October is for Pastor Appreciation

Quincy Brown


Can I be honest with you about what it means to be a pastor? Pastoral ministry is a call from God. For the most part, it is a humbling and fantastic call, full of great joys and significant moments in people’s lives: officiating weddings, presiding over funerals, seeing life change for Christ first-hand. But it’s also full of tension: intense conflict, unrealistic expectations (we’re only human, and we can’t meet everyone’s expectations), relational strain, and, at times, soul-aching loneliness.
Over the years, I’ve described the pastoral ministry as the art of disappointing people at the rate that they can receive it. There are so many expectations that people have of pastors. Often unstated, but sometimes pastors are expected to be all things to all people. And while this is an understandable desire for the individual in need of pastoral care, at times, it may not be realistic for a pastor to meet this desire all of the time.
Regardless of how large or small the congregation; God calls pastors to lead and serve the faith community. For some, it might be through outstanding preaching and teaching skills. For others, it might mean an emphasis on pastoral care. And still, for others, it might mean being a tech or administrative whiz. Whatever stripe your pastor wears, what is clear is that COVID-19 has challenged every one of us. And if we’re not careful, it becomes easy to hit the pandemic wall of anxiety and complaining.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month! Despite the running joke that pastors only work one hour per week (one and a half to two hours in some traditions), the ministry is hard work. Pastors often spend countless hours serving, planning, and listening to others that often unnoticed.
Because our pastors serve the congregation members and people in the community, they seek to find a balance of leading the church, caring for members, and serving the community. If you have not done so already, I invite you to drop a note of appreciation to your pastor. Here are five suggestions from church consultant Lovett Weems:

  • Pray for them. Prayer helps you and your pastor understand your partnership in ministry and your mutual dependence on God.
  • Respect them. It would help if you didn’t talk to pastors in ways you would not want or permit them to speak to you. Clergy can handle questions and criticism. They need them. But it is essential that you not add a layer of hostile attitude or attribution of motives to your conversation.
  • Respect boundaries. It is easy for a pastor’s life to become 24/7 — with all members feeling their situation, meeting, or question is the exception of respecting the pastor’s time. The pastor’s family and the pastor’s well-being often suffer the most from such blurred time boundaries.
  • Be positive. Practice reframing both your concerns and those of others into opportunities to advance God’s work through your congregation. Ask about things other than Sunday School room assignments. Pastors enter the ministry because of their desire to help others know God through Christ and grow as disciples. They invest years in study and then hours each week in preparing to preach and teach. They would gladly welcome thoughtful inquiries about the substance of their messages.
  • Support the mission of the congregation. Good pastors most want their congregations to take the next faithful step that God has for them. No amount of personal affirmation can match the example of dedicated laity who are serving that vision.
If you haven’t already, I encourage every church to join with me to show your appreciation for your pastor. Send them a text message, thank you notes, gift cards, and so on. Pastors, I’m grateful for your dedicated service and adaptability, especially during this pandemic season. It hasn’t been easy, but I thank you for your continued faithfulness to God’s call and service to your congregations.

On the Journey,

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