Dear brothers, honor the officers of your church who work hard among you and warn you against all that is wrong. Think highly of them and give them your wholehearted love because they are straining to help you. And remember, no quarreling among yourselves. [1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (TLB)]
October brings Columbus Day sales, the first Christmas items in the stores, pumpkins, corn mazes, Halloween candy, trick-or treaters, and Octoberfest celebrations with sauerkraut, sausage, and polka music. October also happens to be Clergy Appreciation Month. Although we should let our pastors know how much we appreciate them all year long, we probably don’t. We’re far more likely to complain about a sermon, the choice of songs, the temperature of the sanctuary, or the sound system than we are to compliment, encourage or thank our ministers and priests. If we haven’t expressed gratitude to our clergy men and women, now’s the time to do so.
Our pastors work far more than a few hours on Sunday morning. They write sermons and prayers, teach Bible studies, counsel the troubled, visit the sick, marry and bury, baptize and bless, manage a staff, listen to our complaints and problems and somehow manage to unite a disparate group of people into a church family and lead them on their faith journey. As they guide us, we may not always like what they say. Their job, however, is not to please us; it is to lead us. Consider Moses and the Israelites—if they’d had their way, the Israelites would have ended up back in Egypt as slaves. In spite of their grumbling and complaints, however, Moses led them where God wanted them to go—to the Promised Land. Without a doubt, shepherding a church today is no easier than leading a bunch of disgruntled Israelites through the desert.
Our pastors have a huge responsibility and we have huge (and often unrealistic) expectations of them. They’re human beings and get tired, worried, angry, sad, disappointed, and afraid just like the rest of us. They’re no more perfect than we are so let’s be more understanding and less judgmental.
Appreciating our pastors shouldn’t be limited to just this month; we should show our appreciation all year long. While a thank you note is nice, perhaps a better way of communicating our gratitude is by providing support with our voices, wallets and hands, avoiding church politics, and offering encouragement rather than complaints. The best thing we can do for our pastors, of course, is to remember them in our prayers.
Father, we thank you for our clergy—the people you have called to shepherd your church. Let your Holy Spirit fill them so that they shine your light, share your love, and shape your people.
If a church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has. [Anonymous]
Pastors need your grace, not your gripes. [Woodrow Kroll]