It happens about 3 or 4 times each month. In a conversation with a pastor, he or she will tell me, “I really love my appointment, my church is doing well, and I think our people are pleased with my ministry, but I never receive any appreciation from them.” The gift of appreciation seems to be a lost art in our culture, especially in the church. We are quick to complain, to criticize, to point out mistakes, and even to send nasty e-mails or notes. But we are slow to offer words or simple gestures of appreciation.
As I look back over my years of ministry, I remember how many times a kind note, or a simple “thank you,” or an appreciative word during a trying week meant so much to me. I have even kept a file of what I call “nice notes” that people have sent to me, and it is affirming to read those comments once in a while. I remember early in my ministry when we had small children, the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee of our church gave us a gift certificate at a nice restaurant and a “certificate” for them to provide child-care. They said, “Sometime during a dreary week in January or February, use this to take Marsha out for a quiet evening and we will take care of your kids.” What a wonderful gift! It was not a huge expense, but it sure did affirm our marriage and our family, and it showed how much they understood the pressures of ministry and how much they appreciated me (and my family).
I guess I am calling for us to offer appreciation to one another:
- senior pastors thanking their staff, especially other clergy on their staff
- PPPR Committees offering gestures of appreciation to their pastors and staff
- clergy thanking the laity who faithfully serve and lead in their churches
- district superintendents sending notes or e-mails to affirm the hard work and good ministry of their pastors and churches
- bishops saying “Thank you” to pastors and laity who volunteer and work in the conference
- all of us taking the time to thank the waitress at the restaurant, the housekeeper at the motel, the police and fire and soldiers who protect us, the teachers who teach our children, the laborers who work for us, etc. and etc.
Appreciation is a gift that we all need to offer … and to receive. It is a gift which often costs us very little, but it is so rewarding and so affirming.
Tell someone today that you appreciate them.