16.10.15

The Best Gift My Husband Ever Received for Pastor Appreciation Month (and a Giveaway for Your Pastor!)

by Sally Matheny

Best Gifts for Pastor Appreciation Month
My husband answered the call to pastor his first church in 2004. Eleven years later, we’re still serving the Lord alongside the same sweet family of believers. Nestled in the foothills of North Carolina, you’ll find our little church bursting at the seams with some of the most compassionate and generous people.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Perhaps some of you are contemplating ways to bless your minister. Be sure to post a comment at the end to enter the drawing for a gift card for your pastor. And just in case you don't win, I’ll share some suggestions including the absolute, best gift my husband ever received for Pastor Appreciation Month.

Throughout the year, church members bless our family with thoughtful gifts. Fresh produce from their gardens is always a favorite. Honey, homemade soups, and my husband’s favorite chocolate-oatmeal cookies also top the list.

Gift cards to restaurants have pleasantly surprised us. My husband is a bi-vocational pastor. His 8-to-5 job, in addition to the ministry, keeps him quite busy. One thing he struggles with, as do many pastors, is juggling his time between ministry and family. A bi-vocational pastor especially carries the discerning weight of how to disperse their time after they leave work. He must decide between visitation, counseling, preparing sermons, spending time with his wife, investing time with his own children, or catching up on yard work and home maintenance. When someone gives him a gift card to a restaurant, it’s a clear message. “We want you to spend time with your family or plan a date night.”

Pastors Struggle With How to Disperse Their Time

Words of encouragement strengthen your pastor more than you’ll ever know. PastorBurnOut.com states 90% of pastors feel unqualified for ministry and 50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job. Every humble pastor is acutely aware of his own shortcomings. Quite often pastors question their abilities to lead a church. The only way they survive is through a continual process of surrendering their inabilities and trusting in the power of the One who is able. God uses people in the church and the community to encourage pastors to persevere. The words they speak and write are often a healing balm or an energizing boost for the soul.  

No matter what the size of your church, your pastor ministers to a multitude—his family, his church, and his community. Quite often, people outside of our church call and ask for godly counsel. My husband’s trustworthy reputation draws heartbroken people to come share an evening of coffee and conversation out by our fire pit. Members from other churches, who aren’t quite ready to expose their pain or their faults to their own pastors, are welcomed into our home. I’m sure other pastors experience this as well. A pastor who loves the Lord yearns to help people find their way back to Him—no matter what church they attend. He longs to point the lost, the sick, and the weary to the eternal hope of Jesus Christ. While it is his heart’s desire to do this, it comes with a price. The burdens people have shared in confidence weigh heavy on a pastor’s heart. He must continually carry those burdens to the Lord and seek wisdom on how to counsel people.

The best gift my husband ever received from our church was a five-week sabbatical. A pastor who continually brings water to those in the trenches soon discovers he’s parched as well. After several years in the ministry, life events were taking their toll on my husband. Years of unresolved family issues, the passing of both of his parents, serious health issues of loved ones, and work-related stress caught up with him. He was running on empty. He will tell you while he loved ministering to others; he had failed to obtain ministering for himself. Battle fatigue set in and the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study waned. Then our family life began taking hits.

We knew we were in a spiritual battle with the enemy and we cried out to God. We were weary and heavy-laden. God impressed upon us to ask for a five-week sabbatical. This was a difficult thing to do because we love our church and we love the ministry. My husband’s problems did not stem from church-related issues and he didn’t want them to think so. Satan began throwing darts of fear—what if people think this or what if people think that.

Pastors Need Prayers and Time Away 
Nonetheless, under God’s leading, we asked. Without questions or judgment, our church family granted the sabbatical. My husband also asked for a change of hours for one month at his other job. By God’s grace, for one month, his employer reduced his five-day workweek to three days a week. Every Sunday, we attended different churches and sat under the teaching of various ministers. During that time, our own church family sent cards with words of encouragement and prayers. And, while we certainly weren’t expecting it, they blessed us financially.

Diving deeper into God’s Word, we filled the unfettered days enriching our relationship with Him and with each other. Slowly, God used the retreat to bring rest and the healing of mind, body, and soul. God also used that time to gently, but painfully, hammer out imperfections, which ultimately brought new strength.

It was one of the most difficult, and yet one of the most amazing, five weeks. Even now, when we talk of that time in our lives, we remember with awe God’s power and the depth of his love. Without a doubt, God used that sabbatical to change my husband in a way I’ve never seen before and it’s been a lasting change. You can see it in his life and you certainly can hear it in his preaching!

