Pastor's Appreciation Month is about over. I almost hesitate to ask. Did your congregation do anything for you to show their appreciation? I have mixed thoughts about delegating a month, executing a large promotional blitz to get the word out to congregation members and setting Pastors up for disapointment. To me it's much like Mothers Day, Fathers Day and Valentines Day-all invented to give the card, candy and jewelry industry a retail bump. I do remember when Pastor's appreciation month started. It started as a day and was initiated by a layman who thought that if the groundhog had a day, certainly Pastor's ought to have one too. I guess that was a compliment. Anyway, that's how the whole thing got started a couple of decades ago.
I posted a question to my Pastor's wives friends and found that they have a love/hate relationship with the whole concept. While it's nice that the congregation thinks enough of you to give you a little momento, it's very disappointing when they just seemingly forget, don't know, or flip it off as unimportant. While I don't think the day or month is important, I do think it scriptural to acknowledge and bless your spiritual overseer. What ends up happening is that some Pastors get recognized while others do not and those that do not feel unappreciated when if there wasn't a day like this at all, they might not. Seriously, we can't judge our effect or success on this one month of the year. I don't believe that it takes a scheduled holiday for people to show appreciation. On the other hand, I don't think that congregations that do participate are insincere. However, if you have to be reminded to bless or express appreciation to a gift that God has placed in your life, then you have an ungratefulness problem. You might want to look that up in your concordance and see what God has to say about it.
So I set about to decide what would be the perfect Pastor's Appreciation Gift. I made a list and whittled it down little by little. With some input from my PW's friends and thinking over all the wonderful ways we have been blessed through the years from our congregations, I got down to one thing that would apply to all Pastors, in every nation of the world.
Before I get to it though I want to share some of the non-Pastor's Appreciation Month gifts that have blessed us through the years. One of my husband's favorites are the little ziploc bags with a couple of cents or sometime a dollar with a piece of candy or a hand drawn picture that show up on his desk or in the offering plate from time to time. He has a whole desk drawer full of these because to him, they are like water from the well of Bethlehem that David's mighty men drew while the city was occupied by the Philistines. He knows that some child has just dipped into their allowance and is giving it to him. This says a lot not only about the child, but it is a reflection of what the parents have taught the child about the role of a Pastor in their lives. So believe me, when these little goodies do show up, they are a blessing.
This year, a young teen gave him a gift card to his favorite restaurant from a hard earned labor intensive job. It's going to be very hard to use it, but I think that he probably will.
Another is the occaisional timely gift that he recieves. My husband is hard on reading glasses. If he doesn't break them, he loses them, sits on them or forgets them. So one year while the ladies were doing secret sister things, my husband received a package on his desk from his "Sneakret brother." It was a pair of reading glasses so small that you could practically carry them anywhere all the time. My husband still uses them today and always mentions where he got them from. They have truly been a blessing and appreciated. You see, without them he wouldn't be able to read his Bible or his sermon notes, so to have someone give him glasses says "I appreciate what you do and want to hear what the Lord has laid on your heart."
Another way to bless your Pastor is simple. Just show up. When comforting Pastor's wives who lament that no gift was given, I remind them that the congregation does show up every Sunday. That in itself is a gesture of appreciation. They must want to hear what you have to say-the first step to being an effective Pastor. We don't judge our effectiveness by how well received we are. That method can be very deceptive but when you are in front of a group of people, just give them the Word of God! That is all the effectiveness you could ever achieve.
This year I did something different to bless my husband. What?, you say.....he is my Pastor too. I didn't cook or buy him a firearm (although that would have thrilled him to death). Instead I bought him the nicest card I could find and compiled all the verses that God has given me for him through his 31 years of ministry into a prayer. I do pray for him regularly and I use those verses to pray. So I thought it might bless him to know that a) someone does pray for him because I would hate to carry the weight and responsibility of ministry without someone praying for me and b) that I understand from the Word of God His place in my life and that I am open to receive whatever he has to give to me be it encouragement or correction and c) that even though I know and love him more than anyone else in the world, I still see him as a gift from God to me. And that he is.
I was looking back through some sermon notes and I found a little something I had written as a thought from a sermon. And this is the gift that any Pastor could get that would be 100% sure to warm and bless his heart. It simply said, "A Pastor is merely a man, gifted by God, to work for and with God in the spiritual lives of the ones God has entrusted to him. Let him!" That's it. Just let him do his job. Let him use his gift in the body of Christ as ordained by the Word of God. There will be no need of monetary gifts, cards, days or months of appreciation. The appreciation will be visible in our lives. I don't know of one Pastor that would not love this!