Every day is not a Friday, but today is a Friday, and yesterday we talked about podcast preachers and how prominent preachers affect our evaluation of the pastors in our local churches. One way to appreciate your local church pastor is to simply let him know that you appreciate him. Pastor John, when you were pastor, what things most encouraged you? When you think back on the pictures drawn by kids in the church, or phone calls from folks thanking you, or encouraging notes in the mail, what things, as a pastor, most encouraged you?
Affirm Your Pastor
To go to the hospital and find a young couple holding a dead baby and trusting God.
I don’t want to minimize, Tony, the preciousness of notes and phone calls. Every one of us needs that kind of affirmation. Sam Crabtree, my precious partner for, goodness, twenty years or so, wrote a book. I am glad he wrote the book on affirmation, and Sam is good at it. I needed it from him because he makes the case that there is a God-centered way of recognizing the grace of God in people’s lives and pointing it out to God’s glory and also for their encouragement.
“I need sober statements from people about blessings that have come to their lives through me.”
I want to believe that God is using me in the ministry. Often the devil whispers, “You are wasting your time, or you are just a vain prig anyway, and all you want is the approval of men.” I need sober statements from people about blessings that have come to their lives through what I have written, or what I have said, or what I did. I am just saying yes to that. Yes, amen, do that for your pastor. Do it more than you think he needs it. He probably doesn’t get too much of that.
Walk in the Truth
But what will make a pastor most deeply thrilled is when he sees the truth of a life of faith that he has been teaching for years actually lived out — when he sees his people doing the hard thing. When I look at a group of people on Tuesday night going to Nicollet Avenue and bearing witness to Jesus boldly in evangelism, I say, “Yes, Lord, yes. The spillover is happening. It is happening. People are testifying to the truth of what they have come to love at Bethlehem. And they are going out and they are saying it.” So seeing the actual lived-outness of that.
And to go back where I started — to watch people suffer well. I mean, a huge part of my ministry is to take the teachings of 1 Peter 4:12, where he says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” And I think most Americans do feel like something unusual is happening to us if we walk through fire.
“Devote most of your energies to becoming the kind of person that he has been preaching for you to be.”
I have devoted a lot of my ministry to try to help people say, “It is not unusual. It is coming. It will be your Father’s love, not your Father’s opposition, when it comes. Trust him even if you can’t explain the details of it.” And when I watch people respond that way to suffering, I feel like I have not wasted my life.
So yes, write the notes. Make the phone calls. Point out evidences of grace in your pastor’s life and the usefulness that God has made him to you, and then devote most of your energies to becoming the kind of person that he has been preaching for you to be.