I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:3-6 NIV)
As I’m writing this blog, many Christian communities are concluding Pastor Appreciation Month. I’m not really sure when or where, and/or by whom PAM was created. I can’t seem to find it in the Bible, so I’m assuming Hallmark, or one of those previously popular Christian retailers with wonderful Godly greeting cards, or some church who loved their pastor, or some pastor whose love language was “receiving of gifts,” put a bug in someone’s ear. If I’m honest, I’ll tell you that I love Pastor Appreciation Month. For me, it’s like Christmas when I was a little kid. I get a whole lot of presents and cards. (The main difference between my Christmas cards then and PAM cards now, is that some of the cards today contain gift cards instead of the money I’d get back then from my grandma, favorite aunt or some suitor trying to make a good impression on my single mom.) It seems I also eat a lot more sweet and treats (OK, maybe a little more, since I’m always eating sweets and treats), primarily because “If you bake it, I will come.” (You may have to Google Field of Dreams.)
If I’m also being honest, at the risk of reducing the potential for future favorite foods, snacks, goodies, gifts and gift cards (Heaven forbid!), the greatest impact on my joy are the cards, notes and words of affirmation (my love language), encouragement and prayers of my faith family and friends. Let me let you in on a little secret. Many pastors, at times, feel unqualified, given that our boss is the Creator of the Universe, and the example He has set for us to follow is His perfect Son Jesus. I love the thoughts of Christian Comedian/Songwriter Mark Lowry, who observed that Mary, the mother of Jesus, may have scolded her children, asking them, “Why can’t you be more like your brother Jesus?” Lowry mused they probably responded, “Well, Mom, why can’t you be more like Jesus?” Although I’ve never had one of our church folks ask me, “Why can’t you be more like Jesus?” I feel inadequate each time I fall short and let my Savior (and/or flock) down. Admittedly, I do take some comfort in knowing that the most prolific writer of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, felt the same way (See Romans 7: 14 – 20).
Paul and I are also similar in at least one other way. We are thankful for the family and friends who love and support us. Paul wrote these words to the members of his church family in the Biblical city of Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This is how I often feel. As we begin this next month of Thanksgiving, I want you to know, this pastor’s appreciation is for you and all you do. God bless.