Devotion for the Week...
October is Pastor Appreciation month, when congregations are encouraged to show their pastors how much they are appreciated. Our church has a husband and wife team as our pastors and I so appreciate them both. I like for my pastor to be able to give me something to think about when he (or she) preaches. It doesn't always have to be something totally new, but it should make me think. I have been in churches before where, even after the sermon was over, I still didn't know what the point of the sermon was, so I really appreciate both of my pastors who have depth to their messages.
The Bible never talks about pastor appreciation per se, but it does say something relevant. "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). 'Those whose work is preaching and teaching' would describe most pastors, wouldn't you say?
I found it surprising that the Greek word translated as 'honor,' timē, means 'honorarium or compensation,' according to BibleGateway.com. So this verse is actually telling us that those in leadership in the church should be paid well. But since most of us in the congregation have little or nothing to do with setting the salaries for our pastors, how can we incorporate the spirit of this directive into our lives? I think we can do it by honouring them, as the NIV translation has rendered timē . Pastor appreciation month seems like a good place to start, though there are 11 other months of the year when I would hope we are willing to make our appreciation known as well.
Mirriam-Webster.com defines 'honor' as "respect that is given to someone who is admired." The way I see it, honouring someone is primarily about attitude. How do you think about your pastor? Are you always searching for imperfections, always holding him up to an impossible standard because he's the pastor (so he should be perfect)? Pastors are average people, with imperfections and struggles just
like the rest of us. They aren't any more perfect than we are. Nor
should they have to pretend to be.
Do you keep tabs on him, paying attention to things like how often he visits different members of the congregation and other things that are really none of your business? Would you want someone keeping tabs on you like that, analyzing your every move and every friendship? Pastors have every right to their privacy and the freedom to befriend whomever they want.
During His time on earth, Jesus made it very clear that the condition of the heart is more important than the outward actions (see Matthew 23 for His condemnation of the religious leaders of His day). It is possible to give flowers or a little gift for Pastor Appreciation Month simply because you feel you're supposed to, even when there is no desire in your heart to honour the person. Choosing to honour your pastor may mean first making an adjustment to your attitude.
Once you have the proper attitude of respect in place, the actions of honoring your pastor should flow easily. I am sure pastors enjoy the gifts and cards and other things that come their way during October, but they are worthy of honour all during the rest of the year too. Words of encouragement and appreciation should be given often. Speaking highly of them to others is a wonderful way of showing your appreciation too, as is offering to help them, to lift the load that they carry in directing the affairs of the church.
How do you honour your pastor and show your appreciation?