It was not my first or second year in ministry. I was an ordained elder with eight years of pastoral experience, and it seemed as though ministry was not getting easier, but more complex and challenging. Balancing the demands of a marriage and children along with local church expectations sometimes characterized by endless demands to meet the needs of others was causing resentment.
Then something happened that reminded me of the singular privilege it was for me to answer God’s call. A pastoral family support group, formed by the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, organized Pastor’s Appreciation Month. Among the many cards received was a note from an older member that simply stated her appreciation: “Thank you for being our pastor and being my pastor.” It was a wonderful example of gifts and affirmation given not because they were expected or required, but out of love.
Sometimes we have a need for a blessing. The measure of our success can often be elusive and unclear. Rarely does a sermon leave the preacher satisfied or the congregation responding with a standing ovation. “Like Jeremiah, these are times when clergy find themselves dropped into empty cisterns” (Jody Seymour, A Time for Healing).
Everybody needs affirmation, appreciation, and unsolicited encouragement. I agree with Jody Seymour, who contends all clergy need pulling out at one time or another. If we can quit pretending we don’t need help, maybe we can get quitting off the minds of so many clergy today.
When I was the beneficiary of the pause for praise directed toward the pastoral family, I was free to once again taste fully the goodness of God.
· Do something for your church.
· Do something for your pastor.
· Do something for your Bishop.
· Do something in the name of God.
Take time this month to say thank you to your pastor. National Clergy Appreciation Month, observed in October, allows you to take the mantle of encouragement and declare a time of blessings.
Dear Pastors and Clergy of the Iowa Annual Conference,
Thank you for your faithful witness and consistent service. As you
read this letter of encouragement, know you are both loved and
blessed by God.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble