by Kevin Kindelin
So… October is Pastor Appreciation Month. What does that mean? I went to Google to try to find some answers but I think I came up short. There were a lot of gift ideas and some history of how it came about, but nothing that really made me draw any conclusions about what it means. Is it giving our pastor(s) a nice little gift or inviting him (them) over for dinner? Pastor Warren Schilf could probably use some new fishing lures and Pastor Donald Antor looks like he could add a few brightly-colored dress shirts to his collection. Neither one of them looks like he’s apt to turn down a meal! Kidding aside, how, and to whom, are we to show our appreciation? Maybe we should start with why.
Why does a pastor do what he does? There really are no off days, unless you go fishing up north with someone else’s lures for a spell. Insanity is a plausible explanation, unless one has faith in the Holy Spirit who moves us to do that which we might think impossible or even a little bit crazy. So, let’s give our pastors their due. They put in a lot of “overtime” tending to their flock. They’ve been called to a vocation, not a job, or even what some of us refer to as a career. Theirs is more of a lifestyle, really.
We certainly should appreciate our pastors, but why should they get all the love? What about the rest of the pastoral team? Deaconess and Director of Care Ministry, Suzanne Fingerle, Vicar Bill Harder, and our Director of Music, Jenny Laabs, all deserve more than a nod for all the work that they do.
Not to take anything away from the pastors, but the entire pastoral team is entrusted by God to instruct and guide us in His way through service and study. I know some people might get a little, shall we say, perturbed if something in the service doesn’t go exactly as it should, but I think we should focus on the superb job our pastoral team does in bringing us His Word every weekend through the afore mentioned service, which includes music, and Bible study. Then there are the sacraments. You know…baptisms and communion. That’s a lot of work to organize and coordinate those events right there. Ah, but there’s more to it, lest we forget weddings, funerals, hospital and homebound visits, special celebrations, and, dare I say it, “etcetera?” I’ve come to realize that all these efforts are not for the purpose of organizing and implementing the “doings” of a social organization, but to equip us as Christians with the tools to go and carry out our Lord’s great commission: to spread His Word and, hopefully, plant the seeds that save souls.
I haven’t forgotten about our wonderful office staff who provides the printed materials and so much more for, well, just about everything! I just don’t have an appropriate title or a month for them and I don’t want to stretch the definition of “pastoral.”
We don’t always realize that those in ministry also have the same pressures, weaknesses, and insecurities we deal with. The added responsibility of rising above them and ministering to us can be overwhelming. The curmudgeon in us may say, “yeah, but that’s their job.” True, but how many of us put in 60-80 hours a week? That’s why we owe it to them to show our appreciation by supporting them in any way we can. First, show up. Park it in the pew as much as you can. Make it a priority. It’s not easy to put together a variety of services and a Bible study every weekend (don’t forget about “etcetera”) and the least we can do to show our appreciation is to be there. Of course there are congregational volunteers who provide the “glue,” so to speak, but without that detailed framework crafted by the pastoral team, there’d be nothing to hold together. Speaking of volunteers… be one of them! And, of course, pray with them and for them. There is power in prayer!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank and show our, if I may speak for anyone who may be reading this, appreciation to recently retired Pastor Thomas Acton for 39 years in ministry with ten of them being at Immanuel. You are missed but not forgotten Pastor Tom!
I’m sure a gift, or an invitation to dinner, or an offer to mow the lawn, or rake the leaves, or any gesture would be appreciated by any one of our pastoral team, but participating in the body of Christ by being an active part of our church would, I think, be far more gratifying to them. Rather than Pastor Appreciation Month, I say we call it Pastoral Appreciation Month. By the way, does anyone know where I can get a good deal on some fishing lures and brightly-colored dress shirts?