October is “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Honestly, I don’t know who actually created this concept and I have trouble keeping up with the regular holidays and special months. But since I am probably not your pastor (and if I am, just pretend with me for a minute), I want to let you in on a little secret that your pastor will probably not share on their own.
Pastors are tired and they are doing their best to figure out how to lead and shepherd the church during this time for which no one was prepared.
Most of the pastors in this community did not receive any training to prepare them for a pandemic. They have faced decisions that are nothing like anything they have dealt with in their past. Most everything they were trained to do to lead a church was taken away, and yet they still had the task of leading and shepherding their congregation. They had to figure out how to adapt to a situation that no one had ever faced in their lifetime.
Just as the pandemic hit, I took on a role in our denomination that involves supporting pastors from Ohio to South Carolina. So, for the past six months, I have spent a lot of time on Zoom listening to what pastors were facing. In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, I am going to share a couple of themes that were prevalent around the country as well as right here in our great city.
First, your pastor loves you and is concerned about you and the stress you are experiencing as you juggle financial issues, job struggles, and figuring out how to deal with school at home. He or she not only feels that burden themselves, they feel it for you as well.
Next, they want nothing more than to get back to normal; but they also now realize that we will probably never be back to what we were. This means they are trying to completely rewrite the playbook for how we “do church” moving forward. That is an overwhelming task that will probably end up making some people very upset with them; and that hurts pastors more than you will ever know.
In addition to this, most pastors get emotional energy (mental health specialists would call this a serotonin boost) from the positive feedback we receive immediately after preaching. With all of the online services and preaching into a camera, we are more than a little depleted. Teaching into a camera with no one around to give even non-verbal affirmation is draining. I have talked with more than a few pastors who are fighting real depression as one of the major sources of positive energy has been taken away.
But here is the good news! The men and women who serve as pastors in Delaware are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They care deeply about the church and this community. I have watched them step up to care for those in need as well as work long hours to figure out how to best care for your spiritual needs during this time. They are quite amazing.
This month, take a minute and let your pastor know that you appreciate them. Let them know that you see what they are doing — the sacrifices they have made for the church and the community. Let them know that what they do matters to you, because I know you matter to them!
Rev. Jason Allison is pastor of spiritual formation at Press Church. For information, go to www.presschurch.tv.