This article is from Rev. David A. Muench, Director of Ministerial Care at Concordia Plan Services.
October has always seemed to me to have something of a “quieter” character. It’s not the month of Thanksgiving or Christmas, although thoughts of preparation for them surely are beginning to “push their way” to the surface. Neither is it a month in which a lot of state and county fairs are held, nor the beginning of another school year. There are, of course some important events in the month. The fall schedules for high school and college are in full swing, Major League Baseball hosts the World Series, and our denomination observes the Protestant Reformation. I’m confident that you can add a few other events which have made their way onto your October calendar.
It seems to me, then, that October is a wonderful time for God’s people to share their appreciation for Pastors. It’s an excellent opportunity to express the respect, appreciation and admiration you have for your pastor(s) and for the work they do. With the month of October having been identified as Pastor Appreciation month, you have a reminder to think either individually, as a small group (perhaps your Bible Study group), and/or as the entire congregation, as you plan for activities and gestures to encourage your pastors, demonstrating your love for them. This is not to say that other roles and activities of ministry are not important and worthy of appreciation, but in October, we take the time to specifically honor pastors and thank God for them.
It has been suggested that Pastoral ministry involves activity in at least 13 different “task clusters” (i.e. Administration, Care-giving, Rituals and Sacraments, Management, Communication, Preaching, Public Worship, etc.) which require 64 personal competencies. Now, you and I know that pastors are human, and no one is “excellent” in every one of these specific competencies, but the importance of the work means that your pastor(s) are making efforts in each of them. Many of these efforts happen in quiet, confidential, and private ways. It could not be otherwise. As a result, there is much which is accomplished in pastoral ministry of which you are unaware until/unless it intersects with you and your family, and it can be difficult for him to know of the support and affirmation of the people he’s called to serve. Please consider regularly providing support and affirmation for your pastor(s), and especially in Pastor Appreciation Month.
Here are some ideas to get you started in your planning:
1. Pray for your pastor
2. Authorize the formation of a special committee to “care for pastor”
3. Express appreciation, written and spoken
4. Respect his time, and encourage him to get appropriate rest and renewal
5. Live in peace
6. Discover and encourage him in his personal interests
7. Support a strategy for professional connections, including outside of ministry
8. Encourage him to plan significant and meaningful time with his loved ones
9. Lovingly insist he take vacation, and provide resources for his duties to be covered in his absence
10. If he’s married, learn from his wife of the special/unique challenges confronting her, and be sensitive to expectations inappropriately placed upon her.