By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Being a pastor is one of the loneliest occupations that exist. Not only do they have to fulfill several rules within their church body, but they also have to endure conflict and character assassination while extending grace to others.
They pour hours into delivering thought-provoking yet engaging sermons to congregation members with blank stares and sometimes receive criticism as a result.
However, congregation members can demonstrate their appreciation for pastors in a myriad of ways. Here are eight ways you can appreciate your pastor:
1. Words of Affirmation
Sometimes the best way to appreciate your pastor is to deliver your encouraging thoughts following his sermon. While pastors often wear many hats during the work week, the sermon is where they focus the most time.
Share with them how their insights have changed your life or encouraged you to act in a different way. Go a step further and write a handwritten note expressing your care and appreciation.
Because they are the same voice week after week, it gets easy to take their words for granted. Show them you care by putting thought and effort into a handwritten note or letter of appreciation.
Go one step further and ask to make an announcement at church applauding him for his efforts. The best compliments go further than “good job today,” but rather “I appreciated your insights, and here's why.“
2. Gift Cards
With inflation rates destroying our economy, pastors are struggling more now than ever to make ends meet. Even if they live in a parsonage or a church-owned property, they still may struggle to put food on their table, just like many people in America.
Give them a gift card to their favorite restaurant or coffee shop. This will help pay for the many mornings he sits in the shop while composing his thoughts for his sermon.
This also gives him and his family an opportunity to treat themselves to a nice family dinner or fancy dessert that they may not otherwise be able to afford.
If you don't know what to get him or he has a sensitive diet, the gift of cash will go just as far. In some cases, the cash may be more appreciated because they can use it towards filling up their fridge or buying other necessities.
3. Make a Meal
Ask your pastor what his favorite meals are. Ask him what his family likes and dislikes. Enlist the help of others in the congregation to make the family a meal. You can also buy takeout if the family likes to eat out.
Schedule enough meals to feed the family at least three to five times a week. This will help cut down on the grocery bill and bless them by sharing your favorite recipes and allowing you to become a part of their home.
4. Acts of Service
Your pastor may not be a handyman or have the money to keep up with household improvements or repairs. Enlist the help of people within your congregation to do a house renovation day.
In addition to having church workdays, it would be a blessing to go to your pastor's home with his permission and help him with yard work for other repairs he simply doesn't have the time or ability to take care of himself.
This will help the congregation become the hands and feet of Christ and also allow the pastor to enjoy the benefits of a well-kept home without having to ask for help.
5. Treat His Wife
While the role of the pastor may be the loneliest, the role of the pastor’s wife can be one of the most overlooked and unappreciated roles.
Not only does she have to support her husband, but she may also have to hold a job to make ends meet as well as volunteer her services after hours to assist the church in various aspects.
This often comes with the expectation of leadership. It is not fair to make the pastor’s wife fill in for every empty program that needs a leader or completion of tasks.
The way to honor your pastor is to honor his wife. Bless her with a day at the spa or other ways to treat her and make her feel special. If your budget permits, invite her out to lunch and get to know her.
The pastor and his family are often the last people to get invited to outings or other events outside of the church. People may feel judged, or they cannot be themselves if they share their struggles or act in a way different than they would on Sunday morning.
Pastors and their families are often alone without support or help in their ministry. Make a point to invite your pastor to your next cookout or family party. Make them feel as though they are not just part of the congregation but also part of your family's life.
6. Hold an Appreciation Dinner
Churches are known for their potlucks. Congregation members love to share their special dishes with the rest of the congregation. Many families go out of their way to make a special meal everyone can enjoy. Hold a dinner with all your pastor's favorite foods.
Make a cake. Write their favorite Bible verse or simply say they are appreciated. Have members of the congregation stand up until why they love their pastor. Allow the pastor's family to take home the leftovers.
Give them special containers so they can freeze the meals and have them for the weeks to come. This will not only honor them in a special way but also help them cut down on their food bill.
7. Meet Their Needs
Discreetly ask your pastor if he has any prayer requests or needs. Pastors often won't ask for help, but they may express their needs in the form of prayer requests if asked. If their biggest need is food, for example, have each congregation member buy $10 of extra food and give it to the pastor.
Make a goal to fill up the back of his car with goodies. You can also do this with baked goods, clothes, or any other need your pastor and his family may have.
The Acts Church made a point to meet each person's needs within their church. Make sure your pastor is appreciated by making sure their every need is met abundantly.
8. Help Out with Their Kids
Another way to honor the pastor is to treat their children in a special way. The pastor’s children sometimes have extra expectations placed on them that they did not ask for. Because they are pastors’ kids, they're often seen as having to be perfect. They may struggle with their public persona.
Take their kids out for pizza, ice cream, or another treat. Give the pastor and his wife a night off from having to watch their children. Go one step further and pay for them to have a weekend alone while you spoil their children for the weekend.
If the pastor does not express his own personal needs, he will appreciate that you recognize and honor his children. Make a point to tell him how well he and his wife have raised their kids and that they are examples of Christ to you.
Pastors often spend their careers thinking of others and putting others' needs before their own. This is especially true in navigating the vision of the church after the world has just suffered through a global pandemic.
This can put a strain on the pastor and his family. By showing your appreciation through written notes, meeting tangible needs, or blessing them with finances, any act, no matter how small, will show your pastor just how loved and appreciated he and his family truly are.
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Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Stephen Radford
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.