It’s Pastor Appreciation Month. If you’re a pastor, why not use this month not only to receive appreciation but to give it. Find a way to appreciate your predecessor. Whether the last pastor has moved to another church, has retired or gone to heaven, here are five ways to consider.
1. Write a thank-you letter. Find some way to praise the pastor’s strengths. Even if the ministry was problematic, look for some way to celebrate his or her ministry. If your predecessor is deceased, you might send it to a family member.
2. Make a phone call. Make a few notes, and call up your predecessor to say thank you.
3. Mention the last pastor from the pulpit. Find some way to work an appreciative comment into a sermon – it could be as part of a stewardship sermon, for example.
4. Ask your predecessor’s advice about something. This can be useful especially if you feel anxious about the relationship, defensive or frustrated with him or her. Find something that you genuinely wonder about and think the last pastor might be helpful with, even if it’s small.
5. Use a picture, electronically or on paper, to remind people of past ministry. You might even find a way to take this month to display pictures of several pastors from the church’s history. Then let those pastors who are still living know what you’ve done.
The past is always present. When we can appreciate those who have gone before, we can draw on their strengths to build into the future.