I have debated on whether or not to that the time to write this. Partially because being a pastor in a smaller church it seems like you are trying to promote yourself or somehow trying to force people to appreciate you as a pastor. However, let me say that right up front that is not the point of me taking the time to write this. In fact I rarely see pastors taking the time to write about this as they have fear of self promotion. With that said there are to my surprise many people who read my blog and not all of them are pastors so I thought if I could somehow help others think about this biblically it could in turn help many of my friends who are pastors. Additionally because I am from a smaller church I am certain that only a select few of my parishioners will read this, and I know that they know me well enough to realize this is not some sort of self promotion.
I primarily wanted to take some time to speak to this first of all because next month (October) is pastor appreciation month and secondly and very frankly I have seen pastors that have gone through pastor appreciation month very much unappreciated. Often I believe this stems from the fact that many churches do not really know how to appreciate their pastor and honestly many pastors do not know how to appreciate their congregation. With that said I do believe that there are those who wonder if it is even Biblical to appreciate the pastor and there are some who believe that the pastor is called to a life of poverty. I would say that with nearly 20 years of ministry I have struggled financially for the majority of those years often wondering how we would survive, and yes at times feeling guilty for being on government assistance while being a pastor. So before I get into the idea of whether or not Pastor Appreciation is Biblical first let me just quickly break down a pastors pay and perhaps some common misunderstandings in relation to it, as I believe this will help in an overall understanding.
Unfortunately when I first started ministry I really did not understand things like pastors taxes, housing allowance, etc. I also believe that the common parishioner does not understand this either. So I thought I would break at least these two thoughts down for those that may not really understand them. First, let’s look at the typical pastors taxes in the simplest way possible. I will not go into all of the variables of this but will give the common circumstances for most pastors. Often when one looks at their church budget and they notice how much the pastor is being paid their first thought may be that is a pretty decent salary. usually the problem with that thought is this. In most church budgets when the pastors salary is published is really does not show the bottom line it is really showing the before tax amount. This tends to be a problem as causes what I believe is a common misunderstanding for people in that they believe the pastor is making more than they really are. So let me show some numbers very quickly. Lets say that the pastors salary is $40,000. Well out of that $40,000 the pastor is required to pay 15.3 percent in taxes because a pastor is considered self-employed and most pastors do not pt out of social security (full time employees pay 7.65 percent). Ok let’s do the math so 40,000 x 15.3% is 6,120 now 40,000 – 6120 brings us to 33,380. This may not seem to bad as a salary but also let’s not forget that at least the pastors I know make sure that they give at least 10 percent of their income in tithe (I believe the national average is 2.5%). So let’s subtract that. So since we tithe on our before tax amount lets multiply 40,000 X 10% which equals 4,000 now subtract that from the 33,380 and we are now at 29,380.
Before I go any further I want to just quickly address housing allowance because again I think there is a misunderstanding that a housing allowance is added to the pastors salary and it is not. If a pastor claims a housing allowance of lets say 15,000 that does not mean the church is adding 15,000 to the pastors salary it really is simply a tax benefit for your pastor and that is all. So to somehow equate the housing allowance with salary is somewhat of a misnomer. Ok now that we have that out-of-the-way. The pastor is not bringing home 29,380 a year. Which is roughly 2,448 a month. So with this in mind and if we used Dave Ramsey’s budgeting guidelines this pastor should spend no more than 856 a month on total housing, 244 on utilities, 367 on groceries, I am not going to put all of the other numbers in If you want to see the worksheet go here it is the same one I use. Fill in the worksheet and it is easy to see why so many pastors struggle. I have always said if they are worried about money than their thoughts are not on ministry. If you are still with me congratulations you either really love your pastor and want to know how to appreciate them or you really want to know if pastor appreciating is Biblical.
Let me just begin with this. A Pastor that knows they are loved will serve your church far longer and in a far greater capacity than a pastor who wonders if he is loved. So let’s just answer the question and then prove the answer. Is Pastor appreciation Biblical? The answer is Yes. Let me share with you three verses from Gods word that shows us this.
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, ESV)
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17, ESV)
In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14, ESV)
If well allow these verses to soak in I think we can clearly see that we are to appreciate our pastors. I am not going to exegete these passages as they say a great deal not only to the congregations responsibility to Appreciate their pastor but they have a a lot to say about the labor of the pastor as well. However, let it be clear that scripture plainly tells us to make sure that our pastors are cared for. I have seen many a pastor struggle often times needlessly. Naturally the question comes with how can we show our pastor some appreciation? How can we show him some love?
First you can pray for him. Take time to pray for his family, for his work, for what he is trying to accomplish. You can also submit to his direction, allow him to lead you. Let me just say that the success of your church depends on you loving your pastor. He can either be encouraged or discouraged further more God commands us to take care of them, and honestly nearly every pastor I know deserves it.
Let me share some Ideas that I have found that you could use to appreciate your pastor