This isn’t something I talk about often, because it isn’t something I want to be perceived as a brag in any way. But I’ve been volunteering at my church for almost a year now. If you’ve read my previous blog post, you know how much we absolutely love our church. It’s been a huge honor to be able to help out in my church office, and the story of how God has worked in my life over the last 9 months is something to share in another blog post.
For today, I want to talk about my pastors. October is Pastor Appreciation Month, something that might have slipped by without me realizing it if I hadn’t been scheduled to have surgery in October. Several weeks ago, I was pretty despondent over the idea of being confined to my house (and probably the couch) for 8 whole weeks while my ankle healed from being fused. I felt like I’d be useless because I wouldn’t be doing all the work I normally do. God is good though, because He clearly spoke to me and reminded me that I can pray. In fact, I’d have a huge amount of time to pray. I started to consider everything that I could be praying for each day, and I actually felt excited about this opportunity. There is always a long list of important people and things to pray for.
Then God put it on my heart to specifically pray for our pastors. When you consider all that they are able to do with such a servant’s heart, there is only one explanation as to how they keep doing it: their relationship with God. God appointed them and God fills them with strength and wisdom. But we still need to pray for them, daily. I started to read up on ways to pray for our pastors, and saw that October was Pastor Appreciation Month. Coincidence? I think not! 🙂
If you had asked me a year ago if the pastors at Grace work hard, I’d have emphatically said “yes!”. But after volunteering in the office, I’ve gotten to see so many more ways that these men serve God, their families, our church, and our community. Most of us see the bigger things that our pastors do: the sermons that they’ve obviously spent a great deal of time preparing for, the worship songs that they’ve rehearsed for hours, the missions trips they go on, the small groups they organize and shepherd.
I appreciate all of the big things that they do. I think they deserve a full month of appreciation from all of us who reap the huge benefits from these guys giving their all to their jobs. What I’ve seen more and more of over the last year is that a pastor works 24/7, his job never ends, and its the little things that they do that really aren’t so little at all.
I’ve seen our pastor at church at 7pm on a Thursday night, folding bulletins after a long day of work. With a smile on his face. Who deserved to go home and relax with his family, but instead overheard that the impact group taking place in the room nearby had forgotten to bring a snack and everyone was hungry. So he goes to the store across the street, buys a bag of snacks, and silently brings them to the group of people he truly loves.
Our pastor goes grocery shopping on a Saturday morning, after a long week of work and hardly seeing his wife and kids. A church member runs into him in the produce section and begins pouring her heart out to him. He patiently listens and gives advice, even if it means that extra time away from his family. But he turned that person’s entire day around. She was seen and heard and able to go on and bless others in her path because of her pastor.
Our pastor spends his mornings working hard and will finally take a break for lunch. And just as he’s about to sit down and eat before his next meeting, someone will want to talk to them about their troubles. And he smiles and listens and prays with them. He’ll eventually eat that now-cold lunch before dashing off to the next responsibility, but you’ll never hear him complain about it.
Our pastor will travel to dangerous countries to preach the Gospel and share the love of Jesus with people who are suffering. He’ll catch a red-eye flight back home, and though he’s jet-lagged, you’d never know it because he often shows up at church the very next day with a smile on his face. And we never hear about the jet lag because his account of his trips are nothing but giving God glory.
Our pastor has a serious illness. He endures unspeakable pain, and medical treatments that give him a whole host of unpleasant side effects. But you’d never know it because yes, you guessed it, he is always there with a smile on his face. Always caring, always there to help.
This is not to say that they never show their own struggles, but on the whole, on a consistent basis, I have seen far more patience and selflessness from these guys than anything.
These are just a few examples of the many things I’ve noticed over the last few months. Our church is extraordinarily blessed to have 6 pastors who are so gifted at teaching and discipleship, but also have a huge heart for loving people in their very real, every day moments. Who really see you. See your needs and do anything they can to help.
Our pastors living out their Christian faith every day and authentically loving people has made a huge impact on my own life. When you feel safe enough to fall apart in your pastor’s office and share the worst pain you’ve ever experienced, and receive only love, prayer, true biblical counsel, and guidance…that is an indescribable blessing. God has used my pastor to save my life in many ways. How can you thank someone adequately for that?
