One of my favorite things in the world to do is use writing as a way to express gratitude and love for people, so today, as we acknowledge clergy appreciation day, and more broadly, October as Pastor Appreciation Month, I am going to try and do just that. Even as a writer, I have to say, however, that it is certainly difficult to find enough words to express appreciation for pastors to the extent to which they deserve to be appreciated. Pastors undoubtedly have one of the hardest jobs in the world, yet they continue that job each and every day, acknowledging that it is not simply a job, rather, a lifestyle into which they have been called by God to pursue.
Every year when this month of pastor appreciation rolls around, it always reminds me of how very thankful I should be (and am) this month and always, to know all of the pastors in my life.
Each and every pastor I know or have simply crossed paths with has taught me something that I will undoubtedly carry with me for the rest of my life, and I am so grateful. So, if you are pastor and reading this post today, I just want to thank you. Thank you for pursuing God’s call upon your life, and dedicating the life that you have been given, to God, in order to serve his church and his children. This post today is for you, and I want you to know that you have impacted me in one, if not more than one, of the ways written below. Thank you for all that you do each day to first be a disciple, so that you can make disciples, and love and lead others. I know that pastors are imperfect human beings just like the rest of the world. I know sometimes you find yourself exhausted, burnt out, overworked, and very much in need of a vacation. I know you become hurt, stressed, and think that you are not doing a good enough job, or feel as though what you are doing isn’t effective, or feel as though you have to have all of the answers but don’t – I want you to know that you are doing good, you are making a positive difference, and you are putting a huge smile on God’s face each day.
You all have taught me so much; more than I ever thought I needed to know about ministry, about being a pastor, and about simply being a Christ follower.
You have taught me to never take anything too seriously, including myself. Yet you have also shown me what it looks like to lead during difficult and very dark, serious times. You have taught me and reminded me that I do not need to be perfect in order to lead well or effectively. You have exemplified for me what it looks like to remainin patient and full of grace, during church meetings, during conflict, in every conversation, with every person (even difficult people). You have been there when I have needed someone to simply be an ear. You have listened to me talk about my triumphs and trials, and you have been there as I have cried tears of sadness and tears of joy. You have offered me wisdom that I will remember and carry with me in the months and years to come, especially wisdom that I myself will need and use when I become a pastor myself. You have reminded me about the importance of self care, Sabbath, and not spreading myself too thin, which I know you probably struggle with too, and I’m sure when you’ve told me that, you were preaching it to yourself just as much as you were preaching it to me. You have shown me how to stand up for what is right, without fearing what others may think. You have helped me develop thick skin by offering advice that you have gathered from your own personal experiences in ministry. You have reminded me over and over again that there are always going to be naysayers, so I should simply let their comments roll off me like rain. You have reminded me of my call when I have felt discouraged and unable. You have never once doubted me as an individual or as an aspiring pastor, rather, you have challenged me. You have challenged me in a way that makes me think and better discern, and in challenging me, you have reminded me that it is because you love and because you want to help me become better. You have welcomed me into your churches and into the pulpit; I know it takes a certain level of trust to allow someone to come into the church you pastor and preach a message to the congregation you shepherd, and I will never not be grateful for those of you who have welcomed me to do just that. I am so incredibly grateful for your presence and for the light and perspective you have brought into my life. I am grateful for your support and your encouragement, as well as your constructive criticism. I am grateful for all of the hugs, for the opportunities to preach, for the serious chats and the ridiculously silly chats over coffee or lunch, for the ways in which you have mentored me, and for the many, many other ways in which you have impacted my life for the better.
It makes me excited (and only sometimes nervous) to watch intently (no pressure) as you each do this whole ‘ministry’ thing. When I was younger, I never said, “when I grow up, I want to be a pastor” because I didn’t know this was something God had in mind for me until junior year of high school. But these days, when I see you all leading church services, meetings, preaching, or whatever it may be – I can’t help but think about how excited I am to get to do that someday. You have let me in and shown me all of the many different sides of ministry; the good, the bad, and everything in between, and I am so glad for that, because though chaotic and intimidating sometimes, it has given me a better understanding of what the ministry I am called to is all about…It’s messy, but it’s beautiful, and it’s all for Christ.
So now that I have rambled on for way longer than I should have, I hope what you can take away from this post is that all of you have impacted me and helped shape me into the individual I am, the aspiring pastor I am, and the pastor I will be someday, and I will always be thankful for that. And if you are a pastor I do not know, I can say with confidence you too have impacted the lives of many. I know there is no such thing as a perfect pastor, rather, an imperfect person simply following a perfect God’s call to serve his church – keep doing what you’re doing, and know I’m praying for each of you.
To Pastor Rob, Rev. Davis, Pastor Megan, Pastor Paul, Pastor Will, Pastor Marc, Pastor Sarah, Bob, Rachel, Danny, Pastor Fuss, Pastor Larry, Pastor Steve – to every pastor I know, whether we’ve met once or know one another quite well, please know I have nothing but love, respect, appreciation, and care for you, and I hope you know that today and always.