Today we conclude our annual Pastor Appreciation focus.
Each of our churches has the potential to change our world for Christ. We can all agree on the Biblical intent here. However, the health of your church is dependent on a unique and highly complex component. We call it the brains of the organization. Depending on this unique leadership engineering, your church will grow, drift into neutral or shrink. This marvelous component of leadership is so critical that its health mirrors that of your church. Without this unique component, your church thrives or dies.
“Your job as a leader is to use your love of your own work to light the passion in others who share this love.” (Crossland & Clarke. The Leaders Voice)
Your Ministry team is the highly technical and complex component that keeps your church healthy.
Paul encourages us to, “Honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13MSG)
Here are two awesome but simple ideas to close with.
During Sunday morning service, smile, listen, be involved and really enjoy the service.
Ask your Ministry staff how you can pray for them.
Leadership is … ensuring your Ministry staff know that you care for them.
A three legged stool is strong, but less than helpful when missing a leg. In supporting our Pastors, I look for people who, like the three legged stool, consistently share three qualities. They are consistent in their prayer support, excited about volunteering within their giftedness and they go out of their way to encourage others.
“Being a Pastor is a tough, demanding job, one that is not always very well understood or appreciated. Pastoral work is more complex than that which transpires in the hour or two a week that many lay people see the pastor in action…” (Burns, Chapman and Guthrie, Resilient Ministry)
Returning to my church office one day I spotted $18,000 worth of Pastoral encouragement on the sidewalk. Blue suede color with chrome highlights, crossover dual exhaust, slash mufflers, two cylinder 3500 rpm achieving a clean 45 mpg. Our visiting Pastor told us with great enthusiasm how his church gave his Youth Pastor and himself matching Harley Davidson touring motorcycles on Pastor Appreciation Sunday. This church invested $36,000 in Ministry encouragement. Now, the point is not the money and not the motorcycles. The beautiful point is every time these two Pastors ride to work, take a weekend tour or re-tell the story, they are reminded how much they love and are loved by their people.
I haven’t bought any of our Pastors a Hawg lately, but it is a dramatic illustration of what people working together can do to collectively show their Ministry staff their love and appreciation.
I have the privilege of meeting and praying with our Pastor every other Wednesday. We pray, share, laugh and sometimes and cry as we seek God’s plan for our church and community.
Leadership is … ensuring your Ministry staff know that you care for them.
On my best days, when I feel God’s love strongly and appreciate the blessings he’s given, I am so grateful for the privilege it is to be a pastor’s wife. However, life is not full of “best days”. In short, I’d say that being in ministry is difficult, demanding and draining BUT tremendously rewarding.
The long answer entails so much more. Being a pastor’s wife isn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced before. Like my entrance into motherhood, it started in a way that I could have never fully prepared myself for. As a mom-to-be, I read books, blogs and heard from other moms about the sleepless nights, the temper tantrums, the overwhelming love you feel when you meet your baby for the first time, but no amount of preparation, no amount of baby proofing the house or bulk diaper buying beforehand, could have prepared me for what was to come. In the same way, I wasn’t prepared in advance to be a pastor’s wife. Jesse and I were a couple years into marriage. He was working in the business world and was very successful in climbing the corporate ladder. I was working full time as a teacher – loving the community I found among my teacher friends. This lasted for a time and then Jesse said to me one day that he wanted to start taking some seminary classes. The next thing we know, we’re invited to a church in another community where Jesse takes on his first job as a real life pastor. It all happened so fast and much of our experience was kind of unexpected, but God orchestrated it all and his timing is so perfect. Just like my entrance into motherhood, my step into life as a pastor’s wife is all about the learning along the way.
The work that my husband and I are in is more than an occupation, it’s a lifestyle. Some might read this and think, “Wait, isn’t it just your husband who works for the church?” To that question, I would answer, yes, Jesse works for the church, however we share a unique calling together. My husband, Jesse doesn’t exactly punch his time card at the end of the day and head for home, turning all areas of work out of his mind. No, in ministry you’re always on. Phone calls can come in all hours of the day. People still need help, direction, prayer, a listening ear. Jesse will jump back into his car after coming home and will head over to the hospital to be with people who are sick or dying. We open up our home regularly to people from all walks of life, some strong in the faith and others weary and with questions. Among all these circumstances, I have the joy of seeing my husband flourish in a calling he’s realized and followed. The part I play in this calling is this: I have the responsibility and concern of helping hold up his weary arms when ministry is hard, to encourage him and be excited with him when ministry is bright, to listen, to love, to take care of our family, and to be his constant companion and helper in this ‘together calling’.
The thing is, despite the busy and exhausting lifestyle we live, I thank God for the call that he has placed on our lives, and for the constant learning along the way. I’m proud of how hard Jesse works to serve the people God has entrusted to him to lead and shepherd. I love being a pastor’s wife and I am privileged to be a part of the ministry of the church.
I just hand delivered a letter to our Pastor. You may want to consider what you can and should give or share with your Pastor during this Ministry Appreciation month. Think about a letter, a gift card, a free evening of Child sitting, a car wash, a book, or something your Ministry leaders would appreciate.
“Interacting with many Pastors… has convinced me that the river they are crossing is often treacherous and the means are rather primitive.” (Glenn C. Taylor, Pastors in Transition) My personal experience counselling and working with Pastors confirmed their lives can be awesome or treacherous or at any point in between.
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17 NIV)
“Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.” (Hebrews 13: 7-9 MSG)
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)
Pastor, we are thankful for you and your family. We pray for you daily.
Leadership is … ensuring your Ministry staff know they are loved and cared for.
