October is just around the corner with cooler temps, bonfires, fall colors, and warm and cozy smells. Let’s not forget it is also Pastor Appreciation Month, a tradition started by Focus on the Family to remind us to show our pastor and his family how thankful we are for them.
Someone in my church is always on the ball and sends around an October calendar for us to sign up for a day to bless our pastor and his family. I’m always worried to take a day – I’ve been known to forget things. But does it really matter if I miss the day I’m scheduled as long as I do something?
How do we know what to do? One thing might be to think of the five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, gift giving, physical touch, and quality time. Do you know which would impact your pastor and pastor’s wife more?
One of the easiest things we can do is to offer words of affirmation. Say thank you. Write authentic notes of appreciation. Reference something specific that helped you in your walk, spoke to your heart, or means the world to you. Offer kind words of how their family has impacted you spiritually. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to get a handwritten card in the mailbox with words of encouragement.
When you walk out of church on Sunday, shake the pastor’s hand and thank him for the good message. Tell him thanks for caring for you and the church. Kind words to the pastor also encourage his wife. She loves to see him validated. But don’t forget that she needs encouragement too. Give her a hug – not a handshake.
One church put together a journal with each family’s picture and then personal notes to the pastor’s family on their page. What a keepsake – and something they can return to when they need encouragement.
Gift giving can sometimes be an easy thing to do as well. Money or gift cards for favorite restaurants, stores, gas, or groceries work too! Make one card special for your pastor’s wife. Working with rural pastors, I know that several have been given a meat shower. Imagine getting a side of beef to put in your freezer! Some have been given a pantry shower, but make sure the food isn’t expired when you give it. Keep the pastor well-fed as he continues to feed the sheep entrusted to him by God.
With a little extra effort, you might think of the perfect gift. A young pastor received a new belt and belt buckle (with the church’s logo) from his church. The men in the church each had their own special belt buckle (they win them at rodeos, I hear) and they wanted their pastor to have the same. What a way to welcome him to the community.
Do you ever spend quality time with the pastor and his family? Invite them to your house for a casual dinner and game night. An alternative is to take them out to a restaurant. Spend some time getting to know them. Invite your pastor’s wife out for an evening with friends. A pastor’s wife shared, “I don’t usually get invited on friend dates. I usually get invited to things because I’m the pastor’s wife.” Make her feel loved and wanted!
Finally, there are some things we should remember:
- Stop the criticism.
- Don’t give out of obligation. They will know when gifts are given grudgingly. Be thankful for them and give out of love for God and for them.
- Don’t drop the ball! Make sure everyone in the church is aware of the plan and is able to participate in it if they choose.
- If you are going to surprise them with a dinner, make sure they like surprises – and haven’t already eaten!
- Make it for the pastor and his family – not for the church. Buying a new piano for the church is not an appreciation gift – unless you don’t mind if they take it with them when they move.
- And finally, don’t limit your love and thanks to just one month of the year.
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