“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.” First Thessalonians 5:12 – 14; ESV

October is declared Clergy Appreciation Month. During this month, people are encouraged to send letters, give notes of encouragement, and just be appreciative of all the hard-working dedications that their clergy presented them. However, in many churches and in many denominations, this is overlooked by the congregations. Sometimes, even the pastors themselves are not aware of this. If they are aware, they say nothing because they feel that if they pointed out to their congregations, it will appear to be a form of selfishness. The reality of it all is that pastors and clergy not only want to know better efforts are not only appreciated but also effective. If there is no feedback of how they serve, they are left wondering if they are effective enough.

Leading the congregation is not as simple as some people may feel. Pastoring is more than just presenting sermons on a Sunday morning and visited a few sick people now and then; it is a call in place by God to true servants who seek the very best of themselves in service to God and to those whom He has entrusted them. A truly good shepherd and pastor try to model themselves after the true Good Shepherd and Pastor: Jesus Christ. Jesus not only gave magnificent sermons, He went into the world around Him and made a difference. Jesus not only visited the sick, He healed them. Jesus not only counseled people; he was the Great Counselor. Jesus raised people from the dead physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually. Jesus work side-by-side with those whom he loves. Jesus prayed for them, cried with them, held them close and encourage them every opportunity he had. This is what a true pastor does. This is what I strive to be like each and every day; yet there are times when I fail miserably. When I do feel like a failure; I have a body of people around me (God, family, friends, my congregation, other pastors and so on) surrounding me and uplifting when I need it most so that I can continue serving the way that I am called to serve. These people make a difference in my life because somehow I’ve made a difference in theirs. I am beyond blessed because of this.

However, there are many pastors and clergy were not as fortunate as I am; in fact, they are alone in their service to God with the exception of God been by their side. They feel no support, no appreciation, no sort of worth or value from those they serve. This is not only sad; it’s very disheartening. Churches are losing extremely gifted and talented pastors and clergy on a daily basis because they feel undervalued and unloved by those who they serve in strive to do what God has instructed them to do. When they go to offer love; they receive criticism. When they preach and teach about God’s biblically sound sinful habits, they are deemed old-fashioned in her either forced to conform to the world’s new set standards of what sin is (which in the world’s point of view many of the biblical since are now commonplace acceptance and even praiseworthy).

The passage presented up above simply ask that you respect and honor those who are trying to get you closer to God by preaching biblically sound doctrine, modeling not only the desire but the discipline of leaving a godly life and to present yourselves as a living sacrifice to God’s will enshrined in your heart so that the world can see the joy of salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul, the writer Thessalonians, asked us to hold them in high esteem because these individuals have answered God’s call on their lives to be servants to His people. There is a great deal that goes into serving God in the way that pastors and clergy do.

So as you read the title of this article, you saw were I wrote to make a difference in your pastor’s/clergy’s life; what does this mean? Allow me to share with you some of the ways that you can make a difference in your pastor’s/clergy’s life:

• Pray for them — let them know that you are praying for them continual basis and that you are praying for spiritual blessings, guidance/leading, praying for their families and any situations they may be facing on a personal/professional basis.

• Support them with your presence — faithfully attend services when available, spend time getting to know your pastor/clergy, have a cup of coffee with them just because…

• Send them notes and letters of encouragement — sometimes just a simple note, card, text or even a phone call of encouragement, maybe thanking them for something that they’ve done for you, just let them know that you’re thinking of them and encourage them in ways that you can never imagine.

• Gifts of appreciation — if you feel led to give something of substance, then do what God puts in your heart. Whether it be homemade items, store-bought items, gift cards or whatever it is, follow God’s leading asked what would make them feel that they are valued. Most pastors are not in this for the money/recognition; they are in a because of their love for God and for man. Just like we give gifts of appreciation to one another, given one to your pastor/clergy is also an appropriate thing to do.

There’s so much more that you can do; ask God for direction and I promise you that he will give it to you. Let your pastor/clergy know that you have been blessed by having them in your life and that your life is all the more better because of the way that God is using them in yours.

The Rev. John Boyanowski serves at Pleasant Lake United Methodist Church.

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