My pastors are fathers and brothers to me. Uncles to my children. They’ve baptized my son. They’re our family and we love them so much!
I share all of this to encourage you to think about all the ways your pastor has blessed your life. These are men who have spouses, children, responsibilities, and stresses just like the rest of us. And they give of themselves constantly. Their families graciously share them with us. Think of what you can do to personally thank these amazing men of God.
After talking with many people about the things that make them feel loved and appreciated, I have a list of some ideas for you:
PRAY! And let them know you are praying for them. Pray for protection over their marriages and families, for wisdom and discernment, for rest, for healing, for their relationships with God. Pray for a hedge of protection around them. Here is a 30 day Praying for Your Pastor challenge that can lead you in your prayers each day.
Write them a note of thanks. Tell them how they’ve blessed you specifically. Share something to encourage them. If you’re not a writer, that’s okay. Buy a card that simply says thank you for all you do. I know of pastors that keep all their notes of encouragement and save them in a box to read later when they’re struggling. Your note might one day help your pastor 10 years from now. Your words are a huge gift!
Give them the gift of alone time. Most people will use their free time to spend with their spouse and/or children, which is a wonderful thing. Giving someone a gift that encourages them to go have fun and enjoy something just for them is a way to help fill their cup. One of our pastors loves to golf. I don’t know anything about golf, but I’m willing to bet he’d love the gift of a round of golf to just unwind and have an hour just for himself.
Along those same lines, a gift that would allow them to spend some extra time with their wives and children is a huge blessing for the whole family. This is a way to also thank our pastor’s wives and kids for sharing their wonderful guys with us. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate or expensive gesture. Someone recently gifted my husband with a $10 gift card so he could take me out for ice cream…a fun treat that we would rarely think to do for ourselves!
Acts of service. Offer to mow their lawn (or send your teenage son to do it). Everyone appreciates a clean house but aren’t always comfortable with friends coming over to clean their toilets, so a gift certificate for a cleaning service is awesome.
Meals. I love to cook and I often tell people that the breads and pastries I bake them are like a big hug, in food form. 🙂 When I make dinner for one of my pastors, its with the intent of trying to help them capture some extra time with their families. Instead of shopping, cooking, and cleaning up, they can just relax and enjoy an extra hour to play catch with their kids, sit and watch a movie with their wives, or even go take a nap. Whatever they want to do, they deserve it. I’ve found that its fun and worth the time to ask around and find out what their favorite meal/dessert is. Have a restaurant deliver dinner if you don’t like to cook. Even a pizza delivery is a huge blessing when you are coming home after a long busy day.
Offer to volunteer your time to help the church. Many people have told me that they have wanted to find ways to get more involved, but just haven’t had the time to figure out the details. Use this month to take the initiative to do just that. There are always a lot of areas in the church that would be so thankful for your help.
Encourage their families. I sometimes daydream about having the financial ability to take all the pastors wives on a spa day to really spoil them. They sure do deserve it! But taking them out for coffee, giving them a note of thanks, a hug, taking the time to see how they’re doing and letting them know they’re appreciated is such a gift.
Give public thanks. I got this idea from an article I read and though it was suggested to take out a full-page ad in a local paper, it actually reminded me that we have a Facebook page with over 900 “likes”, over 1500 “check ins”, and 103 ratings (4.8 stars!). That’s awesome, but only about 6 reviews have been written up in 2017. How cool would it be if more of us publicly recorded just how much we love our church?
These are just a few of my ideas; I’m sure y’all can come up with a thousand creative ideas yourselves and I am praying that God will clearly show you a special way you can say thanks. Our impact group is going to be putting together something special as group, and I would encourage you to do the same with your impact group, or a group of friends. Its fun to get different ideas from different people, and each person can contribute in a small way to bless a pastor in a big way!
If you made it through this very long post, thank you! I hope and pray that its given you a lot to think about, and that it reminded you of how blessed you are by your pastors. If you are so inclined, I would love to hear your stories too! Feel free to leave a comment and share how your pastors have impacted your life.