By Ed Thompson
Sometimes I find myself turning into a curmudgeon. I suspect that if I had a house that had grass out front, I would be tempted to yell at children passing by, “Hey, you kids, stay off of my yard.” I also find myself increasingly annoyed by what I consider to be made-up holidays, like Sweetest Day, for example. However, I have to admit that I am not as annoyed by Grandparents Day as I once was.
Pastor Appreciation Day (the second Sunday in October) probably qualifies as a made-up holiday. Although, technically, since it is part of Pastor Appreciation Month, it’s really more of a made-up season than a made-up holiday. Regardless of whether it’s a day or a season, made up or not, it still seems appropriate. I have a soft spot in my heart for pastors. Yes, some are jerks. Some are lazy. And some are boring. I get that. I could make lists, but that does not seem to be a particularly good use of my time.
I’m not sure it was ever easy to be a pastor. Even back in the day when all you had to do was open the church doors and people would wander in off the street, wanting to join the church and sing in the choir and teach Sunday school, pastors had problems. Maybe Mrs. Smith didn’t like Mrs. Jones. People had differing opinions about whether Vacation Bible School should be held at the end of the school year before people left on vacation or at the end of the summer when kids were bored and ready to go back to school. Choices like whether to put carpet in the sanctuary or whether announcements should come before worship, sometime during worship, or just be printed in the bulletin could divide a congregation.
Now, even what would seem to be non-controversial issues have been politicized. Members leave the church over the slightest of slights. People grumble that if the pastor only worked harder, had regular office hours, or wasn’t so political in the pulpit, the church would be growing. And to top it all off, there’s a continuing pandemic.
Being a pastor could be considered a thankless job. I encourage you to do something about that this month. Find a way to express your appreciation to your pastor. It could be a Hallmark card or a gift card to a local restaurant; however, a handwritten note will be just as appreciated. Even a handshake or perhaps a fist bump and words like “Thank you,” “I want you to know how much I appreciate your ministry,” or “I’m glad you’re our minister” will go a long way.
Sometimes, people say nice things about their pastor when they retire or when they leave to take a new call. Don’t wait. Say those nice things to your pastor now. Say them to their face. Say them to your fellow members when they start complaining about the pastor.
You can express your appreciation sometime this month, but even like you can do nice things for your mother or your father throughout the year and not only on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, you can express your appreciation for your pastor at any time. They will appreciate your support at Christmas, on their birthday, or on a random Sunday in July as much as they do this month.
Pastor Appreciation Month may be a made-up holiday or a made-up a season, but it’s a good reminder to all of us, curmudgeon or not, to do something nice for the people who are doing their best to be faithful and to help us be faithful to Jesus Christ.