Pastor Appreciation Month

 Hi there, I am Reverend Benjamin Beck, better known as Amy's husband. I have been a full time pastor since 2012 but involved in ministry since I was 16. I have worked (volunteer or career wise) in 8 churches since that time. Having been around the block a few times, I wanted to share with all of you an important topic that comes up in October, pumpkin spice...just kidding. Leave the pumpkin spice in pumpkin pies and drink your coffee black. No the real topic I wanted to discuss is Pastor Appreciation Month. Celebrated during the month of October, it is a great way to show care and appreciation to your pastor/pastors.

Now I do not just want to tell you what you should do but rather give you insight from a pastor's perspective, especially from one who does not always like the attention. Not too many pastors really like being put on the spotlight for these moments. If your pastor is anything like me, we are called to this line of work and so we don't usually like a big fuss being made about it. That does not mean you should not do something, it just means you should take some more care and consideration when thinking about how to show your appreciation.

Before we get into a list of ideas for you, I wanted to set a few general rules that will help you find the perfect "gift". First, and foremost, realize that you do not need to do something during Sunday morning worship. While this does provide a good time for everyone in the church to be apart of the celebration, Sunday mornings are usually stressful times for Pastors as they are thinking about 20 different things. Mix that with your pastor potentially not liking having the spotlight on them, a better time to do something is during the week. The other thing to consider is to think about your pastor and their spouse. Nine times out of ten, the spouse does just as much work in the church but does not get paid for it or acknowledged for the sacrifice they make. The fact that Amy can do so much for the church, care for the children and still put up with me, means that she deserves more of the spotlight than me. So think about something for both of them to enjoy; together or separate.

So onto the list of ideas for your pastor in no particular order.

5. Cards
Cards are nice, for some people. Take note of your pastor! I am not a card person, not sure exactly why but I just would rather not receive them. There is, of course, one exception to this. In the last church I served in, there was a lady who hand made cards. Those cards I did truly appreciate because I knew that she took a lot of time to design and make the card specifically for me. So if you do a card, make sure you add something from your that shows that it took more time than just writing your name.

4. Extra days off
It is hard for pastors to take days off. It is necessary but often neglected because there is always pressing tasks at hand. So make plans to give your pastor an extra couple of days or a whole week off. Now that doesn't mean you just tell them to "take the time". Usually you need to force them into this. So get a couple people together to work out any details that need to be taken care of. If there are people in the hospital, have a group visit them. Set up a person or two to be on call during that time for emergencies. Help complete any of the day to day tasks he does including but not limited to; cleaning parts of the church, bulletins, worship planning, social media work, lawn care, and mid-week classes. Side note, if you don't think your pastor does a lot of these things, think again. I know a number of my pastor friends who do all of these things every week.

3. Love Offering
Some times the best gift that can be given is the freedom of "no strings attached". A love offering is a great way to do this. Now some people might argue with me here but I don't care. Don't just give a gift card or give them an offering that you attach strings to. You might not realize that they really need the extra cash to use in the budget. If you tell the pastor that they are only allowed to "use it on themselves" it places a lot more pressure on them because pastor's don't like doing that! Sure there are times that should be the case but there are also times where the best relief I can have is not stress over the budget because of a special offering. At the very least, split the offering. Tell the pastor they have to use half for themselves and the other half for whatever they want. Just don't decide for them what they should do.

2. A Book
This particular gift I am torn on because the temptation is to find a good religious book for them to read but I also know that I receive these kinds of books almost monthly. Sometimes, believe it or not, it is nice to read a book just for the story. So find out what your pastor likes and find a book for them that is just for pleasure. So often we get burned out on reading because we feel like we always need to be reading to learn. Again, you can split this gift. Buy a good commentary or religious book and a fun read. Another side note, make sure your pastor has time within their week to read books. Reading is one of the best ways to learn. Even reading a fun book can teach them as a secondary perk. Picking up analogies or picking up new words and sentence structures can sharpen their preaching, even while reading Star Wars. So give them the freedom to read, even a fun book.

1. Pray
Prayer might seem like a rather simple gift for your pastor but it is one of the most powerful. Pray for them. Make a point to pray for them every week. Let them know, randomly, that you are praying for them and specifically tell them what you are praying about. The phrase, "I am praying for you" means a lot more if you say, "I am praying that you can get restful sleep this week" or "I am praying that God speaks to you in a fresh and new way as you study." You can even go one step further and write out a prayer and give it to them. The Bible is full of recorded prayers that are read as a form of reminder and encouragement. We can do the same. They don't need to be "theological" and "proper". Let them be from the heart. I guarantee you those prayers will be posted in your pastor's study because they are truly special.

I hope that this list has helped spark some ideas of what you can do for your pastor this month. Take time to really help them. Also, all of these can be done for the spouse as well. Please don't forget them. The pastor might be "hired" by the church but we all know that the spouse is part of the package. Take time this month to really plan out how you can help encourage your pastor and their family so they can continue to do the work they have been called to do.