Ministry Inside.91

appreciate“Do you feel appreciated in the congregation you serve?”

It took this minister only seconds to answer his friend’s question.

“No, I don’t feel appreciated.  I feel taken for granted by my elders, my co-workers, and many people in our church.”

He went on to say, “Now of course that is not true of everyone in our congregation.  Some people regularly communicate their appreciation.”

Sometimes those of us who are church leaders do a poor job of communicating our appreciation.  I am not referring to public recognition or statements, etc.  Rather, I am talking about simply communicating to another person your appreciation and how much you value that person’s ministry.

Why doesn’t this happen more?

  • Some of the very same people (pastors, elders, ministers, youth ministers, etc.) who do not show their appreciation are not expressing appreciation to their own spouses or children either.
  • Sometimes we get used to a certain person being in our lives and we fail to notice him/her anymore.
  • Some of us have no idea how important appreciation can be to the human spirit.
  • Unfortunately, there are some who don’t show appreciation because, quite frankly, they really don’t appreciate that person’s ministry.  In fact, some may say, “That’s what he’s supposed to do.  That’s why we support him financially.”
  • Still others (and this really does reflect a level of immaturity) will say, “No one shows me any appreciation.  Why should I be expected to appreciate that minister?”

I remember a time in life when I was deeply bothered because I felt taken for granted by the leaders of the congregation in which I served.  It felt like most of the affirmation I received was coming from outside our congregation.  Meanwhile, after a significant conversation with a counselor, I began to realize that I was far too dependent on receiving the affirmation and appreciation of others.  This was something I had to work through.  (I have to continue paying attention to this.)

A few suggestions:

1.  Lower your expectations.  Some people, some groups of elders, some co-workers are just not going to express their appreciation.  

2.  Know that your obedience as a Christ-follower gives the Father pleasure.  Remember the words of the Father as he affirmed the pleasure that his son brought him: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”  Know by faith that your life before God is noticed by him and brings him pleasure.

3.  Show your appreciation to others.  Do what you would like others to do toward you.  I don’t mean this as a manipulative ploy.  Rather, it is important to live out what you want others to practice.

4.  Receive the appreciation that is shown to you as a moment of grace.  Refuse to believe that you are entitled to appreciation.

5.  Find your identity not in the appreciation of others but in your calling.  Some ministers may receive much appreciation and affirmation in their congregations.  Meanwhile, others may receive very little.  That has nothing to do with one’s value or identity as a minister.  Rather, it may say more about those particular congregations.

 

Question:  

What has been particularly helpful to you in dealing with the issue of feeling taken for granted or unappreciated?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.91

  1. Hello Jim,

    I am not a Pastor or an elder, however this is a very applicable lesson to all. No coincidence, early this morning I ask God to show me what he wanted to tell me. That message in His Word that was just for me. The answer, gratitude. I found myself in Number 11: 4-10.

    I realized how guilty I am of not being thankful, contented and grateful. Very humbling and rewarding.

    I hope many can see themselves and the impact they have in your post.

    In Christ,

    Walter

    • Walter, thank you so much for your very gracious comment. I appreciate what you said regarding your own need to be thankful, content, and grateful. Very important.

  2. Another reason for the lack of appreciation in the church for some of the leaders, is that some people (sometimes, a great many people actually) have no idea what their leaders do. Having served as an elder, I put in long hours into a voluntary position and did so during a trying time in the life of the congregation when we were without a pastor. I dealt with many issues among people in the congregation and with our staff that often resulted in long meetings and some heavy decision-making. Nevertheless, someone was always there to come up to me with a snarky remark or hounded me endlessly about an issue that was near and dear to them. I got to the point that I finally told someone that we weren’t just dealing with the issue that was of concern to them and I assured him his issue was being dealt with. But, I tell you, when you’ve put in long hours along with blood, sweat and tears, nothing’s more discouraging than some of these folks who seemed to think that nothing I did was enough, good enough, etc. Those thoughtless comments could be quite defeating. But I came to realize that a lot of people just don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and it’s a good lesson in being less judgmental and to be given less to a rush to judgment. Also, to remember that the person of leadership is a human being with a soul and feelings. They really aren’t some grand wizard pulling a lever behind the screen and some of the things which we deal with are weighty and are not easily or lightly made. Of course, this is transferable to any person and any type of relationship. Consideration of the other person can go a long way.

    • Pat, what a great point you make! I agree with you completely. One reason for the lack of appreciation in churches (at least among some people) is that they really don’t understand or grasp what this church leader is actually doing.

  3. I also feel sometimes to much pressure is put on Church leaders, but at the same time we are all leaders of or own Christian walk, I have two very dear friends who tirelessly, daily follow their Christian walk giving to the community as God would want them too, I’m full of admiration for both as they serve God! Both run a volunteer group of Street Chaplains on top of their other commitments, but I know their payment is in Heaven the currency being Mercy and Grace! On earth they are shining examples of God’s servants! Mentors to all, which we all can be in our deeds and actions as Christians!

    http://thechristiannetwork.com/whole-hearted-devotion/

  4. Might also be a good time to ask if you as the leader are approachable or not. Some may not feel comfortable coming up to say thanks because they feel they might come across as annoying or that you may grow irritated by having them take up your time. Do they know you are willing to talk to them, even if only for a minute or two? Do they know they don’t have to have a major life crisis in order for you to care?

    • Margaret, you are so right! I might ask myself, “Am I sending any mixed messages in this regard?” As a leader, I may be communicating that I am not approachable or that I really don’t have time for ordinary conversation.

      Thanks. Very good observations!