Pastor Appreciation

  • Randy Karlberg
Woman praying with her Bible

If you didn’t know, October is Pastor’s Appreciation Month.  My reason for bringing this up is not so I can receive notes of thanks.  Nor is it because I am vying for acknowledgment of the pastors on the pastoral staff with which I am a part.  While I do think they deserve thanks for their service, this is more of a wake-up call for me to tell them I appreciate them more than most anyone else!  The reason I am writing about Pastor’s Appreciation is that there are very few people in my life who have had a bigger impact than the role of pastor. Let me explain. 

I have been involved in church my whole life!  I have listened to and worked with a few pastors as a volunteer member at a church.  But I also have served on staff as an associate pastor for many years.  And in that time I have had the privilege to serve with pastors who have taught me many things.  Some of these lessons have been extremely challenging in that they have brought me to my knees before the Lord.  Those pastors who I have been serving with have met me there and encouraged, prayed for, and struggled with me along those difficult yet incredibly edifying paths.  I have learned so much about myself through these challenges and pastors have had a role in aiding and clarifying those trials.  For that and so much more, I am very grateful to my pastors! 

But my experience with pastors goes even deeper.  I grew up in a pastor’s home and I have the privilege of having a pastor as my father-in-law.  So I have intimate insight into a pastor’s life at home along with the wives who bolster these men to continue in their faithfulness of their calling.  So to the wives of my pastors, the memory of my mother, to my amazing mother-in-law (if you know her, you know that I am not making this up), and most of all to my wife who supports me and keeps me grounded, I want to proclaim how much I appreciate you all!  And regarding my father and my father-in-law, I want to say as a way of appreciation that I cannot imagine better examples of how to live out the role of pastor with integrity!  To both of them (again, in my father’s memory) I say a most sincere Thank You!  

So there are basically two qualities that I have learned to so appreciate doing life with my father, my father-in-law, and my pastors.  Those two qualities are integrity and a servant’s heart.  The first is that of integrity.  We all know that there is no such thing as a perfect pastor.  We realize that they are people who make mistakes and we would never claim that we hold them to a perfection standard.  But we also realize that those who teach and the leaders in the church are held to a higher level of accountability as per God’s Word!  James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”  And for the standards to which the elders and pastors are held, we go to the list of qualifications in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1.  What jumps out in both of these lists of qualifications is that a man is not qualified to have a leadership role in God’s church unless he has a family who is submissive and in order.  Our spouse and our children are viable authorities as to whether a person is who they say they are or not!  If a man acts one way while he is at church in front of believers and yet does not act the same way at home with his family, the children will be able to tell and often they will end up rebellious.  I, however, have had excellent examples of men of integrity.  The father and father-in-law whom I saw in front of the church are the same men whom I saw at home.  And I have no evidence to believe that they were any different when they were by themselves!  They were not perfect, but they did regularly ask for forgiveness when they were wrong and sought to live a God-honoring life.  

As for the servant’s heart, I have had so many wonderful examples of this in my own life!  I have witnessed pastors who would go out of their way to meet with people even when it was very inconvenient for their families. Men who answer calls at all hours of the night to help a desperate family.  Picking or cleaning up when no one was watching just because it needed to be done, or taking someone out to lunch because they were hungry, needed to talk, or both.  This can get to be a problem on the familial front considering the list of qualifications of church leadership.  It is not uncommon for a pastor’s child to rebel against the ways of the Lord because they felt that their dad loved the church more than he loved them.  My dad regularly made time for me.  He would go out of his way to spend time with just me when looking back I am sure he would have rather had a few hours to himself to rest.  I always knew my dad loved me.  I am very blessed!  And you are blessed too if your pastor’s family knows he loves them, and yet you also know that he deeply cares for you as well!  This is not an easy balance to achieve.  But this is what God calls pastors and their families to.  

So there you have it.  That is why I appreciate my pastors.  And if you have a pastor who loves his family while serving your church you are blessed too!  It is a mistake for us to ask “what has my pastor done for me lately?”  Rather we should look and see if he is a man of integrity and servant-hearted who is striving to balance things well so that he is qualified to serve God’s people.  I hope this helps give some perspective.  I know I have been encouraged to be thankful and to pray for my pastors!