Remember to honor your minister during Clergy Month
Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 5, 2013
We don’t say those two small words often enough to the many people who make a positive impact on our lives.
October has been designated Clergy Appreciation Month to remind us to say “thank you” in words and actions to our ministers and their families. Ministers wear many hats, serving not only as preachers and teachers, but also as family counselors, business administrators, and sometimes even janitors. Typically, the smaller the church the more hats they wear.
God calls them to an overwhelming responsibility – the spiritual well-being of His flock. That’s why a minister is sometimes called the “shepherd” of a congregation.
Church members do act like sheep. Some want to lead the church their way, instead of following the shepherd’s leadership. Others stray away, forgetting the importance of church attendance to feed their souls. Still other sheep remain faithful members and encourage their minister, realizing the stress that comes with the work of the ministry.
Clergy Appreciation Month’s purpose is not to glorify an individual, but to “recognize and encourage those whom God has called to proclaim His message and lead His people,” according to Thriving Pastor’s website.
Besides ministering to each person individually, they prepare sermons for three or more worship services each week, so the entire congregation learns more about God’s Word and how to live it. This requires hours of prayer and Bible study.
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.
Ministers and their families live their lives in a glass house with the church and community watching everything they do. People often place unrealistic expectations on them to never be down and to always be perfect – more than we expect of ourselves.
How can we thank our minister? One of the most important things any church member can do for their minister is to pray for their shepherd all through the year. Find a specific time to pray with your minister. Some churches have prayer team members who meet the minister before worship services for special prayer.
The Apostle Paul, writing to a young man named Timothy, urged that prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made “for all that are in authority,” both religious and government leaders (1 Timothy 2:2).
Other suggestions for honoring your minister can be found at http://thrivingpastor.org/clergyappreciation/.
Each of us can do something personally, such as send a card, invite them to supper, plan a church-wide dinner, maybe even wash their car or mow their lawn. Volunteer to serve in your church. Take your criticism to your minister face to face, not just 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, so let’s not forget to give honor to whom honor is due.
Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.