October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I have mixed feelings about such designations. I’m glad to appreciate my pastors, past and present; to honor their service, their wisdom, their heart for God and their flocks, and their selfless devotion to both. And I believe that pastors are some of the most under-appreciated, over-worked, overlooked people in our world today. One way we can show appreciation is to pray for our pastors, their families, and our churches. And not just during a single month of the year. But for the remainder of this month, let’s make a point of praying faithfully for pastors. Here are a few reasons why, beyond just showing appreciation:
Reasons many pastors are leaving the ministry..
Pastors under personal attack (Christianity Today)
How can we pray for pastors?
- Remember their basic daily needs (health, family, finances, emotions, wisdom, etc.) as well as spiritual needs
- Remember they are sinners saved by grace, just like the rest of us– pray for grace and wisdom to show encouragement and acceptance
- Ask them how you can pray for them! It is surprising how many in the congregation are willing to share their needs but NEVER ask how they can lift up their pastors.
- Ask God to show you ways to appreciate, encourage, and (genuinely) help your pastor(s).
- Be grateful–Thank God for your pastor–Thank Him for your pastor’s strengths, and for the ways your pastor has shown growth and humility. Thank God for your pastor’s family and for those who come alongside to help him/her in ministry. Thank God if you live in an area where pastors can preach freely, openly, and honestly from God’s Word.
- Be honest–(see above) Being grateful for our pastor doesn’t mean that s/he is flawless, or that we don’t care about differences of opinion, or even questionable practices. Giving grace doesn’t mean ignoring sin; but it also means looking honestly and prayerfully at a situation. Often the “fault” we see lies in ourselves; we don’t like the sermons because they hit too close to home, or because are expecting great oratory and have no patience for simple homilies. But occasionally, the fault is something that requires talking with or even confronting the pastor. Pray for wisdom and humility, grace and strength.
- Be wise. Satan likes nothing better than to get us thinking about, discussing, and even bringing to God every little fault about our pastor (and our neighbor, our spouse, our in-laws, and even ourselves!) Satan also thrives on half-truths, rumors, misinformation and assumption. Pray that God will keep your pastor safe from ugly rumors, lies, and false accusations; pray also that God will keep your pastor accountable and your congregation open to following Biblical principles for confrontation, punishment, repentance, and restoration for all.
Faithful, God-fearing, loving, wise pastors are priceless gifts from our Heavenly Father. Let’s be sure to pray for them, pray WITH them, and speak words of encouragement and gratitude.
And it wouldn’t hurt if you sent them a card or gift, or offered to take them out for coffee or dinner– just a thought…