October in Minnesota is the best time of year. Colors pop, weather cools, new clothing styles to refresh our palettes, new foods to can, harvest, create. It’s also Pastor Appreciation Month. For many congregations, that identification ranks right up there with Columbus Day. It means very little, if anything, to most churches.
Many people cringe at the idea of showing anyone extra appreciation or honor if they’re being paid for doing their job. I have even heard, “Well, if we give above what we give in the offering, then he will just expect more and more. He might even expect a pay raise. It’s better not to show all our cards in one sitting.” Wha??? I don’t know about you, but I am not playing poker with MY pastor! I am being guided spiritually, emotionally, relationally by someone who invests time, energy and money into MY well being, MY growth, MY soul. And I am not the only one in the congregation!
So, how do we show praise and honor to the leaders of our church? At Evergreen, one of our pieces of our culture is “We are a generation of Honor”. We honor up, honor down and honor all around. And when we honor and respect those around us, we ultimately honor God by respecting who He has placed in authority over us. How can we avoid worshiping a personality while simultaneously loving and blessing our pastors and setting them up to win and succeed in serving us? Here are a few places to start…
1. Obey The Bible
The pastors (elders) who lead the affairs of the church well are worthy of DOUBLE HONOR, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. I Timothy 5:17
Point Blank. End of story. It is in the bible, therefore we believe and follow the teachings to the best of our ability. Don’t refuse to honor your pastor because you’re afraid it will go to his head and cause him to be arrogant. How foolish! Honor and encouragement foster humility, not pride.
2. Verbally Affirm Them
Dear brothers, honor those who lead you. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love. I Thessalonians 5:12
Not only should I use my mouth to encourage pastors, I should also use my hands. I can write a card, send a gift certificate, compose an encouraging email, or post on Facebook and Twitter how much I love and appreciate those who lead the church. I can brag on them in public and pray for them by name.
3. Consistently Defend Them
Do not listen to an accusation against a pastor (elder) unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. I Timothy 5:19
At some point, people won’t like something our leaders say or do, and they will talk about it. When we hear these comments, we should quote this verse and explain to the gossiper and anyone else who is listening that we won’t put up with that kind of harmful slander against our pastor. Gossip should not be tolerated in any case, but especially to those in church leadership, you are working against the integrity of God’s church when you engage in those conversations! You wouldn’t let someone talk about your kids or spouse in front of you. Get your pastor’s back!
4. Faithfully Bless Them
For the scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while he is treading out the grain” and “The worker deserves his wages.” I Timothy 5:18
Generosity is a biblical principle. We do not need to ‘one up’ each other with generosity. That is not the spirit in which we give. Find out what your leaders enjoy and pray about giving it to them as a gift. Pay attention to what gives them joy, it is okay to see them as humans! Get creative! It could be something as simple as babysitting so your Pastor and his wife have a date night, gift cards, words of encouragement, offer to help with small tasks, if you have a vacation spot, let them use it. There are so many ways we can show honor and appreciation!
The more we honor and care for our leaders, the better they will love and shepherd and serve us. They win, we win, and ultimately God is glorified and His church is advanced. Let’s follow God’s instruction by loving on our leaders. Pastor Appreciation month is a great place to start.
ideas and concepts inspired by claytonking