In Appreciation of Our Pastors |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES
Have you ever wondered what being a pastor is really like? What is an average day in the life of a pastor? Do pastors even have such a thing as an average day? Many people believe that pastors have it easy, that, beyond preaching, pastors lead a life of leisure and laxity. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Pastoral ministry is one of the toughest vocations there is. Pastors wear several hats, all at once. They are leaders, managers, administrators, worship leaders, preachers, counselors, and shepherds, to name some of the more common roles they play. In one week, sometimes in one day, a pastor will prepare a sermon, pray for a terminally ill person in the hospital, counsel with a family in distress, meet with a political or civic leader, chair a board, and review a budget. Little wonder some pastors burn out so quickly, leaving the ministry in frustration for less demanding occupations. Adding to their frustration are the expectations of the saints, many of whom think their pastor is superman or superwoman endowed with supernatural strength and stamina.
One reason pastors express for leaving ministry is lack of appreciation. Members, colleagues, leaders, and even their families often fail to demonstrate gratitude for their service, taking them for granted. Ministry may be a divine calling, but pastors are human beings who need affirmation. They need to hear a word of encouragement or an expression of support.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month and in the Adventist Church Oct. 13 is Pastor Appreciation Day. During this month you have an opportunity to affirm and appreciate your pastor, which is in keeping with the admonition of the apostle Paul (1 Thess. 5:12-13; 1 Tim. 5:17). How may you affirm your pastor? How may you celebrate your pastor’s work? How may you honor your pastor’s contributions and commitment? How may you pay tribute to your pastor’s dedication? What can you do to encourage your pastor?
You may let your pastor know that you’re praying for him or her. Beyond praying for your pastor, send him or her an encouraging note or card. Let your pastor know that his or her ministry matters, and that they’re making a difference. Volunteer your services; be willing to do, not just talk. Commit to being a part of the solution. Be as copious with compliments as you are with constructive criticisms.
Pastoring is a sobering, sublime responsibility, especially in times like these. God promised His people that He would give them pastors with hearts like His, pastors who will lead their congregations in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:2), pastors who, as good undershepherds, will feed and not fleece their flock (Eze. 34:1-31). I believe that the Lake Region Conference is blessed with such pastors, and I am deeply grateful for each one of them. I encourage you to remember your pastor during Pastor Appreciation Month, demonstrating your appreciation in some tangible way. Thank you for what you will do to encourage and affirm your pastor.
Your partner in mission and ministry,
R. Clifford Jones