I’m sure you know that last month was Pastor Appreciation Month. It was the month that Congress declared that you should be appreciated. Actually, that’s not true. I’m not sure how Pastor Appreciation Month came about or how one even declares a month to be set aside for appreciation and then gets everyone else to also recognize the significance of that month. But I digress.
Perhaps, pastor, your congregation showed you how much they appreciate you. Maybe your members gave you a card or a Starbucks gift card or a book, or maybe individual members came up to you and expressed their appreciation for you. I rejoice with you at the generosity and kindness of your members!
Or maybe no one said anything at all. Maybe you didn’t get a gift card, or a note of thanks, or a book. You would have even been happy with just a post on your social media from someone. Maybe you didn’t feel appreciated at all. Perhaps you don’t ever feel appreciated. This is especially highlighted when we feel particularly discouraged. Maybe hell itself uses our times of discouragement in this way to bring us especially low.
Allow me, my dear brother, to attempt to encourage you. I want to let you know that, even if you did not feel appreciated during Pastor Appreciation Month, or any other month, that you are truly appreciated. I know I appreciate you. I may not even know you, but I know you are out there putting in the hard work in your context, a context that I am not in, and perhaps, a context I would not flourish in. But you’re there, you work hard, and I appreciate you for your witness and faithful preaching of God’s Word.
Take heart also, brother, that there are likely members in your congregation who do appreciate you. They might not express it vocally or in the form of a gift, but they do appreciate you. Your members might not have known it was Pastor Appreciation Month or that such an occasion is even a thing. So please do not take their silence as lack of real appreciation.
Most importantly, God appreciates you. He called you, after all, not because He needs you, but because He loves you and wants to include you in the greatest mission in the history of the universe. Paul charges Timothy “in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom” to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:1-2, ESV).
Not only is the charge before God and Christ, your preaching is before God as well. What an awesome and glorious responsibility! All those hours you pour into study, all the hospital visits, the discipleship over coffee (boy could you really put that Starbucks gift card to work), all of the time spent on the floor of your office reacquainting yourself with the smell of the carpet, is seen by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And it matters to them.
Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 3 that he and Apollos did their part planting and watering and each will receive his wages according to their work. God sees you, pastor, putting your hands in the soil, doing the dirty work of ministry, planting the seeds, and watering the plant(s). We know He gives the growth and thus gets the glory, but He does see you, and He will reward you.
Finally, let’s be reminded of Galatians 1:10 where Paul asks, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?” Then Paul states, “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Pastor, God sees you, God cares deeply for you, God has called you to the task, and God appreciates you. I appreciate you, your professors who prepared you for ministry appreciate you, your wife and children appreciate you, your fellow pastors appreciate you, and your members appreciate you.
Please, brother, do not rely on how you feel in the moment about your appreciation. Feelings are so often a fickle and unreliable barometer for reality. When you are feeling unappreciated, last month or any other, just remember you have a God who sees every good deed you do in response to the gospel of grace, and he loves you and appreciates you.
So take heart, brother, and continue the work in faithfulness for Christ and kingdom.