October is pastor’s appreciation month according the Hallmark cards calendar.  Recently, I ended up in a very interesting conversation with a bunch of youth workers on the topic.  A question was posed in a private FaceBook group, “So who was thanked for pastor’s appreciation month?”  It was meant as a tongue in cheek comment with laughter at the end to recognize it just doesn’t happen.  Some were acknowledged, others talked about Christmas being a time when this happens, but the majority chortled at the very idea of recognition.

Yes, one could argue that to receive and accolade today discounts heavenly gain.  Aren’t we just supposed to be working for the glory of the Lord?  Yet, what happens too often is that we forget to truly Love each other and spur each other along.  What discourages us is the system.

My cousin works for DreamWorks as an animator (yes she is one of the coolest people I know).  She has worked there for a little over a year transferring from Nickolodean. (Did I mention you have indeed heard of all of the projects she has worked on for television?)  I love to hear about all of the fun things they do at the studio to celebrate families.  When she had a baby (her second may I add) this past year corporate left a gift for her, as she came back from maternity leave.  On her one year anniversary they gave her an award in celebration. (It was a trophy with Shrek on top of it.)  Are you seeing the trend here?  They have celebrated the part she plays in making DreamWorks great.  It isn’t because she holds the highest position in the studio or for her outstanding work.  There will be times to revel in her talent as well.  Yet, the little celebrations help her keep moving forward to more.  She is applauded often for being her and that makes this company better.

I think we can learn a lot from this company.  It isn’t that the focus is on the tippy top OR the very bottom in saying thank you.  There aren’t awards merely for a job well done, sometimes it’s about showing up and trying hard.  Other times it’s just whooping it up for a milestone.  Each person who is there is shown gratitude for the part they play in making Dreamworks become better. 

Now don’t misread I am not bedgrudging the month that just passed of overt affection to our pastors.  I do know a couple of youth pastors who were showered with some love as well.  Yet, I think we need to start taking it upon ourselves to see the people in service around us everyday.  I think we can remedy the situation by changing the system a little.  

Let’s start celebrating all those who make our ministry a better place:

  • Leave a thank you note for the guy who cleans the floors.
  • Bring some chocolates in for those who are in administration in the church. 
  • Do something special and out of the blue for your volunteers

Christmas is coming and I know you have plans to thank people with some gifts then. Thanksgiving makes us think in a thankful direction.   Yes, yes, acknowledge everyone then.  Yet, in mid February when the school year is back in full swing and Spring Break seems like it will come in another century, what will you do?  Would it be so bad to give a medal to everyone who sticks it out with us for a year?

We can’t control who notices us.  I believe that is where we need to be reminded we aren’t in this because it is “very rewarding.” Instead, we are in ministry because we love Jesus and this is how we express our love.  The times the head pastor is given a vacation smarts because we feel passed over.  Those are the times we need to ask the Lord to remind our hearts of what He thinks about us.

My point in all of this:  

Stop saying thank you to those who serve only at certain times of year.  Do it often.  Be creative.  Remember sometimes showing up consistenly is what matters.  Don’t forget others just because you feel forgotten.  Maybe invest in some actual trophies.

What do you do to thank your volunteers and others who serve?