I am afraid I will be labeled as “The Grinch Who Stole Pastor Appreciation Month” but, after thirty two years as a local pastor and forty-five years of total public ministry, I have come to the conclusion that I wish the local church would not continue this practice for the following reasons.
First, a Pastor Appreciation Month exalts one person above others within the body of Christ and that is a principle contrary to the known will and Word of the Lord. Romans 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one member’s one of another. Because there is an essential unity in the body of Christ, it is not healthy to show preference to one member over another.
One local pastor I know who has a good heart is sensitive to this concept and has insisted that honor be shown to all who minister within the body of Christ. Of course that defeats the purpose of the movement to have a Pastor Appreciation Month. Moreover, it becomes like observing Valentine’s Day in school. Many children dread Valentine’s Day at school because they wonder if anyone will remember them and give them a Valentine’s Day card. Something like that happens when the effort is made to honor “all those who minister” in the church. If that is code for those who officially minister in the church because they have a title or an elected office then again, others will be left out or overlooked who quietly minister without drawing attention to themselves.
Second, a Pastor Appreciation Month reflects a man centered ministry mentality which is the curse of modern Christendom. Beliefs will dictate behavior. A person’s message will dictate their methodology. Many local churches would do well to consider returning to Biblical worship and work whereby it is all about the Lord, not a particular person. Today, more often than not, in the church and out, it is, “all about ME!”
As a common practice, the modern day church applauds every performance. God’s people once rejoiced because their hearts were led before the throne of grace, and glory was given to God through the gifts being exercised. A modern day religious audience would clap after the angels sang before the throne and cried, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” And the angels would blush in embarrassment for they want others to join them in singing to the Lamb. If there is to be any applause, let it be the applause of heaven. Let Christians go to the local theater if they want to evaluate and exalt a person’s performance.
Third, a Pastor Appreciation Month undermines the primary work of the pastoral ministry which is to feed the flock of God. Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Paul told Timothy to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The apostles told the church to take care of the daily necessities of the congregation, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4-5). In contrast, the modern church demands the pastor organize, be a custodian, administrate, and plan for the church calendar year which translates into time taken away from what God wants His pastoral shepherds to do, study and teach His Word.
If God’s people really what to show their appreciation to their pastors then they will do the following.
First, a church that would show appreciation to their pastors will submit to Biblical authority. To strip pastors legally and practically of their God given authority by precise wording in a church constitution and by-laws is an abomination. Hear then the Word of the Lord. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
Second, a church that would show appreciation to their pastors will not speak evil against them. “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:19-20).
Third, a church that would show appreciation to their pastors will be faithful in attending the services established, in as far as it is possible. A woman who cooks a large meal is honored when the family gathers to eat. A pastor who labors in the Word is honored when the sheep gather to be fed. Then, spiritual labor is not in vain.
Finally, a church that would show appreciation to their pastors will support them in a financial way that is just and proper. Many Christians have heard the exhortation, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). What they have not considered is the context which speaks about supporting the church leadership adequately. Before verse 7 there is verse 6. “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Galatians 6:6-7). Invest in the work of the ministry by investing in those who labor in the Word. You will be blessed and they will be appreciated.