Last Monday my husband was out-of-town. An amazing lady from my church brought dinner to my house so I didn’t have to cook when my husband was away. While she was visiting with me in my backyard my son came outside and said, “Mom, a lady from church dropped off dinner!” My kids and I had the most fabulous smorgasbord dinner! I teared up. My husband and I had just been talking about how when I am out-of-town everyone flocks to him to make sure he’s taken care of. I laugh and think, “He DID live before he met me!” But no one had ever thought of ME when HE was out-of-town. The gestures dug deep inside my heart!
Today I got a phone call from another lovely lady in our church. “Will you be around this afternoon, I’d like to bring your family dinner!” I paused, pushed my mouth closed and half cried/ half gleefully shouted, “YES!” Did she know that we had unexpectedly lost our water due to a water main break this morning? Did she know I worked that night and was JUST wondering how we’d manage dinner, clean up, and LIFE without water!?
Two Monday’s in a row!? What’s going on!?
Well, it might be that October is Pastor Appreciation Month (and, honestly, I’ve learned with my church, it might also just be that THEY ARE AWESOME!). Feeling blessed in small ways fuels a pastor! But what happens when the church forgets? What happens when you need a meal and no one thinks to bring one? What happens when you, the pastor, have dealt with a very unhappy church member most of the week? Or when the church finances are down for the 4th month in a row and you, as the pastor, have gone over the numbers 1800 times? Or when a church member moves away leaving a major gap in ministry roles and you, the pastor, are scrambling to fill the spot… week after week… after week. Or What happens when you’re JUST the associate (youth or children pastor, intern or staff pastor whatever your title may be) and you get overlooked yet again. And the church never sees, and never tangibly blesses, and they pass over the entire month with nothing… not even a small card of appreciation? What then?
We’ve been there. We’ve read about pastors being blessed with Disney trips, or new (to them) cars, with fellowship dinners, and homemade meals brought to their doorsteps all in the same month that we were told, “Since we don’t have a pastor, we’re not going to have to do Pastor Appreciation this year!” (While the youth pastor’s wife sat back exhausted trying to help her husband, who was exhausted, who was filling in between Senior pastors). We’ve been on staff at churches where the senior pastor was showered with admiration (deservingly) while we sat to the side with no recognition at all. It hurts. It feels like a punch in the gut when that last Sunday of October comes to pass and the truth sets in that the church has overlooked the month altogether. I wish it hadn’t happened… but over the last 15 years of ministry together in 5 churches, it has happened once or twice. **Let me add this disclaimer here… it was in the past, it was what it was. We are FINE now, we are not mad, we are not grudge holders, we are happy, healthy, and the ministry and life went on. Please, know all is well!**
So, how do pastors, and their families, get past the lack of appreciation? It’s not like you pastors entered the ministry for the appreciation dinner one Sunday in October. Getting cards with words of affirmation wasn’t the driving force behind all those late nights cramming during your college years. Those very appreciative gift cards to your favorite restaurant aren’t the sole reason you pastors sit at the hospital with a sick church member into the wee hours of the morning. Your goal as a pastor isn’t to get a pat on the back for shepherding those not only in your church, but in your towns. It’s not the incentives that drive your work, so why does it hurt so bad when no one notices?
Can I encourage you that someone DOES notice! Can I encourage you and remind you that GOD notices! He knows all the things you do. He has seen your hard work and your patient endurance. (Rev 2:2).
Can I encourage you as I refresh your memory that God sees what is done in secret and WILL reward you. (Matthew 6:18) (and dear pastor friend, it WILL be better than ANY restaurant gift card!!!)
Let me show you what appreciation is coming your way… Luke 6:23 says, “your reward is great in heaven”. Luke 14:14 says “For you will be repaid at the resurrection”.
You see, what you pastors (and your families) are doing here on earth has eternal rewards that can not be measured in human terms. The things unseen are your reward, like the numbers added to the book of life because of your obedience to the call. Although it seems that there are more complainers than rejoicers this side of heaven, it should never negate the awe-inspiring, life- changing, soul-transforming miracles that happen throughout your ministry life. Because you choose to seek His approval and not man’s, your reward may look different from those climbing a corporate ladder. Our reward is eternal. No fellowship dinner will beat the dinner table in heaven!
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
( 2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
You did not enter the ministry for the MAN, but for the man’s heart. You did not enter the ministry because of the outward approval of the church, but for the Savior the church is pointed towards. And the recognition isn’t always there while in the midst of the battle here on earth. But when we serve the One True God, he won’t forget. His inheritance has already been set aside as your reward. My fellow pastor’s wife… YOU ARE SERVING THE LORD CHRIST! What an honor!
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Please know that your ministry is valued. Please know that your giving… and giving… and giving does serve a purpose. Believe me when I say that just because no one sees the hours spent in the trenches does not mean they’ve gone unrecorded. Please believe me, young staff pastor, when I quote Luke 6:38 “…Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” I KNOW this, I live this! It WILL be measured back to you. Let God do His thing and sit back and count your blessings. They may not come in the form of dinners, cars, Disney trips… but they can warm the heart in more superior ways.
Pastors don’t be discouraged. Don’t be let down by the actions of mere humans. WE all make mistakes, and miss the mark from time to time. Know that God is watching. God is noticing, God is recognizing all your hard work. Interns, children’s pastors, youth associates, volunteer pastors… please feel the words I write to you. Your ministry was given to you because God felt you were the right one for the job. Keep trekking on! Keep giving; Keep pouring out, pressing down, shaking the lives of those around you! Keep running the race, because we all know “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) (emphasis mine)
Oh, and one last thing…
HAPPY PASTOR APPRECIATION MONTH!
ATTENTION CHURCH MEMBERS!!! Please don’t let your pastor, or ANY staff pastor (or intern) feel this way… be the one to plan something at your church, for some ideas visit my Pintrest page just for Pastor’s Appreciation…
Pastor Appreciation Ideas