I’m not sure when it started but for quite some time October has been designated Pastor Appreciation month. Many of us have been blessed by caring Christians with gifts of all sorts. And I want to say thank you. But I also want to offer four creative ways to continue to support your pastor.
Suggest a walking meeting.
The next time you need to meet with her/him, and if at all possible, meet them at a trail in the park, a sidewalk in a scenic neighborhood, or at even at the track. This helps in several ways. First, it gets your pastor up and moving. I like to meet people early for breakfast meetings and go out for lunch as much as the next guy, but most of us are eating ourselves to death. Suggesting a walk helps your pastor combat a sedinary lifestyle that often goes from meal meeting to meal meeting. Second, it gives your pastor permission to be out of the office. Phones are turned off. No computer to be distracted by. No email to check. A walking appointment reminds us that a lot of life and ministry happens outside the walls of the church. (yes, they need to be reminded of that) Third, it is a better way to talk about important stuff. There is something about walking side by side that makes communication, even about difficult issues easier, especially for men. The pace and rhythm of a walk allows space for more affective listening, time for silence, and thoughtful responses.
Use a prayer trigger.
A prayer trigger is simply a reminder. Usually it’s a sight or a sound that reminds us to pray for someone or something specific. Your pastor needs prayer and no doubt you want to support her/him with your prayers. But no matter how earnest we are in trying to follow through, we usually fall short. Don’t beat yourself up though. People are generally forgetful. So the key is to attach a trigger – something we see or hear throughout the day – to our pastor. For example, if your pastor likes motorcycles train yourself to pray for him every time you hear a motorcycle, see a motorcycle, or see a motorcycle logo. Or if your pastor is a whiz at technology, pray for her each time you turn on or wake up one of your devices. The trigger could be connected with their favorite sports team, their love for their dog, a hobby, just about anything. The key is identifying something that reminds you of them that will trigger you to pray a few sentences for a minute or so multiple times a day.
Send the PK’s (preacher’s kids) an old fashion hand written note.
There is no better way to support your pastor than showing love and appreciation to their family. Think about your pastor’s kids for a minute. You realize that they are just like every other kids, right? We had our share of temper tantrums, rolling eyes, calls from the neighbors, and police visits at our house. And yet, most people still hold PK’s to a different standard than other kids. Sometimess if feels like they only hear from the congregants when they do something wrong. But they are normal and need encouragement. Use a medium that is both foreign and special for them: paper, pen, envelope, and stamp. Buy a Hallmark or jot it on a piece of construction paper. It really doesn’t matter. Heck, my mom was a master at writing notes on the back of restaurant placemats. “Just wanted you to know I was at Archie’s this morning and was thinking of you. Miss you!” (Archie’s was a place she and I would go for breakfast.) Your words in your handwriting will communicate as much if not more than what you say. An investment of $15.00 a year could reap incalculable benefits for your pastor and his/her children.
Give their spouse a coffee gift card.
I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t know here. The pastor’s spouse is often forgotten. He/she is the one who takes on tasks that no one wants to do, volunteers when the sign-up sheet is empty, often loans their spouse to others during the best hours of the week, carries the weight of pastoral criticism, is expected to know more about the Bible than they sometimes do, and is saddled with a littany of other challenges. Whether it’s a Starbuck’s card or a gift certificate from a local shop, drop one off periodically to one of the most valuable people and unsung heroes in the church.
Have a great rest of your week!