During our October Pastors4Pastors group zoom sessions, we took some time to talk about appreciation, given that October was Pastor Appreciation Month. We asked over 30 pastors and church and ministry staff what caused them to feel or experience appreciation in their work. Their answers were eye opening. Below are the top three types of appreciation that are most needed.
The most common answer to the question, ‘what causes you to feel or experience appreciation?’ was quite disheartening. What we heard most was that our pastors, church staff and ministry leaders simply wanted to be treated with decency. ‘I do not need appreciation as much as I need people in our church and ministry to be kind to me and to my family. I would just be happy if people were not unkind to us.’ Basically, pastors are asking for basic decency and basic kindness. Kids and families are off limits. Regardless of our own personal hurt or frustration, we can be kind to our pastors and ministry staff. We can express our views without being mean to those who are serving.
Words of Encouragement
The second most common answer we heard was equally simple. Pastors and ministry staff feel appreciated when they receive words of encouragement. They can come via tex, phone, in person, email, or a card. The form does not matter. We did hear that the more specific the encouragement is, the more helpful and meaningful it feels. Our leaders feel appreciated when we can offer a specific encouragement about something that they have said or done that was meaningful, helpful, caring, challenging or transformative.
The third most common answer we heard was service. Pastors and ministry staff experience appreciation when those they are serving and leading get involved, when you and I step in and serve. Joining our pastors and ministry leaders in serving and leading is a great source of encouragement for them.
I would like to challenge churches and ministries to resolve in 2023 to better care for, support, appreciate, and guard the health of their pastors, staff, and ministry leaders. While it is very important, what we sadly learned from our groups was that it is not happening in spite of it not being very hard to do.
Rev. Dr. Marcus J. Carlson, Executive Director