Yesterday I was heading to pick Gates up from school. Now that the weather is turning cooler Indy has decided that he much prefers waiting in the nice warm car to getting out, trekking across a cold and windy playground and waiting outside the door for Gates to come out. Raise his lack of desire about 5 levels higher because it was one of the rare days on which he had just drifted off into an afternoon nap when I so rudely awakened him. Tired plus cold equals meltdown. He howled, I coaxed; he dug his feet in, I prodded; he sat down, I moved on. And then I felt it, tiny teeth taking a tentative stab at my arm. “Ha,” I said, “I have my quilted jacket and long sleeves on, that’s not going to hurt me today.” Never challenge an almost-four-year-old. I have the bite-mark surrounded by a bruise to prove it.
Now, one thing I PROMISED myself was that as a parent I would never pull out the “After all I’ve done for you and this is the thanks I get for it” line. But oh, let me tell you it runs through my mind sometimes. After all the diapers I’ve changed, after cleaning up puke in the middle of the night, after cooking and cleaning and burping and bathing, after middle of the night wake-up calls, after giving of my body to give you life, THIS is the thanks I get? Show of hands, who else has felt this way?
Let me tell you something you may not think of, though. There’s someone else out there who probably feels a whole lot like you do at times. Any guesses? Hint…many people think their job is easy because they only ‘work’ one day a week. Yes, it’s your pastor.
Sometimes I think being a pastor must be a lot like trying to control a whole flock of children. You pour yourself out for them, subject yourself to interrupted dinners, late night phone calls and endless meetings. You do this because you feel called to it, because you love these people. And they get cranky. Sometimes they get cranky because the pastor is calling them out of their comfort zone and into braving the elements. Sometimes they get annoyed because they want to sleep and the pastor is trying to rouse them. Sometimes they get cranky just because like a contrary toddler they WANT to be cranky. I would venture to say most of us have no idea how often our pastors have been ‘bitten’ by one of their congregation. Burn out is high. Encouragement is low. Pastors hide the bruises.
I’ve been blessed with a wonderful pastor (you know who you are). He is absolutely passionate about seeing God’s kingdom expand its borders. He is passionate about seeing those already in the kingdom experience all that God desires for our lives. He has worked tirelessly to merge two very different congregations, one of them a relatively new church plant. Most pastors only have to deal with the meetings of ONE denomination; he has to sit through meetings from TWO. He’s been bitten, he’s been bruised and still he remains faithful to what God has called him to be. He has poured out his life to be used by God, and for that I am thankful.
So today I’m challenging you; express your appreciation to your pastor. Send them a letter, an email, a card. Get creative. (You can apparently find software on the internet to help you write a pastor appreciation poem. I thought about attempting that, but feared the flowery end results would have my pastor thinking I had lost my mind.) Just as mothers need appreciation to help us get through the tough times of raising children, so do pastors need encouragement to remind them that they are making a difference, that God isn’t the only one who sees their hard work. Let them know they matter. Above all, PRAY for them.
(Oh, and if your pastor has a wife send some appreciation her way too; she shares the hurts and joys of her husband not to mention pressures of her own; she deserves thanks too.)