October is Pastor Appreciation month. Somewhere during that month, many churches celebrate by buying themselves dinner and giving the pastor a $50 gift card. The Hallmark card given has been passed around the church for four weeks, trying to collect the signatures of all the members. 

Why must there be a specific day to appreciate the pastor? Every Sunday, the pastor receives a present when the members are present. Their presence is valued more than their presents. He doesn’t count the money in the envelope, but the people in the seats. Ultimately, appreciation is not voiced but demonstrated. Compliments at the door fade. Promises to attend are hollow. People present is the only real gift.

Many pastors will receive cards and cash in October and November. The pastor will stand and thank the church, as he looks out on the half empty pews. He’ll look at the signatures in the card and find no matching face in the crowd. He’ll consider that the leaves are changing and many “needed a vacation”, while he’s had none in two years. He’ll remember that some had the sniffles earlier in the week, while he ignores the pain that’s wracked his back the whole week. He’ll see some in the week to come, because he understands the importance of “presence”.

In the end, presence shouts the volumes of appreciation that presents only whisper. He won’t remember the gift card in a month. He’ll remember the gift of your presence for months to come. Excuses are just that… excuses. Reasons to excuse our absence from the presence the pastor appreciates.