The Downside of Pastor Appreciation Month

In the two parishes I have been privileged to serve, the saints gathered there have been awesome in showing appreciation through big and small things done for their pastor and his family.  This is not the case for some pastors. 

October is Pastor Appreciation Month.  We have had many articles already this month to help in that endeavor.  However, there is a downside to Pastor Appreciation Month, those pastors whose people do not show appreciation at all.  This happens for a lot of faithful pastors who just serve without honorable mention in places that don’t get front page recognition.  This happens in parishes where the pastor has been faithful in things like Closed Communion only to receive threats (or actual votes) of cuts in pay or even votes of “no confidence” (which only expresses no confidence in Christ or His Word).  This happens for the pastor who is depressed and can’t even notice efforts at appreciation.  This happens for the family whose head is always gone and is beginning to feel resentment at the Church for taking their husband and father away.  There are a variety of situations out there in which pastors and their families are less than appreciated.

There is something about this month, as one pastor hears of another who gets tons of signs of appreciation, as one pastors wife hears of another who is treated to all sorts of stuff.  It can get very disheartening and depressing to see such things happening around you.  It causes you to wonder a bit about your calling.  It brings on a temptation to become bitter (or most likely adds fuel to a fire which is already smoldering).  It brings temptation to get lazy in your calling, as if anyone would care anyway?

One of the marks of when Jesus sent out the disciples was that they were to be shown hospitality.  They were to be welcomed and appreciated into homes where they brought the Lord’s peace.  When this did not happen, the disciples were to leave, wipe the dust from their feet and go on.  This was not good for that household at all, but a judgment against her.  How have we been treating our pastors?  Have we been welcoming to them?  Sometimes I wonder if Pastor Appreciation Month is helpful, because shouldn’t every month be one to show appreciation to your Pastor, you know, the man that our Triune God called to serve you in the stead and by the command of Christ?  I speak not for myself in this, but I speak in defense of a lot of my brother pastors who are bearing crosses far greater than anything handed to me.

So if you have been negligent in caring for your pastor, showing some form of appreciation – repent.  Did God send you this man (if he is your called pastor, then yes He did)?  How about showing appreciation to him due to that fact?  In teaching the 4th Commandment to kids, I stress that we honor parents not because of how they do their job, but because of Who they represent and Who gave them to us.  When teaching on marriage, I teach spouses to love and cherish each other not because of how good they are or sweet, but because our Lord put them together as husband and wife (pointing to the office of husband/wife instead of the man/woman in it).  So also – congregations, appreciate your pastors for Who sent them to you.  Appreciate them for Who sends His gifts to you through them.  Maybe you think he has deserved ill because of his conduct in the office, then appreciate him enough to talk to him out of love, humbly and gently out of respect for his office.

Likewise, pastors (and families), show love for your congregation (even if they do not appreciate you as you wish) not because they are good or bad, but because they are the people God has sent you (or your head of the household) to serve.  In His great wisdom you are in that place at this time, to serve faithfully those people.  Check yourself to see if you have been domineering to your people and cowered them into their position of non-appreciation.  Think about the past of your congregation – have they had previous pastors who may be causing their lack of appreciation?  St. Peter certainly speaks of persecutions such as people hating their pastors, but he also warns against reaping our rewards for sinful behavior as well.

One of the crowning glories of our theology is that it is about Christ.  So, to follow that – I would say that pastors, no matter who you are or where you serve or whether people appreciate you or not – because of Jesus you are appreciated by your Father who is in heaven.  You are appreciated by right of your baptism.  Not only that, but God has seen fit to put you in a place to preach, to teach, to speak and show His great appreciation of others for Christ’s sake.  Consider the hidden appreciation that God shows as He continues to gather people to you in order for you to serve them.  Consider the hidden appreciation that God shows as He sends you to care for your own members.

God’s appreciation of the baptized means wives and kids too.  You are not alone in your struggle with being in a place because your husband/dad was called there.  God called him there, and you with him.  As He has promised to be with him during his ministry, so He is with your whole household as they bear the struggles and pains of ministry.  No amount of congregational disfavor can rob that of you.  You are baptized, and because of that, you are appreciated by your Father in heaven.

Bottom line – no matter how little human beings show appreciation (or how much), because of our failures we deserve nothing but disapproval.  Thanks be to God that the real and eternal appreciation that is ours is that of the Father for the work of Jesus.  His solid work, earning that “Well Done”, or “with whom I am pleased” from the Father – is our already because of Jesus and His work for us, applied to us by right of our adoption as His children in baptism.


About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


The Downside of Pastor Appreciation Month — 26 Comments

  1. thank you thank you thank you Lord-hang in there pastors and families who sacrifice all for HIS truth—————–and thank you dear faithful pastor for writing this!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I to had to stay at home with children while my husband attended various church meetings and various special committee meetings for the various congregation we have been at…..but here is the catch, he is a layman. He worked 8 to 10 hour days at his job and then went to a 1.5 to 2.0 church meetings. Its hard work on both sides of the fence.

  3. Let me list his volunteer positions. One can then understand the number of meetings he needed to attend: Elder….Properties….Organist….Bible Study Leader.

