When was the last time you let your pastor know how much you appreciate him?
By Dennis Rainey
Peter Drucker, a leading authority on management, once made a profound observation on what he believed were the four most difficult jobs in America today: the President of the United States, a university president, a hospital administrator, and a pastor of a local church.
Does the last profession on his list surprise you? Many people might respond, “You’ve got to be kidding!” A few people may even mistakenly think a pastor’s job is one of the easiest.
Maybe something else will surprise you—pastors may soon be an endangered species! Every year thousands of pastors are leaving the church and terminating their ministries. Exhausted and emotionally threadbare, many are leaving either because they are discouraged or because they have fallen into a baited trap of the enemy. It is a fact that there are fewer churches today than in 1900 . . . and even fewer men to lead them.
In a 2022 survey by the Barna Group, pastors said the three largest negatives of their position are:
· “The immense stress of the job.”
· “Current political divisions.”
· “I feel lonely and isolated.”
These issues reflect the isolation and pressures pastors faced during the Covid pandemic, but they also reflect the unique stress of ministering in an increasingly negative and fractured culture. I also have a hunch that the enemy of God, the devil, has created an incredible climate of skepticism and cynicism toward those who represent God. Satan is constantly hurling feelings of unappreciation at the man who has poured his life into others.
With all the negative media aimed at preachers, I have decided to use the “power of the press” too ... and press you to some positive action for your pastor. The need for action is a 2,000-year-old problem—look at what Paul writes: “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
I want to encourage you with is a list of ways on how to appreciate and esteem your pastor.
1. Surprise him and his wife by taking them out to a nice place to eat. Talk with them about something other than your problems. Ask them how they are doing. Then listen carefully. These men and women are in the crosshairs of the enemy and may just need a good word.
2. Schedule a Sunday (well in advance) when the laymen take charge of the service and give him a long weekend away with his wife (Friday until Monday). Be sure to arrange for babysitters, too. Don’t be surprised if you get pushback here … most pastors have a difficult time letting go, especially for a three-day weekend.
3. Find out from his assistant or secretary what books or periodicals he wants for his library, then order a few and sneak them in after he’s gone. Write a note that goes with them, like “You are REALLY a good man!”
4. Over lunch, ask him how many free evenings he has each week to be with his family. When was the last time they had an extended vacation of a week or two? If it isn’t enough considering the age of his children and the needs of his wife, engage in some straight talk about the pace he keeps.
5. Perk him with an all-expense paid, two-week study time at a seminary during early January or in the summer. No major corporation in existence spends less on the continued training, education, and care for their staff than does the church. If you can’t swing it financially, go to the elder/deacon board and ask them to invest.
6. Force him and his family to take a one-month authentic sabbatical at least once every three years. No ministry. No speaking. No meeting with others. No giving. Just pure fun with the family and refreshing time off to read and revitalize his relationship with Christ. Find some folks who’ll make that sabbatical five star by giving them a cabin or a place on the beach that’s free! Those vacation spots that are owned by parishioners are available and more plentiful than you think.
7. And if you want to hit a grand slam home run, give him and his wife free sessions with a financial planning consultant who will help him budget and anticipate college education for children and retirement. You may even know of an attorney who can draft and update a will for for him and his family.
8. Send him a handwritten note of appreciation for who he is and how God has used him in your life. Be specific; avoid broad generalizations.
9. Pray for him daily. Then call him and tell him you’re doing just that and ask him for his prayer requests—and pray for his wife, too.
10. Offer to meet him at his house on his day off to help fix things around the place. Some ministers are all thumbs when it comes to working with their hands … (like me). Others are too busy to take the time! This creates a lot of stress in ministry marriages.
11. Occasionally send him a clever cartoon or joke that mirrors a point he made in a sermon—just so he’ll know that you’re listening!
12. Do a surprise “This is Your Life” program at church one Sunday evening. Don’t roast him, but refuel his spirit with testimonies and a fun time. He’ll be embarrassed, but that’s okay! Contrary to the belief of some, it is biblical to receive rewards on this side of eternity (see Mark 10:28-31).
13. Find out what problem in the church that, if solved, would move the church forward in the coming year. Then, roll up your sleeves and offer to help the leadership solve it.
14. Help him get some exercise by either meeting him two or three times a week at a health club or jogging with him in the morning.
15. Clean his car or have it detailed while he’s at the church office one day. (One of the pastors at our church even told me where he leaves his keys!)
16. Call and express appreciation to the pastor who started you on your spiritual pilgrimage, or who helped you at a critical time in your life. Be specific about how he helped you.
17. Let him know that you appreciate the load he carries—the pressure of caring for sheep, the pace of a growing ministry and the daily sacrifices he makes for ministry. Communicate that you understand he does more than just show up and preach.
18. If you’re an elder or deacon, then why not schedule annual job performance evaluations, walk through his year and express appreciation for a job well done? How about a bonus if he’s really been effective … and a raise? After all, just think how much a raise encourages you.
19. Go to your pastor and ask him where you can assume a position of responsibility. As one pastor put it, “A position in the church where I can learn the fellowship of Christ’s suffering—you only suffer for what you care about and you can only prove you care by taking responsibility” (See Philippians 3:10-11).
20. And don’t forget your pastor’s wife. She makes many sacrifices, too, in giving up her husband to ministry opportunities. Send her notes of appreciation, flowers, or a gift certificate. Express gratitude for the part she plays in the teamwork of pastoring your local church.
BONUS: #21. Give your pastor and his wife an all-expense paid trip to the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway of their choice. Airfare, childcare, hotel, and meals. Hey, it may cost a little, but it’s cheaper than having your pastor get divorced, firing him, and attempting to replace him. All churches ought to provide benefits like this for their pastor staff every year or two. It’s a great investment.
Why not take some time right now to consider how you can esteem your pastor? Then do it.
Copyright © by FamilyLife. Used by permission.
This is too good to keep to yourself! Share with a friend or family member using the links below!