Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Just Say It" Series: Pastor Appreciation

I am currently in a church that is WONDERFUL about "Pastor Appreciation Month" not only in October but all year round.  I am so blessed.  However, I haven't always been in this situation.  And, I know countless others who experience pain not only every October when this rolls around, but all throughout the year. 

Yesterday I received a letter in my box that is all too common.  I get these type of letters all the time, being that I am friends with many women in ministry and also due to the fact that back in 1998 I founded the Pastoring Partners Network, an international resource that helps and empowers women in ministry.  Through this organization, I receive much correspondence on a regular basis of this nature.  It is heartbreaking and gives me much to pray about. 

I got this letter yesterday and asked the woman who wrote it if I could share it as part of this blog series.  She readily agreed, hoping it would help church people to get a glimpse of what pastors go through on this issue.  Her name and all identifying details have been changed.  I am inviting you who are reading this to comment and give Sasha as we are going to call her, any encouragement that you would like to give.  If you are reading this through facebook, (I have this blog automatically set to publish on facebook) please go to the original post at http://www.deannashrodes.com/ to comment since this is where Sasha reads the blog.  I'm sure she will appreciate any words of comfort and hope you can give her.  Thank you.  Here goes: 

Dear Deanna,

I am so glad pastor appreciation is this month....but it hurts me.

Because our church has forgotten.  

 All this after everything we came into years ago when we accepted the church!  This place was in a mess.  We had to pick up the pieces.  We have worked so hard and you would think there would be some appreciation.  Even just a simple "thank you"?   Deanna, you know we came into a troubled church that went through a huge split and we have done nothing but give our lives for God, these people, and this church.   But no one seems to see that or recognize what we have had to go through to get the church to this point. Not one elder has even given any hint of doing a blessed thing for my husband.

To add insult to injury, they gave him grief over wanting to go to a conference that costs $200 (so he dropped it but it hurt) and there is one more Sunday (which we just don't look for them to surprise us with anything this Sunday because a lot of people, counting two main leaders will be out of town this Sunday....)

I cannot even tell you how hurt I am with this church. I am so offended Deanna.

I cannot even pray about it because I feel like I'm whining and pouting and I should be bigger and stronger than that. But I am running out of boot strap.
Every  Wednesday and Sunday morning, I wake up with a knotted stomach and for one reason only....its church day.

I don't like our church.

There are a growing number of people, who for no reason, do not like my husband and I promise...it's for no reason. Its all rumors and falsehood.  For example...one lady was deeply hurt by a former pastor at another church.  She won't say anything clear or specific...but just insinuates (to others) that she has a "feeling" about my husband. A "feeling"...do you know how angry this makes me??? My husband has done nothing wrong to hurt this lady and has only served her and this congregation with love and grace. 

All the crap we have been through at this church and it's non stop. It's not a fit for us. I could never be the co-pastor here like we one day hope I could be.  And for right now, I guess that is fine. I'm carrying a full plate as it is, trying to get through school full time and volunteer in the kids church.  And thank God. I couldn't handle it.  I'd cuss some of these people out!!!!!

I am becoming cynical , bitter and wondering if I am gonna be messed up for life emotionally over this place!!!! And I feel so alone....I  have now withdrawn from the people here for good reason....and while it's evident, I really don't care anymore....I have lost heart for this place. I am so hurt. 

And that's why, I personally wouldn't want a gift anyway. I'd like to tell them what to do with their gift....(if they actually were going to do it) but my husband....he deserves some honor and respect. They need to do something for him. 

They never gave us the raise they said they would.  We had to bring it up after a year and five months....because they wouldn't even take the initiative to discuss it.  And then when we asked, they said it just wasn't in the budget.  We haven't taken a vacation since we've been here. We did take a trip for Pastor Appreciation LAST YEAR but would you believe they made us count it as our vacation?  That shouldn't have been considered our vacation!!!   We feel like victims of a mean church and abusive elders....elders that have the congregation hoodwinked.

And I'm hurt.

Very hurt and offended.

Thank you for listening. 

Deanna here again:  So my friends, this is the reality that many face in the ministry.  It was my reality elsewhere for many years.   Then God delivered me from that church but I had much inner healing  that had to be accomplished.   I realize we are working for the Lord and as such we aren't doing it for the accolades or praise of men nor any financial reward.  However, everyone likes to feel appreciated.  And even if you aren't going to appreciate or encourage your pastor or pastor's wife, for heaven's sakes, don't abuse them!! 

