October is Pastor Appreciation Month, but let’s be honest. You deserve to be noticed and thanked year-round for the ways you have committed your lives not just to the tasks but also to the intense spiritual, emotional, and mental labor of ministry. I want you to know that…
…I see you when you get up at 4:30 am for a pre-surgery visit after crawling into bed late the night before due to a meeting that ran long.
…I see you when you struggle over whether to take that much-needed vacation, knowing that a beloved church member is on hospice care.
…I see you when social media tells people in the pews to “walk out of worship if your pastor doesn’t preach on [insert current event here],” yet your sensitivity to the Spirit and to your congregation’s capacity tells you that doesn’t need to be your focus today.
…I see you when the lectionary is serving up softballs for addressing the world’s ills, and you go there, knowing some of your parishioners will be angry.
…I see you when it’s hard to date or make friends outside of work because of the assumptions about and demands of your vocation.
…I see you when you are pulled between wanting to be a whole person (including showing up for your loved ones and yourself) and wanting to be the best pastor possible.
…I see you when you feel like you have to hide part of yourself, whether a belief or an aspect of your identity, because you want to be able to continue in this vocation to which God has called you.
…I see you when you work so hard to encourage your church’s progress, only to have conflict burn it all down.
…I see you when your calendar looks like a box of markers exploded on it, with color-coded appointments leaving precious little blank space.
…I see you when you have to wear the mantle of spiritual leadership even as you wrestle with your own faith.
…I see you when you are moved to enter search and call and have to deal with the ickiness of feeling like you are betraying your current context.
…I see you when you are confined by circumstances to a ministerial role you have outgrown, and you keep showing up despite the chafe.
…I see you when you have no idea what to do next after a metaphorical bomb goes off in your congregation, so you keep putting one foot directly in front of the other.
…I see you when the Church or your church makes you representative of all of a particular demographic, such that you bear the weight of excellence on behalf of all your peers.
…I see you when constructive feedback is hard to come by, no matter how much you seek it out.
…I see you when others discount your voice because you are too something, yet still you keep raising it because your message is faithful.
…I see you when you toil in obscurity, leading small congregations, because you are making big impacts that will ripple out far beyond what you will ever see.
…I see you when you make (or lead your church to make) decisions that are hard but good.
…I see you when you offer care to people who disappoint or even hurt you.
…I see you when you want more for the Church, because it is Christ’s body here on earth.
…I see your love for God and neighbor, your tenacity, your creativity, and your wisdom.
Thank you, dear ministers, for all the seen and unseen work you do to bring more peace, connection, and understanding into this world.