We are entering into my favorite time of the year. It starts with Thanksgiving this month and continues into the beginning of January. So, in light of the big holiday of November, I want to express to you pastors and to you who are on ministerial staffs my heartfelt appreciation for all you do for the cause of Christ. Thank you! May God bless you as you continue to bless others.
God’s Word, as paraphrased in The Message, says:
“So proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple” (2 Timothy 4:2).
“Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live” (Hebrews 13:7).
“Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. … Contribute to the joy of their leadership. … Why would you want to make things harder for them?” (Hebrews 13:17).
“Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it” (1 Timothy 4:16).
I love you all and pray for you constantly. Thank you, again, for all you do. Our world would be a much darker place if it were not for your faithfulness and loving Christ-like example. That fact is immediately before us right now as we try to understand the evil events of the past week in Paris. Don’t ever give up! The world needs you.
A few years back, I returned to a church I had served in California to preside at a memorial service for a beloved physician I had been privileged to pastor. My former church was without a senior pastor at that time and I felt the freedom to respond to the family’s invitation.
As I stood before people I had loved and cared for during a very important part of my life, I thanked God for the opportunity He had given me to walk with them through the valleys, rejoice with them on the mountaintops, and share a piece of their lives through good times and bad.
I looked into the faces of former parishioners who had come to know Christ through the foolishness of my preaching and had looked to me for guidance in times of perplexity. I had pointed them toward Christ and they had embraced Him and found the peace that passes all understanding.
I also came face-to-face with many of those who, during my absence, had lost their dearest loved ones. It was evident by the look in their eyes that, in many ways, life for them would never be the same.
But do you know what I felt most as I addressed those who had come to offer comfort to a grieving family? I felt again that there is no promotion from the pastorate. We may go on to other things, but we will never go on to better things. Be a shepherd, my colleague; be a shepherd. And remember who called you and thank Him.
Some time ago, I attended a conference with officers from the Massachusetts Division of the Salvation Army. What a great group they are! On the front of their conference schedule was a simple verse titled “God Made Pastors.” I don’t know who the author is, but here’s how it goes:
God gave them tender hearts, to hold the hurts of others. He gave them gentle hands, to reach out with compassion and love. God gave them eyes to see the beauty and worth of a single soul. He gave them feet to move swiftly, to pursue justice, restoration, and peace.
God had His hand upon them — and breathed hope into their spirits. “He filled them with His strength, and placed a message of urgency around their lives. God challenged them to greater works than He had ever done. Then, with His own hand of blessing, He wrapped them up in His mantle of love … and called them pastors.
Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, “It was he who gave some to be … evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-12). That verse has your name all over it. Please don’t overlook the fact that what you are doing for Christ and the church is no accident. I challenge you to live like the called-out one God created you to be. Blessings, my colleague!
‘‘And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher” (2 Timothy 1:11).
‘‘As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1).