October has been designated “Pastor Appreciation Month”. I feel very appreciated every month of the year by the church I have the privilege of serving, so the designation never really stood out to me. In fact, I doubt that almost anyone in our church knows the designation exists.
But I know that many pastors are acutely aware of the significance of this month and are in desperate need of any appreciation that may come from it.
Leading a church is not easy. The joke that “it must be nice to only work one day a week” is so ridiculous that you hardly know what to say. The most accurate assessment was made by the late Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the foundations of modern business society:
“…over the years I’ve made a career out of studying the toughest management roles. After all that, I’m now convinced that the two toughest jobs in the world are these – one, being President of the United States, and two, being the leader of a church… where you… the lead to serve others in greatness… the hardest job is to be one of these types of pastors.
And so, so many pastors – most, I would say – are just that kind of leader.
So since appreciation for what you, my fellow pastors, do should not be limited to one month a year, but rather every month of the year, allow me to list 12 reasons why I appreciate you. so much :
- You don’t work one day a week, but seven. No pastor really gets a single day off. They are always “on”. Thanks.
- You serve in response to a calling, not a salary. And you are, on average, severely underpaid. I am really sorry. Yet you remain at your post. Thanks.
- In a time when “famous pastors” and moral failings cause people to paint all church leaders with a broad brush, you are sincere in your faith, faithful in your duties, care more about the fame of Jesus than of yours and lead a blameless life. Thanks.
- The vast majority of what you do – prayers, visits, calls, counseling, sermon preparation, hospitals, cafes – is never seen. It’s the glue that holds the world together. Thanks.
- I know when you say you’re going to pray for somebody, you do it. Thanks.
- The three qualities of a pastor are said to be: 1) the mind of a scholar, 2) the heart of a child, and 3) the skin of a rhinoceros. Even though I know the “hiding” part gets difficult, you are manifesting all three. Thanks.
- You’re there for the highs, like a wedding or a baby dedication, and the lows, like a hospital visit or a funeral. The fact is that you are there. Thanks.
- No matter what you teach, it’s so clear you want nothing of me, but only something for me. Thanks.
- There are some things you need to teach, even if you dread the reactions. You have to take positions, even if you know they won’t be popular. But they are biblical and you are faithful to the Bible. So you bring the message. Thanks.
- Because of your role, you carry the weight of the lives of so many who are going through distress, illness, the repercussions of sinful behavior, grief, etc. Most of the time, it is, out of necessity, a silent and solitary port of this weight. Thanks.
- You have worked hard to balance your responsibilities as a pastor with your responsibilities to your family. As a result, you are a better pastor. Thanks.
- No one has played a tougher role during all things COVID. You were in the crosshairs, and whatever decision you made – to be open or closed, masked or unmasked, pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine – you were going to create anger. Add in the death of George Floyd, Critical Race Theory, the storming of the capital, QAnon, and you’re still in the saddle. Bruised but not broken, discouraged but not defeated. While so many have engaged in the “great resignation”, you have not. Thanks.
I know, it may seem selfish to write an open letter of appreciation to pastors when I serve as such.
Believe me, it’s not written with me in mind.
I remember many years ago meeting a pastor serving in a small town in Nevada. The population was about 5,000. He was bi-professional, meaning he worked full-time and then served, with whatever remaining hours he could muster, as the pastor of that church. I believe they were running about 100 people in attendance at the time.
Think about it: he was reaching 2% of his city. If I were to be this efficient, with the Charlotte metro area running around 2.7 million, Meck would have to run at least 54,000 a week.
And he did it in a bi-professional way!
He hoped to serve this little church and this little town for the rest of his life.
I wrote this with him in mind.
He could very well be the greatest pastor I have ever met. And when I get to heaven, I’ll never even see it. It will be so close to the throne of God that people like me will never even get a glimpse.
So it’s not me that should be appreciated. It’s people like him.
In other words,
… your pastor.
James Emery White
Steve Sjogren, “Tea with Drucker”, church plantingApril 14, 2011, read online.
“Peter Drucker,” Wikipediaread online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free Church & Culture blog subscription, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture podcast. . Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.
James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president.
His latest book, After “I believe”, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free Church & Culture blog subscription, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture podcast. .
Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.