Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
October is known for many things. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Liver Awareness Month, Healthy Lung Month, Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Infertility Awareness Month, Spina Bifida Awareness Month, SIDS Awareness Month, Dental Hygiene Month and so many more. It’s also Pastor Appreciation Month. On top of all these other things that you may support, don’t forget to honor your pastor.
I Thessalonians 5:12-13 says, “Honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give spiritual guidance. Show them respect and wholehearted love because of their work. (NLT)” Paul knew that being a minister is often thankless work. They give and give, but rarely receive. They don’t do it for the monetary rewards (which usually aren’t much). They do it because when you’re called to serve, nothing else will satisfy.
A simple “Thank you” goes a long way. A card that tells them how they’ve ministered to you works as well. Each of us have different ways we can show appreciation to those who do the Lord’s work. At our church, we showcase a different minister each week. The church shows appreciation through applause and someone makes their favorite dish. It’s a simple way to say thanks and to show our appreciation.
Paul said to honor them which is to show them respect for the work they do. Most church goers don’t see the late night phone calls and texts. They don’t know about the all night hospital visits where they stand next to a family member who needs support. No one stops to think that the same pastor who is there offering support is hurting too as one of their members lays in that bed. They also don’t see the hours of counseling given or the countless prayers that are said on behalf of those in their care. These men and women deserve more honor than we can possibly give.
As we wear our different colored ribbons this month to bring attention to the causes that are near and dear to our heart, don’t forget to give attention to those who give you spiritual guidance. Find ways to say “Thank you” for all they do. Look for opportunities to honor them. They work hard, pray hard and serve hard. A pat on the back or a word of encouragement will put fuel in their tank to keep going. Each of us have been impacted by a minister. It’s time we let them know.
To me, pastors are special people. They carry the burden of the local church, and they often wear many different hats. They not only preach, but they make sure the church is open. They’re usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. They are counselors when we need Godly advice. They are prayer partners when we need God to intervene. These men and women stand in the gap between God and the world, and are the watchmen for their flock.
Knowing how much they do, it’s easy to forget they’re human and to think of them as super Christians. The truth is that they struggle with sin just like us. They need friends who will lift them up in prayer, and give them an encouraging word from time to time. They deserve our honor, our support, and our prayers. We should honor them all year long because their job never stops. So, to all the pastors out there, I want to say, “Thank you!”
Here are some Bible verses on appreciating pastors.
1, Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness.
Hebrews 13:7 MSG
2. Then [in the final time] I will give you [spiritual] shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and [true] understanding.
JEREMIAH 3:15 AMP
3. Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”
1 Timothy 5:17-18 MSG
4. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.
1 Corinthians 9:14 NLT
5. The one who is taught the word [of God] is to share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his spiritual and material support].
GALATIANS 6:6 AMP
Have you ever purchased something that had to be assembled? How did you put it together? Did you read the instructions first and then try to do it? Did you have someone else read them to you and then you tried to build it? Or did you look at the picture and try to do it from that? I confess that I’ve been the latter more often than not. I’m getting better at looking at the instructions though. I’ve found that it’s quicker. As I age, it’s becoming more important to me to take a little longer and get it right the first time than to have the pride of building it on my own without instructions and having parts left over.
The same way we approach an assembly project can be the same way many approach being a Christian. Some people want to read the directions (Bible) to find out how to do it right while they build their faith. Others prefer to have a pastor read the instructions to them and then they try to figure it out from there. Still there are those who feel they have no need to read the Scriptures. They feel like that they can figure it out as they go. They try and fail over and over again until they get it or until they give up. Either way, they either have missing parts or there are parts left that they don’t know what to do with.
I’ve tried all three approaches to God at different stages of my life. When I was a teen, I tried to get by just by listening to my pastor and teachers. I got a decent understanding of what Christianity was about, but because I didn’t have the instructions in my hands, I didn’t have a clear picture to go by. In college and the years that followed, I tried the “who needs instructions” approach. I failed miserably. Things in my life kept breaking, parts were falling off and I was missing a lot things that I needed in order to be successful. The outside of my life resembled the picture on the box, but the inside infrastructure was missing. When I had weight applied to my life, it fell apart.
I’m a try, try again kind of person. I don’t easily give up. I may not have gotten it right in the first few tries, but I’m on the path to getting it right now. I’m spending more time reading the instructions and less time looking at the picture on the box. If I spend my life trying to create the picture on the box, I’ll never be the picture of who God wants me to be. We all have different gifts and talents which create different pictures, but our infrastructure has to come from God’s Word. We have to build ourselves up in the most holy faith as Jude 1:20 put it. We each are a work in progress guided by the Holy Spirit. If you’ve found your method isn’t working, try the original plan God had for you. Read His Word and follow the instructions He has for living this life of faith. Don’t ignore the instructions that are right in front of you.
