I can’t think of a single good reason why anybody would want to be in pastoral ministry if God hasn’t called him. But if God has called, I can’t think of any vocation more rewarding.
And don’t equate rewarding with easy. Being a pastor is not easy. It’s hard, and frankly it isn’t for the faint of heart. The hours are long and the work can drain you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually; sometimes all at the same time. Most people have never stood over the casket of small child and tried to bring comfort to a grieving family while having your own heart ripped out in grief.
I have. That was a hard day.
Sometimes pastors cry out to the Lord and say they can’t take any more. Some days, they just want to quit. And then God does it. He sends someone to your pastor just to say, “Thank you.” Maybe it is a thank you for ministering to someone’s family, or visiting someone in the hospital, or praying with someone about a wayward son or daughter, or for offering a bit of biblical counsel, or something else. God takes that expression of gratitude and works it into the soul of a pastor as a balm of encouragement, and that encouragement is just what he needed to remind him of the great calling he’s been given to serve God and His People.
October is pastor appreciation month. I believe it is a great practice to appreciate your pastor every month, but I want to encourage you to use this occasion to pour out love, appreciation and a heaping of respect to your pastor, his wife, and their children; and don’t forget the other ministers on staff if you are in a multi-staff church, Believe me, an encouraged pastor and staff will only help your church, will honor the Lord, and will be an obvious blessing to your pastor. Not sure what to do? Here’s a hint: Make it tangible; make it count.
There are several reasons why we should honor our pastors in this way. First, God has called your pastor and placed him in a definite place of leadership. The Lord says in Jeremiah 3:15, “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart.” God’s intention in calling your pastor is so that you’d have someone leading you pastorally whose heart is in tune with God, which means someone who has your best interest and spiritual growth near his own heart.
Beyond nurturing your spiritual growth, here is another tangible benefit of your pastor’s ministry and why we should bless him. Do you want your kids to stay in church as they grow older? In his research on why Millennials stay in church, theologian and author, Steve Parr, found that more than 70 percent of them who remain in church do so because of the relationship they had with their pastor during their formative years. They respected and appreciated him. And remember, you contribute to the formation of their impression of your pastor. Speak of the positive characteristics and faithfulness of you pastor and they will see him as someone to respect. Have fried preacher for Sunday dinner, and not so much.
As a pastor, I am personally thankful for so many of the laypeople in our churches who understand the calling of God on the lives of their pastors and ministers. Paul calls on us in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 to “remember” our pastors. In verse 13 he says to “honor them in love.” Even as I think about this I can see the faces of so many through more than 30 years of pastoral ministry who extended some act of kindness to Jeanne and me. How that encouraged us and inspired us to love “our” people even more for the glory of Christ and for the ministry to the saints.
It truly is a joy to be on this journey with you.