The religion editor of the Orlando Sentinel passed on the details from a press release he had received from a local church sponsoring a “Pastor Appreciation 5K Run/Walk”. Included in the release was the predictable content:
“A significant part of the health and strong culture of our community is built on the backs of hundreds of dedicated pastors, who week in and week out guide, nourish, counsel, comfort and challenge as many as 1,000,000 of our citizens. This is a tangible way for us to show that we are grateful,” said Patrick Morley, founder of Man in the Mirror ministries.
Wow. I know this is meant well, but it is a bit over the top. I like what I do, and I think what pastors do is important, but I also think what garbage collectors do is important (and dangerous – see #4!). Should we not have a “Garbage Collectors 5K Run/Walk”?
This run is timed with what has come to be known as ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’. Again, I know this is meant to encourage those engaged in pastoral ministry. I’m sure it arose from good people wanting to find a tangible way to thank those whose ministry has impacted them. But for me, a month in which people send cards or run races to show appreciation has just enough artificiality about it to make it just a bit distasteful.
I thrive on being appreciated. I just read appreciation differently. Assuming there are other pastors out there like me, may I make a few modest suggestions regarding how to appreciate him?
1. Faithful attendance at public worship.
2. Saying ‘yes’ when asked to take on a responsibility that relieves a burden from him.
3. Assuming a responsibility when NOT asked to do so.
4. Holding realistic expectations of his ministry. That is, not expecting him to be Jesus, Paul, Piper, or Spurgeon.
5. Inviting others to attend your church.
6. Praying for him frequently, and letting him know you are doing so.
I’m sure others can suggest other ways by which appreciation can be shown. Coming alongside of the pastor and supporting (with attendance and deeds) the ministry which means so much to his heart is the greatest encouragement.
I don’t disparage cards, and gift cards (especially when they say ‘Starbucks’ on the outside!). But they mean more when they come in, say, February.
And while we are at it, let’s buy a dozen donuts and a card and pass them on to your garbage collector to tell him thanks.