In the typical “church calendar,” October has traditionally been marked as Pastor Appreciation Month. However, given the developments of the last few months, I’m suggesting all our church family members consider taking some time in these next few weeks to pass on some encouragement to their local pastor.
As we all know, the last three months have been incredibly disruptive. Interestingly, I’ve heard a few persons suggest the COVID-19 situation has been a “break” for pastors, given many did not have public services for a period of time, and the regular routine of visiting and connecting with church family members was “eased” due to government guidelines for limiting personal contact. Let me say this directly—research is proving the opposite to be true. In fact, the stress caused by the upheaval surrounding COVID-19 has increased exponentially for most pastors.
The pressure to lead the church in adjusting to a completely “online” presence for an extended period of time, concerns about levels and methods for continued giving, the scramble to find effective “remote” ways to provide pastoral care, and the uncomfortable “new presentation” realities requiring pastors to adjust sermon and teaching delivery and style have taken a toll on many ministry leaders. Additionally, the personal energy drain, uncertainty, and potential conflict swirling around questions of when and how to reopen has been difficult for some pastors to navigate. Further, how to best minister in a “new normal” in which some desire to be back in public gatherings while others feel more comfortable remaining away for an extended time presents yet more uncertainty and challenge. Finally, many pastors with strong shepherding gifts struggle with the lack of face to face interaction with the church family members they love and serve.
Across denominations, leaders are noting that many pastors are feeling the strain of this ongoing virus disruption. Words like “depleted,” “exhausted,” “stressed,” and “overwhelmed” are being heard in candid discussions.
Given that, my request is that we each take some time to check in with our local pastor and offer some encouragement. I’m not suggesting some big event or extravagant outlay of resources. Instead, I’m asking each of us to take the time to send a card or a text to the pastor just to say “you are loved and appreciated, and I’m praying for you in this tough time.” From a scriptural perspective, that’s something all of us should do far more often: “Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12)