The Dark Side of Pastor Appreciation Month

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I always blame Hallmark for the “holidays” that nobody ever heard of that suddenly pop up on the radar. I’m sure it’s just a vast right-wing conspiracy to sell more greeting cards.

“Pastor Appreciation Month” probably wasn’t a Hallmark invention, but it sometimes it feels a lot like Grandparents Day or Sweetest Day or many of those other invented holidays where the prospective gift-receiver is left wondering, “If people don’t recognize me, do they really love me?”

I appreciate pastors. I really do. Many of my best friends are pastors. My brother’s a pastor. I was a pastor. You don’t have to convince me that pastors have a challenging role with unique stresses and rewards.

Having worked with hundreds of pastors across the country, though, I know you. I know your tendencies. I know your vulnerabilities.

With that, here are some things to consider…

  • You’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you are expecting appreciation. When we our surprised by someone’s kind word or gesture, it has a bigger impact. When it’s expected, you’ll never know if it’s genuine and it’s unlikely it’ll ever meet your expectations.
  • You think you have a tough job, but there are people in your congregation that have tougher circumstances. You are not unique. If you ever get to a place where you think your circumstances are far more difficult than anyone else’s, that’s a sure sign that you need to see a counselor.
  • You may be pushing people away who don’t have appreciation months. There are factory workers, administrative assistants, CEOs, food service workers, homemakers, insurance salespeople and many other professions that don’t get entire months to be appreciated. Don’t alienate the people you are trying to reach by expecting appreciation that they will never see.
  • If your church appreciates you, I sure hope you’re effectively appreciating them. Remember, God designed honor to go both ways. What are your strategies and systems to make sure the people in your church are honored in the same way you feel honored every October?
  • When we spotlight the role of the pastor, it downplays the role of God’s people doing the work of God.Lifting up the role of the pastor can be a dangerous thing if it deviates the church from embracing the priesthood of the believers. We need to be careful that we don’t embrace a practice that reinforces poor doctrine.

For all the pastors out there who are reading this, know that I do appreciate you. Thank you for doing what you do. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your teaching. Thank you for helping hurting people. Thank you for loving people enough that you don’t want to leave them where they are.

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About Author

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.

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