Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall & Clergy Appreciation Month

A sweet part of fall for us has been the observance of "Clergy Appreciation" month ~ October. I'm pushing aside the awkwardness I felt (because I am a pastor's wife), because I think this is such a great addition to October. Hallmark is not to blame for this one, and I'm certain that October is NOT set down as a pattern in scripture. Focus on the Family named & began to observe the celebration in 1994, when Jeff and I were serving on our first church staff in the Midwest. Click here to read more about the day and scroll down to look for "a brief history."

1 Thessalonians 5 says, "12Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. "

God has greatly used some men and women of God in our lives, and it's good to have a reminder to appreciate them. We've done this in various ways through the years, usually with our favorite baked goods, cards, or acts of kindness. Our own shelves have been filled with apple butter or jam, with colorful crayoned tags attached. Cards (sometimes signed, sometimes not) have made their way into our mailbox or staff box or desktop or car seat. The longer we are in ministry, the more I understand the stories of our older mentors who told us the load of shepherding can get heavy and the road may seem long, but the joys outweigh the hardships. We need to be certain of our calling, they told us. Encouragement along the way makes such a difference in refreshing us and urging us to be faithful.

I want to share about this unique celebration in October, because loving people have been so kind to us. Let me glorify God for a moment by telling you some of the kindnesses of His people shown to us through:

- the first year this was celebrated, a tall cheerful man arrived at our parsonage with an arm full of white paper wrapped blocks of meat for our freezer - we rejoiced with appreciation!

- one couple "appreciates" and lifts us up all year; they never miss a birthday of anyone in our family and always observes them with a gift card and a unique birthday card - we feel loved!

- we were about to pay for our date night dinner out one night, when the waitress said, "Taken care of. He paid for it." We looked through the dim dining room to see a family of 4 from our church; they had taken care of our bill! - we felt humbled and so blessed by the gift, and it was great timing!

- a man has a hobby that has turned into a beautiful skill and a business; he offered to share some of his "treasure" with us at no cost - we know he really means it, and we appreciate the gift!

- handwritten cards from folks in the flock - we save them and take them out later to reread them!

- prayers offered on our behalf from loving friends and "flockmates" we often pray for ... we cherish and need them!

There are many more, but this gives you a flavor for how people have blessed and uplifted us as we serve the Lord by being shepherds who serve them. The New Testament is sprinkled with acts of love and appreciation from flocks to shepherds. "Clergy" is sometimes defined as ordained religious leaders, but this month is an opportunity to encourage all of those who provide spiritual shepherding and leadership. When we show acts of love to one another, the world sees and recognizes God's nature. That's worth a celebration!

What will you celebrate in October? Columbus Day on the 12th? National Boss Day on the 16th? Halloween on the 31st? How about adding a note to your calendar to give thanks for your shepherds?

4 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

Don't forget sweetest day on October 17th hehe! Wow - there's lots of special days in October - thank you for this reminder to do something special for my pastors!

Kristi_runwatch said...

This reminds me... our pastor has a well known sweet tooth, so we try to honor that in October. :)

Bridgette Boudreaux said...

Are you going to the celebration that Love 89 is having at the zoo? It sounds really cool!

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Bridgette - It does sound like fun. Jeff will be away for a missions mtg, though, so we will miss. Love that they're having it at the zoo. :)

Courtney, totally forgot about Sweetest Day! So glad you reminded me. Kristi gets two chances to make sweets ... if she isn't worn out from her applesauce mania. :)