Welcome to 31 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor!
Perhaps you are having the same response my husband did when I shared this idea with him. Isn’t this a little bit awkward? You are the pastor’s wife. Don’t you think this might come across as self-serving? And what about our congregation? Won’t they feel like you are expecting them to do more?
To answer these questions… Yes, it is an awkward topic for any pastor’s wife! We do not want to make others feel uncomfortable or feel like we expect anyone to do anything for us. And yes. I am concerned that this will come across as me being selfish. As I have felt God laying this subject on my heart and impressing it on me more and more, I have had to let go of perceptions and to trust His purpose in this.
And as far as our congregation goes? Well, this has actually been THE THING that has pushed me to write this series. For the past 3 years, my husband has been serving as the senior pastor at Orchard Community Church in Rochester, NY. We came to this place in need of healing. Our experience here has been one of overwhelming encouragement, love and support. In the time we have been here, I have been amazed by the way our church family has loved us well. Seeing my husband appreciated is by far the best gift that anyone can give to me. The only reason I am able to write this series is because the people at Orchard have gone above and beyond in appreciating my husband.
Personal experience and discussions with many other pastor’s wives has shown me that this is not often the case. A fellow pastor’s wife shared these statistics with our group recently.
Do these statistics surprise you?
Close friends of mine suggested that I broaden the topic to include all service careers, like teachers, doctors and social workers. I pondered this for awhile, but reading these statistics again solidified my decision to focus on pastors. I believe that God calls his people to different careers and that there is no calling that is higher than another in God’s economy. Living our lives to bring glory to Him is all that matters. By writing this series, I am not suggesting that pastors deserve more appreciation than anyone else. On the contrary, I hope and pray that we are all appreciating everyone in our lives.
I am suggesting that pastors (in general!) need to be appreciated more than they are. The very nature of their jobs involves challenging people in their sin. To do this well is very hard and I don’t know a single pastor who gets it right every time. People will often say that being a pastor’s family is like living in a fish bowl. There are certain expectations of a pastor and his family that are biblical and should be expected. But it doesn’t change the fact that the pastor is a sinner in desperate need of God’s grace. The pressure this fish bowl living can cause results in the statistics you see above. It is incredibly easy in ministry to shift focus from seeking God’s approval to seeking man’s approval.
My goal in sharing this series is to encourage all of us to build up our pastors and provide them with a safe place to pursue God and His glory. These posts might surprise you and be different than what you expect. I will be sharing some practical ways to appreciate your pastor, some quotes from pastor’s wives about ways they have felt appreciated and ways they wish their husbands were appreciated, links to great resources and ways to appreciate your pastor that go beyond gifts and cards.
Two things that you should know:
1. The tradition I have been raised in is one in which the senior pastor is a male. This series is not meant to be a discussion on whether or not a woman can/should fill this role. I hope that if your tradition includes female pastors, you will be blessed by this series! But for the purpose of simplification, this series will be shared in the tradition of male pastors and their families.
2. This entire series is based on verses from 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13.
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.
Scripture tells us that those who work among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you should be held in the highest regard. You may be in a situation right now where your pastor is not caring for you and is in fact hurting you. It would be naive of me to write this series assuming that every pastor IS above reproach and is faithfully carrying out their duties. I know this is not true. There is a great deal of abuse among church leaders. I hope to address those things throughout the series, so stick with me. But even if you are not “happy” with your pastor right now, I hope that you will see that if God has put a pastor in the position he is in, we are expected to love, no matter what.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month in the States. For the entire month, I will be sharing ways to appreciate your pastor. I hope you will join me on this journey!
Way 1: The first way to appreciate your pastor is to recognize that not only is it important, it is a command in scripture.
Dear Daye by Daye Readers,
First off, I want to thank you for being a part of my life, for reading my words and for encouraging me on this blogging journey. It means the world to me when you comment, when you share posts and when you appreciate what I have written. Thank you really seems inadequate. Your presence in my life is an incredible blessing.
