by Rev. Susan Brims, East District Missional Strategist and Superintendent
Billy Graham once said, “The test of a preacher is that the congregation goes away saying not, ‘What a lovely sermon!’ but, ‘I will do something.’”
A pastor’s calling is a unique one. Studying, praying, preparing the weekly message and Bible studies, counseling people, encouraging people, comforting others, serving as the person who ensures the business of the church is in good order, inspiring the committees of the church and its ministries are only part of what a pastor does to shape the community of faith to be instruments of hope and healing in the neighborhood.
Physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion are part of life for many of our pastors. In many churches the pastor serves not only as the spiritual leader of the congregation, but also as the tech expert, office administrator, secretary, custodian, and marketing manager. All of this happens while they are working to figure out some type of work/family life balance. It makes us keenly aware that burnout is a real risk for all of our pastors.
October is pastor appreciation month, a time to recognize all that your pastor is doing and going through in order to support your community of faith. The East District pastors are some of the absolute best in the nation. They give all they have and then some. Last year I heard stories form pastors about how their churches went out of their way to express their appreciation. Many churches offered drive by card drop offs. Others were showered with gifts and other expressions of gratitude. One pastor came home to find the yard filled with plastic pink flamingos as an expression of joyous gratitude.
It has been a difficult and challenging time since the pandemic began. Pastors, like school educators, have given massive amounts of effort in shifting how church could fulfill the calling to make disciples for the transformation in a world impacted greatly by a virus.
Expressions of appreciation are important in life. So here are a few ideas for you to consider implementing:
- Be grateful – take time to notice all that your pastor does, how often your pastor sacrifices family or personal time to address the needs of the congregation. Let the pastor know how her or his ministry/teaching/study/sermon has impacted you to do something different in your life, so that you will live as a stronger disciple of Christ.
- Be a volunteer – offer work alongside of the pastor to see that something needed happens. In some cases. This may mean offering to learn modern technology to free the pastor to lead rather than spend all of the time editing videos or putting together PowerPoint presentations for worship. Ask what you can take off her or his shoulders so there is more time to do ministry.
- Be cheerful – if the pandemic has taught us anything it is that so many people in our communities are struggling. Be the person who smiles, laughs, inspires hope and joy. There is something infectious (intentionally used that word) about a positive presence.
- Finally, be prayerful – spend time in prayer for your pastor.
There are many other ideas about expressing appreciation to your pastor that the Holy Spirit will inspire you to talk about with those who worship with you. Listen to what God is saying and say thank you.
Our pastors are the greatest. And so are the members or our churches. Together, clergy and laity do impact this world in wonderful and meaningful ways.
Be the change – offer love – support one another.
My prayers are with you always.