You Still Have Time
Time for what you ask? These are days of opportunity and you still have time to be a part of Pastor Appreciation Month because it is the whole month of October. Some of you may have already done something, but if you have not this is your opportunity. I do not always call attention to Pastor Appreciation Month simply because I personally feel that appreciation should be everyday—365 and in every direction possible. I hesitate also because it seems as though something is missing in sincerity or the value of the expression when you have to tell someone to be grateful. It is somewhat like the boy who pushed his little brother into the mud puddle and was forced to tell his little brother that he was sorry for what he did. There was a lack of the ring of sincerity in that expression, but he did it anyway. His real remorse was not for his little brother, but for getting caught and having to say that he was sorry.
October is also Eye Injury Prevention Month. I appreciate my ophthalmologist for I can see a lot better because of him than I could without him. Expressing gratitude, appreciation, encouragement and support are valued in every setting whether family, school, work or in friendships. How long has it been since you genuinely and thoughtfully expressed your appreciation for your pastor? I am not talking about giving him a big gift. That is all well and good, but a word of genuine kindness goes a long way also. It is not a bad thing to personally or corporately take the opportunity to say to the caring leader of your church, “We do appreciate you!”
It would be a good thing if all of us could see this kingdom work in a much larger perspective than we view it. This is a God thing that only the Lord Himself can put together and manage. Sometimes we do not see the fullness of it, but He does call, prepare and place shepherds in His flock. It is true that His flock is made up of sheep, not snakes, bears, wolves or even goats. It is true that sometimes shepherds are not perfect in leading their sheep. It is also true that sometimes sheep wander off and get into stuff that they shouldn’t. So with a large measure of desire to follow the plan of God, the shepherd and sheep need to stay together, to care about each other and see that the Lord is at work among them.
Now please understand that I know that this is a two-way street. It is just an observation, but I have noticed that the pastors who are appreciated the most are often those who appreciate others the most. It is strange how that works. If you are going to live with a constant snarl on your face, a growl in your attitude and a clinched fist posture, you will probably find that you will be encircled by folks just like that. This is the opportune time. Regardless of what anyone else thinks or says, you and I can express appreciation to one another. It will make a difference. You will make a difference.
Just a surface reading of the epistles in the New Testament written by Paul will bring you to a new understanding of what an incredible impact a group of people in a church had on his life. He may have been thousands of miles away from where they were, but they continued to encourage, inspire and bless him. Just read through the little short letter that he wrote to the Philippian church. You will see people who had been so caring, loving and supportive that regardless of what was happening to him they lifted him above the situation. You can do the same thing and you still have time.
Now that brings me to say just a word about the opposition, by that I mean the opposition to Pastor Appreciation Month. I have actually had people to say things to me like, “Well, we really do not appreciate our pastor” or even more pointedly, “We don’t like our pastor.” Obviously, they do not want to have a Pastor Appreciation Month. Sadly, what they do not realize is that while they may have a reason not to really care for their pastor more often than not they are saying more about themselves than they are about him. If a pastor does not love his church, that is a spiritual problem that he needs to address. It is not just the fact that he happens to be in a difficult church with ornery people and ill-spirited folks. For at one time or another, those words can describe all of us. In the maturing process in our walk with the Lord, there is an overcoming of the differences and the difficulties that may exist among us. We grow to a place where we can have love for and even a better understanding of people who are not just like us and who do not think just as we do.
I have had people to say to me that they do not want to show appreciation for their pastor. They just want him to leave. I have known pastors who wished that some of their people would leave, but the reality is that those are both wrong attitudes. As you know, two wrongs do not make a right. I will never forget some years ago a dear old pastor was at a church near the church where I was the pastor. He was confronted between Sunday School and church by a member who was angry about something and did not like him. The member was very vocal in stopping the pastor and saying, “I think that it is time you leave our church.” The pastor with sarcasm and quick wit responded, “Well, as best I remember you were here before I was. Maybe it is time for you to leave.” Neither one of them did, but both of them ramped up their bitterness and lack of appreciation for each other. You can imagine what a happy place that was. The bottom line is that if you have opposition to expressing appreciation either people to your pastor or pastors to your people, feel free to simply do nothing. If that meets the need in your life, press on!
There is one other opposition that I have heard more than once. In fact, I have heard it numerous times and that is if we do something nice for him or express appreciation in October, what will we do when it gets to be Christmas, his fifth anniversary or his however you would like to fill-in the blank. Well I do understand that can create difficulty, but I also understand that being thoughtful, appreciative and expressing kindness to someone is very important. Just keep the reins tight on that and don’t overdo it. God forbid that we would do something nice for the pastor in October and have to face an expression of love and support later on in a couple of months.
This month is a month of opportunity. It is also a month of opposition, but it is also a month of ophthalmology. Do what you can, do what you would like and may God bless you in the doing and bless what the doing does in the life of someone else.