Why Honor My Pastor?
We ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you . . . . Overwhelm them with appreciation and love! (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 MSG)
Faithful pastors of congregations deserve our honor, which means to “treat special.” A correlation exists between how we treat people who represent the gospel and God’s Word with their daily jobs and the way we treat Jesus (John 13:20).
The Bible says pastor-elders are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). John MacArthur explains, “Hard working and excellent elders who major in preaching and teaching are particularly worthy of respect and remuneration. So every faithful shepherd is to be appreciated, respected, admired, honored and supported.”
The critics can seem endless. Congregants find fault if a pastor takes more than two Sundays off a year, if the church pays for him to go on a retreat, or if he doesn't "meet their needs." People often don't treat pastors like they are real people, and it takes an emotional and psychological toll on the pastor and his wife.
In August of 2010, the New York Times ran an article about pastors: "Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could."
In my own denomination's state convention, the high rate of suicides by pastors alarmed leaders. The South Carolina Baptist Convention led the nation from 2005-2016 in pastoral suicides.
Business guru Warren Buffett, when asked to list the hardest jobs in America, answered, (1) The President of the United States, (2) the President of a college or university, (3) the coach of a college or university, and (4) the pastor of a local congregation.
Pastors Need Encouragement
The word "encourage" simply means to fill with courage. When you encourage someone, you speak courage into their life.
I still have letters of thanksgiving and appreciation given to me years ago by church members. Some with artistic gifts gave me pieces of original art they drew for me, which brings me joy. A few church members faithfully sent my family gift cards to restaurants each October. When my wife and first moved to Clinton, she received an anonymous letter from a church member simply stating, “We are glad you are here.” Enclosed was $500 cash. I knew who sent it – W. A. Leonard. So kind-hearted – and probably the only church member who would mail that much cash!
One year during October a church member noticed the old and cracking windows in our house. She called friends, asking for pledges to purchase windows. They surprised us and hired a man to replace every window in the house with new insulated ones. We felt loved by their tangible gift.
Why don't some people think of honoring their pastor(s)? Some folks have a casual attitude taking the pastor for granted - not seeing the person as a gift Jesus gave that local church (Eph. 4:7-12). How do we treat Jesus’ gifts? Many are ignorant of the stress and sacrifices that go along with the call into vocational ministry. They think, "He chose to do this for his life. Why should I help him when no one helped me?" Other people don’t view the office of pastor as a professional position deserving respect, one that he spent years of schooling and money preparing to do. Instead, they see it as a work-for-hire.
Consider writing or emailing your pastor an encouraging note. Remember that hand-written ones show more thought than emails. Pray for your pastor and his family regularly. Ask God to show you a specific, tangible way to show love to a pastor or church staff member in your life.
Years ago, Focus on the Family encouraged churches to recognize their pastors in special ways during the month of October. Their website for pastors offers some great helps in planning ways to appreciate your pastor(s) during the month of October: www.focusonthefamily.com/church/celebrating-pastor-appreciation-month/
(Dr. Rhett Wilson Sr., a freelance writer and editor, former pastor and adjunct college professor, lives in Lancaster, South Carolina, with his family. He graduated from Presbyterian College and pastored three churches for eighteen years in Laurens County. Check out his sites at www.rhettwilson.org and www.wilsonrhett.com.)