October 31 is special for a couple reasons (and No, Halloween isn’t what I’m talking about). First, it marks the end of Pastor Appreciation month. I don’t know who thought up this month to show gratitude to our pastors, but as a pastor I am immensely grateful. I have had some of the best pastors there are (and they still encourage me and help me be better).
“‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” – Jeremiah 3:15 ESV
This year’s Pastor Appreciation Emphasis has felt extra meaningful. For 22 months I have pastored Aspen Park (of which 20 months have been embroiled in pandemic challenges). While our church has persisted in their faith in the face of these challenges, the pandemic has not been an easy period in which to start a new season of pastoring. And yet, the love and care and encouragement that Aspen Park has shown me and my family has been deeply impactful and has reinforced my love and commitment to the task of ministry here.
The cards and thoughtful expressions of love have each been cherished. I love each family and individual that God has blessed me with the opportunity to know and minister to and I am truly excited about what future ministry will bring as we serve here at Aspen Park.
The second significance of this October 31 is that it also marks 20 years to the day since I first became a pastor. My 20-year-old-self stepped into the Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Prague, Oklahoma on a Wednesday Night as pastor… knowing even less than I thought I knew about what pastoring looked like. And while I was undoubtably naïve in various aspects, this small country church was incredibly kind and considerate as they loved me toward being their shepherd.
And fortunately, this has been my personal experience in the now four churches that I have had the honor of pastoring in these 20 years. Each church has shown me and my family love and care in specific ways that have helped me to continue to mature and grow in my calling as an under-shepherd. And so, with my 20-year anniversary of pastoring in mind, I reflect on how much I love God’s Church.
This isn’t to say that there haven’t been challenges in each church. Each church has had unique difficulties and even occasionally people that would cause me to question my ability to continue in my calling. These difficult moments have not defined my experience as a pastor; but instead, the love and care that is often spot-lighted during Pastor Appreciation Month is what my family has primarily known.
I pray that you will know that when you love your pastor, he is strengthened and encouraged to do the ministry that God has called him to do. And the care that you give to his family highlights that ministry relationship between a pastor and the flock.
Romans 10:14–15 (CSB) says, “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”
My 20 years of pastoring is more a testimony of God’s work within His Church than it is about my ability or commitment. Praise be to God for what He has done and will continue to do.