Saturday, September 01, 2018

DE Ponderings

In 1992, the second Sunday of October was designated as Clergy Appreciation Sunday, evolving into October as Clergy Appreciation Month.1 Doing a Google search on Clergy Appreciation Month provides about 140,000 results ranging from information about the celebration to ways which clergy can be appreciated, to clergy writing about their dislike of the observance to clergy offering essays on why it’s a bad idea.

I reviewed a small portion of this Internet material but admit that I was affected more by the negative responses to the observance. I certainly understand the value of recognizing and honoring clergy who give unselfishly of their time and talents. I even encourage congregations to consider ways in which they can share appreciation appropriately. However, to enter this time of celebration without giving it diligent consideration may lessen its anticipated impact. Articles and stories about the negative side of this observance offer insight.

Eric Geiger wrote a blog in 2014 about gifts to not give your pastor during clergy appreciation month.2 An easy way to show appreciation is with a gift. Geiger suggests it be the right gift otherwise the minister may feel less than appreciated. Trinkets, such as a set of praying hands, may be thoughtful but is it needed? Or, a good book on leadership may be a good read, but is the intent that the pastor become a better leader? Rather than a book, Geiger recommends a gift card from a major bookseller. Gifts are great when chosen wisely.

Jon Quitt, pastor for Vineyard Community Church, Tuscaloosa, AL, thinks Clergy Appreciation Month is a bad idea.3 Quitt indicates that better than gifts once a month is a for all-time culture of appreciation. He quips that gifts have the capacity to validate the giver more than appreciating the one who receives. So, it is okay to put aside the gifts and continually offer appreciation through a strong, sincere, and authentic relationship.

I was unable to locate another article that indicated gifts pastors receive may be given by the person who is most disgruntled with the pastor’s leadership. In this case, the gift may seem disingenuous.

Show appreciation wisely, sincerely, and often. How might you offer appreciation more than one month out of the year? By what manner can you show appreciation? A handwritten note of thanks? A kind word?

And, too, while it is good to appreciate clergy, all who are part of the church are ministers. It stands to reason, then, that all who are actively engaged in the life of the church, in ministry, are candidates for appreciation. As we approach October, may we consider the ways we can be appreciative always and of everyone who selflessly serves for the glory of God and the good our neighbor.