“The pervasive element in our two-thousand year pastoral tradition is not someone who ‘gets things done’ but rather the person placed in the community to pay attention and call attention to ‘what is going on right now’ between men and women, with one another and with God — this kingdom of God that is primarily local, relentlessly personal, and prayerful ‘without ceasing.’” —Eugene Peterson
Our view of pastoral life is often shaped around the visible actions pastors take in our community: preaching on Sunday morning, teaching a Bible lesson to children, greeting volunteers and new guests at the doors. These are just a few of the tasks that shape our picture of pastoral life.
But if you’ve received a visit in the hospital, a note of encouragement, a knock on the door during a time of grief, a “thank you” for the ways you serve, or an invitation to more deeply belong to the community of faith, you know that the visible acts of ministry are often only a fraction of the pastor’s job.
So as we approach Pastor Appreciation Month this October, we want to encourage Wesleyans of our local churches to tell stories that help pastors know they are seen, heard and loved — not just for their work, but for their identity as a person made in the image of God.
Over the next month, posting these stories, photos and notes of encouragement on social media under the hashtag #myPASTORis will give you the chance to enter your pastor into a giveaway of prizes such as a $500 Visa gift card, a Fitbit, Amazon gift cards and “Unique Grab Bags” from Wesleyan Publishing House. Just as importantly, it’ll give your pastor the encouragement of knowing that his or her contribution to God’s mission in your community is appreciated.
Even as you enter your pastor into these contests, start prayerfully considering how your church might offer your pastor a tangible expression of gratitude. Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing stories of churches who are cultivating a healthy ecosystem of clergy and laity wellbeing, leading both pastors and parishioners to live out Philippians 2:4: “Let each of you not look to your own interests but to the interests of others” (NIV).
Week in and week out, pastors also do the more subtle work of ministry — counseling, consoling, praying, discipling, reading, studying and showing up — to help our communities more deeply reflect God’s image. Let’s take the time to encourage those who lead our churches and acknowledge the work they do as The Wesleyan Church becomes a Kingdom Force that has a transforming presence across North America and beyond.