Member, First Baptist Church, DesArc
Pastor/Staff Appreciation Month is approaching. Be sure and mark your calendars, because it is not pre-printed on the wall calendar that you get free from your local pharmacy, bank, or dairy bar. For those of you less familiar with this, such as myself (I am sorry to admit), it is commemorated each year in October.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines appreciation as ''an ability to understand the worth, quality, or importance of something.'' Please note that worldly materials, tokens, or gifts, are not mentioned. Many American holidays are centered around marketing efforts to convince us that the only means of expressing appreciation is through gift-giving. Please do not misunderstand, I am not telling you to purchase or not to purchase a gift for your well-deserving pastor and staff. Gifts can be thoughtful, practical, and yes -- even appreciative. However, appreciation – in and of itself - does not require a price tag. Appreciation can simply be an act, a sentiment, a gesture, or act of service.
So far in 2017, through attendance and participation in Sunday school, Lay Renewal Weekend, sermons, and women’s Bible study, I have learned the importance of prayer and the essential need of praying for my pastor. I never really gave it much thought until God put it into my heart within the context of the golden rule: that I should pray for my pastor as I would have him pray for me. I know that my pastor, Dr. Melvin York, prays for me. With each new headline that I read in the news (whether real or fake), I am reminded of his need for my prayers, as well as in his daily wrestling ''against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places'' (Ephesians 6:12). I no longer have my parents available to remind me to adhere to personal responsibilities such as brushing my teeth, cleaning my room, or eating my vegetables, but I have a pastor that cares enough to continuously step-on-my-toes from the pulpit, encouraging and convicting me to step out of my comfort zone in the service of God’s kingdom (As fashionable as open-toed shoes/sandals may be, they can be quite uncomfortable in the services at First Baptist Church of Des Arc – I’m just saying).
The apostle Paul often appealed to the parishioners of the churches at Thessalonica, Ephesus, and Colossae for their continued prayers. In II Thessalonians 3:1, for example, he wrote “Finally brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified even as it is with you.” In this scripture, ‘brethren’ refers to you and me (the audience of the letter) and ‘us’ indicates Paul and his colleagues within ministry (i.e. music minister, youth minister, secretary, etc). Alan Cohen, businessman, author, and owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team, once said that ''Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.'' I believe that prayer is also the highest form of appreciation.
Lifting up prayers in support of your pastor and staff will create a blessing in the life of you and your church, as well: ''And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.'' (Jeremiah 3:15) So, please join me extending pastor/staff appreciation in October, throughout the month, beyond the calendar year. Don’t just mark it on your calendars as an annual event. Note it on your prayer list. Highlight it in your heart and make it a daily practice.