October is over and I already feel under appreciated! Honestly, I usually feel lower during “pastor appreciation” month than I do any other time of the year.
Don’t get me wrong, the notes of appreciation are welcomed but often feel forced. One appreciation card I received proved this very point. It said, “Don’t get too excited about this card, the youth pastor made me write it.” The cards read much like the “I appreciated that message” comments from people as they walk out of church. Comments that most likely would never be made if I wasn’t standing there.
I have noticed the ones who show the appreciation, are the ones I do the least for. The ones I have poured into, meet with regularly, have into my home, and think of often have never shown appreciation, not even in October.
But despite all of this, please know men, your labor is not in vain. Your rewards are not compliments or cards. Your rewards are seeing the spiritual growth of your members. Your rewards are baptizing that new believer and having the opportunity to share the gospel with their unsaved family who attended. Your reward is watching a returning guest who has little to no spiritual training sit in your services with a Bible and notebook open following your every word. Your reward is having a teen make fun of something you said in a sermon the following week when you had no idea they were even listening!
Please allow me to take this moment (the day after pastor appreciation) to express my heartfelt appreciation for your continued service to the Lord, even when it might seem that the congregation does not.
Throughout my pastoral journey, I know the immense sacrifice you and your family are making, the unwavering commitment to stay when all you want to do is leave, and the profound wisdom and power required to serve your congregation faithfully. Your dedication to the call of God is a testament to your character and a source of inspiration to other pastors, your people, and your community.
Your body and health might show the effects of weathering the storms, navigating the challenges, and experiencing the many hurts of pastoral life. Through it all, you have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the spiritual well-being of your flock. As a lighthouse continues to stand triumphant for others to see and faithfully display light in the darkness, I am thankful for your light that continues to shine through the storms and in the darkest of nights.
I want to assure you that, although it may not always be overtly expressed (even in October), your efforts are deeply appreciated. As a fellow pastor, I understand the quiet moments of reflection, the prayers, and the unseen sacrifices that underpin your ministry. It is often those hidden acts of faith and faithfulness that make the most profound impact on the lives of your congregants. They might never know, but I do and rest assured God does!
Your ability to offer guidance, comfort, and leadership during both the highs and lows of your ministry is a gift that is treasured by all who have had the privilege of calling you “pastor.” Your presence and perseverance have provided a firm foundation, even when the “building” of believers has been shaken, the foundation you laid stands sure.
I encourage you to continue in your calling. Continue despite the stench of your sheep. Continue even if you feel like the work could continue better without you. Continue regardless of whether or not you received a gift of appreciation. Continue knowing words of affirmation fade quickly, but you are working for an eternal reward that will never fade away.
As a friend and a fellow pastor, I am honored to stand alongside you as we labor together in the faith for the glory of the One who has called us into His service. Please know that your dedication is seen, valued, and cherished. You are making a difference in the lives of your congregants and community, though not always expressed in public praise.
May the Lord bless you with strength, wisdom, and boundless joy as you continue to serve Him as the under shepherd of His sheep.
With warm regards, love, and appreciation,
-if this could be an encouragement to another pastor or your pastor please feel free to forward it on!