In October, it’s time to honor clergy peoplePublished 12:00am Saturday, October 6, 2012
October is a special time set aside each year for congregations to honor their ministers’ sacrificial dedication to God.
Although churches may schedule their own observance, Clergy Appreciation Day is traditionally held the second Sunday of October.
We should remember to express appreciation to our ministers because of the incredible pressures they face. Like doctors, they are on call 24 hours a day should anyone from the church experience a crisis.
They stand by our bedside at the hospital. They offer counseling and prayer when we’re hurting. They speak words of comfort in our times of sorrow. And they perform joyous ceremonies during our lifetimes like weddings and baby dedications.
Besides ministering to each person individually, they prepare food for the soul in their sermons three or more worship services each week, so the entire congregation learns more of God’s Word. This requires hours of prayer and Bible study.
The Bible tells us to recognize God’s servants, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine,” translated as those who preach and teach (1 Timothy 5:15 NKJ).
In a small church, the minister may be the bus driver for a church group trip or other times considered the janitor. The minister might work a secular job while pastoring because those congregations cannot afford a full-time salary. Whatever the size of the membership, he’s an administrator over departments and budgets.
Ministers and their families live their lives in a fishbowl, with the church and community watching everything they do. People often place unrealistic expectations on them to never be down and always be perfect – more than we expect of ourselves. Vance Havner once said, “A preacher should have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros.”
One of the most important things any church member can do for their minister is pray for them all through the year. The Apostle Paul, writing to a young minister named Timothy, urged that prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made “for all that are in authority,” both government and religious leaders (1 Timothy 2:2)
Other suggestions for honoring your minister can be found at the website thrivingpastor.org. Each of us can do something personally, such as send a card, invite them to lunch, maybe even wash a car or mow their lawn.
Congregations are asked to plan a special service of recognition or church dinner or announce a love offering.
Consider other ways we can encourage our spiritual leaders. Attend church and invite others to come. Volunteer to serve in your church. Take your criticism to your minister face to face, not to other members. Remember the pastor and his family on holidays and birthdays.
The clergy deserve a word of thanks more than once a year. They do the work of the ministry God has called them to do. This month and throughout the year, be a blessing to your minister!
Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.