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Gift Your Pastor
Photo: Lane Erickson
During more than a quarter century of pastoral ministry, my family and I experienced blessings and challenges in every church we served. One congregation we remember particularly because of appreciation shown to us from both the entire congregation and its individual members. Throughout the year we received greeting cards and gifts for birthdays and holidays. Every October, for Pastor Appreciation Month, they presented us with something special during Sabbath worship: one year, a new guitar case; another year they sent my wife and me on a romantic weekend getaway at a fine hotel.

I don’t pastor a congregation anymore; now I work with and for pastors who lead Minnesota Conference churches—some of the finest people I have ever worked with. Nothing rejoices me more than hearing about congregations showing tangible appreciation for their pastors. Here are some thoughts about how you might bless your pastor and his or her family—not just during October but throughout the year:

The gift of Time
Don’t schedule too many meetings for pastors to attend, particularly in multi-church districts. Encourage and support your pastor to take the two days off per week that are due.

The gift of Space
Give your pastoral family the privacy needed to be themselves. Never drop by their home unannounced. Don’t call all the time for information or help you can get elsewhere. Except for emergencies, no calls should come to the pastor after 9 p.m. or on days off. And please don’t call your pastor’s cell phone all the time—many have a limited number of minutes on their plan. Call them at the church during office hours, or ask where they prefer to be called for non-emergency reasons.

The gift of Caring
I especially appeal that you not treat the pastor’s spouse and their children differently than nay other member of the church. Don’t expect perfection from PKs (pastoral kids). Let them be children, full of curiosity, enthusiasm, energy. Honor their tender spirit. It’s not easy growing up in a fish tank where members seem to be waiting for PKs to make a mistake with which to criticize them—or their parents.

The gift of Affirmation
During a particularly difficult time for me as a pastor, one member sent a greeting card with a picture of a Shar-Pei, the dog with more wrinkles than body. The card said, “Hang loose.” With their own hand, these members wrote an encouraging note, just what we needed at that time. Give your pastor a card, a letter, an e-mail, just to say what you appreciate—his sermon last week, her visit or leadership. A word of encouragement is especially welcome during tough times.

The gift of Prayer
Pray for and with you pastor. At a church in Waukesha, Wisconsin, one elder phoned every Sabbath to pray with and for me, asking God’s blessings as I traveled to church and for me to have a clear mind and powerful sermon, along with any specific needs I had. At first I felt a bit uncomfortable, because I wasn’t used to having someone call simple to pray for me. But after a while I treasured those calls. I wouldn’t recommend that everyone in the church call the pastor every Sabbath morning—or she may not make it to church at all. But an occasional cal is refreshing for him—not to express requests, concerns, or criticisms but for intercession and affirmation.

The gift of a Gift
Surprise your pastor with a gift certificate to a bookstore or nice restaurant. In Oklahoma, a Baptist pastor told me that every year the church had a big celebration, complete with a gift of cash, plus a coupon to buy several suits with matching shirts, ties and shoes. A church I pastured in Dover, Delaware, bought me a Thomas Kinkade painting for my office one year, and another year sponsored a family vacation.

Your pastors and their families have given their entire lives to serve God and serve you. Why not show them how much you appreciate their gift with a gift of your own?

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By Claudio Consuegra. Reprinted with permission from Mid-America Outlook Magazine, October 2008. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines

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