Minister Appreciation Month (MAM) is a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for their hard work, sacrificial dedication, and provision of multiple blessings. It is typically scheduled in October, but can be held at any time that is convenient for the community and church.
While MAM celebrations are most intense during October, appreciation and affirmation of our spiritual leaders is appropriate throughout the entire year.
Why is MAM necessary?
The nature of the service provided by pastors and their families is unique. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments - the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.
Pastors and their families live under incredible pressures. Their lives are played out in a fishbowl, with the entire congregation and community watching their every move. They are expected to have ideal families, to be perfect people, to always be available, to never be down, and to have all the answers we need to keep our own lives stable and moving forward. Those are unrealistic expectations to place on anyone, yet most of us are disappointed when a pastor becomes overwhelmed, seems depressed, lets us down or completely burns out. And we certainly never blame ourselves for their "failures."
That's why God has instructed us to recognize His servants.
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17 NIV).
The good news is that we can make a difference! Minister Appreciation Month is one way we can counter the negative erosion in the lives of our spiritual leaders with positive affirmation.
What can we do?
There are two ways to help your pastors and their families feel appreciated. First, figure out what you can do personally to recognize and honor these leaders. A simple card, an invitation to lunch, a promise to pray for them, or an offer to babysit, wash a car, or mow a lawn make wonderful statements.
The next way to help is to share the concept of MAM with others in your congregation and to challenge them to join you in some kind of formal planning. You might consider a special service of affirmation, a potluck event, or planting a tree in their honor. The sky is the limit!
To help you in this process, Focus on the Family has developed a handy and concise Clergy Appreciation Month Planning Guide with step-by-step instructions and pages of exciting celebration suggestions. It also includes long-term ideas for the proper care of your pastors and their families. This guide is available for a suggested donation of just $2 and can be requested through their Resource Center on their Web site www.parsonage.org, or by calling 1-800-A-FAMILY.
There is also a Spanish version of the planning guide for Spanish-speaking congregations and individuals.
Doesn't your pastor and his family deserve this kind of recognition? Do something about it today!