In the early 1990s Focus on the Family started highlighting October as Pastor/Clergy Appreciation Month (the second Sunday of the month being Pastor Appreciation Day). Their desire was to emphasize the biblical commands to honor our pastors (Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17; etc.).
While this desire to honor pastors has good intentions, it may be backfiring. An anonymous twitter handle The Unappreciated Pastor (@Rev_Norespect) says, “Today starts Pastor Appreciation Month, or as we call it at our church, Passover.” He may be recycling an old Bob Hope joke, but there is truth in jest.
At the first gathering of pastors in November, it’s common, for someone to ask, “What did your church do for Pastor Appreciation Month?” This moment can be awkward. One year a pastor shared that his church gave him an all-expenses-paid weekend away with his wife. Another was given a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant that his wife loved but they could rarely afford. A third pastor showed off his new theological bobblehead that showed someone in his church really understood his sense of humor. When it was my turn to share, I said “Nothing happened. Usually I get a card or two, but this year they didn’t do anything.”
I didn’t enter ministry for the gifts that people bring. Until that moment I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I didn’t get anything. Maybe Pastor Appreciation Month isn’t always a good thing. That year I was given the gift of overcoming bitterness (pastors are human too).
One year my church gave us an amazing appreciation gift. They turned the event into a time of fun and laughter. They gave my son a giant Lego set. My wife got a card with a little money in it. And I got a hammer. On the side of the hammer someone had scrawled “Holy Hammer” in permanent marker. They announced to the church that when a deacon gets out of line, one tap on the head with this holy hammer would straighten him right out. Then the whole church committed to pray for me every day for the next year. It was the best gift ever!
Whether or not your church celebrates Pastor Appreciation Month, why not make an intentional effort to show your pastor just how much he is appreciated every month of the year. The more you invest in your pastor’s joy, the better he will be able to serve your church.
Here are a few articles that will help you bless your pastor year-round:
10 Great Ways to Encourage Your Pastor
10 More Great Ways to Encourage Your Pastor
Invest in Your Pastor’s Joy
How Encouraging Your Pastor Benefits You
Pray for Your Pastor
Why You Should Make Your Pastor Take a Sabbatical