I knew I had to get BETTER, not BITTER through all that and I did lay it at the feet of Jesus, give Him my hurts, and forgive those involved.  However going through some of it was so painful.  I used to hate the month of October.   I can remember not wanting to show up to church on Pastor Appreciation Sunday or month, because the pain was so great of certain ways we were treated, yet because of my faithful and dependable nature I knew that wasn't even a remote possibility for me to stay home.

Sasha is a real person and I'm sure under the pen name of Sasha or as an anonymous commenter, she will come here to talk to any of you who want to give encouragement.  Please feel free to do so but more than that...treat your pastor right this month of Pastor Appreciation month, and always.


5 comments:

Toots said...

Sasha, I am so sorry that you are being treated this way.I would like to Thank you and your husband for your dedication and service to the Lord.
Your blessing is on the way...no maybe not from this church or its people but God has big plans for you. Just hold on to the promises that He has given you. This situation is only for a season and you will come out of this a blessed person. All of your hard work has not gone unnoticed, the Lord is watching and He is pleased with your sacrifice and He will bless it...in His time....just hold on a little longer...it will all be worth it in the end.
Again THANK YOU for your service and sacrifice.
Love,
Cathy

Gayle said...

My first thought was, "I want to embrace you." You need to be loved on so much. Whining? Pouting? This is genuine hurt. The lie says Christians are to be stoic (turn the other cheek). Last Sunday my pastor cried during his talk and I respect him all the more for doing so. Don't ever hold back!
In that long-ago world, where deals were made with a handshake, courtesy, manners, and kindness were the norm. I am sorry you are experiencing the "what's in it for me?" attitude. I think you and your husband need to flee this toxic church FAST, for your own sanity's sake. God is working right now to find YOUR place. "Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart."
Peace to you.

Leanne said...

((((Hugs))))

As a staffer, I was in a church like this once - even though I was the children's pastor, I was not recognized [and the board made a point of telling me that I would not be recognized!] for Pastors' Appreciation Sunday because I did not officially have my credentials yet. I was working on my credentials - I was about to take the test and then proceed to the interview...but because my district's timeline did not line up with the month of October, even thought I was doing all the work, I sat there and listened to everyone say nice things about our senior pastor and youth pastor, while I was ignored.

In that church, I was called a witch...a satanic infiltrator...my husband was told that he was the source of all evil/everything that was wrong wtih the church and why it was not growing...we were told flat out by someone that she "didn't really know if we were called."

It made no sense at all why I was at that church - why God had led me there - but He DID pull me out, and brought me to a church that is 1,000 times better, more supportive [the deacons even like me here, lol!!!], and has my back.

You may be going through hell now, and you may not know why God led you and your husband to your church, but he DOES see you there, and is working on something big for you.

Read Psalm 56. Every day if you need to. My Bible automatically opens to that passage because I read it so much during that time in my life.

As my best friend [who was on staff at that church with me at the time!] says, "God picks his toughest soldiers to serve in places like that!" He knows that you and your husband CAN do the job that he has called you to do there, and he WILL reward you and vindicate you.

HAPPY PASTORS' APPRECIATION MONTH TO YOU!!!!!!

Ruth, PA said...

Sasha,
I am praying for you that before this month is over, someone or some event will occur to let you know that you are loved and appreciated! You and your family are priceless jewels! You never know what work you are doing now will manifest itself in the future.

One day, a professor in Bible college stood up and began our class with this statement. "I am a product of the bus ministry. We were poor, my father drank our money away, but because of bus workers who faithfully came every week , fed me, and led me to Christ, I stand before you." I never forgot that.

In my work in the church, it is not the adults that encourage me the most, it is the children. Their "I'm glad you are here." and "I love you." makes everything worth it! I am praying that somehow, someway, you will find a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel!

Many hugs and much love to you, sister (or sista...as I like to call my sisters in Christ!) God loves you very much and you are so very precious to Him!
Love to you,
Ruth

Anonymous said...

Sasha- Every time you walk through the doors of your church despite how you feel puts another black eye on satan! Every time you lift your voice in praise or anguish to GOD you give satan a bruised rib! He can't stand that fact that you are still standing! A wise pastor we once served under asked us this tough question, "Do you want to keep your family in that situation and risk losing your kids?" It was a tough church much like yours, we decided we had to leave. We couldn't chance our children being hurt one more time let alone ourselves. We came from a church where the staff (us) were very honored by the congregation and not just my husband and I but also our children were recognized for their sacrifice as well. In the church we pastor now, the appreciation is only shown through a few people. Not recognized by all. That is frustrating but things are changing.
Sasha...I am a fellow PW and I do appreciate all you do for the Lord and it DOES NOT go unnoticed to our Heavenly Father! Praying God will bless you despite they yuck!