As you may recall, October is Pastor and Ministry Appreciation Month. How does this month look to a PASTOR? To find out, listen in on this conversation with Rev. Ken Vander Horst, pastor of Smithers CRC in Smithers, British Columbia.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! Let's get right into it. Does your congregation do anything to mark "Pastor Appreciation" month?
It seems to be more of a practice in the U.S. than Canada, where I now serve. In fact, I had never heard of Pastor Appreciation month until moving to the States. But the congregation I served in Michigan always made it very meaningful.
In what tangible ways has your congregation or staff encouraged you throughout the year?
The congregation was intentional about including my family so we would all feel the support. One year they provided a getaway for us at a waterpark hotel. It was so special because they were recognizing the sacrifice of time away from family, especially in the evenings and weekends.
My birthday is in October so often they would combine it with celebrating pastor appreciation at the church's annual harvest party. The most memorable was the year when, with the collusion of my family, they made the party a surprise hockey (my favorite sport) themed birthday party. They even decorated the fellowship hall to resemble Joe Louis Arena!
These gifts and surprises were expressions of love and support. And by their teasing (I wasn't a fan of the Red Wings) and joking they thereby honored me also for who I am as a person!
How does the support of your family (spouse, kids, etc.) influence your job?
I would say their support does more than influence my job, I would say it undergirds it. I could not serve as the pastor I am without them and who they are.
As a Pastor, you don't necessarily "clock in" or "clock out" each day. What do you do to re-charge?
Watch hockey! I also referee each season in the community - a great way to exercise and make new relationships. I also enjoy gardening, skiing, and family time, including backyard fires, a date night each week with my wife Marg, game time, and movies together. The kids got me watching Dr. Who!
For the days when ministry feels impossible, what gives you hope and energy?
I find hope in the reminder that it's not my ministry, but Jesus', and He is not dependent on me. My off-the-wall humor might be helpful—at least to me. But pray for those I confuse :-)
Let's end with a fun question! If you weren't a Pastor, what might you be?
Chauffeur (I was a part-time one during my last charge!). Farm hand. Special needs teacher's assistant. Wanderer in Eastern Europe. Most likely, however: unemployed.