Bat Appreciation Month, Caffeine Addiction Recovery Month, Home Eye Safety Month, National Caramel Month, National Sarcastic Awareness Month, and Vegetarian Month are among the items that showed up when I googled “October Monthly Observances.” Actually, the list on that one site numbered 111 October observances.

There was one missing from their list, though: Pastor Appreciation Month. Whoever made up that list forgot, but I hope we remember.

Perhaps it’s fair to ask why we should even do that? What makes pastors so special that they should be the recipients of such notice?

I would suggest that expressing your appreciation to your pastor for his or her contribution to your spiritual life and journey to heaven is a worthy investment for the body of Christ. Paul said it this way in Romans 12:10: “Love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another showing honor.” RSV. Competition among churches and church members is common. But what would our churches be like if our competition were about showing honor and affection

I spoke of this as a worthy investment. Of course, you want a good return on your investment, so what return might there be for an investment such as this?

It’s painfully simple, really. Your pastor is called and gifted by God, his or her ministry has been recognized by the church at large, and they are placed in your church to minister to your spiritual needs. But they are also very human. People function best when they are loved, appreciated, and supported. They will excel when they realize that their lives and their work matter to others.

There is an old story about a husband and wife sitting on their front porch on their his-and-hers rocking chairs in the cool of the evening. The wife turns to her life partner of more than 50 years and says (a bit perturbed), “You know, it’s been years since you told me you loved me.” To which he replied, “I told you I loved you 50 years ago. If I ever change my mind, I’ll let you know.”

When it comes to expressing affirmation and appreciation, we should never rely on the assumption that the ones we appreciate know it. Sometimes, we just need to say it! And the truth is we all need to hear it – even pastors!

I want to encourage this practice of expressing our appreciation for our pastors in our churches in no small part because of what I’ve already discovered in my short time here. One of the true delights that has been mine as I’ve become acquainted with pastors from the various conferences around the Mid-America Union, is that the pastors who work here have really big hearts for their congregations. I have seen it on their faces and heard it in their voices as they’ve shared their experiences of being part of your lives. They love their work, they love you, and they want nothing more than to see their church family walk together right into the kingdom. I believe the vast majority of our pastors feel about you the way Paul, Silas, and Timothy felt about their dear flock in Thessalonica as they expressed how much they missed them:

“After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2.19-20, NTL.

I personally want to thank all the men and women who are dedicated to being the hands and feet of Jesus to our congregations in Mid-America. I want you to know that you are prayed for, loved, and supported in your Union office for who you are and what you do. Thank you for your many sacrifices of praise that you offer up each day for those whom you serve.

I invite each reader to join me in expressing that affirmation and appreciation. Express it in whatever way you wish – a dinner out, a paid weekend away, a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble or the ABC, or even a card or note expressing what he or she has meant to you. Just find a way to let them know.

This is an easy investment! They already love you! If you just love them in return, there will be no limit to what pastor and parishioner can do together in the cause of Christ. I can’t think of any better return on your investment.

Mic Thurber is ministerial director for the Mid-America Union.