I don’t normally share our weekly in-house email, Between Sundays, with the wider public, but I think this one deserves to be shared. If you’re not tangibly appreciating your pastor, here’s some inspiration to do so, whether in October or any other time of year – since nobody gets too much encouragement! — JFL
I was speaking with my spiritual director last week, telling her about October. Insightfully, she said, “October is like Christmas for you.”
She was absolutely right.
October is a month for giving thanks in Canada, and it is Pastor Appreciation Month. I am the envy of many of my colleagues, whose congregations have never heard of Pastor Appreciation Month. I brag a little bit each year – not about what I receive, but about you, and how, even after ten Pastor Appreciation Months with you, I am still surprised, honoured, and humbled by your kindness.
(Can you believe it’s been ten Pastor Appreciation Months? It was 10 years ago today that Diana and I moved into the manse, with me in some fear, some trepidation, and a lot of faith as I eased my way back into the pastorate after two and a half years in parachurch ministry. What an amazing journey this has been, and continues to be! God is good.)
I have a collection of cards on my desk; each will be kept, read again, and treasured, as I have done for the past 10 years. I’ve mentioned before that in previous congregations, I had a “happy file”, in which I kept notes of encouragement that I received from congregants. Early on in St. Paul’s, I learned that a “happy file” won’t do; I actually have to keep a “happy drawer” in my desk, one of the deep drawers, to contain all the encouragement I’ve received over the years. I’m sure it’s no secret that your encouragement makes it a joy to serve the Lord among you, and I truly hope that “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27.17), that I am able to be an encouragement to you, too.
I don’t know who organizes this, but it’s obviously a coordinated event. Most people sign their cards, allowing me to thank them. Some choose not to sign, and that’s okay, too – though if I recognize the handwriting, I thank them anyway! There was one person who scratched out a signature, thinking it was supposed to be anonymous, and that person’s handwriting eludes me. (Whoever you are, thank you!)
October has always been my favourite month of the year, with beautifully-coloured leaves and crispness in the air. But you have doubled my delight with your ongoing kindnesses.
A culture of gratitude – not only toward the pastor, but from the pastor, and toward one another – makes a church’s culture irresistible to those seeking a church home. So keep up the good work of being grateful, as will I.
Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. It truly is a joy to serve the Lord together.