As you may know, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. And since I am currently a "church planter," and not technically a pastor, I feel at liberty to speak freely on the topic of pastor appreciation. So let's dive right in...
First of all, I hope we can all agree that churches are to provide generously for their pastor. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul says those who labor in the Word are worthy of "double honor." And just so there is no confusion what he means by that, he goes on to say, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." Unfortunately, many churches have the attitude of "We'll keep him poor and the Lord will keep him humble." And others say, "Well, he shouldn't be in it for the money anyway." The first of these statements is pretty much the exact opposite of the sentiment expressed by Paul, and the second statement is obviously true, but not the church's concern. The church is accountable to God for how well it provides for its pastor. The pastor, not the church, is accountable to God for the motives of his heart.
Secondly, we don't just honor our pastor with material blessings, but with our respect. The author of Hebrews says in chapter 13, "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief for that would be unprofitable for you." Most Baptists I know bristle at the idea of "obeying" their pastor. Many would say "He works for us!" But, Scripturally, this is not the case. Your pastor works for God. He is accountable to God for being a good shepherd to you, and you are accountable to God for being good "sheep" and following his leadership, so long as he is following the Chief Shepherd (Christ).
Finally, you will note the last part of Hebrews 10:13 essentially states that making your pastor's job a "joy" will be profitable for YOU! I spent the last ten years pastoring a church that made my job a joy. They were very generous to me and followed my leadership. (And not just one month of the year, but every month!) In return, I would have run through a wall for them! (And I still would to this day.) Why? Because I knew I was loved and appreciated...
When was the last time your church did something truly generous for your pastor? When was the last time you honored him in a public and intentional way? If he isn't the pastor you feel he should be, maybe it's because he's not getting enough "grain." This can be true in a literal sense. (It's hard for a pastor to focus on ministry when he's worried about paying his electric bill.) But it can also be true in an emotional sense. (Maybe he doesn't feel like anyone notices or appreciates what he does.) A little appreciation can go a long way! A small, heartfelt gesture can energize and inspire a pastor! And may I also say... Even if (in your mind) you have a very poor quality pastor, take my word for it, he does more for your church than you will ever know.
I believe with all my heart that God blesses churches that bless their pastor. What can you do to honor your pastor? (Let a generous gift in October be the beginning, and not the end.) If your church doesn't officially do something as a body, what can you do as an individual? Here are five practical ideas:
1) A tank full of propane or a big pile of wood as fall/winter approaches.
2) A year gym membership. (A healthy pastor benefits your church!)
3) A $50 gift card for him and his wife to have a nice supper. (Extra points for free babysitting.)
4) A freezer full of beef or pork.
5) A pocket full of cash with a command to leave town for a weekend, including Sunday! (Don't count this against his vacation!)
Finally, your pastor is NOT going to bring this up. No matter how badly he would love someone to show him appreciation, that's not who he is and that's not why he's in ministry. SOMEONE (you?) will have to take the initiative on this and make it happen! Are you up for the challenge? It will mean the world to your pastor.