Tomorrow being Clergy Appreciation Day, my editor suggested I set forth some ways in which congregations might show their gratitude to their ministers.
Never one to pass up an opportunity to solicit graft for myself (I am, after all, a pastor), I readily agreed.
Here are tips for letting your spiritual leaders know how much they mean to you:
1. Paste a picture of the pastor’s head over a life-size cutout of Brad Pitt’s body, and stand it in the church’s lobby. Above the cutout, hang a banner that says, “Our preacher is HOTTTTT!!!”
2. If you happen to be a physician, write the minister a free, lifetime prescription for Prozac.
3. Practice reading your Bible at home, so that when the pastor makes a scriptural reference in her sermon you’ll understand what she’s talking about and can offer a knowing nod, rather than staring as vacantly as a calf at a new gate.
4. During the minister’s next sermon, interrupt him every few minutes with thunderous applause and shouts of “Hallelujah! Preach it, brother!”
5. Invite him to your house for dinner some night when nobody in the family is (a) dying or (b) furious about the previous week’s message.
6. Buy her a gift certificate for a weekend at a resort hotel. Little-known tidbit: preachers like in-room Jacuzzis and hour-long massages as much as normal people do.
7. Give him noogies.
8. Don’t expect the pastor’s teenagers to be mini-saints whose primary form of expression is “Praise the Lord.” The poor kids are already under enough pressure. Contrary to popular perception, the God gene is only theoretical, not a proven fact.
9. Give the minister a big fat salary boost.
10. Take him to a UK football game. Manage to endure the entire adventure without asking him to explain Calvin’s thoughts on predestination or justify the deacons’ decision to postpone renovating the foyer. Talk about football, and that’s it.
11. Be gracious to the pastor’s spouse. The minister’s divine calling doesn’t guarantee that her husband can play the organ beautifully or teach the 10-year-olds’ Sunday school class.
12. Volunteer to serve on a committee-then actually follow through.
13. Don’t assume that the pastor has memorized the names and play lists of every Christian recording artist in history. He might be an old Molly Hatchet fan.
14. Three initials: B. M. W.
15. Laugh politely at her cornball jokes. She probably knows some much funnier stories, but can’t share those from the pulpit.
16. Send him on a sabbatical to the Holy Land. But make sure the plane ticket is round-trip, not stamped “one-way only.”
17. Try to get along with the other members of the congregation. This will make your minister’s life infinitely easier.
18. Pray for him, not against him. Pray hard.