Appreciation for Our Leaders: Pastor Steve Breedlove and Associate Pastor Jay Miller
I love this time of year with the vibrant colors of the Fall, the overabundance of leaves as they fall to the ground below, the brisk autumn air, the crackling of a bonfire, and the feel of something special in the air. It is an ending of one season, but the promise of a new season to come. Fall always seems to me to be the beginning of the calendar year, not January 1st.
October fits into the season aptly as we gather together more often, catch a hometown game of football, enjoy the early sunsets, and reminisce. The ability to remember what has been, what is ending and what is yet to come is what I like the most about this season.
In 1994 the Focus on Family group added a new day to celebrate in an already overcrowded calendar chock full of dates to keep our eyes focused upon. This however, is more sentimental than the last-minute Hallmark-worthy celebration. This is a time designated to giving thanks to our local clergy/pastoral staff; thus, a greater significance must be attached. It originally started as a pastor appreciation day on the second Sunday of October, but now it has grown into a celebratory month for our pastors. It is the churches way to encourage and lift our pastors and associate pastors, offering words of thanks, gifts, and most likely if a good Baptist church, a dinner is provided as well.
So why do we do this? Pastoring a church is not an easy task. Face it a lot of churches do not see all that the pastor does to entail that his flock is not only well fed, but that it grows into the discipleship God intends it to be. A lot of pastors are taken for granted and not appreciated for what they do on the job. The job by the way is more likely a 24/7 365-day scenario. How many of us live this workstyle? Let’s take a glimpse of some of what their job description entails.
They are not to add or subtract from the Word of God as commanded in Deuteronomy 4:2. In 2 Timothy 4:2 they are to edify the disciples by preaching the gospel. In Acts 20:28 and Jeremiah 3:15, we are told that our pastors are overseers who steer their flock to remain on the right path. In Psalm 78:72 we see that our pastors are called to feed their flock. In Hebrews 13:17 the flock is advised to obey authority. In short, pastors often counsel requiring patience, offer correction and discipline when it is needed, are the conduit of communication throughout the church, and minister to our needs during our trials/crises. Yes, they wear a wide variety of hats, but they carry much responsibility with these roles. It is tougher than it looks and if followed, it is due much respect.
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost had made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
“So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.”
Keep in mind that though it is great to take a day and celebrate, we the church have responsibilities as well. These responsibilities are not to be ignored. We are only as strong as the foundation we are built upon. The church elect is built on the foundation of Jesus, but each individual physical church rests on the shoulders of its pastors. We rely on the strength of the pastor to carry us, but the flock needs to be worthy of the church leaders as well. We need to be open to learn by going to small group classes or Bible study, as well as, participate in opportunities to serve our church and to serve our Lord.
It is the flock, who through their faith, show up each week to worship. It is the flock who should be generously giving/tithing on the blessings that God has provided. It is the flock who are called to serve. Yes, we have spiritual obligations that need to be fulfilled out of our love for Christ. It is out of that love that we are always called to honor our leaders. I believe we are to honor the leaders that God sends us. The Bible firmly plants its feet on the issue of our obeying our leaders by instructing us to honor them for their service. It is through our leaders that God has blessed us so richly as we see in 1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. In 1 Peter 2:13-14, we are advised to respect authority, and in Philippians 2:29 we are to receive this with gladness. Out of that respect for authority stems a willingness to do good as stated in Titus 3:1.
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”
“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you. And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”
“Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation.”
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.”
We are after all, commanded to respect our leadership and those that are placed in authority over our lives. Being a leader can be a daunting role. It requires courage as Joshua 1:9 states, a strong resolve and temperance during struggles in which humility and not pride, is key as Philippians 2:3 shows us. It all centers around trusting God and his promises as Proverbs 3:5-6 wisely prescribes. I am so glad that we have the people God entrusted to us to handle all of this with much aplomb during such demanding times!
“Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
So how do we express our appreciation? Encourage your pastor(s) by offering positive feedback and not criticism. Write a thank you note. Offer kindness as 2 Samuel 2:6 suggests. Recognize their contribution as Ruth 2:12 points out. Remember to thank God for the pastor He sent us by praying as Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 and 1 Thessalonians 1:2.
“And now the Lord shew kindness and truth unto you, and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing.”
“The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”
“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given to you by Jesus Christ. That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge. Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you. So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.”
Remember to be thankful for the people around you. We can never be too thankful! Take a minute today and meditate on the Word and see how much God has blessed us. He has put authority into the hands of our local pastors and they have responded faithfully to his call.
Pastor Steve and Associate Pastor Jay have opened our eyes to the Word of our Lord through their dedication and love for God. They have served faithfully and have been the needed calm in our church during the good (shouts of joy on the mountaintops) and during the troubled waters (challenges we all face in the valleys). We have been blessed so richly and now we reap from that blessing, I pray that we have many years under their leadership, guidance and strong hands. Our Lord is mighty, and He chooses those who are willing to follow His commands and willing to lead His flock wherever they must go. Thank you both for your faith, service and acts of love! Love,