It was early one October when my husband asked for that sabbatical. I guess you can say we made a special request for pastor appreciation that year. I want to encourage you not to wait for your pastor to ask, because more than likely, he will not. 
It doesn't have to be for five weeks. I've heard of pastor sabbaticals lasting anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year. The key for the pastor is to use his gift of time wisely. 
The best thing you can do for your pastor is to pray for him. Consistently and earnestly pray for him and his family. And then, consider offering him some time away to refresh and strengthen his armor of God. It will be one of the best gifts ever.

*Post a comment and your name will be entered in a drawing. The prize is a gift card for you to give to your pastor. The winner, selected at 3:00 p.m. (EST) October 23, 2015, will have a choice between a $25 gift card to Family Christian Stores or to a restaurant of your choice.

(You may want to subscribe to the blog so you won't miss the announcement. 36 hours without a response will result in the selection of another winner. You can subscribe by entering your email in the space provided to the right of this post or use the "Subscribe" button.)

Your comment can be about anything. You may want to share why you appreciate about your pastor!


10 comments:

  1. Your husband sounds like a wonderful man. I love my pastor because he is so humble, and down to earth. He is kind, and has a great since of humor. Most of all, he loves the Lord!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deborah, Thanks for sharing about your wonderful pastor. I'll lift him up in prayer this week.

      Delete
  2. Our church family has a big meal together to honor the Pastor and his wife. This years was a pig-picking held last night. We each try to do something nice for the Parsonage family throughout the month. Some have planted flowers around their mailbox, some of the children painted pumpkins to decorate their porch, some bring them meals when they are having a particularly busy day, one man mowed the field at their retirement home. There are lots of non-traditional ways the honor your Pastor that are inexpensive yet meaningful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What great ideas, Cathy! I know your pastor is a blessed man with such a thoughtful congregation. I will also pray for him this week.

      Delete
  3. I believe that we have the best pastor God could have sent us. His name is Robert Carnell. He was bivocational but eventually was led to leave his job and focus full time on the place God brought him which was to Floyd's Creek Baptist Church. He has a love for people...all people. He has a heart for the lost to bring them to Christ and to disciple them in the walk of faith. He is all about relationship with newly saved people, not just adding to numbers of the church but teaching people how to walk with Jesus, emphasizing the Bible and prayer and doing what the Lord says. And he also is a great Bible teacher...he makes things so clear and brings out things I have never thought of before. He believes that being a soul winner for Jesus is not just for pastors but for everyone who has been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. He is teaching us how to share our story of how we met Jesus, how to share Jesus' story and how to share stories from the Bible. He teaches us how to study the Bible and search it for the meaning. He is not only an excellent preacher and teacher, but he is humble. He is real, genuine and I think that is why so many people love him. He is a man of action...he visits the sick, he is at the hospitals . He gives of his time to do things for people that even a close friend would be unlikely to do. We are blessed at Floyd's Creek Baptist Church to have Pastor Robert leading us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing such a precious testimony. I'll lift Pastor Robert up in prayer this week.

      Delete
  4. I have a Great Pastor.. Rick Brewer... He loves everyone in his church.... There is nothing that he wouldn't do for you.... If someone is sick or having surgery or in the hospital, he's always there.. One of the first things that I remember about my pastor, was when my now 17 year old was just months old, she was having to go to Asheville to a specialist... We thought that there was something wrong with her... I remember going into the doctor the first time with her, and when we walked in the door of the office, there sat our pastor..He did not really know us at all for He just started preaching at our church, but yet, he beat us there that day...He is always there for his church.. We love you pastor Rick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing about Pastor Rick's servant heart. He is a blessing to so many. I will remember him and his family especially in prayer this week.

      Delete
  5. Sabbaticals are good for pastors and all those in the ministry. I am so glad your church blessed y'all with that gift! Those who are constantly pouring out to others need time to be refilled, refreshed and rejuvenated, too!

    Our sweet pastor, Cheryl Skinner, has been so gracious since she's arrived. She and her husband (who is also a pastor) are precious, precious people. If I win, I'll look forward to giving the card to her!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Donna. Thanks for popping over to share about Pastor & Pastor Skinner! We look forward to adding all these pastors' names to the honest hat on Friday and randomly drawing a winner!

      Delete

Thanks for sharing! Your comment will appear after the moderator's review.