Fall has always been my favourite time of year. Sometimes I call it Autumn if I am feeling romantic and artistic. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the season when the leaves paint the forest for a moment then create a carpet on the walking path. The calendar declares renewed hope for change with the start of school, mid-week programs, Christmas choir, and the weather cools off enough that cocoa and sweaters, fireplace and books sound like a perfect evening.
The other thing fall brings is Thanksgiving and Pastors’ Appreciation month, both of which, for us in Canada, are in October (sorry for the confusion to my American friends).
As this October arrived, I realized that it was the first time in 30 years that I was not in some form of leadership in my church. For those of you doing the math, I began serving in volunteer roles when I was 13 and began working in churches six years later.
So, why does this information matter? It’s pretty simple. This is the first year I can openly talk about Pastors’ Appreciation without it being self-serving.
This year, probably more than ever, your Pastor could use some appreciation, and it can take on a variety of expressions. Here are some of my favourites from over the years.
As a young pastor in a farming community, I was shocked when the 6-foot-4-inch frame fills the door-jam of my kids’ church room at the end of the Sunday Service. All the kids were gone, and I was cleaning up. The presence of a parent was a bit startling, but his offering was the shocking bit. He came back into the church to gift me this chicken, his chicken, from his farm – that they had killed, cleaned and were giving to me as a show of appreciation just before Thanksgiving. I, as graciously as I could, received this unconventional gift.
I arrived home with my whole chicken, and never having cooked an entire bird in my 21 years of city-slicker life, I placed it in the freezer until my Mom came to visit over Christmas. Even as she instructed me to pluck the tiny “armpit” feathers before we cleaned and cooked this appreciation bird, I felt so honoured by this farming family.
This same church also had a woodworking craftsman who, almost 20 years ago, carefully constructed me a serving tray. To this day, I remember the time, energy and effort he put into this creation. It still makes me smile.
You may not have a chicken or a woodworking shop, but a few of my other favourites are the emails and cards I have received over the years. I have both a digital and physical file full of kind words, and on those rough days, I have pulled them out and found encouragement to keep on. If you’ve been one of those people who sent me a card or email over the years – this Thanksgiving, I’m thanking God for you.
This summer, I had to pick a church to attend for the first time in my life. In a large city like Edmonton, there are many great churches for me to choose from. After prayerful consideration, I landed at a church with great worship and biblically-based preaching. I was excited to write out seven cards for the pastors at my church, 3 of whom I haven’t met yet. It was a first for me. I was wrestling between Tim Horton’s or Starbucks, and if I hadn’t been able to decide, then my fall back would have been a grocery or gas card since everyone needs those. I remember feeling appreciated when people showed appreciation with kind words and gift cards blessed my heart; hopefully, it will bless theirs too.
I hope you will join me this October and shower the Pastor or Pastors in your church with so much appreciate that their “appreciation-tank” will be filled to overflowing. You never know how much those words can mean to them.
If you need some ideas – reach out; I’ve got a few more stories of some great gift ideas, or use the comment section to share some of your own.