Your pastor does not need to be given any undue special treatment, cut any slack for poor performance or made to feel special just for doing his or her job. But your pastor does deserve appreciation, respect and affirmation. Being a pastor today is not easy, and in fact in the 40 years since I graduated from seminary I have seen ministry become far more difficult, complex and discounted. Earlier in my ministry when someone learned I was a pastor, they immediately treated me with respect. No longer is that true. Because of misconduct, abuse and failures of too many clergy and their supervisors, the public view of pastors has declined. Some polls suggest that the public views ministers as crooks, child-molesters or frauds. The misconduct of the few has resulted in a lack of respect for all of us.
So, your pastor needs some affirmation and deserves some appreciation for faithful service. Here are some ways I have found appreciation from places I have served:
- small gifts are better than anything large – so things like a gift card at Starbucks inside a nice note is very meaningful
- if your pastor has small children, offer to babysit (or pay for a babysitter) some evening for the pastor/spouse to go out for the evening
- stop by the pastor's office and just say "thanks for all you do for God and for our church" – a verbal thank-you is always best
- teach your children (and maybe some adults) to treat your pastor with respect
- brag about your pastor to your neighbors and co-workers (and then maybe tell your pastor you have done so)
- on a Sunday morning, don't just say to the pastor "nice sermon" but rather give your pastor some positive comments with details about how the sermon impacted your life or at least gave you lots to think about
- text your pastor with a word of appreciation – not just in October when the pastor is kind of looking for such a text, but surprise the pastor some other month
- don't forget about your pastor's spouse and family. One of the best ways to affirm your pastor is to show appreciation to the pastor's spouse and kids.