by Jim Martin
“Do you feel appreciated in the congregation you serve?”
It took this minister only seconds to answer his friend’s question.
“No, I don’t feel appreciated. I feel taken for granted by my elders, my co-workers, and many people in our church.”
He went on to say, “Now of course that is not true of everyone in our congregation. Some people regularly communicate their appreciation.”
Sometimes those of us who are church leaders do a poor job of communicating our appreciation. I am not referring to public recognition or statements, etc. Rather, I am talking about simply communicating to another person your appreciation and how much you value that person’s ministry.
Why doesn’t this happen more?
- Some of the very same people (pastors, elders, ministers, youth ministers, etc.) who do not show their appreciation are not expressing appreciation to their own spouses or children either.
- Sometimes we get used to a certain person being in our lives and we fail to notice him/her anymore.
- Some of us have no idea how important appreciation can be to the human spirit.
- Unfortunately, there are some who don’t show appreciation because, quite frankly, they really don’t appreciate that person’s ministry. In fact, some may say, “That’s what he’s supposed to do. That’s why we support him financially.”
- Still others (and this really does reflect a level of immaturity) will say, “No one shows me any appreciation. Why should I be expected to appreciate that minister?”
- I remember a time in life when I was deeply bothered because I felt taken for granted by the leaders of the congregation in which I served. It felt like most of the affirmation I received was coming from outside our congregation. Meanwhile, after a significant conversation with a counselor, I began to realize that I was far too dependent on receiving the affirmation and appreciation of others. This was something I had to work through. (I have to continue paying attention to this.)
A few suggestions:
1. Lower your expectations. Some people, some groups of elders, some co-workers are just not going to express their appreciation.
2. Know that your obedience as a Christ-follower gives the Father pleasure. Remember the words of the Father as he affirmed the pleasure that his son brought him: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” Know by faith that your life before God is noticed by him and brings him pleasure.
3. Show your appreciation to others. Do what you would like others to do toward you. I don’t mean this as a manipulative ploy. Rather, it is important to live out what you want others to practice.
4. Receive the appreciation that is shown to you as a moment of grace. Refuse to believe that you are entitled to appreciation.
5. Find your identity not in the appreciation of others but in your calling. Some ministers may receive much appreciation and affirmation in their congregations. Meanwhile, others may receive very little. That has nothing to do with one’s value or identity as a minister. Rather, it may say more about those particular congregations.
What has been particularly helpful to you in dealing with the issue of feeling taken for granted or unappreciated?