Why Pastor Appreciation Month Is A Good Idea

Since October has been designated as the official Pastor’s Appreciation Month, I deem it relevant and timely to address the issue of pastors in my column today. Having served in the ministry for nearly forty-five years and as a pastor for thirty-seven of those years, I have gleaned quite a plethora of insight and information into the sacred calling of pastoring. We have been graced from on high to have had several good and outstanding pastors to serve in our locale over the years. In every Christian and evangelical circle, many congregants in our area can attest to the blessing and benefits that have been bestowed upon them by their pastors. People like William Spain, John Bumgardner, Katie Sanders, Oliver Lane, Richard Alderman, Dickie Cullun, Carlton Thompson, and quite a few others (living and dead) have distinguished themselves as great servants of God, who served their flock in the Dillon Area.
As a pastor myself, I know how important and demanding the call to lead and shepherd God’s people is. Arguably, there is no other profession in our culture that people depend upon to wear as many hats as they do their pastors. In a real sense, we are connected to people from the cradle to the grave. Many are badly mistaken to believe that a true pastor’s responsibility is just to preach a good, soul stirring sermon on Sunday morning. Oh, how wrong can they be to believe that our job just consist of delivering a good sermon on Sunday morning and perhaps on Sunday afternoon and teaching a lesson on some biblical issue during the midweek? That would certainly be enough, if that was all our duties called for. However, how can anyone overlook the times we are called upon to administer special ceremonies like weddings, funerals, baptisms, and baby dedications? Then there are the times when we must visit the sick and shut-ins, the grief stricken, and those who are incarcerated. If you are like me, you’ve been sought out to give counsel to married couples and to mediate between church members who are disputing with one another in order to settle it and bring them to a place of conciliation and mutual forgiveness. Invariably, the most important duty of a pastor is to protect the flock from various types of predators (who walk on two legs) and to feed them with knowledge and understanding. Out of all that I have presented to you, none of it is as essential to the spiritual and general well-being of the people, who the Holy Spirit has set under pastoral oversight, as the charge to be an intercessor. The success of a true servant leader is more dependent on “knee-ology” than theology. Great shepherds of God throughout the church age, beginning with the Chief Shepherd Himself, to the Apostle Paul, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, and all who were effective pastors, mastered and majored in prayer more than they did in anything else.
There is more that I, of course, could say in support of why Pastor’s Appreciation Month is a good idea, but I believe that I have given you enough legitimate reasons to convince you (if you have a good shepherd) that they are worthy of your support and continual encouragement. Most do not know that pastors rank high on the list of professionals who are more prone to be stressed out and suffer a mental breakdown or worse. Pastors are quitting and dropping out of the ministry at an alarming rate. Although there are a few who are well provided for by their members and churches, for the most part, pastors rank high on the list of the most underappreciated, underpaid, and overworked professionals. Do not let the seeming success of pastors like David Jeremiah, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Jack Graham, and quite a few others make you think that they are the norm when it comes to pastoring. Though these men are chosen and highly successful in their ministries, they are by far the exception. The vast majority of pastors in America and around the world have to labor and often maintain a second job in order to adequately provide for their families without over taxing the churches they serve. I know where they are because I was once there myself – robbing Peter to pay Paul and doing a monthly juggling act to keep from going under. The Lord eventually delivered me as I stayed faithful to His work and remained a good steward with my money. I know He will do likewise to all who will serve Him as I and so many others have had to do before our breakthrough came. Truly, He is not a respecter of person.
In the meantime, I want to encourage each and every one of you who is a part of a local church where you know the person(s) who is serving as your pastor is an honest, humble, and faithful servant of God, to do all you can to make them feel appreciated. Don’t just do it during the month of October, which is Pastors’ Appreciation Month, but make it your business to be in their corner and give them some words, cards, and tokens of how much you appreciate them being your spiritual leader and pastor periodically. It will serve as a source of strength and motivation to keep them pressing forward, regardless of the opposition that they are bound to encounter in the execution of their sacred calling and charge.
And most of all, be sure to pray for us (pastors) continually because we certainly need it.