October is Pastor’s Appreciation Month, with Clergy Appreciation Day on Sunday, October 9th. Yes, this is another one of those holidays that was made up to sell greeting cards, but just like you wouldn’t miss out on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day to show your appreciation to a loved one, don’t miss out on this occasion. Our pastors and chaplains often go above and beyond what we notice or expect. During the pandemic, our clergy had to become technology experts, respond to pastoral emergencies, find new ways of outreach and evangelism, and often had to do it from their dining room table or home office.
Far too often people believe pastors only work on Sundays because that is the only time they see them in action. They don’t hear the late night calls that someone is in the hospital, or the middle of the night text that a beloved member has died. They don’t know the mental complications of pivoting mid-week from in-person to online worship or taking on new precautions for Covid or knowing when to ease up. Most people do not know the stress and pressure a pastor is under, especially when members are not happy with the decisions made or have not had their individual needs attended to as quickly as they would like.
I encourage you and your congregation to consider honoring your pastor this month, if not on October 9th, on any Sunday. Thank them for their care and compassion, their leadership and courage. Pray for them, for the stress they endure. Check in on them, to make sure they have taken at least one day off this week and every week for rest. Pray for their families, who often also make sacrifices. Provide for them. For churches who are preparing budgets for 2023, consider the cost of living, inflation, gas, and all the other added expenses and that clergy are often underpaid and overworked. And if your budget is tight, consider alternatives: give another week off for vacation, or two weeks for reading and study leave. If you can’t afford pulpit supply, call the region office and see if I or another staff member are available to come and preach on a Sunday and give your pastor a much-needed day off.
Pastors, chaplains, clergy of ABCWI: I appreciate you. I appreciate all your hard work behind the scenes. The visits, the calls, the prayers, the late night sermon preparation on Saturday night though you tried to have it done by Thursday. I deeply appreciate your love of Jesus and your willingness to accept the call to follow Jesus and be a shepherd for the people. I appreciate your care of your congregation and your leadership in these constantly transitioning times. I appreciate the light that you shine in this world, a light that cannot be hidden even under stress and heavy burdens. You are the light of the world here in Wisconsin.
Happy Clergy Appreciation Month!
Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell