“Those Greatest Among Us”

The United States recognizes October as National Clergy Month.  Clergy Appreciation Day is observed on the second Sunday in October.  It is a time to recognize the work of ministers, pastors and priests.   Clergy Appreciation Day was originally called Clergy Appreciation National Day of Honor.  The day was started by Hallmark Cards in 1992.  Many people also refer to the day as Pastor Appreciation Day. Though we should always honor those who serve us as spiritual leaders, we set aside this time to officially recognize them.  

     Jesus defined greatness in a way different from the way the world defines it.  Jesus said, “if anyone breaks the least commandment, and teaches others to; he shall be the least in the kingdom of heaven.  But those who teach God’s law and obey them shall be great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19 LBT)

     Also in Matthew 23:11, Jesus said, “the lowlier your service to other’s the greater you are to be the greatest, be a servant.

     Jesus’ attitude was that of a servant and He was indeed the greatest among us.  He referred to Himself in John 10:11 and 10:14 as the good shepherd.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 

14“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.

It is clear to us that in the Kingdom of God the greatest among us are servants.  True pastors and leaders of God’s people are servants and not hirelings. Jesus explained in John 10 that a hireling sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees.  The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them.   The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

In a recent bible class, I was asked a question by the instructor who happens to be my pastor and husband, “could I attest that there are yet some good men in the earth?”  I answered an emphatical, “yes.”  Then I became a little playful at the end of my response knowing that those that were listening knew I have the utmost love for my husband who happens to be my pastor.  He was serious and didn’t find my joking amusing. Anyone that knows me knows that I vehemently express my love for my pastor/husband.  The next morning it dawned on me that not only is he among the good men, but he in Christ’s eyes (and mine) is among the great, according to Christ’s definition.  Jesus said great are those among us that are servants.  I have observed him serving countless hours weekly in discipling and training other ministers and believers by equipping them in various levels.  He does it selflessly. He spends hours for radio broadcasting along with his local church duties.  He counsels members as well as those that are not. These are just a few of the duties named among many.   Many pastors and ministers are burned out spiritually and emotionally, as well as in various other ways.  Many have walked away from serving in ministry to return to secular jobs that seem to have more earthly benefits.  It is the duty of the believers to pray fervently for our spiritual leaders.  

Let us pray and encourage our leaders who give of themselves unselfishly.  There are great men and women that lead kingdom citizens to govern, rule and reign in this life. I thank God for all the great men and women who minister ‘’as an extension of Jesus’ ministry.”  You are his hands and you represent him in the earth realm.  I personally thank my pastor and husband J. Lee Gordon, who serves as an apostle for his local church and a network of churches with a father’s heart.  You are among the great.  You are among those that serve.

Thom S. Rainer did a survey with 24 pastors on how church members might share with each pastor their love language through words and expressions of gratitude.  He wrote the following five ways of expression.  These are the top five that the pastors expressed.

  1. Books. Give gift certificates to Christian Bookstores to purchase books.
  2. Encouraging notes.They treasure words of affirmation.  It helps to soothe the pain of the criticisms.  I keep all my notes of encouragement in a box, along with those that members have taken time to write out themselves.
  3. Time Guardians.Some said that their most encouraging church members are those who try to help them protect their time.  They do everything they can to make sure I have enough time to prepare for my sermons and spend time with my family.  They’re able to speak to other members about my time constraints in a way I am not.”
  4. Compliments about children. ”There are times I feel sorry for my kids.”  Pastors appreciate those few church members who go out of their way to tell them the good about their children. “One sincere compliment about one of my three kids makes my day.”
  5. Pastors deal with critics and they realize that in any leadership position, there are those who will judge.  My greatest hurt takes place when my supporters remain silent in the face of intense criticism toward me.  They’re more afraid of rocking the boat than speaking the truth.  But I have on church member who always speaks a defending word for me unless he thinks I’m wrong.  Then he speaks to me privately.  I could use a dozen church members like that.”  (Courtesy of HomeLife Magazine. Pastor Appreciation Month:  5 Ways to Say Thanks by Thom S. Rainer on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 12:00 AM)

Prayer:

We thank you Father for every minister, pastor and spiritual leader that you have chosen for your service.  We are grateful to you for every one of them that has laid down his and her life to follow you. We pray that you will keep their spirits passionate for their callings and commission.  Father give them everything necessary to carry out your commission.  Keep them and their families safe and protected from evil.  Surround them with those that support their God given visions. Reward them in this life and in the age to come as you said there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, with persecution, who will not receive hundredfold now in this time and in the age to come, eternal life.  When persecution comes let them wear it as a crown.  In Jesus name, we pray.  Amen