Welcome to October, the month of falling leaves, pumpkin spice everything, scary costumes, and ridiculous amounts of candy. It’s also Clergy Appreciation Month, a reminder to take some time to say thank you to your pastor and other clergy members in your life. As someone who has recently resigned from the pastorate, I can tell you first hand how meaningful any message of thanks is during Clergy Appreciation Month, or any time of the year. I urge you to take some time to remember your pastor this month and encourage him or her. If you are a pastor, think about the people in your life that have mentored you and supported you, chances are one of them is a pastor. Take some time to think about past pastors in your life. Are you still in contact with any of them? A quick “you made a difference in my life” will not go unnoticed.
If you’re stumped about what exactly you can do for your pastor, here are a few suggestions.
1. A Card This is the simplest and easiest way to honor your pastor, no matter what kind of personality they have, no matter how close you are to them, or how much you dislike their sermons or choice of carpet color, your pastor will appreciate a card with a heartfelt message of thanks. This one also doesn’t take much time. You also don’t have to spend much money, you can even make your own card or just send a short letter of appreciation. Trust me, your pastor has been told by someone that they’re not doing it right, that they’re not good enough, that they’re failing as a pastor. Give them a reminder that they are enough and what they do makes a difference.
2. A Gift Card These are flexible and convenient and any pastor with their busy schedule and stressful work would be grateful for a gift card. It also doesn’t have to be expensive. Even $5 would be appreciated. Or pool your money with other congregation members to give a larger amount. If you know your pastor well, choose a gift card to a place they already shop. If you don’t know which gift card to purchase, try a coffee shop or a restaurant.
3. A Homemade Gift One of the best gifts I ever received as a pastor was a hand made quilt from one of the quilters in my congregation. A gift you make yourself will mean even more to your pastor. So, give them a hand knitted scarf, a crocheted blanket, a hand made candle, a personalized scrapbook, a wood carving, a painting, whatever it is that you make. However, if your pastor is trying to eat healthy, maybe you shouldn’t give them a batch of your famous double chocolate brownies.
4. A Gift If you don’t like giving gift cards, and you don’t make your own gifts, and you still want to give something more than a card, try giving a simple gift. This works best when you know your pastor. What are their hobbies? What do they enjoy doing on their day off? Just as a caution, unless you know for sure your pastor wants one of these, they probably do not need figurines, plaques, books, Bibles, or crosses. They already have more than enough. Perhaps a mug if they enjoy coffee or tea, golf balls for the golfer, a bookmark for the reader, or a key chain with their team’s mascot.
5. An Act of Service Here’s a gift that doesn’t have to cost any money: volunteer to do something for your pastor. Maybe you can babysit their kids for a night to give them a night off. Is there any church duty you can volunteer to do so they won’t have to? Perhaps whisk them away from the office for a pedicure or a round of golf or an afternoon at the movie theatre. An act of service might be worth more than any gift card, because you’re taking the time and effort to do something special.
6. Social Media Shout Out Tell your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Youtube/Snapchat/Periscope followers how awesome your pastor is, followed by an invite to your church. You can even write a blog about your pastor such as this one or this one. Just be conscious that not everyone likes the spotlight. Don’t intentionally embarrass your pastor; that would have the opposite effect.
7. Remember Last Week’s Sermon This may seem insignificant, but it’s a huge one. You can usually remember the sermon while you’re shaking hands on your way out saying, “Great sermon, Pastor.” But what would really make a difference is giving your pastor a call in the middle of the week saying “Thanks again for the message on grace. Here’s how it had impacted my life this week…” Pastors spend many hours a week preparing for their message. If you can acknowledge that hard work, they will be grateful.
8. Prayer Last, but certainly not least, remember to pray for your pastor. They fight spiritual battles everyday. They are often weary from their multiple responsibilities, perhaps taking care of their family as well as their church, expected to interact in the community regularly, and the rewards are often not tangible. Pray for your pastor, tell them you are praying for them, and ask what you can pray for.
Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to do something to honor your pastor this month. What are you planning to do for your pastor? As a pastor, would you add anything to this list?