HONORING YOUR PASTOR, His Wife, and Family
Celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month in November
November is set as a Pastor Appreciation Month (PAM) in North Philippine Union Conference and the perfect time to commit to praying for and encouraging our ministers on a regular basis. Shirley Dobson, a supporter of this program, has stated, "Our pastors are on the front lines in the effort to defend our faith and our families. We must hold them before the Lord in prayer … I have a very tender heart for pastors, because they've been there for all of us when we have been in times of crisis—when we've been in times of suffering … we owe these pastors a debt of gratitude that we'll never be able to pay."
God's word calls us to support pastors. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 we are told:
"And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love" (The Message).
Pastor Appreciation Month gives you the ability to take action and keep your pastor from becoming what H.B. London, Jr. has called an "endangered species."
That's why God has instructed us to recognize His servants.
"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Timothy 5:17).
The good news is that we can make a difference! Pastor Appreciation Month is one way we can counter the negative erosion in the lives of our spiritual leaders with the positive affirmation they need.
Why express appreciation to pastors?
Note the Bible command: "Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other" (1 Thess. 5:12, 13, NIV). "Remember your leaders who spoke the word of Cod to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (Heb. 13:7, NIV).
Today's increased societal suspicion of all leaders has combined with clergy scandals, occasional mediocre performance by some pastors, and unrealistic expectations from some members to reduce the levels of high esteem with which professional ministers have traditionally been viewed.
Too often it seems easier to criticize than to affirm and express appreciation for the outstanding service that pastors give. For example, one member recently wrote to complain that his pastor does not spend sufficient time preparing sermons, while someone from a different church, griped that all their pastor does is study to prepare sermons. One complains that pastors never visit, while another opines that the pastor only goes from house to house. Why can't we get more letters like the elder who recently said, "I have no other reason to write except to say how wonderfully our pastor serves." Believe me, I answered that letter and sent a copy to the pastor and the conference president.
by Jim Cress, Ministerial Secretary of General Conference of SDAs
What the denomination can do?
We encourage the entire church to adopt an annual Pastor's Day in which we affirm the role of ministry in general and express appreciation for our local pastors particularly. A certain pastor of our denomination, Pastor Sarli, tried to put his energies and money alongside this opinion. Recently he sent every pastor a letter of commendation with a special gift. Plus, pastoral families in his union are regularly affirmed in special conventions designed for their spiritual growth and continuing education.
Various denominations have emphasized one weekend in October but our Union would like to do this in the month of November. Some churches commemorates the anniversary of the date when our pastor first came to serve our church. While it may be impossible to select the same day throughout the world, surely every field can schedule a Pastor's and Ministerial Vocations day upon which currently-serving pastors are honored and young people are invited to prayerfully consider whether God is calling them to ministry.
What unions or conferences can do?
Uplift the role of ministry, value pastors, and ask each local congregation to plan something special which will honor their pastor. Perhaps designate a specific date for your territory and request that each church plan accordingly. Follow Pastor Sarli's example by writing each minister to express your personal appreciation for the valuable contribution they bring to God's work.
Charles Heskey, Ministerial Secretary of the North Caribbean Conference, sent a bookmark to every church member in the conference. Titled, "Pray for Your Pastor," it listed specific prayer objectives for the minister's personal life and family needs.
What the local church can do?
Host a special Sabbath that celebrates the blessings your congregation receives from the pastor. Even weak performers might respond to you affirming higher expectations. Plan a fellowship meal, provide flowers or a cake, and present your pastor with a plaque, a new Bible, or a useful book (better yet, a gift certificate). Volunteer for a specific task that will lighten your pastor's work load; offer to visit or give Bible studies with your pastor; establish a pastoral resource fund from which your pastor can purchase useful ministry tools. Invite your pastoral family to lunch, or send them to dinner and babysit their youngsters. Rather than criticizing, try "grandparenting" their teens. Express concerns quietly and only to the pastor. Above all, express your appreciation verbally and write a letter of praise to conference leadership.
What pastors can do?
Serve your churches in a worthy manner. Give your best to ministry and your example leadership of the power of God's Spirit in your life will rally others to eagerly follow and honor your leadership.