The Gift of Appreciation!

There is no “best by” date for showing appreciation to your pastor or for that matter anyone! Many churches designate October as their Pastor Appreciation Month emphasis, but our beloved six-year-old granddaughter, Klaire, chose this past Easter. It was all her idea! Klaire’s family has been active members of the Paragon Church in Rio Rancho, NM, for several years now. It is an exciting church plant born out of their previous church, First Baptist.  Matt Sellers is the lead pastor. He and his wife, Christy, have served Paragon for over twelve years now and they are the proud parents of 7 children! Paragon is alive with many kids each Lord’s Day and three of them are our grands!

An Easter Pastor Appreciation!

Klaire loves her pastor, and she couldn’t wait to show it! She took her little pencil in hand and wrote him the sweetest note that said, “Pastor Matt. You are the best Pastor. Thank you for teaching me about Jesus. Klaire.” On Easter Sunday, she gave him the note along with a package of Hershey’s Cookies and Cream Polka Dot Eggs, too! I’m sure it was a big hit! Throughout my 45 years of active ministry, I received several similar notes of affirmation, and it blessed me every time!

There are three things that I love about this brief note. Klaire called him pastor. I have had many titles throughout my life and ministry, but “pastor” is still my favorite. It emphasizes relationship and reminds me of the shepherd in the Bible who cares for his sheep. I also loved the adjective, “best.” I know that many persons (lay and clergy) bless us in our communities of faith. But, when a child expresses his or her appreciation with such an emphasis, I believe they’re telling us how special their pastor is to them!

Yet, what especially warmed by heart was the very specific statement of gratitude, “Thank you for teaching me about Jesus!” I bold this sentence for emphasis. As a pastor and generalist, I wore many hats: preacher-teacher, administrator, caregiver, community leader, relater, and sometimes, mediator and trouble-shooter. When I saw what Klaire wrote, I was reminded that teaching others about Jesus is the very reason I entered the ministry and answered the call to be a pastor. Telling others about Jesus has been the most important role for me… before and after retirement!

The Apostle Paul often spoke about how we are to relate to our pastors and all church leaders. He said, “Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, NLT).

When relating to our church leaders, I offer a few simple suggestions and things we should not do as well! First, love, encourage, support, partner with them in ministry, and pray for your pastor-leaders. Tell them often that you appreciate them! If they disappoint you or fail to meet your expectations on occasions, “cut them some slack!” Forgive and enjoy them! Get to know them better!

Now, here are some “do nots” to consider…Don’t betray their confidences, gossip, or harshly criticize them. If you must critique something, always remember “the 9 to 1 principle,” and build into their lives 9 positives for every 1 evaluative comment! Notice, I didn’t give you permission to be perpetually negative! Eugene Peterson beautifully paraphrases Paul’s advice this way, “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” (Ephesians 4:29, MSG).

Let’s work to be more spontaneous in giving “the gift of appreciation!”

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.





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