Before I go any farther, I want to make a disclaimer. Pastors aren’t perfect. Not every pastor works hard. Yes, there are some who work upwards of 70 hours a week, but others are just lazy. Pastors are flawed, have weaknesses, get frustrated, and basically are…human. There are good pastors and awful pastors. I have worked with both. Some may argue I have been both. If you are currently attending a church, even virtually, read on.
October is “Pastor Appreciation Month,” when Hallmark tells you to show your pastor a little love. I promise you that churches who make a thing of this are well-loved by their pastors. As with any institution, most pastors receive a ton more complaints than compliments, so a gesture of gratitude any time of the year really goes a long way.
In Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica, he lays out the kind of effort that pastors go through when they are called to shepherd a church. He talks about hard work, hardships, and struggling to make a living so that he could do the anointed work of preaching and teaching the Good News to the people.
1 Thessalonians 1 (Contemporary English Version)
9 My dear friends, you surely haven’t forgotten our hard work and hardships. You remember how night and day we struggled to make a living, so that we could tell you God’s message without being a burden to anyone.
In my denomination, we call those folks “bi-vocational pastors.” Many work nine-to-five jobs and then conduct worship on Sundays. Somehow they fit in visiting the sick, attending to the administration of the church, offering counseling, performing weddings and funerals, doing a minimum of ten hours sermon prep, and a host of other things. God bless the bi-vocational servants who bring the good news!
And God bless the full and part-time pastors who juggle church, family, study time, home, social obligations, and community responsibilities as though they are riding unicycles on a high wire, each with a crazed monkey on their head. Pastoring is not easy. Just one small thing can disrupt the delicate, impossible balance and send everything spilling into the ring occupied by the marching elephants.
10 Both you and God are witnesses that we were pure and honest and innocent in our dealings with you followers of the Lord. 11 You also know we did everything for you that parents would do for their own children. 12 We begged, encouraged, and urged each of you to live in a way that would honor God. He is the one who chose you to share in his own kingdom and glory.
A good pastor does exactly this. They focus their life’s work in honest labor to encourage their parishioners to live in a way that honors God. Paul is right. Good pastors love their churches like parents love their own children.
13 We always thank God that you believed the message we preached. It came from him, and it isn’t something made up by humans. You accepted it as God’s message, and now he is working in you.
There is nothing more important to a pastor than to know that they have brought someone to Christ. Nothing beats it. When you walk out of a service and tell your preacher that you have heard God’s message, that is the best kind of appreciation you can offer. And when a pastor sees their congregation serving with a sense of purpose, calling, understanding, and humbleness, it is a game-changer. That is a church we never want to leave.
If you are part of a faith community that is being well-shepherded by a loving pastor, thank God. It is so much harder than it looks, especially now. The pandemic has knocked every pastor I know for a LOOP.
To my fellow pastors, I raise my hand in gratitude and praise for everything you are going through right now as you are faithful to your calling. May God bless you and keep you from going crazy.
Friends, pray for your pastors. Encourage them, uplift them, and let them know you care. Even when it isn’t October.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of joy!” (Romans 10:15 NKJV)