Affirm Practices of Health and Renewal
A great deal of spiritual, mental, physical and emotional strength is required to serve a congregation and community. Affirm your faith leader’s need and desire to take moments for rest, spiritual renewal and the practice of healthy habits such as exercise, sleep and meditation. If you like providing treats and goodies, consider making nutritious snacks that boost energy and strengthen the immune system. Do your clergy feel free to make time and space for renewal, even in the midst of their busy weeks? Encourage your fellow congregants to honor your leader’s day off and to collectively decide to adopt healthful vacation and sabbatical policies.
Does your congregation have good systems of communication in place? Volunteers are often needed to get the word out on plans or events, make phone calls, or send mailers. The need for quick and accurate communication and organization is additionally heightened in times of disaster or increased community stressors. Your faith leader may not have sufficient hours in the day to tackle all of the communication needs of your congregation and community. Perhaps the directory or website needs updating and you would be willing to coordinate that endeavor? Do you have a moment in your day or week to help facilitate effective communication? It may come as a relief to your leader to have your support in this area.
Encourage Family Time
Your faith leader may be a spouse, parent, or child of someone relying on them for time, love and atteon. Clergy, too, need time to nurture and relish their own family bonds. Are there ways you can encourage family time and celebrate the relationships that sustain your leader? Find creative ways to support the relational and caregiving commitments of your clergy. Inspire a family outing or game night with a gift card, or offer to babysit. Be mindful of special days such as anniversaries or birthdays in the life of your faith leader’s family. Then, honor the way your leader prioritizes those special events whether in private or public ways.
Partner in Caring Ministries
Often there are more visits needed than one leader can make in a workday. People all around us are in need of care or a little extra TLC. Are there ways you can actively partner with your clergy to show up for those in need… perhaps making a meal, placing a call or visiting those in hospital rooms, rehabilitation centers, or checking in on the homebound? Can you join or start a care team in your congregation? Offering connection to those in need of comfort will be heartening to your faith leader, and goes a long way in supporting their ministry.
It may seem like an obvious suggestion, but praying for our clergy is a wonderful way to lift them up. We are often comfortable asking our clergy for prayer and intercession on our behalf, but you may be wondering how you can pray for them. Here are some practical areas for which to pray when we remember our clergy: for wisdom in making decisions; for productive moments of study, preparation and planning; for sufficient time to balance personal and professional lives; for financial concerns and the necessary resources to live and minister; for the sustained health of mind, body, spirit, and relationships; and for the integrity, discernment, love and vision they need as leaders.
Share Simple Acts of Gratitude
There are many ways to say thank you, and simple acts of gratitude can be quite powerful. A genuine smile or a thank you note are wonderful ways to express appreciation. Swiss theologian Karl Barth said “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” Whether sharing a story, a hug, or a word of encouragement, communicating our joy is a priceless gift that can bless and encourage our clergy community in days well beyond Clergy Appreciation month.
Marvel Hitson serves as ICTG's Director of Congregational Health & Trauma Chaplain.
Marvel was based out of the Montecito Center alongside the HOPE 805 Team & other community partners supporting Santa Barbara County in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire and Debris Flows. She is currently working towards long term recovery through Riviera Care Center Project in collaboration with the Community Wellness Team.