“And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!”
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 MSG
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As a kid, King David was my favorite person in the Bible. I heard the story of how he faced a giant when everyone else was afraid. I heard how courageous he was when he fought in battles. I learned that he had one of the greatest friendships in the Bible. He was presented to me as a model person. After all, he was a man after God’s own heart. With all these stories and Bible lessons, I had built up quite the person in my head. He was pretty much the closest thing to a superhero in the Bible.
As I grew older, I learned more about David. I read about his indiscretion with Bathsheba. I found out that he was a murderer. And when I read the Psalms, I see a man who has great faith one minute and great doubt the next. I read about the warrior who isn’t afraid of anything and then hear the same man whine as he hides in a cave. The superhero image took a hit. I found out that he wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t the person I had made him out yo be in my mind. Yet I can’t escape that he was still called a an after God’s own heart.
Many times, we build up people in our mind and place them on superhero status. We think they’re perfect because that’s all we see of them. Sometimes it’s people in the Bible that we see this way. Other times it can be a pastor, evangelist, a church leader or a friend. The truth is that no one is perfect. Each person has shortcomings and fail. We are all a lot like David. We possess the ability to slay giants, but we also struggle with our fears and doubts. We climb mountain tops one day and wallow in the valley the next.
What I’ve learned to see in David, in others and in myself is that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect in order to be a person after His heart. He doesn’t need us to slay giants or conquer enemies to be considered great. What I find over and over again in David’s writings is that after every time he failed, doubted or was scared, he went back to God, apologized and reaffirmed his faith. Psalm 51 is one of the greatest Psalms to me. It’s a prayer for forgiveness and restoration. David shows just how human he was as he wrote it. He also revealed why he was a man after God’s heart.
We can’t get caught up in thinking there are perfect people in the world or that living as close to perfect as possible equals spiritual greatness. We all look at the outward showing of people, but only God sees the heart. David was no where near perfect as I’ve come to read, but he was one of the most spiritual people who ever lived. It’s not in our outward showing that makes us spiritual, it’s in our ability to run to God when we have failed, when we have sinned or have great doubts. Don’t compare your spirituality with someone else’s. You can’t see what God sees. Instead, focus on keeping your heart right with Him no matter what life throws at you.
Yesterday was one of those days. I was away on business and couldn’t get home. The airport was shut down due to weather and my flight had been canceled. The roads were closed due to ice so I couldn’t drive home. The only other option was to take a train. I realize that other countries and even parts of the States have adopted rail as normal way to commute, but it hasn’t caught on where I live. The day was ripe for adventure.
People are more friendly on a train than on a plane. I guess that’s because you are going to spend quite a bit of time together. I got to know a father from Australia who came to the US to rescue his wife and daughter. They were going to see the world together when the daughter developed a fear of flying. He came, figured out a way to get the daughter from Florida to California and then back to Australia without having to fly. It has cost him a great deal of time and money, but He was happy just to be taking care of his family.
It reminded me of the great lengths our father will go for us. When we’re suddenly afraid to take that next step of faith, even after having taken several, our Father will come to our rescue. He will leave His throne in Heaven, meet us where we are and guide us the rest of the way. It may not be the way He intended for us to take, but He’s good at finding work arounds. He doesn’t come and demand that we do it His way. He comes and gently encourages us to find a way to follow our faith.
I also met a Filipino who is an associate pastor in Long Beach. He, like many of the disciples, loves to fish. His trip had taken him from California to Florida to go on a fishing expedition. His eyes lit up as he talked about all the different types of fishing he had done. They really lit up when he talked of his seven daughters and only son whom God blessed him with “late in life.” Here was a man in his sixties who had a five year old son and referred to him as a blessing from God.
He reminded me of Abraham who had a son at one hundred years of age. He was supposed to be beyond the years of having children, yet God decided to bless him with a son. Abraham considered it a blessing and Sarah thought it was a joke. They both loved their son very much and God used that miracle to be the way to fulfill His promise he made to them 25 years earlier. I’m sure the older Abraham got, the more he doubted God’s promise. He must have become content with living in the land God showed him and had given up until the angel spoke. That son became the embodiment of the promises of God that seem too far fetched to come true. It gives us all hope that His promise to us is still coming.
I don’t know where your adventure is taking you, but I do know that all around you are reminders of who God is. To me, He proved He is the father who will go to lengths of the earth to find me. He’ll make a way for me even when I don’t see how. He also showed that the promises He made years ago are still alive. I don’t see the path to make them come true and I’m not getting any younger, but He knows when the timing will be right. Until then, I’m to be faithful, ready to call Him when I need help and open to blessings in disguise. God is good at using those to fulfill his promise.