By Darrick Young
I remember opening my first ever Pastor’s Appreciation card. Inside were a few kind words and a refrigerator magnet that said, “I work for the Lord. The pay’s not much, but the retirement benefits are out of this world.” I also remember thinking, “I wish I had the $5 this magnet cost instead of this magnet.” In the ensuing years my wife and I have received many forms of appreciation from church members – everything from baked goods to getaways and lots of words of encouragement.
Recently, a survey by LifeWay Research found that one-third of pastors were considering leaving their church or the ministry altogether. The challenges of leading a church during the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial pressures that go along with that, and the typical demands of leadership are causing many to wonder, “Is it worth it?” and “Can I take it?” Here are some ways to make this Pastor Appreciation month meaningful and encouraging for your pastor:
- Make it personal. When you give a gift that fits a pastor’s hobbies or interests or you write something specific about them in a card, it lets them know that you appreciate them for who they are, and that’s always meaningful.
- Don’t forget the rest of the crew. Unlike most other professions, a pastor’s spouse and family are a significant part of their role. Often it is the pastor’s family that makes some of the greatest sacrifices for your church. Including them in your acts of appreciation is one of the most helpful things you can do.
- Some things are worth more than money. While financial or material gifts are appreciated, there are intangible gifts that can be a great blessing to your pastor. One local church pastor received a calendar for the upcoming year. Each day was labeled with the name of a person from the congregation who would be praying for him or her on that date. Every pastor I know would trade that gift card to Applebee’s for 365 days of prayer support.
- Make it more than a day or month. Finding ways to provide encouragement year-round rather than for one Sunday a year will mean a lot to your pastor. For instance, if your pastor and spouse have young children, offering them free childcare once a month so they can have a date night would be HUGE.
- Let them know how they have helped you. Most pastors didn’t get into ministry to get rich. They did it because they were called by God and because they want to help people experience the life-changing power of Jesus. When you let them know how they have helped you draw closer to Christ or navigate a tough life situation, they are reminded that they are fulfilling that call. And that’s the fuel that will keep them going.
About the Author
Darrick Young serves as the lead pastor for Journey Church in Urbandale, Iowa, which he planted in 2012. He also serves on the Central Region and national boards of Open Bible Churches and the board of Discover Church Planting Network. Darrick and his wife, Ranada, have two amazing children and two awesome kids-in-law. They all happily reside in Grimes, Iowa.