We all have things that annoy us to one degree or another. Here’s one of mine: not receiving a thank you card after giving someone a wedding gift. I know that a recently married couple is adjusting to a new life together. They’re sorting things out, settling into a new home, and are most likely “done” with all things wedding no matter how great their celebration was. I get all of that. And we don’t give gifts in order to be acknowledged, but it is always nice to receive the card and know that the gift was appreciated.
What about the parent that does the laundry, prepares meals, drives kids to umpteen activities, cleans the house, and makes necessary appointments? Should the parent get a thank you from anyone? After all, it’s the parent’s job to do those things. Parents are responsible for taking care of their family. Why should you get a thank you for doing what you’re supposed to do?
Pastors too have a “job” that they’re supposed to do. A researcher at the University of Michigan, who studies jobs of all kinds, explored what pastors do. At the end of his research, he asked why anyone would want a job like this. He found that pastors are required to have the widest range of competencies of all the professions he’d studied. Let that sink in for a minute.
Here’s an example of what he’s getting at. In one day, a pastor may be at the hospital as someone passes away, fix the leaky tap in the church bathroom, counsel a congregant, mentor a young pastor, work on a sermon, and chair a council meeting. The researcher also suggested that such a wide range of tasks, and the competencies required to do them well, is a perfect setup for feelings of inadequacy.
Should pastors get a thank you from anyone for doing their job? After all, that’s what congregations pay them for.
Let me ask you this. Do you like to get a thank you from someone for something that you’re supposed to do? If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we all like to be appreciated—to have someone take note of the contributions we make. According to Google, “saying thank you shows our appreciation and conveys our gratitude. It’s an indication that you don’t take that person for granted.” I love that last part—don’t take a person for granted.
Do you take your pastor for granted? Have you ever pondered what exactly is asked of pastors and how incredibly demanding the role is? Are you aware that many pastors feel like they have a church full of “bosses” who often feel free to share with them the ways in which they’re falling short? Can you guess how many times pastors get a thank you?
A pastor recently said to me, “I know a fair number of pastors who would crave receiving even one handwritten note of affirmation from a parishioner during the year.” This is a heartbreaking comment.
Below is a tweet with an example of card a pastor recently received. Here are a few comments that followed the tweet.
“Wow! This is rare.” “Jealous.” “This makes me want to cry.” “What an incredible gift.” (Yes, these responses are referring to a thank you card!)
I’m encouraging all of us to be thankful for our pastors. To make an effort to express thanks. Something as simple as saying thank you for the sermon as you leave the service on Sunday morning can make a pastor’s day. Take a couple of minutes putting pen to paper and share your gratitude. You will bless your pastor far more than you know.