A Call to Honor Our Pastors

As the season has turned from Summer to Fall, aggressive marketing strategies are sometimes too quick to remind us of fast-approaching holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Many of us may not realize, however, that October is also Pastor Appreciation Month, with Pastor Appreciation Day typically being celebrated on the second Sunday of October.

I have the relatively unique experience of being married to a person who was a pastor for many years before peaceably transitioning back to the secular workforce. Before I ever met my husband Stephen, I already knew that I wanted to marry someone who had a deep passion and soft heart to care for others. As we grew from friendship into marriage, I admired him greatly for the way he literally left his door open for people to come in and out through the entire course of a day to break bread, relax, laugh and enjoy community. I also know the challenges we faced from being in ministry, individually and as a couple, and I know the invaluable ways that people came around us to support and encourage us when the seasons were hard.

God does not leave His people without guidance as to how a congregation can and is in fact charged to care for its leaders.

Hebrews 13:17 tells us, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” First Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

These passages show me that:

  1. God is so gracious to our elders in recognizing the burdens that can be associated with what they are called to do. There are burdens that elders bear, and there is labor that goes into preaching and teaching. This is not so much an indictment against any and every congregation, it’s simply a reality that God acknowledges.                                                                    
  2. God shows us a way to make our pastor’s work a joy: Have confidence in them and submit to their authority. There is an intention to encourage and a spirit of humility that we can bring to our pastors to cultivate their joy in shepherding us, even as we also often bring to them our struggles and our questions.                                                                                                                
  3. God calls us to not only show honor, but double honor to our elders. This is simply not a passage I imagine our pastors ever highlighting in their own blog posts or preaching because, well, that could get awkward. But it is important for us as the congregation to know what God’s Word says about how we are to care for our elders. Ministry was never meant to be one-directional, and Paul tells us that we are to give double honor to those who have committed their lives to the work of preaching and teaching.

So as we look to October as Pastor Appreciation Month, I would like to offer up some practical ideas as to how we can show double honor to the elders and pastors who pour out so much upon us:

-      Community Groups can find ways to actively arrange for the pastor and his wife to go out on regular date night. Ministry so often happens in the evenings and weekends, which turns the schedule for the pastor’s family a bit upside-down. Community Groups can help arrange childcare and even provide a gift card to a local restaurant so our pastors and their wives can nurture their relationship.

-      If the pastor’s family is hosting you at their home for a meal, consider bringing the meal to them! While we all know our pastors and their wives well enough to know that they are wonderfully sacrificial, generous and hospitable, what a blessing it could be to provide the meal so that the energy demand on them is a bit less.

-      Bring a meal over for the pastor’s wife and the family on especially busy ministry weekends such as conference weekends.

-      Buy a fun gift card for a mini shopping spree or spa day for the pastor’s wife.

-      Tell your pastor, his wife and their children in person what their teaching and example have meant to you in your spiritual growth. Consider writing this on a handwritten note so they can come back to it again and again for encouragement. This can be such a spark to ignite praise, hope, encouragement and perseverance in the hearts of our elders and their families.

-      Pray over your pastor and his wife (and kids if they’re old enough to stay still for it) in person. This allows you to offer up thanksgiving that the pastor and his family can audibly hear – and receive – with their own ears, and it puts the pastor in a place of such rich, blessed, direct receiving from the Lord that is particularly unique to the experience of being prayed for in person.

I invite you to consider as the Body of Christ how you might use your spiritual gifts of service, encouragement, giving and leadership (Romans 12:4-8) to bless our pastors and their families this month with double honor. Let us do so to the glory of Christ and the building up of His Church.
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