There has never really been a day when I have not been around pastors. Both my father and great-grandfather served in pastoral ministry, and I have also had the wonderful privilege of pastoring churches in Texas and here in my home state of North Carolina. In my current role as executive director-treasurer of the Baptist state convention, rarely does a day go by when I do not have some form of communication with one or more pastors from our N.C. Baptist churches.
For all of my life, I have experienced and witnessed the unique demands that ministry places on a pastor and his family. The challenges that come with balancing ministerial, personal and family responsibilities are real. There always seems to be one more call to make, one more visit to make or a little more sermon preparation to conduct.
While we all need encouragement in life, I can think of no group of people who need it more than pastors. Since October is recognized as pastor appreciation month, I hope you will take time to let your pastor, pastoral staff and their families know how much you as an individual and as a congregation value them and their leadership.
In thinking back on my own days as a pastor, I can remember how something as simple as a card or a handwritten note meant to me. If a pastor at your church has ministered to you in a meaningful way, take time to let him know. Don’t be afraid to be specific. Also, be sure to let your pastor’s wife know how much she is appreciated, as well. Many people do not realize the sacrifices that are made by ministers’ wives and their children.
Be sure to let your pastor know you are praying for him and his family. Pastors invest countless hours in ministry and service to others that they often neglect their own health and well-being. Pastors often carry the weight of the many burdens that are shared with them. Emotional fatigue, depression and burnout are realities in many pastors’ lives. Pray for the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health of your pastor.
If you or your congregation have the means to bless your pastor and his family with a gift, a financial bonus or a much-needed vacation, explore ways that you can bless them in that regard. Most pastors love books, commentaries and other resources that can assist them in their pastoral responsibilities, yet they often have limited funds to devote to these items. Would you consider purchasing him a gift card to his favorite place to buy books or give the family a gift card to a restaurant?
These are just a few ways that you can encourage your pastor. There are many more ideas that could be added to this list. The overwhelming majority of pastors do not pursue such recognition and rewards. That is not the reason ministers enter pastoral ministry. However, a little bit of encouragement can go a long way in reminding him of your appreciation for all he does to lead and minister to your congregation and individuals in the community where your church is located.
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” — Hebrews 13:17
by Milton A. Hollifield Jr. / Executive Director-Treasurer / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina