There are places and moments in life where the proverbial “rubber meets the road.” Times where the real you shows up whether you like it or not. Financial stress, relationships in crisis, confrontation, grief and pain over death, long nights or early mornings and when you get overlooked and unappreciated. And in those moments, what is in your heart, where your security and significance lie- well, it shines through. Our goal, as believers is we have trusted in Christ so firmly it is changing us and when the rubber meets the road of pain and stress and hardship, grace and trust and peace come tumbling out. Often however, what comes out is a very mixed bag: fear and trust; despair and hope; anger and forgiveness; self righteousness and conviction. When the dust settles, we pray we have a little time to regroup, learn some lessons and keep pressing toward Jesus before the next tough moment hits, and truthfully, we’re thankful only our closest friends and family see the ugly side that of our transformation process.
Did you know that the laundry list of “rubber meets road” moments is, in reality, a very typical month for a pastor? In fact, depending on the size of the church, it might even be a typical week. The calling of pastor or minister or elder is one that brings with it great joy and fulfillment to be sure, but let’s be real- it is also tiring, hard and heavy. They experience those same moments we all do but in a fish bowl of scrutiny and all too often, others ready to point out the ugly without offering grace.
The month of October is Pastor Appreciation Month, according to people who decide such things, and I am compelled to stop and just say thank you.
Thank you to my pastors, Trevor Atwood and Jeremy Young for leading my family and I at City Church. Your lives of integrity and service, your love for your wives and children, your patience and boldness- they reflect Christ and they are helping point people to Him. I will personally always be thankful for the moments where you both loved Scott and I, and our kids- during times where we needed truth and grace to be poured out on us, and you were there. Thank you, thank you. Thank you also for not allowing yourselves to be put on a pedestal or held up as the hero, but instead sharing openly your struggles and for pointing us all back to Jesus as the hero. Hearing you both speak the gospel over and over has changed my life.
On a different note, from my own experience of having been a pastor’s wife for seven years prior to Scott stepping off staff at a local church, I want to challenge us all to appreciate and express gratitude to our pastor’s in three ways:
Pray for them. Pray for their marriages, their children, their hearts. Pray for energy and health and provision. Tell them how you pray for them and when you do it!
Offer personal service and gifts to their family. Offer to watch their children, so they can have a date night. Offer to help with a house project you have expertise in. Offer to drive them to the airport when they travel, or dog sit while they are on vacation. Buy them a gift card for a restaurant or to Target for use in however they need it. Offer whatever you can see would meet a need. Be practical and follow through.
Tell your pastors (and their wives!) what you see them doing well, how God is using them and what you love about your church. Limit complaints and criticism, and always offer to be part of solutions to problem areas.
Let us strive to be a people who encourage, support and love our pastors as they take the pounding of leadership on our behalf.