October is famous for Halloween, German beer halls, changing foliage, fall break, and hard–working pastors. Okay, the last one isn’t altogether true. The general public is mostly unaware that October has been set aside as pastor appreciation month. The origins of this campaign are murky to me; all I know is that some years back I started receiving cards and other gestures of kindness in October. I like it. Being told that you are appreciated feels nice. So, to whoever came up with this nifty idea, I appreciate you right back.
I also want to reflect some of this appreciation toward the staff that works with me. I pastor a sizeable church that depends on the committed ministrations of a team. The workload involved in curriculum development, counseling, event coordinating, child-care, and the host of other activities are gargantuan. Whenever someone in the church assumes a role on staff their reaction is always the same. With amazed disbelief they simply say, “I never knew”. The volume of work involved behind the scenes is unseen and unknown. Because of this hiddenness the staff are too often unsung heroes. So before October closes to us for another year, allow me to sing the praises of church staff.
The nature of the service provided by church personnel is unique. They seek to honor God, support their pastor, accommodate their fellow parishioners, and do it all with little thought of themselves. They have to bear the burdens of those who hurt, keep safe the secrets of those that struggle, and all the while maintain the inner-workings of the church. They must be perpetually available, respond with a quick reply, and always be able to make an exception regardless of the inconvenience. It’s a demanding task that cannot be allowed to dull their smile or quicken their temper, and they do it exceptionally well.
In a cruel twist, I am sometimes rewarded for the sacrifices of my staff. As the lead pastor, I am recognized as the face of the church and consequently gratitude is expressed to me. People are helped and encouraged by the work of the staff, but it is me they thank. Now from my perspective this is a very agreeable arrangement. Humor aside, it really isn’t. Those who serve well should benefit from encouragement—so let me try my hand at this:
“To our staff, you do an incredible job at loving and leading our people. You accomplish excellence as a matter of course and do it all to honor the Lord. You freely assume burdens that aren’t your responsibility and carry them without complaint. The humility you demonstrate is an incredible testimony of your faith and there is no doubt about your loyalty to Jesus. I count it a privilege to work with you and am humbled to lead you. So this October, let it be said, this pastor appreciates you.”
There you have it …just under the wire. Hello November.