As a church member, October is a month to put a different hat on. You must think like a boss. That’s right. I don’t think many members get this. Your job in October is to think of all the things you want your job to provide for you and to make sure you and your church are providing them for your church staff. This is thinking like a boss.
That’s what the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 5:17-22. Verses 17-18 say, “The elders who are good leaders are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and, ‘The worker is worthy of his wages.’”
The reason I said you should give your church staff what you “want” and not what you “get” is because the Scripture says we are to give them double honor. As churches, and representatives of Jesus, we ought to exemplify the best in employment practices.
So, this October, for Pastor and Staff Appreciation Month, here are a few practical things you can do.
Make sure your church staff have some weeks of paid vacation every year and make them take it. If Jesus needed to take time away from the crowds, your staff does too. Many pastors in single-staffed churches haven’t taken a vacation in years! Surely your church can make it a few days without your staff. A refreshed staff is more caring, creative, productive, and practical.
Many staff members often work six or seven days a week, and routinely more than 40 hours a week, this year especially. Regular vacations are important, but days of relaxation are needed too. Your staff works on Sundays, so make certain they get their Sabbath rest. Give them a gift card for a dinner out, a house cleaning, a weekend trip, or watch their kids for a night or two.
Make sure your staff’s pay scale matches similar jobs in your community. Also, a monetary gift is always in order. This is part of the double honor. A good staff member is hard to find and important to keep. Salaries, bonuses, and gifts not only show appreciation, they also help to pay bills. When your staff is able to pay their personal bills, it helps them bring their best selves to the tasks of ministry for the church.
How about a handwritten card or a letter just letting the staff members know something they did that was meaningful and helpful to you? Working on a church staff may look like the center of attention or the life of the party, but it’s frequently an isolated, lonely, and thankless place.
Polite, face-to-face, brief words of thanks are great, but a personal note or letter is even more so. Not just a pre-printed message, rather a long email or a handwritten note. I know handwritten cards seem in some ways a thing of the past, but they are personal. They take time and thought. Even getting the stationery and stamp is an extra effort these days. But I tell you, a note coming in the mail, expressing gratitude, can make a staff member’s spirit soar.
If your church is like every other, your staff has a thousand things they can’t do without volunteer help, and they have been asking, and asking, but you never got around to it. Well, now is the time. Encourage and express appreciation for your church staff by offering yourself as a volunteer, ready to serve.
How about committing to pray for a particular member of your church staff every day in the month of October? That’s right. Thirty-one days of prayer for your church staff. If you get a few friends together you can each take one staff member, and you all can spend one month covering them in prayer.
God responds when people pray. Paul asked for it in Ephesians 6:19-20, “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough to speak about it as I should.”
Yes, there are many practical ways you can support and appreciate your pastor and church staff. After years of successful ministry in the kingdom for the glory of God they will be able to reflect back on you like Paul does about Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae. So you should welcome her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and assist her in whatever matter she may require your help. For indeed she has been a benefactor of many—and of me also.”