“Very few professions require the kinds of demands of a pastor; they must be available 24/7,” said Linda Pedersen, synod minister for the Southwest Minnesota synod of the ELCA.
Being a pastor is easy, right? After all, they really only work for a couple of hours Sunday morning.
While said in jest, these words poking fun at clergy could not be less reflective of the reality of serving as minister for a church.
“Very few professions require the kinds of demands of a pastor,” said Linda Pedersen, synod minister for the Southwest Minnesota synod of the ELCA. “They must be available 24/7.”
The inherent expectation pastors are supposed to be on call all of the time, day or night, is a role they are willing to fill, be-cause it comes with the role of ministry in a congregation.
Yet, people in congregations need to recognize what pastors are willing to do and to express their gratitude for what they do.
October is Clergy Appre-ciation Month, which encourages congregations to spend time honoring their pastor and the work being done by the pastor.
In addition to being on call when one of the members of the congregation needs them, pastors fill myriad roles in churches, especially in smaller, more rural congregations where the pastor is the only member of the staff.
There are days when a pastor may be called on to visit one of their flock who is in the hospital during one part of the day and be at the church later on to counsel someone who is struggling with their faith.
“Pastors offer comfort, care and provide that sense of safety for people,” said Pedersen, adding at times they are working with others in the community, too.
The pastor in the community is considered a safe and trusted person, which can be demanding.
When someone is hurting, the pastor goes, said Pedersen.
While the role of the pastor can be a busy one as they are constantly working with people, it still can be a very lonely one.
After all, pastors who offer spiritual counseling and challenge members of the congregation to grow in their faith are not always able to establish outside of church relationships with people in the church.
Add to that the fact that pastors are called to communities which can be some distance from their family, and one can see how isolated pastors can feel as they serve.
“They need to have friendships, just like the rest of us,” added Pedersen.
A congregation needs to encourage those kinds of relationships, because they are essential to the health of the pastor.
Church members also need to remember those pastors who are married and have a family must fill the role of leader for that family.
That means having time to be with his family and growing and nurturing relationships with their spouse and their children.
“Pastors are human, too,” said Pedersen, adding it is dangerous for people to put their pastor on a pedestal.
While the month is nearing its end, there is still time for congregations to express their appreciation. What follows are a few ideas offered by Focus on the Family, which helped bring attention to the idea of clergy appreciation month back in 1994.
• Host a card shower with members of the church sending a card of appreciation to the pastor for his work.
• Provide a time for testimony during a church service or Sunday school hour when people can share how the pastor has helped them.
• Have a special dinner planned wheth-er it is for the pastor and their family or the whole congregation.
• Present some gift to the pastor. Rem-ember pastors do not serve in their roles to get rich.
• Pray for your pastor and offer words of appreciation to them throughout the year.