October has been dubbed Pastor Appreciation Month. Certificates to restaurants, gift cards to Walmart, an overnight at a B&B, and theater tickets are among the many awesome gifts given to my pastor-husband over the years. Each gift brightened our lives and filled us with gratitude toward the giver. The practice of gift giving in October is a great way to show your pastor you appreciate them.

But what about the rest of the year? How can you continue to show your ministry leader how glad you are that they are part of your church? To bless the pastor in your life, consider giving them the following things:

  1. The gift of showing up: Pastors and ministry leaders spend hours praying over the programs, services, and bible studies your church offers. Then they spend hours implementing the best plans and programs for your congregation and its context. This can easily lead to a feeling of defeat when these opportunities to worship together or to learn about God’s word aren’t well attended. Give your pastor or other leaders the gift of showing up to events. Make these events a priority in your life. They will be glad you came, and so will you!
  2. The Gift of Positivity: I once joked with a fellow Christian woman “No one ever calls the pastor when the news is good!” Then we imagined people dropping by the pastor’s office to let them know that their job was fine, they’d gotten 40 miles to the gallon on the last tank of gas, and that someone paid for their lunch that day. All joking aside, pastors and other leaders hear some pretty rough stuff all the time. Make it your goal to speak positively whenever possible. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to your pastor with the hard things happening in your life, but seek out opportunities to tell him or her about the areas that are running well. Also, look for times to point out the positive things happening in your church or faith group.
  3. The Gift of Appreciation: No need to limit words of appreciation to October. Tell your pastor you appreciate him by dropping a card in the mail. Take the time to write out what, specifically, you are grateful for. Did he sit with your mother while she was sick? Tell him why you appreciated that. Did one of his sermon illustrations speak to your heart? Mention which one and why it especially applied to you. Are they good at deflecting gossip in the church, or maybe promoting strong leadership, or perhaps creating a space where everyone feels welcomed? Tell them you’ve noticed these traits and that you are glad to have him or her in your church family.
  4. The Gift of Prayer: A mentor of mine once said, “Do you want to hear better sermons? Pray for your pastor.” Praying for your pastor is important for two very good reasons. First, it changes your heart. When we pray for someone, we care more about how they are doing, and we connect with them on a deeper level. Second, your pastor will appreciate the spiritual support. Everyone who ministers to people has a need for prayer. Pastors are often the ones called on to pray for others. What a blessing it is to know that someone is praying for them in return! My husband could not serve our church without the certainty that our church family is regularly praying for him.

Thank you for considering how to bless your pastor and their family this October. I know you will continue to do so year-round.

P.S. If you are reading this and are a member of my church (you know who you are), thank you for giving Eric these gifts all year! We are grateful for you.