When I met a well-known preacher at a conference just several weeks before turning twenty-one, he asked me if I was fifteen. That certainly was not exactly what a hoping-to-sound-mature twenty year old was looking for. In the end it didn’t matter because my point in meeting him was not to talk about my age but rather to say thank you for Biblical preaching and the influence it has left on my life.
That sort of thing can feel awkward: waiting through a long line, having just a moment to say something hopefully meaningful- even though you’re only another person taking time and saying what everyone else is also saying. But if nothing else the experience is meaningful to us because we want- and ought- to thank the people who have a special influence on our lives. I’m glad I’ve had opportunity to thank a few preachers who have influenced me from afar by their sound teaching. It was worth it to sacrifice time and expense for those opportunities.
Thanksgiving, however, is not only for significant days or rare opportunities but best exists in our practical daily contexts. Like this one: Do you thank your pastors?
The ones who keep watch on our spiritual well-being, expend hours upon hours to ground us in God’s Word, and labor under the care of the church sadly are often the ones left un-thanked.
I think it’s important we make an effort to make sure that isn’t the case in our churches. Wherever God has put you, please, thank your pastors! Remind them their work is not in vain in the Lord and that you personally are being strengthened by the effort they are selflessly giving.
Make appreciation a frequent thing. Can a single thank you cover for every single week your pastors shepherd and teach? Much less than one lone thank you is sufficient for every meal your mom ever cooks you. Thanking your pastor every week would be wonderful!
Don’t worry about overthinking what you’re trying to say. It doesn’t need to sound eloquent, and sometimes the desire to be totally put together will hinder us from actually saying anything. Thank you is about expressing appreciation, so if you have appreciation just go ahead and express it- even if it doesn’t come out sounding just the way you wish it would.
Talk about their ministry with them. The sermons they preached or the exhortations they shared are certainly on their minds- and they will hope it’s on your mind too. Let them know what resonated with you or share further thoughts that come to mind. Gratitude isn’t about fulfilling an obligation (though we have one)- more importantly it’s genuinely expressing our heartfelt thanks.
Of course, the best way to show our appreciation of our pastors is not simply by thanking them, but ingesting and living out the truth they bring to us. That said, while the living may seem like a nice excuse not to have to say thanks, it’s only an excuse. I was happy after getting to meet a preacher who had helped my life from afar. Just think about how much more joyful it is to have opportunity to thank the men who teach us God’s Word week in and week out!
As an added bonus, it will certainly bring more joy to their responsibility when they know their labors are helpful to and appreciated by their congregation.