  4. for wives and kids on the receiving end of mistreatment from churches and leaders on all levels-how about a regular gotomeeting forum for them,since pastors expect this attack but the wives and kids suffer and find themselves disappointed to say the least.Wake up LCMS leaders all! all! all!

  5. Marlene,

    I would submit that neither pastors nor laymen should be spending their evenings at church meetings. It seems to me that we’ve invented so many churchly “vocations” that no one has time to be faithful to their actual God-given vocations. It also seems to me that if people (fathers especially) were able to fulfill their vocations, we wouldn’t need so many meetings to deal with issues in the church.

  6. No matter how the message is framed, when a pastor highlights a need for appreciation — even among pastors in general — that message has a way of coming across as somewhat self-serving. Declaring that people in your position deserve appreciation because you were sent by God can have the effect of decreasing rather than increasing your stature among your brothers and sisters.

    “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” 1 Thess. 5:12-13

    That Scripture verse is not a command but an appeal, not a guilt trip about something owed but rather an invitation to help cultivate harmony in the community of believers. Surely in matters of showing appreciation, as in matters of contributing in other ways, “God loves a cheerful giver.” 1 Cor 9:7

    It seems to me that showing appreciation and respect is not an end in itself. It is about cultivating, as God gives the grace, a shared spirit of forbearance, gratitude, cooperation and good will that can elevate and advance the congregation’s ministry.

  7. @Carl H #7
    I am sorry you can’t take me at my words regarding the support shown to me. Haven’t you ever heard of defending others? In regards to the decreased view…certainly if one is operating by the Old Adam, hearing of a Divinely instituted office will rouse a anger towards it and decreasing stature.

    The verse you cite is good, showing that the Lord has placed them over the others (to serve them and admonish them) and mimicking the sentiment (and admonition) of Heb 13:17.

    As you say, it is not an end, but there is a divine office behind all of this, no matter who fills it. And the One who made the office and put a man into it, is the One whose ministry it is. Disrespect to the office is disrespect to Him who created it. Similarly when a man in the office brings disrespect to his office, he brings disrespect to Him who created it.

  8. @Carl H #7
    No matter how the message is framed, when a pastor highlights a need for appreciation — even among pastors in general — that message has a way of coming across as somewhat self-serving.

    So perhaps a layman should have written the article? When your management sends out an e-mail, noting that it is “Boss appreciation week”, or “Secretaries week”, do you get equally miffed about it?

    I don’t pay too much attention to these “Hallmark holidays”. Our church/school officers ask for donations for a Christmas gift for staff. Money received is pooled and divided equally among all church employees. That seems more sensible to me than yet another coffee mug or piece of “art” from Walmart. [If it’s kitsch, the CPH label doesn’t redeem it either!]

    I suggest “appreciating” your Pastor in the same way we all like to be appreciated:
    by giving (or nudging the church officers to give) him an adequate salary. Verbal thanks are appreciated, too, by all of us, Pastors not excepted.

  9. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #10
    I knew that would get a rise out of you, Reverend McCain. 🙂

    I agree completely! I won’t inflict on my Pastor what I couldn’t live with myself, though. You do have some nice things, (by my definition) too. 😉

  10. Congregations who appreciate their pastor will show
    it every month of the year. Obviously, there needs to
    be a mutual love and trust between the pastor and
    the parish members. A healthy parish provides this
    and everyone can see it. When a pastor and parish
    are growing together in Christ it is a true blessing.

  11. But of course…running a church is like running a Fortune 500 Company (or at least I’ve told by some in my previous parish). Shouldn’t appreciation for a pastor be based on market analysis…how many souls he brings in vs. souls that leave the congregation for yet another? Shouldn’t it be based on how he talks – whether he has a lisp? Shouldn’t it be based on whether he owns a bicycle and whether or not he drinks water prior to delivering his sermon (no kidding…I was once attacked by a parishioner for these things). Good grief!

    (sarcasm intended)

  12. “De gustibus non disputandum est”

    “Concerning taste there is no dispute”

    May the Latin language continue to bring joy
    to our resident theologian at CPH.

  13. When I was in the parish I had a man literally push me up against the wall in the sacristy and threaten to “beat me up” if I did not conduct his wedding to the woman he was cheating on his wife with, after leaving his wife a month prior.

    I politely declined and also informed him that I would regard it as a proper exercise of the Law if I were, in the very next several seconds, to throw him out the door and down the backstairs of the church.

    He decided at that point he did not want me to conduct the wedding ceremony after all.


  14. The rural churches in Iowa made Rev. McCain take
    up guns as a hobby. Some tough neighborhoods
    in the Hawkeye state. Now most rural parishes
    in Iowa have a breathalizer test for men who want
    to get married.

  15. Marlene :I to had to stay at home with children while my husband attended various church meetings and various special committee meetings for the various congregation we have been at…..but here is the catch, he is a layman. He worked 8 to 10 hour days at his job and then went to a 1.5 to 2.0 church meetings. Its hard work on both sides of the fence.

    Indeed it is. The pastor has to work all day too…and go to the same evening church meetings as your husband.

  16. God Bless pastors and families who lose all rather than compromise the council and will of our Lord-the most faithful after Whom soldiers of the Cross follow-sadly some leaders and pastors take another approach;hence LCMS 2012

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