Your ministers may not mention this annual occurrence because they don’t want to bring attention to themselves, but October is Pastor-Staff Appreciation Month. Initiated years ago by H.B. London and Focus on the Family, showing appreciation can have a huge impact on ministers, their wives, their children and ultimately the church itself.
I’ve served as the wife of a minister who has served in various capacities over the past 33 years, as well as worked alongside many ministers and their families. It’s a special privilege to serve, but I can tell you firsthand the need for encouragement and affirmation. I have witnessed an all-out spiritual attack on ministers and their families.
A 2015 Lifeway research study shows:
- 80 percent expect conflict in their church.
- 54 percent find the role of pastor frequently overwhelming.
- 53 percent are often concerned about their family’s financial security.
- 48 percent often feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle.
It takes someone to champion the cause
Many churches graciously express appreciation to their staff corporately and through the church budget at various times of the year such anniversaries and Christmas. Some do not do anything. Pastor-Staff Appreciation Month is a unique time in which church members are encouraged to do something individually and personally. Just like any other cause, it takes someone to spearhead the effort – to champion the cause, even if it is simply placing an announcement in the Sunday worship bulletin, church newsletter or social media.
In the late ‘80s my husband served as the pastor of a church plant in a suburb of New Orleans. Money was tight for us and the church. Someone took the initiative and organized families to bring us a meal for seven consecutive nights. As a church planting couple, I worked full-time while my husband completed seminary classes and while we were raising babies and balancing the household together. Those meals were a huge blessing to our family.
Years later, after moving to a pastorate in Stillwater and into a home with little storage, the doorbell rang unexpectedly and a china cabinet was delivered. A group of families chipped in and made a perfectly matching purchase. Another year, a similar group sent us to a Bed & Breakfast and made arrangements for our kids to spend the night with church friends. Someone championed the cause.
Over the years, my husband has been blessed in many ways. One favorite is a personal note with a word of appreciation citing a specific time he ministered to them or a sermon that God used to speak directly to them. He’s enjoyed a basket or bag with a few things he mentioned in sermons that he enjoys like Dr. Pepper and Reece’s or humorous gifts. One year, a family gave him a book of pastoral cartoons with cash inserted in the pages.
The benefits for the ministry spouse
It’s been said that the pastor’s wife can be one of the loneliest people in the church. The pastor is the focus of a lot of attention, and often she can get lost in the shuffle as she serves behind the scenes. She carries the private burdens of her husband, carries confidences of the private lives of church members and bears the weight of various church matters. She strives to be gracious and discreet while keeping right relationships. She guards her husband, children and home, attempting to keep priorities in order and balance busy schedules. The God-called spouse knows better than anyone the sacrifice her husband makes to serve God’s people.
Remembering your ministers for Pastor-Staff Appreciation Month will help your staff spouse to feel valued and loved and to persevere. It will inspire her. Make an intentional effort to show her love. Value her unique giftedness. Ladies, reach out to her and do not compete with her. Get her out of the nursery. A minister’s wife who is strengthened will strengthen her husband.
The benefits for the children
Being a pastor’s kid is very hard. All eyes are on them, and they are held to a high standard – a standard that is different from the other kids. Often they feel pressured and like they can’t measure up. Your staff’s kids NEED to know you appreciate the selfless work of their father.
In turn, this will make them feel valued. How many pastor’s kids grow up and don’t want anything to do with the church because they’ve seen the way their father has been treated? They need to see that people really do appreciate their family’s service, and it’s worth it. This can have an impact on them for years to come.
Your pastor and staff need encouragement. It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. The best thing to do is to look at your pastor and his family and ask, “What can we give them that will meet a need and help them feel loved?”
Tell them you love them. Lighten their load, unclutter their life, have their back when there is controversy, guard their privacy and give them space for their family.
Pastor Appreciation does nothing but make the church better. There is no downside. God will not bless a church above what they bless their pastor. Express your love and appreciation to your ministers this month!
For more ideas and a downloadable brochure go to www.bgco.org/ministries/leadership/pastor-staff-appreciation-month.