Encouragement From The Word

From the archives: Saying Thanks

This bug that’s going around has clouded my mind, so I thought I’d pull something out of the Encouragement archives from 2010 for you this week. JFL

In Matthew 25.40, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (NIV).  In the context of that story – about the sheep and the goats – the righteous are surprised to learn that they had served the Lord in small ways, such as feeding, clothing and caring.  Acting on the grace of God at work in their lives through faith, they had ministered to others, and thereby ministered to Jesus himself.  What they were doing just flowed from them naturally, because of their faith in Christ.

Have you ever thought about the little encouragements you give, the little kindnesses you share?  Perhaps these are ministries both of and to Jesus.  Nobody gets too much encouragement.

For example, last night, having had some minor trouble with my smart phone, I called Bell Mobility tech support to try to get the problem solved.  The chap I spoke with, while not perfectly fluent in English, was extremely courteous, very patient, and gave me the impression that he really wanted to help me with the problem.  While the difficulty turned out to be simple to solve, the process of ‘getting there’ was a bit more complicated than either of us had anticipated.

Still, when it was all done – nearly an hour of trying things and waiting on hold while he talked with another expert – I did not feel exasperated (as I often do at the end of such calls).  I felt that I had been heard, and my concern had been taken seriously.  And he worked to solve the problem to my satisfaction!

When we were finished, I said to him, “I need to ask one more thing of you:  will you put me through to your supervisor, so I can tell that person what a good job you have done for me?”  I think he was a bit surprised that I asked, but glad that I had said why I wanted to talk with his supervisor, because all too often, when consumers ask to speak to the supervisor, it’s to complain.  But I wanted to commend, rather than complain.

I had to leave a voicemail for the supervisor, but at least I had the opportunity to speak some encouragement into the life of a faceless technical support person who could have been in another city or another country for all I knew. But I was pleased with his work and I wanted his boss to know that.

Who have you thanked for doing a good job for you lately?  That may be one of the little things you do for Jesus.

Musings

This Pastor is Appreciated!

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.