Local Church Ministry

Specific Appreciation is Special Appreciation

As most of the readers of this blog know by now, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Especially this year, many articles have been written to encourage church members to show their pastor(s) some love.

In a recent post, I mentioned 5 missteps that church members should avoid when expressing appreciation to their pastor. In this post, I want to take the opposite approach and share one piece of advice to ensure that your pastor will sense the love of his congregation.

That one piece of advice is this: be as specific as possible.

Gift cards and cash are nice, but communicating specific ways that your pastor has been a blessing to you will be remembered long after the money has been spent. Early on in my ministry, I began to save notes of appreciation that I had received in a file. Every time I open the file and review a few of those notes, I’m blessed all over again. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Here are three easy ways that you can specifically express appreciation for your pastor:

  1. Hand-written notes. These are my personal favorite, and they can easily be saved. It’s amazing how a few simple words of appreciation can make a significant impact on your pastor!
  2. Social media posts. Maybe you’d like to show some love to your pastor on social media. You can either type out a post of what your pastor means to you, or perhaps you can record a short video. Either way, your pastor will be blessed!
  3. Public recognition. Another tried and true approach is during a worship service. While some pastors may prefer not to be put on the spot during a service, a few simple but specific words of appreciation may still be just what he needs to hear.

Some Personal Remarks

Speaking of specific appreciation, I hope you will permit me to make a few personal remarks about some of the pastors in my life. Perhaps these comments will inspire you to communicate the specific ways your pastor has blessed you as well.

First of all, let me say that I have many pastor friends, and I wish that I could mention all of them in this post. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. But I do want to say that the pastors of my association are some of the godliest and most faithful pastors I have ever met. Some have served in their churches for only a few short months, while others have served for decades. All of them have gone above and beyond the call during the pandemic, and I praise the Lord for each of them.

I have also served on staff with some fantastic associate pastors over the years. Some have led worship, while others have served in other specialized ministry positions. These men may not have held the title of Senior Pastor in the church, but each of these men were pastors in every sense of the word. My relationship with the Lord is stronger because of these men.

However, I do want to mention a few men by name. During my two decades as a follower of Christ, these 5 men have served as my lead pastor. I want to publicly and specifically thank each of them for the way they have blessed me and my family.

  • Paul Badgett: Bro. Paul was my first pastor. He was known for his evangelistic zeal and his passionate sermons, and he had a long and fruitful ministry at First Baptist Church in Pikeville, KY. His impact on me was profound. In addition to baptizing my wife and me on a cold December Sunday morning at FBC, he gave me my first opportunity to preach. He also walked me through my ministry calling, and he was instrumental in my family’s move to Louisville to enroll at Southern Seminary. Whenever I needed guidance during my early days of ministry, I knew that Bro. Paul was always just a phone call away.
  • Jeff Pennington: When my wife and I moved to Louisville in 2006, we visited churches for several months. Eventually, we visited Highland Park First Baptist Church and met Jeff for the first time. After a single conversation with him and hearing him preach the first time, we knew that we had found our new church home. Over the next few years, Jeff modeled how to preach engaging expository sermons, how to care for the flock, and how to eat an entire slice of pizza in one bite. Even though our time together was brief, he remains a great friend.
  • Kevin Denton: After completing seminary and serving as a Senior Pastor myself for a couple of years, I joined the staff of Horse Cave Baptist Church as Minister of Education. Bro. Kevin had already been the Senior Pastor for twenty years by the time I arrived, and he continues to serve at the church today. Bro. Kevin was one of the kindest and humblest men you would ever have the privilege to meet, but he was also bold in the pulpit. He taught me the value of longevity in ministry, and I praise the Lord for the way He continues to use Kevin today.
  • Steve Rice: After returning to Pikeville in 2013, Paul Badgett was my pastor once again. However, the Lord called Paul to serve at the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 2014, and Steve Rice began to serve as the Interim Pastor at FBC Pikeville. While Steve was only Interim Pastor for 13 months, I learned so much from him during that time. In particular, he modeled how to lead a church through a healthy transition from one pastor to the next. I have since served 4 different churches as Interim Pastor, and I have modeled my approach after Steve’s example. He is a man of great wisdom, and I still call on him from time to time today.
  • John Lucas: I’ve had the honor of serving on the pastoral staff of FBC Pikeville with Senior Pastor John Lucas for the past 5 years. Even before he transitioned from the Student Pastor to Senior Pastor role, John taught me volumes about how to be patient and wait on the Lord’s perfect timing. I also observed as he addressed problems directly, rather than allowing them to fester. John is a strong and confident leader, but he also maintains a sense of humor that gets him through the tough days of ministry. He has led exceptionally well through the challenging days of the pandemic, and it’s an honor to call him my pastor and friend.

God used each of these men to mold and shape me into the minister I am today. To each of these brothers, I want to say thank you for your investment in my life and the lives of countless others. I pray that you and thousands of other pastors just like you will realize the impact you have made for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel. Well done!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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