They tell us its Pastor Appreciation Month. I don't know where that came from. It is probably another Hallmark Holiday. But if you are wondering why you should even appreciate your pastor, let me tell you what he does.
Pastoring a local church is the hardest job in the world. I don't say that because I haven't done other things. I have been a farm laborer, a factory worker, a lab tech, a bank teller (I even repossessed a car in Maine when I worked for a bank in Texas), a school teacher, city bus driver and a church staff member. There is work which is more physically difficult or dangerous but there is nothing that you can do that is harder than being a local pastor.
What makes it so hard?
The pastor carries the burdens of the people and is responsible for their souls before the Lord. No one else carries this responsibility to the extent of the pastor. He listens to their confessions of infidelity, lying, cheating, criminal activity, pornography and heinous other acts and keeps it completely to himself. He doesn't even tell his wife. He can't even tell the member who asks what he does all day that he spoke to someone who has confessed these things to him.
He does his best to help these people. Most of the time they completely ignore everything he tells them to do. They continue their sins with impunity. They may have thought that talking to the pastor will result in their absolution but it hasn't. They will turn on the pastor eventually. After all, he didn't do a thing to help them!
Church members tell the pastor how the church ought to be run. They have taken the point of view: "I have been in church, therefore, I know how to run the church." You might as well say, "I voted for a president, therefore, I know how to be president." They know almost nothing of the workings of the church. Yet, they can be critical of everything that is done. They will attack his character when he doesn't comply with their stupid ideas.
Members take the church's highest peaks and try to say that was the standard. Often a church will take a picture when they have had a very successful attendance. The sanctuary, choir loft or the picnic area will be packed. These pictures are brought out years later and claimed to be what they experienced every Sunday. This is balony! Remember, they wouldn't have taken a picture if what they had done wasn't exceptional. These members will point to these pictures and claim the present pastor is not like the pastor they had back then. These words do not carry much truth and they are hurtful to the present pastor.
There are some members who always hide in the shadows. They will be quiet until they see something go wrong. They spring forward with, "See, I told you so!" as soon as that happens. They are the people who get on the phones and call but will never make the motion in the business meeting. They are snakes who hide in the grass. The pastor knows they are there and cannot do much about them. They are like the devil who begins with questioning what is true and ends with denying the truth.
Pastors are not psychic. He does not know intuitively when you have gone into the hospital. Often a church member will criticize the pastor for not visiting them in the hospital when no one told him they had gone in. Eventually they say that he doesn't care. It hurts to hear this.
Pastors cannot be at two places at one time. I once had a family get mad at me because I couldn't do their loved one's funeral at a certain time. I already had a funeral scheduled at that time. They thought I should change the one that I had already scheduled to do their funeral. When I refused, they called the church to say that I had been rude to the people at the funeral home. The funeral home denied that I had been rude to anyone there. In fact, I am known as very friendly at all the funeral homes. Fortunately, these people left our church to be the thorn in the side of another church. Unfortunately, I, now, need to pray for that pastor.
People are sometimes incredibly unreasonable and the pastor has to let it roll off his back. Some are able to go on without this affecting them. I am not one of them. Your pastor may not be either.
The pastor is expected to present a dynamic sermon each week. He is competing with Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Ed Young and a host of others that their members are watching and listening to each week. Remember, these media pastors are at churches so large that they no longer make many hospital visits or do many funerals. They have someone who administers the staff and facilities. They are extremely gifted speakers and it is unfair to compare the local pastor to these men. Members will by these pastors' dvd's and give them to their local pastor on the way out the door. "Watch this sermon. Maybe you can learn something about preaching."
Your pastor does all of this for the Lord. I promise you; he doesn't do it for the money!
Consider these things when you appreciate your pastor this month. It is a job that requires the presence and power of the Lord if he is to be successful. He needs you to tell him how you appreciate him. He is nowhere near perfect. That is not what you say. You just tell him what you appreciate.
One last thing. If your pastor is like me. I can hear fifty good statements from people and will still be devastated by one caustic criticism. I don't think heaping appreciation on your pastor will hurt. He needs it to offset the negatives.