“I appreciate you.”
Those are words we all love to hear. Especially from those we find ourselves exhausting our energy, time, and resources in an effort to care for. From those we’ve invested love and service towards.
Starbucks cards. Homemade baked goods. Thank You notes. Getaways to air b&bs and date nights to fancy restaurants (masks included of course). I’m not sure what it’s like for vocational ministers in other parts of the world, or even where it came from, but October in the United States is known throughout many church circles as “Pastor Appreciation Month.”
It’s a full month to tell your pastor how much you love them. Thirty-one days where many pastors are showered with gifts, offered free baby-sitting and date nights with their spouse, and handed gift cards like Willy Wonka hands out chocolate bars. Although there are probably more pastors who do not experience this phenomenon, it’s still a phenomenon in our church culture.
I’m not bashing the idea. I am actually for it. I believe a lot of pastors are over worked, under appreciated, and handed heavy burdens of “performance expectation” more than they are gift cards. Pastors want to be appreciated. They want to know they are loved by those they are caring for.
I looked up the definition of appreciate the other day. I actually use that word a lot personally. Instead of saying “thank you” to people I more often say, “I appreciate you.” or “I appreciate that.”
According to one definition, appreciate means “to recognized the full worth of.” Wow! That’s way more than just a “thank you.” That goes deeper. It speaks to identity and worth. The Merriam-Webster definition confirms this by defining it as “grasping the nature, worth, quality, or significance of.”
To tell someone you appreciate them is to recognize their full worth. To grasp the full quality of their nature and full significance of the role they have played in your life in a particular situation, circumstance, or season. That’s pretty powerful.
I truly “appreciate” pastors. I appreciate those who are giving their lives in service to Jesus and gospel ministry. I appreciate those who, as Paul says in Acts 20:24, don’t consider their lives as of any value but are seeking to fulfill the ministry of gospel proclamation God has called them to. There is a lot of value in that. A lot of worth. There is some true significance at hand for the kingdom of God and the good of people .
There’s definitely some appreciation to be had.
But then, I started thinking about the Great Shepherd. The Ultimate Pastor. The One who truly gave his life for the whole world, Jesus. Do we appreciate Him? Do we recognize His full worth? I don’t. I mean I do at times, but I definitely don’t continually. He’s deserving of so much more of my appreciation than I find myself giving at times. And then, I have those moments where, by His grace I am able to grasp His nature and the significance the gospel has played in my life. Wow! What joy fills my soul. What gratitude envelopes my heart.
To appreciate Jesus, meaning to fully recognize HIs worth, grasping the quality of His nature and the full significance of His life, death, and resurrection…well, we would need a lot more than a month to do that. In fact we would need all of our lives. Even more so, we would need eternity.
As the church celebrates and appreciates pastors this month, I hope many are encouraged in their call, strengthened in their faith, and propelled on to continue fighting the good fight before them. Even more, I hope they do not put all their trust in what others think of them. Banking on those gift cards and nights out with their spouse. I hope they find a rest and strength in their Pastor. I hope they turn their focus and attention to appreciating Jesus. Recognizing His full worth.
And for church members, I encourage you the same. The greatest appreciation you can show a pastor is by appreciating Jesus. They experience greatest joy in knowing you are living your life for the glory of God, in the truth and gospel of Jesus.
John says it this way in 3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
Paul also tells the Thessalonians in 1 Thess. 3:8-9, “For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God.”
Let’s appreciate pastors this month by appreciating Jesus for eternity.
By: Jeremy McQuown