"And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding."-Jeremiah 3:15 ESV
If you are like me and let things slip up on you, I have a little FYI....October is Pastor Appreciation Month! Some of you may be saying, "and...", while others of are jotting down a note or pulling up Amazon for a gift right now.
Either way, I wanted to share thoughts that came to me as I was praying.
I need to start by letting you know that my pastor is not the only pastor I know personally. See, I grew up with uncles as pastors, which meant my cousin playmates were PKs (Preacher Kids). I grew up living life with them, not just church life. Then as an adult, my brother-in-law was called to preach and has been in the ministry for 20+ years. Then, five and a half years ago, my daughter married a youth pastor.
As you can guess, I know these in real life too! I'm the mother in law to a pastor!! :)
I have been burdened to pray for my pastor and pastors in my area over the past couple of months. I have been in much prayer for them individually, personally in their own lives so they can better lead their churches and families.
I wanted to share what I am sure most pastors would want this Pastor Appreciation more than a watch or another plaque to hang. Let's take a look:
3 Things Your Pastor Wants for Pastor Appreciation
#1- KNOW ME - If your pastor could step out of the 'pastor' role and be just a friend having lunch with you, He would tell you what he needs most of all is for others to know him and love him as a regular, everyday person. To see him as a human, not super human. To understand that he struggles with sin and junk as much or more than you do. To know that just because God called him to preach and lead a church does not mean he is kept out of the junk of the world. He would want you to know that not only does he have his own issues to battle daily, but as pastor, he also loves you as his family to care for and has the responsibility to help many others battle too. The load can seem way to heavy to carry some nights. He would tell you that there are things he knows that he wishes he didn't. Evil he wishes he was blind too. Spirit wars that physically drain him.
Your pastor either tries to be everything to everyone, but he was only called to pastor/preacher/shepherd. Every church member's expectation of those words mean something different. He cannot and will not ever be everything to everyone. Never. Remember, he is human. Some are gifted at encouraging and visiting. Others are more gifted in pulling deep teaching from a text, but not so good with people skills. The personality of a pastor will mean that some are quiet and recharge by being alone while others want fellowship with you all the time. No two pastors will be the same....and they shouldn't be! God created them and called them, not us. Give grace in the areas you think he should work on and praise him in the areas he does well. Let him know you appreciate what he does.
These are things your pastor will probably never say to you. That is why I wanted to share with you and remind you today.
It is so easy to judge Pastors as above us and hold them to a much higher standard than the regular Christian. Is that fair of us? Sure, when a man accepts the call to pastor, his character & heart must be considered and must be an overflow of what is in the deepest parts of his soul or he will fail.
But, I think Jesus uses the same characterization and attributes for ALL CHRISTIANS, not just pastors??
So today, one of the BEST gifts you can give your pastor is PRAY DAILY for him knowing he is regular man who has a accepted a big job to shepherd you how God leads. He can only do this if he spends time with the Lord. Pray for his time. Give him grace to not drop and run for your ingrown toenail surgery. Pray for his individual relationship with the Father and time to be in The Word for himself and to overflow his feast over to you, his church.
#2- GROW- Your pastor would be more honored knowing you are growing in spiritual maturity daily and not depending on him to give you a week's worth in one hour on Sunday morning. He knows it is impossible to grow each of his members individually in 3 hours, at best, per week. Sadly, he also knows this is all the bible some get all week. This is disheartening to your pastor. He wants to invite and inspire you to desire the Word enough to study it during the week. When his members see no need to use a bible outside of church, he takes that as a reflection of himself and his role as your pastor.
His job as your shepherd is to inspire, motivate, and teach you how and why the Bible is so important. He wants you to know that the Bible is a book about the Only One who can transform this life & bring eternal life....it is all about our Savior, Jesus Christ.
If we don't see the bible as important to everyday life, your pastor feels he is falling down on his job. Even though we both know that is our problem and not his, as pastor he assumed the role of care-taker of our souls and begins to think it is a reflection of his work.
#3- GO & SOW- The biggest gift you can give your pastor, is to live out your growing relationship with God and others in real life! When individuals go to work, the ball fields, Walmart and share what Jesus is doing in their everyday lives, God is glorified and your preacher is encouraged and excited. When we live Jesus and the amazing-ness of what He gives us, other lives are changed. Unbelievers become believers! They finally see proof that this Jesus thing is real because they know you personally and see the change.
Seeing the members go and evangelize their circle of the world is what will make a preacher want to do back flips from the pulpit. :) Pastors have a deep seeded hungering to see the people come to know Jesus. They teach us, tell us and encourage us to "GO & TELL!". These words are not your pastors, they are Jesus's.
So to recap, Know your pastor is not God with skin and give him grace to be human and pray for him continually. Grow by teaching yourself and not allowing your pastor to be responsible for feeding you everything you think you need. Sunday sermons should just be the dessert at the end of the week. When we determine to gift our pastor and ourselves with the above, we will find ourselves living out number three, Go & Sow. When we take responsibility for our own spiritual lives, the result will always be us going out and sharing Jesus because He brings it to overflow.
Go and Gift Your Pastor!
I want to challenge you this Pastor Appreciation Month to join me as we pray for our pastors and the ones across the nation:
Father God, we come bowing before You, the King of All, the Mighty I Am and yet the arms of love that pick us up when we stumble. We want to stand together today to pray for our pastors! The pastors all across our nation need a fresh dose of your power and anointing. They struggle to know how to lead and where to go at times with so much information being thrown at them. Lord, I ask you to show them what is meaningless distraction and what is essential to their spiritual life and the life of their church body. I ask you to send other pastors to them to build them up. Help us members to remember pastoring looks different in every man. Give us grace to love well even when we want to critique. Show us his needs and help us to meet them. Give us passion to live out our own lives as a pastor of our own home and world, in turn helping take a burden off of him. Show us Lord what our part is. We ask you to send unexpected blessings of affirmation, renewal and reignited fire to our pulpits starting this week! In Jesus precious name. Amen