Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1: 2-6
October is traditionally celebrated as Pastor Appreciation month. Most years, that means that congregations get together for a meal at some point to celebrate their pastoral leadership. Sometimes there are gifts that are shared, other times there may be cards, and there are always words of affirmation. And to be honest, it can be a little overwhelming for the pastor. I know that in my case I am more interested in sharing with you how much I appreciate every one of you and your partnership and ministry. So, I decided a few years ago that while many use October as a reminder to show appreciation to their pastor, I will use it as a reminder to let my congregation know how I feel about them.
I love you deeply. Each and every one of you. I do not have adequate words to explain how much your lives mean to me. You have a variety of ways of engaging in a relationship with me and my family such as; sending cards or letters, stitching quilts and pillows, anonymously dropping off bags of produce from the garden, calling or texting, inviting us into your home for a meal or just a chat, volunteering in different ways, using your gifts in the Sunday morning service, and the list goes on. I would think that many times you don’t even have a clue that what you’re doing is providing fuel for me to continue moving forward.
I know that I have a habit of speaking with great passion and excitement. But you may not know that also means that I have times of great discouragement and doubt. And it is you who help me refocus and give me the strength to continue. Sometimes it is as simple as your attendance on Sunday morning or seeing you comment on the live stream in a way that shows me that you are truly engaging in the service from home.
To put it another way, sometimes people view the pastor as the strong man of faith like they are Superman. When in truth, if we’re like any cartoon character, it would be Popeye. Remember Popeye? Popeye got beat up a lot. He was actually a rather small guy with not a lot of strength at all. His strength came from the outside, the spinach. (Pay attention, you’re the spinach)
In reality, we are all a little like this sailor man. We are all weak by ourselves but strong to the finish when we rely on strength that comes from those around us. So, I want to take this opportunity at this October to tell you, I appreciate you. I thank God for you every day. I pray for you with joy. And I stand with confidence, strength, and passion as I declare that what God has begun in this season here in Gainesboro, he will bring to completion. Thank you for being an amazing congregation. Thank you for loving me and my family. Thank you for giving us strength and fuel to continue pressing on towards the goal set before us.