I am a pastor’s daughter. The one thing that I remember about Pastor Appreciation Day is my dad forgetting it. Every October, a child who attended the church invited my dad to attend an appreciation banquet at her school. Daddy forgot, and the little girl and her brother were left at their table alone. After missing it two years in a row, my embarrassed father asked another pastor in our church to attend the banquet every year.
Growing up, I remember my neighbors running home when their father’s truck came into their driveway, shouting, “Daddy’s back from work!” My father did not come home from work in the evenings. When I was little, I was confused about what my dad did for a living since he never “went to work.” I realize now that Daddy actually never left work.
Pastors do not have a day off. While his members have a break from jobs or school on Saturday and Sunday, a pastor is preparing his sermon late into Saturday night, waking up early to pray, and preaching on Sunday. My dad tries to take Mondays off. In the 18 years I’ve watched him pastor, he’s never taken a Monday off. Someone calls. He has to schedule a meeting. He has to fill in for a book study teacher. Pastors work all year long caring for their church.
A pastor’s work is not only lengthy, it is difficult. My dad does not show his emotions to me very often. I do know, however, that he has dealt with situations or listened to people tell their stories only to curl up on his study floor and cry when the meetings were over. Most Christians become heavy-hearted thinking about a handful of friends and family who are unconverted. Imagine caring for over 200 souls.
The pastor not only has to help each of those people, he has to fight his own spiritual battle. Before every sermon, Daddy often considers standing up and telling everyone to go home. He feels his weakness, and guilt attacks, “How can you preach God’s word? Look at you! Look at how you’ve lived this week.” But God reminds him that the Spirit is speaking, and so he continues to preach. To keep silent would be to believe the devil’s lie. Without God’s power and grace, my dad would not pastor.
A pastor’s work is never finished, and his work is hard. It is mentally and physically exhausting, and it comes with a constant burden of responsibility. Our pastors do more for us than preach a sermon twice a week and call us when someone gets sick. They truly are “laborers in the gospel” (1 Thessalonians 3:2) as they study and pray over God’s word, preach it, and then live it out.
The first way to show our appreciation for our pastor is to do what he says. In other words, to listen to him carefully and then apply what he preaches from the pulpit. When my father sees an eager and obedient believer seeking the Lord, it gives him more joy than 100 cards or cookies ever could.
Prayer is a forgotten way to appreciate our pastors. We should thank God for the men through whom God speaks. We can ask God to protect them, strengthen them, and give them words to say. I forget to pray for my pastors. I’m tempted to think that they are on a special spiritual level, but they are human, and they need our prayers.
As a “P.K.,” I believe that the best ways to show your gratitude to your pastor are obedience and prayer. As we remember our pastors this month, let us pray that they would be strengthened to preach God’s Word, and let us obey their words.