Each October during Pastor Appreciation Month cards pore into the office hailing the pastor as the greatest thing since sliced bread. But oftentimes the encouragement doesn't really go deep into his heart because these are just obligatory words during an obligatory month. The people who send these cards in October are the same ones who undercut the pastor's leadership in September.
Here are the three primary ways that our church members show their appreciation for our ministry throughout the year:
1. They give our leadership the benefit of the doubt.
Even in times of disagreement our people have shown a deep trust in us. Though they may disagree on certain points they believe that our leaders are godly men who love them and love the Lord.
I remember a situation a couple years back when a dear man disagreed with a wording change in our constitution. To him the wording weakened our church's stance on an issue he was passionate about. We listened to him and we also gave our reasoning behind the word change. At the end of the day we still disagreed on the wording. A few weeks later our church voted to adopt the word change. After the service, this man came up to me and said, "I wish we would have kept the old words, but I see your point, and trust your leadership. You've got my full support." When I received a pastoral appreciation card from this man a couple months later it carried much weight.
2. Our church genuinely cares for my wife and children.
The greatest thing a church can do to support their pastor is remembering that he is first a husband and father. When our church shows appreciation for my wife and children it blesses me immensely. One year our church turned October into a month to show appreciation to all of our pastors' wives.
3. I have received thoughtful and personalized gifts.
One Sunday I used a silly illustration about trying to grow a Snickers tree as a child. On Monday morning I found a tiny Christmas tree with Snickers bars attached to it on my desk. On the tree was a note that read, "Sometimes our dreams do come true." Little things like these have made me feel appreciated far beyond what I deserve.