I grew up in western North Carolina as the son of a pastor, and although I pursued some other vocations, I later sensed God’s call to change my plans and soon found myself following in my father’s footsteps. I was blessed to serve as pastor of churches in Texas and North Carolina.
The life of a pastor is rewarding and I consider it the highest calling. To open God’s Word each week and teach the truths of scripture is a privilege and a blessing. Pastors have many opportunities to invest their lives in helping people with spiritual needs. They counsel those seeking direction, they help strengthen Christians through discipleship, they lead their people to serve in missions, and they participate in some of their church member’s most celebrative occasions, such as weddings and the birth of children. They also spend sleepless nights with individuals who are gravely ill and families who grieve over the death of a loved one. Pastors are expected to offer words of encouragement and hope during funerals and stand with families at the graveside. Their presence is often desired because people recognize them as messengers from God. Seeing the pastor in times of grief and loss can be a welcomed reminder to the bereaved that God never forsakes us.
However, serving as a pastor also comes with great responsibility and, at times, tremendous challenges. With so many different tasks that need attention the pastor’s time is stretched thin and he can become physically and emotionally exhausted. His family often sacrifices things they want to do together because of the needs of his parishioners.
An article on the 9Marks blog titled “Don’t make your pastor a statistic” notes that 50 percent of pastors feel unable to meet the demands of their job. Of pastors participating in the research study, 70 percent fight depression and 50 percent would consider leaving full-time ministry.
Do members of your congregation ever inadvertently place impossible demands and unreasonable expectations upon the pastor? Does your church family fail to encourage him, affirm him or show their appreciation for his labors on their behalf?
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and I encourage you to take time and express your appreciation not only to your pastor, but also to all your church staff. LifeWay offers great ideas for simple, yet effective ways you can do this. For example, you could do something as easy as writing your pastor a letter or sending a card that expresses your gratitude and assures him of your prayer support.
However you decide to show your appreciation next month, I would ask that you also make a special commitment to pray for your pastor.
Pray that God will provide him with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength. Pray that God will speak through him each week as he preaches and ministers. Most importantly, pray that his life and leadership bring much honor and glory to God.
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” 1 Timothy 5:17