It has hit me lately that we although we designate October as Clergy (or Pastor) Appreciation Month, we don’t designate a Congregation or Church Family Appreciation Month. I don’t know the thought process behind this so much, maybe because there have been churches in the past that didn’t appreciate their pastor so we thought we needed to remind them? Maybe that’s too cynical and it’s more of a gentle reminder to take time to thank them more than usual. I’m not 100% sure but I know there are just as many bad, hard headed, hard to deal with pastors as there are that congregations that can be described that way.
I’ll offer two thoughts on this that are borrowed. First, someone I look up to literally and figuratively recently said, “the people at your church are there on a volunteer basis and you do not own them as their pastor. No one can steal them from you because you do not own them.” I think many pastors need to hear that. Also a reminder that those people pay you should put some things into perspective. Sure some people think that gives them the right to tell you to dance, jump, and what to wear, but most church families I’ve encountered are not looking to be overbearing.
It also reminds me that you as a pastor or church leader need to cherish the people you do have currently in your church family. Just like every blood family, every church family has a crazy cousin Eddy drinking egg nog out of a moose glass and pulling his RV into your driveway, but don’t forget that they are YOUR family. God never calls us to love just those that are easy to love or just those that we want to love, but actually calls us to love those that cannot repay us, those that don’t deserve it in our standards, and those that we consider our enemy. Be thankful for you can become a blessing to via Christ working it through you instead of thinking that person doesn’t deserve the blessing of knowing you (cough-gag!).
Secondly, in Andrew Murray’s masterpiece “Absolute Surrender”, he makes the point that we aren’t called to fix someone and their situation or anything we view as askew, but rather love them. So when it comes down to it and your chomping at the bit to tell them what they’re doing wrong, remember that the Spirit is already busy at that (if they are indeed doing something wrong) and unless they ask your opinion, you’re to love… love… and then love some more.
Maybe it’s because I’ve only been a Christian for a little over 7 years, an associate pastor for less than 2, and someone important for 0 years, but God, Jesus, and Holy Ghost, I pray I never become jaded, hardened, crystalized, arrogant, egocentric, unloving, petty, nor take anyone for granted.
So I’m declaring November 6 as Church Family Appreciation Day:
I appreciate the Burtons for being a family that is big, growing, full of smiles, energy, love, faith and Kentucky goodness!
I appreciate Roni for her willingness to offer every resource available to her and for battling in the trenches of prayer with us!
I appreciate the Eggers for being a family that is fun, unique, roots for horrible sports teams, and loves unabashedly!
I appreciate Carol for her delighting in her Lord and King, Jesus Christ, and never goes more than 5 minutes without a smile!
I appreciate the Edwards’ for being a family that always loves warmly and never loses their hope and joy in Christ even when circumstances are stacked against them!
I appreciate Brian for being my ear, my no-responsibilities, single, can-eat-any-time-or-day brother who puts up with my button pushing!
I appreciate the Shandings’ for being a family that shows that no matter your age, you can still be happy, smile, love God, and have hilarious stories! (and will never read this ha ha)
I appreciate Sharon for always sitting in the front of church, smiling and looking happy to be talking to you and worshipping God!
I appreciate the Childress’ for their words of encouragement, prayer, and speak blessings over your life and that of your family!
I appreciate the Griffins for being a family of love, encouragement, understanding, being friends to us when we’ve felt a million miles from home and civilization, as well as offering us to a chance to minister with them!
I also appreciate all the friends and family who’s shoulders I stand on, who’s prayers lift me up, who’s words comfort and encourage, who’s love never goes unnoticed, who’s grace has to be big to put up with my me, and who have in one way or another added to the mosaic of memories and experiences that have brought me to today. (I know they’re not Church Family but I’m in an appreciative mood!)
I appreciate my wife… who I could dedicate every word in this and 100 other blogs, songs, sonnets, poems, sermons, and conversations to and still would not comprise all of my love and appreciation for her as a woman of God, my wife, my friend, my cheerleader, my BFF, my Boo, and the reason my heart beats. No one but other pastor wives will know what true steel in the soul it takes to be who you are. No other demonstration of Christ’s love is embodied and displayed, that I’ve witnessed, than that of Dawn Marie Casto!
Mostly I appreciate that God has allowed you all to be a part of my life, allowed me to serve and lead you in some capacity, and ultimately that He would choose me, to use me to bless you in some way. If you are blessed in anyway, it’s because of Jesus Christ and his love that indwells me and spills out in something I cannot control. Any good or worth you ever see from me, come only from the One that clothes me in His righteousness. I will wash your feet as long as He sees fit and you allow me the privilege. Your names are the words of my prayers.