not unusual for a pastor’s staff or church member to turn on them due to personal conflict or simply not getting their way.

4. Pastors often suffer loneliness due to the fact that they often find it hard to have a close friend.

5. Pastors grow weary due to the numerous hours they spend attending to their many responsibilities.

6. Pastors often have many disappointments and frustrations. Pastors’ salaries are typically average or below the norm and many pastors must have another job in order to meet the financial needs of their families. And they often have no good way to measure their successes and accomplishments, which can be very frustrating.* 

So have you thought about the difficulties faced by pastors and their wives and children?

Most pastors have such a passion to serve God, lead people to Christ, and equip the body they push on through many hardships and trials—with God’s help. But if you could interview a large group of pastors, almost all of them would say they’ve experienced many, if not all, of the above challenges at one time or another.  

In Mr. Wagner’s article, he went on to tell a few things Christians and church members can do to help pastors:

1. Pray for your pastor, that he/she will hear clearly from God.

2. Protect your pastor. Don't get involved with gossip and complaining of other church members.

3. Encourage your pastor. Find ways to help lighten the load and let him/her know you care and want to help in any way you can. 

These three things appear to be very simple and I believe the Holy Spirit can show us other things we can do for our pastors that are specific to their individual needs. When we, as church members, do the above three things with diligence and sincerity, it can make a huge difference in the lives of our pastors and their families. And just think of the benefits for the church as a whole as well.

Baby Dedication - Happy times for pastor.
Remember to smile at your pastor and be friendly to his/her spouse and children. If you want to see your pastor smile back, tell him/her that you appreciate and are praying for him/her.

AND since this is Pastor Appreciation Month, perhaps a gift card or some such gesture of appreciation is in order. Ask God to help you come up with the best way to bless your pastor/s. 

* Italicized sections are paraphrased from Philip Wagner’s article, “The Secret Pain of Pastors and Church Leaders.”  To read the entire article, go to:
©Connie Wohlford 2015

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