October 2018 – October – a welcome season of colorful leaves, bluer skies, cooler weather, and football. In the church, it’s Reformation Day and Pastor Appreciation Month.
“It’s just been a blessing to be blessed by people who think about pastors,” Randy Buse told AFA Journal. Buse pastors Flat Rock Baptist Church in Hickory Flat, Mississippi.
A cancer survivor, Buse said pastoring can take a toll on a man’s health, so much so that he said he can almost always tell when a pastor friend is not doing well.
“Sometimes, it seems like you’re alone,” he said.
Blessed by his church
Fortunately, for four years now, members of FRBC have set aside funds and time for Buse and his wife April to attend the Fishbowl Retreat.
The retreat is an annual October gathering for pastors and their wives hosted by Bert Harper and his wife Jan. The Harpers know what it’s like to lead churches, having done so for more than 40 years.
Bert Harper, AFA director of marriage and family ministries, said pastoring is like you’re in a fishbowl and your life is on display, hence the name Fishbowl Retreat.
“It’s a laid-back atmosphere where all of you have something in common,” Buse explained. “Guys just open up, their wives too, and you really see that [our challenges] cross denominational lines and ages.”
Buse shared one special blessing that shows how small acts can also have big impact: “A lady at our church makes me breakfast on Sunday and sets it apart from other food she prepares. I have food allergies, so that means a lot to me. That’s a position in the church we don’t have listed anywhere, but it’s one of the most important positions there to encourage this pastor.”
Blessing other pastors
Today, Buse tries to pay it forward by leading his church to look for opportunities to minister to other pastors.
“At Christmastime, we put up stockings to fill with various items for pastors,” he said. “We’ll also adopt a pastor for a year, send notes or a gift card, and we’ll pray for that pastor.”
Last year, FRBC purchased new clothes for another pastor and his wife who were transitioning from youth leader to pastor.
“Just being a pastor, you can see a need,” Buse continued. “It’s been a big encouragement to me to help others. Pastors need somebody and need some encouragement, even if it’s just a card or taking them out to eat.”
There are many creative ways to honor the pastor. Learn what his hobbies are. Does he write? Give journals and nice pens. Does he draw or paint? Give brushes and sketch pads.
Outdoor activities? Give equipment. Take him golfing, fishing, or hiking and talk about something besides the weather and church business.
At press time, on Buse’s calendar was a plan to ride ATVs with another pastor and cook lunch just to get outdoors and break the routine.
“Pastors will call me and say ‘I need to get away. Can I come see you?’ We just welcome them into our home to talk,” he explained.
Bottom line: the smallest things may mean the most to a grateful pastor.
The Wesleyan Church (wesleyan.org) suggests a number of creative ideas for honoring pastors, among them:
▶ Organize a prayer calendar; cover the pastor each day of the month (or year).
▶ Gift cards – financial planning, dry cleaning, gym membership, books for his library.
▶ Pay for a pastor and wife’s personal retreat or big event.
▶ Include wife and children with special gifts.
▶ A fun video of church family and events.
▶ A bonus!