Let me tell you a story. I’ve served in children’s ministry for years. At one point, the area I served in chose to pause over the summer. When we started back up in the fall, the response we received wasn’t, “Thanks! I appreciate having a safe place for my child to be during service.” or “How was your summer? Did you get some rest?” or “I am so grateful for you guys.” It was, “Will you provide children’s ministry again?” I and those who served with me had become nameless helpers who’s only job was to serve in children’s ministry and nothing more. It hurt.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s how we treat our pastors. Being married to a pastor means I see more than most people get to see: I see how much my husband prays for the church he is serving at, I see how many hours he prays and pours over God’s Word and books so that he can preach every week in hopes of bringing people closer to God, I see when he wakes up at 3am to pray for the church or to write down a sermon idea (Dan plans out his sermons almost a year in advance, tweaking where he needs to and changing when he feels God leading him otherwise. In other words, he works very hard!). Not only that, he meets with the brokenhearted, connects with other pastors in the area so they can hold each other accountable, and constantly is reading, listening to podcasts, and learning from other Christians leaders so he can be as faithful of a pastor as he can be, along with leading his family and loving us.
But sometimes I think he, along with many other pastors, become faceless servants of the church. He’s expected to preach, that’s what he’s paid to do, right? (note: most pastors are paid very little). And he’s here for the congregations’s benefit, to make the church a happy and safe place for everyone. And if people don’t like it, it’s all right to complain until change happens.
Instead of appreciating our pastors, we treat them the same way I was treated at the end of the summer. “Will you provide ______ again? Will you preach what I want to hear? Will you provide the ministry I want to be part of? Will you meet all of my spiritual and emotional needs?” (which honestly, only God can do that, not your pastor).
This month is Pastor Appreciation month. Instead of wondering what your pastor can do next for you, take a moment instead and just say, “thank you.” Thanks for being my pastor. Thank you for loving us and praying for us. I’m thankful God brought you here.
You might not realize how much your pastor might need to hear these words.