It's Healthy to Welcome Words of Appreciation

Don’t downplay words of thanks

Everyone needs appreciation. As long as it doesn’t go to your head, every Paul needs an encourager like Barnabas, and few church work professionals receive as much as they need. I still have 35 year old notes of appreciation in a file folder. When the Spirit moves someone to offer you a blessing, don’t denigrate their act of love by sloughing it off with, “Oh, that’s what I’m here for! Don’t mention it.” Thank them and tell them how much it means to you. And treasure these things, “pondering them in your heart.”

Head, heart and skin of a pastor

After 30 years as a parish pastor, and hundreds of encounters through my work at Grace Place Wellness, I believe Stuart Briscoe was right when he said, “A pastor must have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the skin of a rhinoceros.” If you’ve been in ministry for a while, you know it’s true. I marvel at how you endure. Thank you for your service. If you’re new at this, I hope you learn quickly. I’ll add three more things about you that I appreciate.

Creativity

We do have great material to work with. You and I didn’t write the Bible; we’re just trying to figure it out and explain what it means! Our church had an Elder who never realized until somewhere in his 60’s that the pastor’s sermons didn’t come in the mail each week from church headquarters. He was shocked to hear that the sermon he heard while on a hunting trip 200 miles away was different than the one his wife heard at home! Thank you for the countless hours of struggling to give birth to the sermon, the Bible class lesson and your visitation devotion in creative, hearable and translatable ways to ears and hearts desperate for good news.

Faithfulness

The seven day cycle can be exhausting. Each day has it’s own feel. Mondays feel very different from Saturdays, don’t they? Thursdays can be a source of joy or a cause for panic, depending on how preparation for Sunday is going. But week after week, when the church bell rings, there you are, ready or not (and who ever feels ready?) as God’s people gather and say with their eyes, “What’cha got, preacher?” And you give ’em heaven. Again. Thank you.

Selflessness

You are the living embodiment of The Good Samaritan. You are Jesus, washing feet. And don’t argue with me. Remember my warning about downplaying appreciation. Every time you show up, you’re holding a towel and a basin. Nobody lasts a week in ministry without a humble selflessness that puts others first. Thank you. And please remember that because others depend on you, your first assignment is to put your own oxygen mask firmly in place. I’m praying that in this Pastor Appreciation Month you’ll find a whiff of oxygen in some heartfelt words of appreciation. If you don’t, shove mine in your pocket. Thanks for reading.