Some of you subscribe to my blog and some of you just visit on occasion. Whichever category you fit into, it seems appropriate that I let you know my goals for the month of October. Starting tomorrow, October 1st, I will be participating in a blogging challenge. The challenge is to write for 31 Days on a specific topic. Last year, I wrote 31 letters. By the end, I told you that I would never participate in this challenge again.
I was wrong.
This past year has been one of sporadic writing for me. It makes sense. Ainsley has gone through so many unpredictable stages. Then summer was what summer should be and writing was almost impossible. Lindsay started middle school and Gibson started Kindergarten and the list goes on. What it boils down to is I have missed this place. I have missed consistency in writing. And I am longing to gain that back.
Enter 31 Days. For the past 6 years, Myquillyn Smith, a.k.a The Nester, has been hosting the 31 Days Challenge in the month of October. Thousands of bloggers have participated in this challenge, writing on as many different topics. The challenge is simply meant to encourage consistency in writing, completion of a goal, and faithfulness in sharing on a particular topic.
Turns out, it is exactly the kind of challenge I need. You see, I have been struggling. Should I keep writing? Does it really matter? Why spend so much time on blogging when I might be able to use my time in better ways elsewhere? I am feeling a little pulled in a lot of directions right now.
My hope is that completing this challenge will give me clarity. I will be writing on a subject that is near and dear to my heart, but one that might not appeal to the masses. My hope is that I will rediscover a love and purpose in my writing without depending on feedback or results.
For the next 31 days, you will find a new post each day on the subject of 31 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor. My Daddy was a pastor for over 30 years and my husband has been a pastor for 17 years. I have experienced firsthand the affects that appreciation has on the pastor and his family. My husband and I are in a place where we are overwhelmed with the depth of appreciation our church family pours out on us. But I know what it is like to serve when you have the exact opposite situation. And I know many pastor’s wives who are in that place right now.
October is pastor appreciation month here in the States and so it seems like the perfect time to share with you some practical ways to appreciate your pastor and his family. I hope you will stick around. And while I won’t be depending on your feedback, it is still always good to hear from you. It makes blogging much more enjoyable.
31 Days. Here we go!
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are lead to those who help us most to grow
if we let them.
And we help them in return.
Well I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you.
She came into my life at a time when I didn’t know that I needed her. I was a young pastor’s wife; she was an older, wiser, godly woman.
And she loved me well. By getting to know me, spending time with my family, pursuing my friendship, mentoring me.
When I look back, I remember conversations over cups of tea. I remember talks of books and theology, motherhood and friendships. She exuded a Christ like love and heartfelt sympathy.
She was the one who encouraged me to pursue writing. She saw potential in me and since I had come to respect her, I felt like I could soar, because of her confidence in me.
I have no doubt that God crossed our paths. The time was shorter than I would have liked, the impact wider than I could have imagined.
My life is better today, I am a stronger woman, a lover of God’s Word, a better pastor’s wife, a seeker of dignity, a more prolific reader, because of her.
My life has been changed forever and without a doubt, it has been changed for good.
The first time I heard the song “For Good” from the Broadway show “Wicked” was when my daughter danced to it. It is a gorgeous song and every once in awhile, I am reminded of the dear people who have changed MY life for good.
Linking with a community of writers for Five Minute Friday writing on the prompt “because”.
“I feel like I am letting God down”.
My friend’s words reverberated through the room, but before I had a chance to respond, the conversation moved in a different direction. I haven’t forgotten these words.
I wanted to say something about seasons of life or maybe something about how God sees us and what He desires for us. But as I have thought more about this simple statement, I have been struck by how quick we are to think this. As if God needs us to accomplish His purposes and gets disappointed when we don’t follow through.
It seems to me that when we think this way, we are thinking a little too much of ourselves and not enough of God. I don’t believe that God needs us in order for His plan to be carried out. Rather, He invites us to be a part of that plan. This invitation results in our good and God’s glory.
Learning this has been an incredible encouragement to my soul. I want to do so many things and it comes from a good motivation. But the season I am in does not allow for many of these things. My responsibilities involve the mundane, but necessary parts of keeping a home. And while I would love to pursue passions of mine, I have learned to be content in this place that God has put me. I don’t know if I will actually be able to finish writing this post before my baby wakes up. And while that will disappoint ME if I am not able to publish a new post, I don’t believe for a moment that I let God down. He doesn’t need me to share my words in order for him to be happy with me. I believe He receives the same amount of joy when I take care of my family, as he does when I write something.