Jethro Group recognizes October as Pastor Appreciation Month
I love working with Pastors. Every Pastor I know needs prayer, encouragement and team support. My daily prayer is that our Pastors, Churches and leaders are healthy, growing in their relationship with our Heavenly Father and working to demonstrate God’s love to our world.
We need to care for our Ministry staff on a continual basis. We’ve hired them and we trust them to lead and care for us.
Char and I have had the very unique privilege of leading Home Bible Studies for many years. Each week we would read scripture, follow a devotional book, pray for each other and work to be active supporters of our church and community. A couple of times each year, the topic of supporting our Pastor would come up for discussion. Someone would ask how our Pastor and family were doing. Others would illustrate or comment on how they were blessed, encouraged or challenged by something shared on Sunday. Others would share a recent church meeting, a hospital or shut in visit. We’d talk, pray for our Ministry staff and their families. I would typically end the discussion by pointing out that it is great to share our appreciation and to pray. However, it would be awesome if everyone in our group would make a card, send a letter or email just to encourage our Pastor.
Fascinating, our Pastor would call or email me the next week. In his words, “it was an amazing coincidence to get 10 cards of appreciation in three days”. We made his day and whole week.
Now, just imagine the impact if every Home Bible study would pick a week to encourage each of their Ministry staff.
Your church demonstrates your love for God and His bride (the church) by how you care for and support your Ministry staff.
“I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15 NIV)
Leadership is …appreciating your Pastor and confirming it with a note.
I was reflecting on the number of times I’ve heard the Gospel shared, preached or explained during my lifetime. I’m very thankful to have been taught, challenged and influenced by some world class theologians, exceptional Pastors and Teachers.
My armchair analysis suggests I’ve been under the influence of Bible teaching for 10,000 hours during my lifetime. I’ve forgotten the illustrations, cute stories, unique applications and the long drawn out lectures. But, the concepts and learning are still with me. Today, you and I are the culmination of the influence of many Pastors and Teachers.
I’m humbled by the privilege of learning, yet in awe of the responsibility. Christ tells us we are entrusted with and responsible for our learning. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48 NIV)
One of my favourite Pastors confirmed, “Our Bible knowledge is not effective if we don’t let it transform our lives.” (Rev. Ian Smith, Mayerthorpe Baptist Church) If Ian’s phrase makes any sense at all, the estimated 10,000 times people have preached, discussed and shared God’s word with me are still transforming my life. God isn’t finished with me yet.
Pastors, you have spent ten to fifteen hours in prayer, study and preparation for your 30 minute sermon this Sunday. This sermon may be the one that God uses to transform someone’s life.
Christians, you’ll listen to another speaker this Sunday who will influence you. Will this be just another sermon that will be shared and forgotten? Or will this Sunday be the first day of a new journey to spiritual transformation and a renewed life in Christ.
Happy Ministry Staff Appreciation Month from the Jethro Group.
Leadership is learning, growing and changing for Christ’s sake.
Your church demonstrates your love for God and His bride (the church) by how you care for and support your Ministry Staff. Paul encourages us to, “esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thessalonians 5:13).
With this I conclude a four part series recognizing Ministry Staff recognition month.
As a Leadership Coach with the Jethro Group, I do a lot of work with churches and Pastors. I assist with Vision development, recruiting, organizational development, mentoring, writing and a lot of coaching. However, In terms of priorities or return on investment these pale in comparison to my most important role.
Research tells us the average Christian prays three minutes a day. Hmm! That sounds like breakfast, lunch and supper prayer time.
Let me refer you to the old German proverb quoted in Leading Turnaround Churches by Gene Wood, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The Annual Goals, the Ministry plan, the dreams, hopes, vision statement and the hours debating the culture of your church become less than significant. The hours of committee meetings, the constitution review and the new policy development manual become less important. You have kept the main thing, the main thing because the main thing is the result, catching fish. In our world, the main thing is winning that person to Christ.
Your most important role, and mine, is to keep and improve the health of our Ministry staff.
I challenge every Board Chair to use October as Pastor Appreciation month and to find a unique way to recognize and encourage their Ministry staff.
So, what can your church do to improve the long term health of your Pastoral staff? The ideas are limitless. Be creative.
Leadership is, demonstrating God’s love to your community by caring and praying for your Ministry staff.
Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach Jethro Group
Char and I recognize October as Ministry Staff appreciation month. This is our time to do something unique with the Ministry Staff in our church. We value each one. We care for them and we know that appreciation is the best way to ensure their emotional health and work effectiveness.
“Being a Pastor is a tough, demanding job, one that is not always very well understood or appreciated. Pastoral work is more complex than that which transpires in the hour or two a week that many lay people see the pastor in action…”
“The relentless nature of ministry means that fatigue is a constant companion of leaders in the church. While lay people joke about ministers only working on Sundays the truth lies on the other side of the continuum. A pastor’s work is overwhelming because it wears upon the body and soul.”
“The clergy role is sui generis, for it is the only profession that wraps personal identity, professional identity and religious all in the same package.”
“One of the ironies of our time is that many people who serve in caring professions experience poor health. Perhaps the most ironic of all is the strikingly below average health of clergy. Age for age, clergy have significantly greater incidences of chronic disease, heart and GI tract conditions, and stress which is a bit embarrassing for a group preaching about life every week. Clergy today have, on average a pattern of health that is significantly worse than the average.” Gunderson and Pray, Leading Causes of Life: Five Fundamentals to Change the Way You live Your Life.
These National quotes may not represent the ministry staff you employ. However, it becomes obvious that the better we care for our Ministry Staff the better equipped they are to care for our churches.
Leadership is, encouraging your people to let your Ministry staff know, really know, that they are loved and cared for.
Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach Jethro Group