Plan ahead for the pastor’s appreciation in October
In Canoeing in the mountains: Christian leadership in uncharted territory, author Tod Bolsinger talks about a 90-year-old woman in a church he led in California. Her name was Ruth. He said she was a real treasure.
“Boy,” she said (she was one of the few people in the church who could call Dr. Bolsinger “Boy”). She said, “I pray for you every day.
Bolsinger said, “Thank you, Ruth. It means a lot to me. I can use prayers. You know that all of these changes that we are making here in our church are difficult for a lot of people. Pray that God will bless what we are doing.
To her surprise, she said, “I’m not praying for this. I pray that you will continue to preach the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. Just keep preaching the Bible and don’t get lost. This is what I pray for you every day.
Every worthy pastor wants pious intercessors to cry out his name before the King of kings. Some pastors have gone through the trauma and stress of a lifetime over the past 18 months and would like even more prayer – a well-deserved prayer, as their pain is great.
The spiritual watch and the leading of the flock of God in the context of the Covid pandemic has taken a heavy toll on many great men of God. A seminary education or a great apprenticeship was never intended to prepare church leaders for this time in history. It is unique, and the ministry landmines sown by enemies of the church are more numerous than one could ever imagine.
But God is faithful and continues to be our provider, protector and source of help to those who lift their eyes and yearn for his presence (Psalm 121).
October is a golden time to bless the man of God, the pastor in your life who has worked so hard to nourish you with the truth of the Word of God, who listens to you in difficult times, who equips you to walk through faith in the tall grass of a broken world. For the past 10 years, every September, we have encouraged local churches to thank their local pastor, giving to the giver to help people be who they are in Christ.
The size of a congregation, the length of pastor service, or the current state of the pastor / church relationship has little to do with sharing a blessing with your pastor. That’s what you should do. Pastors are no more perfect than a church is perfect. But as a church you need him and he needs you. Bless him. The Lord always honors gratitude. While you are at it, don’t forget the former pastors of your church whom God used to pour words of truth and encouragement into your life.
One of the first expressions of appreciation for a pastor is that God’s people be healthy members of the local church. Your participation in worship, your study of the Word of God, your testimony for Christ in your home, neighborhood, and market, your stewardship of God’s resources are all measurable things that speak to the pastor’s heart. When complaining lips and words of criticism are not found in the body of Christ, pastors feel they are making progress in leading a church to greater faith in the Lord.
Secondly, remember to mobilize. The more organized the church is with their expression of appreciation, the more meaningful it is to the pastor and his family. It’s like “crowdsourcing” inside the church. Collect a basket of cards (along with gift cards), handwritten notes, money tree, whatever you choose to do, plan to work together with your heart and head. The result will be respectful, honorable and a blessing.
Third, be bold! Just because most pastors get low wages, now is not the time to cut corners. Make a gift worthy of the God who called him to serve your church. Be extravagant with the pastor’s wife and family. And October is almost here.
One idea I heard about was such a gift. They have scheduled their pastor’s Blessing Days on October 31. Families would choose a day and on that day each family would send a prayer card with a gift card or take the pastor and his family to dinner. Two families joined together and gave two evenings to the pastor and his wife while a third looked after their young children. For this to happen, someone had to plan and implement the plan.
Ronnie Floyd, chairman of the SBC executive committee, recounts an event 25 years ago when 31 men walked into a private prayer room, where they were convinced they would find their pastor. The spokesperson for the group said, “Pastor, we are here today to give you a special gift. Each of us will fast and pray for you one day per month. Here is our commitment to you. The group of men presented Dr Floyd with a commemorative letter with each of their names inscribed on it. (Advancing the Vision e-newsletter from Dr. Ronnie Floyd, September 15, 2021)
Whatever your church does to express its gratitude to your pastor, remember to give “double honor” (1 Tim. 5:17) to spiritual leaders who perform their duties as servants of the Lord.