There are two words that express a universal human longing. I don’t care who you are, where you live, your age, your socioeconomic background, your religion, or your gender. We’re all the same, end of story, period, infinity.
Those two words are affirmation and appreciation.
We all need positive statements that give us emotional support or encouragement (affirmation) and to be recognized as someone of worth and enjoyed for the good qualities that we possess or for something we have done (appreciation).
All of us. Even your pastor.
How hard would it be for you to stop and tell your pastor what specifically he or she said during the message that especially touched your heart or challenged your thinking? Not hard at all. If the pastor is unavailable or engaged in conversation and you don’t want to wait around send an email to the church office or write a quick note and drop it in the offering box on your way out.
I have a friend that attends a local mega church. Each Sunday, for years, she would write a short note to the pastor to thank him for making a particular point that stirred her thinking or sharing a scripture that touched her. She would sign her name and drop it in the box at the back of the sanctuary. She had never been formally introduced and had no pretentions that he even knew her name. But one Sunday as she was leaving a local restaurant she saw the pastor and his family having lunch. She dropped by the table, said a quick hello and thank you, and then introduced herself. He said, “I know who you are, Maggie, and I have appreciated every single note you’ve written to me over the years.” My friend was blown away. She had no idea that her simple act of affirming and appreciating the pastor meant so much to him. But it did. She might have been one of tens of thousands that heard his message each week, but I guarantee you that only a handful ever expressed their appreciation in such a specific way.
On the other hand, I know a young man that labored week after week to prepare thoughtful, inspirational messages during his first pastorate. A sweet old saint stopped him one Sunday morning and said, “You did a good job this morning, young man. One of these days you’ll be a fine preacher!” I’m sure she meant it as a compliment, but it wasn’t received as such. It stung. He didn’t feel at all affirmed or appreciated. In fact, 15 years after the fact he still talks about it, though now he laughs.
Affirming and appreciating your pastor can become a habit that spills over to other members of the staff, the church body, your family, your work place, and your community. I’d love it if everyone reading this would make a concerted effort to share their positive thoughts with the pastor and staff of your church this week and in the weeks ahead. I’d love it even more if you’d then share your stories of the impact it is making in your lives and in the lives of those that serve the Body of Christ.