Did you know that October is officially Pastor Appreciation Month? I encourage you to find some way to communicate to your pastor(s) how much you value his/her service if you haven’t already. A simple note, a spoken word of appreciation or even a gift card will mean more than you could imagine to the ones who serve you well.
And in case you don’t really see the importance of this acknowledgement, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned over the years from sleeping with my pastor. Yes, you read that right. But keep in mind, I’m married to my pastor. As I’ve heard another pastor’s wife say, sleeping with the pastor is one of my spiritual gifts!
But there are no innuendos here. I want to share some important things you need to know about your pastor that I’ve learned from literally sleeping next to mine. These are lessons I’ve learned at the close of the day, the middle of the night and the wee hours of the morning. Only we wives are privy to such insights first hand, but you might benefit from a peek.
- Your pastor prays for you. Each night as my husband and I lie down to sleep, he reaches for my hand and says, “Let’s pray.” Yes, we usually pray for our children and other family members, but we almost always pray for individuals in our church as well. My husband prays for the people in our congregation who are hurting, grieving, struggling and healing. But he also prays for those whose marriages are suffering, those whose children are straying and those whose careers are shifting. He prays for those beginning new ministries or faithfully continuing them. And he even prays graciously and lovingly for anyone who might be causing division or struggle in the church. There are no prayers of animosity or revenge, just grace. I know your pastor prays for you, too.
- His other love is always on his mind. Pastor’s wives know that we share our husbands’ hearts with another love — the church. My man is oh so good to me, but his congregation is always on his mind. You might not know this, but this man thinks, eats, drinks and breathes church…24/7. Many nights I’ve drifted off to sleep as I listened to my husband express his concern and care for this other love. And the next morning, he’s still talking about her!
- Your pastor is on duty 24/7. And he really doesn’t mind. I could not begin to count the number of times over the past 28 years that James and I have been awakened in the night by an emergency phone call or knock at the door. And we’ve never once huffed and puffed with frustration afterwards. There have been accidents, emergency room visits, deaths, suicide threats and even the occasional lonely or struggling person. In every case my husband has cheerfully engaged in the conversation if that was all that was needed or showered and rushed out the door when necessary. I know your pastor has done the same.
- Sunday mornings are the highlight of your pastor’s week. Most weeks James looks forward to Sunday the same way a child looks forward to Christmas. Shepherds love gathering their flocks and feeding them, you see. Your pastor loves seeing you, looking in your eyes, hearing your voice, praying with you, hearing how you’re doing and meeting the guests you’ve brought with you. And he loves opening God’s Word and feeding you a message that he’s already been feasting on all week. I know this because my husband generally keeps our Saturday nights clear so that we can hit the sack early, and because he’s out the door before I wake up on Sunday mornings — usually around 5:30. As James often says, no one pays him to preach Sunday morning; he does that for free. His pay check is for the rest of his duties! Honestly, one of the best gifts of appreciation you can give your pastor is just showing up each week…preferably with a smile on your face and a teachable heart.
- No one loses more sleep over your church than your pastor. Well, except God who never sleeps or slumbers. Your pastor knows the church is the Lord’s, not his…and not yours. And if he’s like my man, he knows that ultimately he is accountable to God alone for how he pastors the congregation that has been entrusted to him. But because he takes this responsibility seriously, he wrestles often with his administrative decisions, his teaching, his leadership and the example he sets in ministry, service and behavior. He is constantly thinking about the “big picture,” how calendaring, budgeting and other prioritizing decisions affect not just one ministry or group within the church, but how they impact the congregation as a whole. And, perhaps most importantly, how those decisions affect the church’s ability to reach the lost for Christ. My husband tosses and turns in his sleep at least a few times a month, usually as he struggles to please a person or group, but also seeks to please the Lord and tries to consider the needs and direction of the church as a whole. You might want to ask your pastor how he’s sleeping these days.
- Some nights he can’t sleep because he’s so happy. My favorite nights are the ones when my husband comes home and tells me he had the opportunity to pray with someone who accepted Jesus’ grace gift of salvation that day. Those are his favorite nights, too. He’s pretty much bouncing off the walls those evenings. I bet your pastor loves nothing more than kingdom growth, too. You need to know that that’s where his heart is because that explains a lot of things about him. God’s kingdom is his priority. Keep that in mind if you ever differ with a decision he makes or a direction he takes.
- At the end of the day, he’s just a man. My pastor does indeed sleep. Yours does, too. He’s just a person who is in progress. He’s not perfect, superhuman or divine. Like you and me, he makes mistakes every day. He fumbles his words in his sermon occasionally, forgets an appointment once in a blue moon, accidentally calls someone by the wrong name occasionally and makes a wrong decision once in a while. Trust me (and all the other folks married to their pastor) he knows he’s not perfect. But he tries. Oh, how he tries. He works really hard all day, most every day. And it wears him out. He needs a little rest at the end of the day and he could use a little grace to boot.
I’d love to hear about your pastor. In honor of Pastor Appreciation month, why not give him a shout out in the comments below? Let us all know what you appreciate about those who serve you and your church well.