“Letting God down” is not a possibility in my realm of thinking. Instead my question should be, am I seeking God’s glory?
“God didn’t come through,” another friend said as she shared a recent experience. I knew her heart and why she said what she did, but I still felt myself cringing a little at this. I was reminded of the quote from J.R.R. Tolkien in “The Fellowship of the Ring”…
A wizard is never late, nor is he early.
He arrives precisely when he means to.
I believe that this is true of God. He accomplishes His Will precisely when he means to. Oftentimes this is not according to OUR timing and we can feel the anxiety, the frustration or the hurt that results when we can’t see God’s hand at work or when things don’t make sense. But these feelings should not lead us to believe that God didn’t come through.
This morning, I was typing out my Daddy’s sermon on “The Testing of Abraham”. The passage that the sermon was based on is Genesis 22:1-14 where Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac, out of obedience to God. It is a difficult, yet profound story of God’s faithfulness and one man’s complete trust in a Faithful God. My Daddy shared these thoughts…
At times, we have our back to the wall, we are hemmed in on every side, there seems to be no way through.
But through prayer and faith, God opens a way!
We can be tempted to think that our backs are against the wall and that we need God to come through, but isn’t this a trust in our own understanding? Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, because he believed “that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” (Hebrews 11:19). We know from the rest of the story that God’s timing was different than Abraham’s. He planned to spare Isaac’s life, not raise him from the dead. But how often do we put our expectations on God and demand that he come through in our timing? Instead, our perspective needs to be that of Proverbs 3:5,6 - “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths”.
Sometimes the whole point of trials is to develop our character and our trust in God. My Daddy said this in another part of his sermon…
Life is a succession of tests, because true character is developed through tests, trials and tribulation.
It is through the trials of life, that we can be drawn into an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father.
It is through the trials of life that we can gain the sweetest knowledge of Christ.
I don’t want to miss out on “the sweetest knowledge of Christ” because life didn’t happen the way I wanted it to!
Another disturbing trend that I see, I lie we might be tempted to believe, is that if we believe something is true, then we have the right to share that truth in whatever way we please. Too often there is a lack of humility in the sharing of truth, a putting down of others when different opinions occur (that are not contrary to scripture) and even a bullying behavior that has emerged among church leaders (and to be clear, I am not referring to my local church, but THE church, the kingdom of God).
My husband shared this status update yesterday on Facebook…
Lesson learned as I do sermon prep this week: Eschatology that does not lead to holy living is wrong no matter which view is embraced because scripture links Christ’s return with an urgent call to live rightly in the here and now.
As we discussed this concept this morning (have I mentioned that this is one of my favorite parts of being a pastor’s wife?!!), we talked about how theology in general must be shared with humility. We need to hold tightly to Christ, but hold theological systems loosely. And if we share our beliefs, but do so without love, then we must know that we are a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
We do not get to beat others up for the systematic theology they hold onto (dialog about truth in scripture is appropriate, but putting others down to make your point is not). We do not get to demean others, because they have different preferences (I see this a lot when it comes to style of worship. Can we please stop that? Again, challenging in truth is appropriate when necessary; demeaning is not). We do not get to be bullies. What is this teaching our kids?!!! I have heard church leaders make fun of others who are different than them. I have heard pastors swear to get a rise out of people. I have watched the rise of the macho man in leadership and my heart cries out for humility! There is nothing stronger than a man of God who falls flat on his face in reverence for an Almighty God, one who lives out of this reverence. There is no place for bullying when we understand who we are in Christ.
We are tempted to believe many lies, some glaringly obvious, but some that are very subtle. I can look back on my college age self and see lies that I was tempted to believe. And I am sure that I will look back on myself from this time period and see the same thing. Our walk with Christ needs to be just that- A WALK, a journey. The scenery change is actually a new perspective that Christ is working in us.
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.