By Pastor Jonathan S. Ferriol
Dear Fellow Pastors,
America, or at least, the Protestant Christians here in this country, will celebrate the Clergy or Pastors Appreciation Sunday this 2nd week of October. It’s funny that in this nation, where many are saying that faith is fast fading, Christians here have the wisdom to give honor and tribute to those in sacred leadership. I think it is commendable on their part to do that. That’s why I am applauding them for it!
Personally, I thrive better in a positive and uplifting environment. Don’t we all? My mom taught and raised me and my siblings in such a way. Until now, she does it to me every time she has the opportunity. It is also a virtue that my wife and I create at home for our daughters and for our church members as well.
And I think, that as a pastor, you could also use a praise or a compliment from your church today. A sincere and well-timed recognition from your members would go a long way to encourage you, affirm you or to just brighten up your day. Often times, we get so cooped up in our ministry burdens that we lose our ability to appreciate our own calling anymore and so, deprive ourselves of the energy that we could use to advance further our calling. We end up burdened, unthankful, unappreciated and feeling betrayed. It is no surprise that a number of pastors are unhappy and even contemplating walking away from their churches.
Apostle Paul felt he needed that the Corinthian brethren show their love and proper esteem to him as their spiritual father. He demanded them to show some love for him since Apostle Paul had shown his to them! (2 Corinthians 6:13). Apostle Paul also instructed other churches to do the same to their respective local leaders (2 Thessalonians 5:12-13, 1 Timothy 5:17).
Now is it self-serving or some form of self-aggrandizement that we endorse this event aimed to honor us? I have thought of this a few times in the past especially, during the first time I endorsed it in my own church. But later on I have realized that if it was good enough for Apostle Paul, then it is good enough for me and you too! So I don’t think it is wrong to observe this event in our churches.
Now, you and I know as well that whatever “rights” we may have must be balanced and tempered by our other virtues such as humility, self-denial and perseverance; without which, these perks could well be the very source of our downfall. Like what our predecessor, Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “…but we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” So yes, by all means, carry out this event but do not let human applause or accolades get into your heads, and if it is something that you think is inappropriate in your present situation, then don’t hold one. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you are a bad pastor, on the contrary, it could well be more beneficial to, at the end of the day, have just the inaudible applause of heaven than the deafening noise of earthly accolades.
But here’s the question, if it is good for us, would it be good for our church? I actually think so. 2 Chronicles 20:20 shows that belief in God’s leaders is key to a life of prosperity and success. One cannot undermine church leadership like disrespecting, maligning and mocking and expect to go scot-free. Jesus said that those people’s rejection of His righteous sent ones is tantamount to their rejection of Him (Luke 10:16). On the other hand, when people learn to obey and respect their leaders, it would make us happy and that would spare them from trouble! (Hebrews 13:17).
The hallmark of a healthy church is one that pastor-member relationship is vibrant and strong. And for this vibrancy and strength to be achieved there must be a mutual appreciation of each other’s giftedness and talents. So pastors, here’s my suggestion – encourage your church to express their appreciation for you role in their lives. Don’t be shy to receive their affirmations or encouragements or praises. And while you bask in the warmth of your church’s praises and compliments, keep this thought in mind, which, a seminary professor describes the moment when people are praising the pastor, merely as, “the glorification of the worm!”
I salute you, pastor! Keep running the race, fighting a good fight and keep the faith alive! Happy Pastors Appreciation Day!