Serving as a pastor of a local church is one of the most rewarding callings in life. It’s also one of the most challenging. I know because I served as a local church pastor for 15 years before becoming a director of missions.
Although I no longer serve as a pastor, I still interact and engage with pastors on a daily basis. The stories they share with me are often filled with the highs of seeing people come to faith in Christ, grow in their relationship with the Lord and sharing in significant life moments. Their stories are also filled with the lows that come with discouragement, conflict, exhaustion and loneliness.
Most, if not all, pastors experience such highs and lows every week and, perhaps, every day. That’s why I believe it’s important for us to always be encouraging our pastor and church staff members.
Congregations will have a special opportunity to express gratitude to their pastor next month as part of Pastor Appreciation Day, which is typically celebrated on the second Sunday in October. This year’s date is Sunday, Oct. 13. In fact, the entire month of October has been deemed Pastor Appreciation Month as a way to honor and celebrate the many ways that pastors give of themselves to provide spiritual leadership. While you may not find this unofficial holiday listed on a calendar, this is an important day and month in the life of the church.
The idea of honoring those God has called to serve as pastors and leaders in the local church is a biblical principle. In 1 Timothy 5:17, the Apostle Paul writes, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, Paul urges us to “recognize those who labor among you” and “esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake….”
This is the same Apostle Paul who also wrote that in addition to the physical and external hardships he endured, he faced the daily pressure of “deep concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28). Pastors are not perfect people, but they, like the Apostle Paul, share this burden to care well for those God has placed under their care.
Earlier this year, Chris Griggs, who pastors Denver Baptist Church in Denver, N.C., wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition titled “A Week in the Life of an Ordinary Pastor.” I commend this article to every North Carolina Baptist because it conveys what Griggs describes as the “emotional roller coaster” that pastors often ride each week.
I hope that you will start planning now to honor your pastor during October’s Pastor Appreciation Month. You don’t have to do anything extravagant to let your pastor know how much you appreciate him. Even small gestures go a long way. So let your pastor know how much he is appreciated not just next month, but all year long.
“And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” — Jeremiah 3:15 (NKJV)