October is Clergy Appreciation Month
Are you appreciating your staff?
Since 1994, the folks at Focus on the Family have led churches to emphasize “Clergy Appreciation Month” and show appreciation to their pastors and staff year round, but especially during the month of October.
Why? Because it’s biblical. The apostle Paul wrote in I Timothy 5:17, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”
In I Thessalonians 5:12-13, Paul wrote, “Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard because of their work.”
Why? Because it’s practical. We know we should count our blessings every day, but sometimes it takes the Thanksgiving season to remind us to pause and give thanks for the many blessings we take for granted. We rub shoulders with our pastors every Sunday and often throughout the week, but when there’s a specific emphasis on the calendar, we are more likely to lead our congregations to give thanks and show appreciation for staff and their families.
Why? Because the ministry is hard, difficult work. When I was working through my call to ministry, an older minister shared with me, “If there’s anything else you can be happy doing, then do it.”
I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, but looking back, I think that he was trying to help me realize that ministry is not just a job, but a calling. And some days, that call of God is the only thing that keeps you going.
I heard a pastor friend say recently, “If ministry was only preaching, teaching, visiting and loving on people, it would be so less stressful.”
Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, wrote, “Being a pastor is an exhausting task. It strains nerves and wears on the spirit. His wife and family are often shortchanged in order for him to serve you.”
Most folks don’t think about the reality that the pastor is never “off duty.” The job is 24/7. Even when he is out of town on vacation, calls come seeking prayer and counsel, or crises arise that may even call the pastor back to town. This “always on call” is the nature of ministry.
Why? Because your pastors love you. I love our folks at McDonough Road Baptist, and I know they love me. Serving together as pastor and people is somewhat like a marriage. Neither party is perfect and it takes hard work and dedication to make the relationship work. But I’m blessed to serve a wonderful church family.
Pastors come in all shapes and sizes. They have different gifts and varied abilities, but they take their responsibilities seriously.
Jordan wrote, “The shepherd of the flock touches us at the most significant times in our lives. He counsels and listens to us. He is there when we are born and when we are born again. He marries us and buries us. When we suffer traumatic experiences, he is the person we call to our side. When we fail miserably and sin overwhelms, or when we have lost our way, he is the one to whom we go for correction and direction.”
Your pastors are there when you need them. They are human, they have imperfections and flaws, but they love you, even with your warts and all. And they want to do a good job for you and for the Lord.
At the risk of being misunderstood since I’m a pastor promoting this emphasis (I’m not intending to be presumptuous but simply encouraging), I encourage you individually and as a church family to find a way to show appreciation for your pastors this month. Let them and their families know how much they mean to you.
Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, just past the department of drivers’ services building. Join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org.