Your October Opportunities
Within just a few days October will arrive. It is a busy month for us all. Schools are in full swing, holiday planning is starting to knock on the door, and the normal demands of work, family, and ministry continue.
It is also a month that calls us to be attuned to many vital endeavors. It is the “National Awareness Month” for breast cancer, Down syndrome, dyslexia, ADHD, domestic violence, disability employment, cyber-security, bullying prevention, spina bifida, pregnancy/infant loss, and dwarfism. If those wonderful causes were not enough, it is also Filipino American History and Polish American Heritage Month. On top of it all, October is Pastor Appreciation Month.
The Bible Tells Us So
Appreciating spiritual leaders is an important New Testament teaching. Here are a few of the verses that call us to honor, respect, and follow our leaders:
- “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
- “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17).
- “…those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).
- “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches” (Galatians 6:6).
- “So receive him (Epaphroditus – a spiritual leader) in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men” (Philippians 2:29).
- “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
Appreciating spiritual leaders is an important New Testament teaching.
In summary, we are to respect, esteem highly, honor, support, share with, and submit to our church leaders in such a way that we bring them joy, and not grief. This is profitable to all and honoring to the Lord. We are also called to labor in prayer on their behalf (Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:25). Praying Christians usually have a grateful and tender heart. It is hard to be a harsh critic and a genuine intercessor at the same time.
It is hard to be a harsh critic and a genuine intercessor at the same time.
Pastors are not more important than other Christians, they are just more strategic and influential targets for the enemy. Satan knows that his attacks on pastors and their families carry major ramifications for the disruption of the cause of Christ and the undermining of local church health. Years ago Focus on the Family estimated that close to 1,500 pastors were leaving the ministry each month due to church conflict, family problems, depression, and, in some cases, moral failure. Whether this stat is accurate or not, we know the devil is busy at work.
Pastors are not more important than other Christians, they are just more strategic and influential targets for the enemy.
Beyond the supernatural assaults, pastors are always visible targets for the attacks and disappointments of people – as are their spouses and children. They live in a glass house that invites scrutiny and judgment. They are often undercompensated. They deal with the frustration of a task that is never completed because they work with people, who are always in process.
The Reality of the Struggle
The following statistics have been gathered from Barna, Focus on the Family, and other organizations:
- Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
- Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
- Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their roles.
- Fifty-five percent admitted that they are lonely and have no close friends.
- Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
- Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying God’s word is when they are preparing their sermons.
- Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
- Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
- The majority of pastor’s wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
If this data is even remotely correct, it should strike an urgent concern in our hearts.
Ironically, most pastors go through the entire month of October without any special acknowledgement from the people they serve. It is not that they expect it, but that they need it and we need to do it. Here are some tangible ways you can appreciate your spiritual leaders:
- A heartfelt letter communicating the specific things you appreciate and assuring them of your prayers.
- A gift certificate to their favorite restaurant for a “date night.” Include an offer to babysit or provide childcare if they have young kids.
- A gift certificate for an overnight stay at a hotel in the region to give the pastor and spouse some down time. Include a gift card for a meal or two as well.
- A gift card connected to the special hobbies or favorite outings the pastor and his family enjoy.
- A gift card for a special set of books or research tools the pastor has wanted or needed.
- A public recognition before the church to go with any of the above.
- Become the personal champion of these ideas (and others) and make sure it happens in your church.
Ironically, most pastors go through the entire month of October without any special acknowledgement from the people they serve.
Not only is this appreciation the right thing to do, and much needed, but it produces positive results. First, the Lord and His word are honored. You experience the blessings of expressed gratitude. The pastor and family are encouraged. The church gives a positive testimony to others. An appreciated pastor is usually a healthy pastor and healthy pastors tend to lead healthy churches. An environment of appreciation tends to nurture pastoral longevity, which is really vital to vibrant and enduring Gospel impact. Of course, we counteract the devil’s efforts to undermine all of these positive results.
An appreciated pastor is usually a healthy pastor and healthy pastors tend to lead healthy churches.
Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” Now is the best time to do the right thing in appreciating your spiritual leaders. Let’s spark a culture of honor and gratitude in our churches as we take full advantage of Pastor Appreciation Month.
Copyright © 2017 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.