I’m a church girl. The hours I spent at church growing up were hugely formative for me.
My childhood is laced with memories of church.
There’s the vacation Bible school one summer, when we started each morning in big church singing “Onward Christian Soldier” out of heavy blue hymnals.
And the Wednesday nights when I pulled my calico maxi-skirt over my ballet leotard and tights so we could go straight to Wednesday night supper in the Annex.
Memories of slipping off after the Sunday morning sermon to play in the crawl space under the sanctuary while our moms lingered over long conversations.
And – only some of you will remember this – Sunday nights when Truth came to sing. The matching outfits. The hair. And the night off preaching. I would fan-girl the entire concert, deliberating over which two girls in the group might get assigned to stay in our guest room.
Growing up through youth group, college ministry, young marrieds and then raising my own children, I’ve been shaped by the pastors and staff in my life.
From the music minister who counseled me in a pivotal crisis of faith, to children’s ministers who loved on my kids so I could fellowship and feed in the Word, to the pastors who have exegeted in the pulpit week after week, I would not be who I am today without the pastors and church staff who’ve poured into me and my family over the years.
October is widely celebrated across denominations as Pastor Appreciation Month. As I’ve been mulling over how our family will honor our pastor and staff, here are 3 things every pastor needs:
1)The benefit of the doubt. (Yes and amen.) In a world that tends toward the cynical, we need to think the best of our pastor. We need to support his leadership, his decisions, and the direction he feels the Lord leading the congregation. There’s no place for suspicion or tattling or innuendo, especially if we’re whispering it to someone else. A healthy church trusts that God is leading the pastor as he leads the congregation.
2) Prayer. It’s easy to get so caught up in my own day-to-day that I overlook praying for my pastor and staff. Pastors bear enormous stress. Like us, pastors wrangle unforeseen bills, family stresses, marriage issues, aging parents, broken water heaters. They battle frustrations and fear, trials and temptations. Prayer is a huge gift for your pastor as he makes decisions and strives personally to be more like Christ.
3) Support for his wife and family. There’s only one person churches often have more expectations of than the pastor: his wife. The number one job of every pastor’s wife is to love her husband and her family well. It’s not to be at every event and it’s not to head up that special ministry.
She may be an introvert, preferring one-on-one conversations over platform speaking. She might choose to work outside the home or play in a tennis league or wear jeans instead of a skirt. And her children? Let’s please, please not raise our eyebrows like we’ve never been there when they misbehave.
Grace and the golden rule are key to supporting our pastor’s wife and family. And along with grace, let’s offer compassion, because she may be struggling in ways she’ll never feel free to share.
With October set aside as Pastor Appreciation Month, it’s a great time to look for tangible ways to thank your pastor and staff. It may be as simple as sending an ecard, a handwritten note or something more elaborate.
Our family will be writing notes this month. We’ll also create prayer cards with the names of our pastors and staff so we can be intentional about praying for them. And I’m planning to send ecards or notes to former pastors and staff who’ve ministered to our family over the years.
I hope this is a month of huge encouragement for pastors across the church. May they be able to count on us for grace and gratitude.
P.S. This page has many more ideas on how to thank a pastor, youth minister and other staff this month.
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