Pastors are our national treasures

Joan Clayton: Religion Columnist

Pastors who respond to God’s call to ministry are special people. October is Clergy Appreciation Month and is observed by affirmation and encouragement for our pastors. These spiritual leaders are gifts from God.

Ministers and their families live in a world that never stops. Their workload is large and tedious. Many have other jobs or their wives work to supplement income. There is always another Bible study, sermon to prepare, funeral, hospital visit or whatever need the congregation requires. The minister sometimes spends more time with other people than with family.

Encouragement is a special gift you can give to your pastor. Everyone likes to know his or her work is appreciated and no one likes to be taken for granted. As a former teacher, I loved to receive encouragement from others, especially from parents. It was my reward for all my hard work. I cherished the love notes from my students and that encouraged me. A note to your pastor, expressing your appreciation, will have the same effect. “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Proverbs 11:25 KJV).

My grandmother honored her pastor many times with her fabulous Sunday lunches. As a small child, I vividly remember those Saturday afternoons Granny and I spent getting ready. On Sunday I listened with rapt attention as the preacher intrigued my grandparents and me by sharing and talking about Jesus. It is one of my fondest memories. Your children will be impressed as well by your willingness to make your pastor’s day by an act of kindness and appreciation.

While you are at it, include those in other areas of church ministry. Now is the time to applaud and affirm those servants of God who are entrusted with your spiritual growth.

I am reminded of Moses, a pastoral leader. In Exodus 17:10-13 Moses stood on top of a hill, holding up the staff of God. As long as he held up the staff, the Israelites prevailed over the Amalekites. However when his arms grew tired and he lowered them, the Amalekites were winning. So Aaron and Hur took a stone and sat Moses on it. Then Aaron stood on one side and Hur on the other, holding up the staff. This physical support enabled the Israelites to win the battle. We need to lift up the arms of our spiritual leaders too.

Your pastor and staff and their families are the keys to your church’s future, whether it be growth, discipleship, evangelism or social concerns. How much better they could perform and lead if they know their families are loved, supported and lifted up by their congregation.

We are all in this together and our pastors need our help and encouragement to gain the victory. I shudder to think about how our lives would be without them. Each one of us comes to a place in life when we need the comfort and counsel of our pastor. just the minister’s presence eases the pain of a crisis.

Clergy Appreciation Month gives an opportunity to recognize and encourage those whom God has called to proclaim his message and to lead his people.

Ministers are human beings with hurts and needs. Treat them generously in every way. Stand by them. Value them. They are God’s anointed

Here are some suggestions to honor those servants of the Lord who minister to you.

1. Write an appreciation letter.
2. Have a “card” shower.
3. Plan a special “Clergy Appreciation Service.”
4. Have Sunday school students make creative messages and then have the pastor visit the class for a “Ceremony of Gratitude.”
5. Make banners of appreciation and display them.
6. Take your pastor and family out to eat.
7. Celebrate the day with a pot luck lunch in the fellowship hall.
8. Above all, pray for your minister.

Clergy Appreciation Month is an opportunity to recognize and encourage those whom God has called to proclaim his message and lead his people.
Let us honor them with our love and support!