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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

06 March 2006

Clergy Appreciation

Q: My calendar mentions October as “Clergy Appreciation Month.” Where did this come from and what do you think of it?

A: According to Hallmark Cards, an “official” Clergy Appreciation Month was established in 1992 by the not-for-profit group Under His Wing Ministries, Inc. Within the month, the second Sunday was set aside as Clergy Appreciation Day.

Pastor SnyderEven before I became a pastor, I always thought that faithful ministers of the Gospel should be appreciated by the Church. Whether or not they need a particular month is another story. Often, pastors are not appreciated by certain individuals or congregations, even if they are faithfully preaching and leading the flock entrusted to them.

Sometimes the faithfulness itself causes dissent and they are not appreciated because they persist in speaking God’s Word truly. At other times, certain people (and I thank God this has not been common where I have served) try to tell the pastor how to do his “job,” even though they would never look to their pastor to tell them how to do theirs.

If a pastor is a faithful steward of God’s gifts, preaches and teaches the Word, baptizes, communes, and gives Christ’s forgiveness to His church, and lives in accord with the Holy Scriptures (e.g., 1 Timothy 3:1-5 and Titus 1:5-9), then he is doing as God has called him to do and he should be treated in accord with the Scriptures.

Many pastors have as much education as lawyers or doctors, yet they often sacrifice earthly wealth in order to give the true wealth of heaven to the believers. Thus, the Bible says, “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. (Galatians 6:6)” Also, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17)”

Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 to “respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

How we show our appreciation may vary. That we show it in some manner is a given for believers, just as we show our praise and thanks to God for all His other gifts. Simple words of thanks are among the finest expressions of appreciation, and are certainly not restricted to one month of the year.

Likewise, every day is a great day to pray for our pastors and each time we greet them appropriate to encouraging them. Of course, providing appropriate financial compensation, housing, and insurance coverage, that they would be freed to tend to the needs of the flock rather than their own needs and those of their families goes without saying — yet I say it because congregations and individuals sometimes neglect this command of our Lord.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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