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A Shepherd’s Sacrifice Worthy of a Flock’s Thanks

Friday, October 6, 2017 @ 11:09 AM
A Shepherd’s Sacrifice Worthy of a Flock’s Thanks CJ Snyder Engage intern MORE

I am a pastor’s daughter. The one thing I remember about Pastor Appreciation Day is my dad forgetting it. Every October, a church member invited my dad to attend an appreciation banquet at her daughter’s school. Daddy forgot, and the little girl was left at her table alone. After missing it two years in a row, my embarrassed father asked another pastor in our church to attend the banquet every year. 

Growing up, I remember my friends running home when their father’s truck came into their driveway, shouting, “Daddy’s back from work!” My father did not come home from work in the evenings. As a child, I was confused about what my dad did for a living since he never “went to work.” I realize now that Daddy actually never left work. 

A glimpse inside

Pastors do not have days off. While their members have a break from jobs or school on the weekend, pastors are preparing sermons late into Saturday night, rising early to pray, and preaching on Sunday. Some try to take Mondays off. No matter how long a pastor serves, most never experience a free Monday. Someone calls. He has to schedule a meeting. He has to meet an urgent need.

Pastors work all year long caring for their church. 

A pastor’s work is not only unending, it is difficult. Most pastors do not express their emotions very often. But I know that my father deals with situations or listens to people tell their stories only to curl up on his study floor and cry when the meetings are over. Christians easily become heavy-hearted thinking about a handful of unconverted friends and family members. Imagine caring for over 200 souls. 

The pastor not only has to help his congregation, he must fight his own spiritual battle. Before every sermon, the pastor considers standing up and telling everyone to go home. He feels his weakness, then guilt attacks, “How can you preach God’s Word? Look at you! Look at how you’ve lived this week.” But God reminds him that the Spirit is speaking, and so he continues to preach. To keep silent would be to believe the devil’s lie. Without God’s power and grace, no minister could continue the work of the pastor. 

A pastor’s work is never finished, and his work is hard. It is mentally and physically exhausting, and it comes with a constant burden of responsibility. Pastors do more than preach a sermon twice a week and call when someone gets sick. They truly are “laborers in the gospel” (1 Thessalonians 3:2) as they study and pray over God’s Word, preach it, and then live it out.    

How to express your thankfulness

Listen and obey – A teachable, eager, and obedient congregant humbly seeking the Lord gives the faithful pastor the greatest joy.

Pray – Thank God for those through whom God speaks. Ask God to protect, strengthen, and bless all aspects of their gospel ministries.

Offer tangible expressions – As an expression of gratitude, letters and gifts are always appropriate and appreciated. 

 

Editor’s Note: The above originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of AFA Journal.

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