When I was on the staff of a bishop a few years ago, I was involved in the administrative and institutional aspect of the church. Specifically, I have helped pastors create, develop and run evangelism, outreach, and stewardship programs.
In this ministry, I have made the intimate acquaintance of a number of members of the clergy and their families. Pastors preach, teach, lead worship, and visit the sick and homebound. But they also have administrative and managerial expectations from their congregations. I have found it easy for them to feel overwhelmed and overwhelmed as they try to meet the many needs of their congregations.
Parish ministry can be a very solitary vocation. Many pastors speak of the lack of close friends. . . the “24-hour on-call mentality” – which many members of the congregation have from their pastors. . . constant criticism and criticism, which never seems to balance the affirmation and appreciation of their ministry.
The bishop with whom I worked during these years passed away last week. I broadcast live his Celebration of Life service. Although this bishop spent much of his ministry in the institutional church, his administrative and managerial skills were exceptional. . . although he also founded and served congregations, he had served as seminary president and executive in the national church, as well as a bishop. . . what was remembered were not all of the various offices, boards, committees, degrees and leadership roles he has held over the years. Instead, he was remembered for the personal relationships he had had over the years, with his fellow pastors, members of the congregation, his family and friends.
What was particularly important to me was one of the “speakers” at the service. . . a 14-year-old girl for whom he had most recently been her Confirmation Godfather and Mentor. She shared how he inspired her faith and her future call to serve others.
Pastoral ministry is not only about the institution, buildings or facilities. It’s not just about titles, awards or diplomas. It is not about the size of your congregation or the notoriety you may have received. It’s not about how many people compliment your preaching or your sympathetic personality.
Being a pastor is fundamentally a matter of personal relationships. And these relationships include not only those who agree with you, but more importantly, those with whom you may have significant differences. Saint Paul writes: “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to recognize those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who warn you. 13 Hold them in high esteem in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. (I Thessalonians 5: 12-13)
Especially in this month of October. . . show your support for your pastor and share a word of appreciation. Say “thank you” to your pastor, verbally or through a written note, card, text, or gift. The call to pastoral ministry is a challenge not only for them, but also for their families. Do what you can to uplift and encourage your pastor as he seeks to serve you and others in the name of Jesus!