Paying tribute to our pastors

By Joan Clayton: PNT Religion Columnist

October is Clergy Appreciation Month and I join with many others in honoring our spiritual leaders.
First, let me say there aren’t enough words to express my gratitude for the many, many selfless acts you do for others. You are vital to my spiritual being.
I realize you are on call around the clock. Bible studies, preparation of sermons, funerals, and hospital visits take priority. That leaves very little time for your own activities because you sacrifice your own time in order to minister to others.  
I want you to know your presence brings comfort and relief.
You stand beside people when heaviness of heart prevails. You spend many hours, maybe even an entire night in prayer with those going through a crisis. You miss many nights of sleep, holiday dinners and family events to be with someone in need.
You live in a “fishbowl” and it’s hard to survive without encouragement and affirmation.
Behind you is an unselfish wife who shares your concern, hurts and cares.  She shares you anytime, day or night as she strives to help you succeed by having a supportive home and I thank and appreciate her too.
You have been put to the scrutiny of the media. I resent the not so subtle innuendoes that movies, sitcoms and other representations depict upon pastors.
You have been called to build a church amidst a great deal of apathy. I admire your courage in speaking the truth without compromising or rationalizing, in spite of moral decay.
With six billion people in the world, you are desperately needed and I want to hold you up in my prayers.
You are a human being with hurts and needs. May all of us treat you generously in every way. May we stand by you and value you because you are God’s anointed. (Psalm 105:15: “saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”)
May there be a commitment to pray for you and your dreams to see the church move forward. The importance of you and your staff cannot be overstated. You are the key to the future of a nation.
I want to encourage you and your families. I think we have a responsibility before God to hold you up as Aaron and Hur did for Moses:  “But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun”  (Exodus17:12).
You are our national treasures and you are desperately needed. I call you a prized possession. I honor you as you proclaim God’s truth — the only answer to life’s problems.  You are vital to our town and to our nation.  I shudder to think how our lives would be without you, our spiritual leaders.  Each of us comes to a place in life when we need the comfort and counsel of you, our pastor.  Just your presence eases the pain in an emergency.
Thank you for preaching your heart out every Sunday morning and for the effect your sermons have upon our lives.
I treat you with “ the greatest esteem and love, because of the work you do.” (1 Thessalonians 5:13)
I bless you, “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).
I encourage you today.  May we be your Barnabas, your Aaron and your Hur. We hold up your hands as we “fight the good fight of faith.”
I appreciate you. Thank you for your patience, sacrifice, unselfishness and most of all for your dedication and love for our precious Lord.
May God hold you close as you minister to a hurting world.
            Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is:
joan@yucca.net