By Joan Clayton: Religion Columnist
October is Clergy Appreciation month. It’s a time to honor those who dedicate themselves to our spiritual needs. My life has been blessed with those who minister so sacrificially to hurting souls. A minister who gives his life to a church and shares their lives as well gives a great gift to a community.
Pastors have been called to build a church amidst a great deal of apathy. I admire the courage of pastors who speak the truth in spite of moral decay. Praise God for ministers who do not compromise or rationalize the truth.
With 6 billion people in the world, we all need to help our pastors have the best opportunities to do their job. Ministers are human beings with hurts and needs. Treat them generously in every way. Stand by them. Don’t abandon them. Hold on to them. Value them because they are God’s anointed. “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm” (Psalm 105:15). We have a responsibility before God to lift up our pastors as did Aaron and Hur for Moses in Exodus 17:12.
Endless stories abound of ministers who unselfishly “give themselves away.” The following testimony is about one pastor among many in my life.
“He came to visit us as a new minister. I was a new bride of just a few months. My husband had a bleeding ulcer, and I had cooked a meal of very tough steak. He tactfully helped me work out a bland diet.
He was there during the long hard traumatic birth of our first-born and he and his wife were there many times during the long months of taking care of a colicky baby.
He was there during my mother’s serious surgery and when we almost lost her he was there to comfort and to pray.
He was there when my husband had critical stomach surgery. His prayers and reassuring words brought hope to my anxious heart.
He was there when the second and third sons were born. He was there during all the bouts of strep throat, tonsillitis, knee surgery and accidents of three lively boys. He was even there when their beloved pet died. His presence told our boys that he cared.
He was there when deep, dark depression came and I felt I was going down for the third time.
He was there when my grandfather died, standing by my side and holding my hand amidst my tears.
He was there at three o’clock in the morning when my grandmother made her heavenly flight. At her funeral, he told of her wondrous works and influence. He helped turn sorrow into joy.
He was there during the long 10 years of mother’s illness. He visited my parents almost every day.
He helped build and operate a children’s home for many years.
He preached the gospel for over 60 years.
This story is about how he ministered to just one family. He served countless others in the same way. He spent a lifetime of caring for others … a lifetime of service … a lifetime of sacrifice.
At 80, he was still going strong. He visited rest homes and shut-ins every day. He preached and taught from time to time at his local church.
His love for others has made this life easier and the eternal one more secure. It would be hard to count the lives whose names are written in the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life’ because of his influence.
He has gone to his heavenly reward, but his ‘works still follow him.’”
I honor Grover C. Ross today and all the pastors who have ministered to all of us.
Let us honor those whom God has called out to lead.
Our pastors are our national treasures.