Dr. Jeff Paxton, Pastor
Well this is awkward. We all experience awkward moments, right? Sometimes those awkward times come innocently and other times they come because we have said or done something stupid. Like the time I had just finished a BIG piece of cake and received a text from my wife telling me not to touch the cake on the counter because it was for a family in our church. Awkward. What about the poor guy who congratulated a lady on her pregnancy, only to find out she wasn’t pregnant! Super awkward. The weird thing for me as a pastor is having to write an article challenging churches to appreciate their pastor. It’s like walking up to people and asking them what they got me for my birthday - just plain weird.
Oh well, here goes. As you know October is Pastor/Staff Appreciation Month. It is a time where churches are encouraged to celebrate and show appreciation to their pastor and staff. I have had the honor and blessing of serving First Dover for 29 years, and yes, I have experienced many Pastor Appreciation Months. The reason I agreed to write this awkward article was not to get my church to send me to that two week Pastor’s Conference in Hawaii, but because I know firsthand how vitally important encouragement is for pastors and their staff.
I Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Encourage one another and build each other up..." Everyone needs to be built up, including pastors, and sometimes, especially pastors. Can we be honest? Most pastors are not going to stand behind their pulpits and say, “Hey guys, I need some encouragement. Will you do something nice for me during Pastor Appreciation Month?” Ain’t gonna happen. Most will continue to faithfully serve and minister to their flock whether they are acknowledged or not. It breaks my heart to speak with pastors who have served their congregations so faithfully and have never received even the smallest token of appreciation. One pastor told me he has to chase his treasurer down almost weekly in order to get his paycheck! Pretty sad.
I am so grateful that I serve a very thoughtful and generous congregation. I have been blessed to receive many positive encouragements at First Dover during Pastor Appreciation Month, and throughout the year as well. I know firsthand how the smallest gesture can really lift one’s spirit, and put a bounce in their step for ministry. Through the years, my church has given me a set of golf clubs, love offerings, money trees, even a trip to Israel! I very much appreciate the fact that they appreciate me, and my staff. I know and love so many pastors and staff across our state, and I also know that many could stand to be “built up and encouraged.”
So this word is not for pastors. It is for that deacon, or hospitality team, special events team, Sunday School member, or anyone else who feels led to get the job done. Will you take it upon yourself to make sure your church recognizes your pastor and staff in a special way? In the words of our Lord Jesus, “Do to them what you would want done to you.” I guarantee that it will be like a boomerang. If you throw out appreciation and encouragement for your pastor and staff, it will definitely come back to bless your church family.