For the Pastors Out There, Especially the Pastors of Small Churches and Struggling Ministries: Thank You So Much and I Cannot Wait to See Your Reward in Heaven

I want to start off by saying this is NOT a large church bashing post. The purpose for me writing this is NOT to beat upon mega-church pastors. However, it is not oriented toward them since I am a small church pastor and don't have the experience to speak to the unique challenges and concerns of a mega-ministry.

Having said that, I believe that there are a LOT of pastors who serve small to moderate size congregations. These individuals also work hard and stick it out through some difficult circumstances. Their pay isn't great and their savings toward retirement is mediocre at best. They may have as many critics as they have fans. More than likely, they are the pastor, the secretary, perhaps even the janitor or security guard.  In other words, they wear many hats. A good number of them are bi-vocational.  

And they love their churches and they love their people.  God has called them and they have answered.  These shepherds had dreams, and if they have been around as long as I have, they have seen these dreams go through a serious reality check.  And that is depressing, to be honest. Not every pastor has been designed by God to be a large church pastor.  Yet everyone who has been called and has been faithful should "stay in Ephesus."  Don't abandon ship because the ship you are on seems akin to a paddle boat compared to those radio preachers' churches. 

Pastor, I don't know where you are in your ministry.  Maybe you have thought of quitting this ministry or even the ministry entirely. You could be wondering about your calling; if you somehow misunderstood and should instead be selling insurance, real estate, teaching in a school or plying a trade.  Can I give you a suggestion? Stop it. 

Don't let the obstacles you face cloud your mind.  Resist the urge to give in or to give up.  Go back to when you felt the call of God. Didn't it seem clear back then?  

What has happened since then?  Did you do something disqualifying?  Have you betrayed trust in a major way?  Don't see yourself as a failure because you are not meeting some metrics that you set for yourself a decade or more ago. Who is the one who alone can rightly evaluate your ministry?  Isn't it the Lord, whom you serve?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month (now often called Clergy Appreciation Month).  I used to dislike it.  The reminders were like being told that it was your birthday and everyone, or nearly everyone, had forgotten. There have been a few (and some of those were really nice) exceptions but most of you small church pastors know of what I am saying.  You also know that many of your congregants listen to Christian radio and they are hearing those very same reminders that you are hearing but . . . 

But you don't have to be that way.  Shrug it off.  We labor for the Lord and the reward that is eternal.  May I suggest you turn it into something positive? 

Being a pastor, you know what it is like, so take your lemons and make some fine lemonade and serve it up to your fellow ministers. Tell your mentor how much you appreciate the investment he has made in your life.  Your fellow servants in your community and among your clergy friends, they need encouragement too.  Genuine words of appreciation are like a healing balm so spread the cheer. 

Make Pastor Appreciation Month not about you but about Him and a great opportunity to tell other laborers that their labor is not in vain in the Lord and how much you thank God for their service, friendship and sacrifice.  Remind them of their eternal reward. And I pray, as the years go on, that you will also find others doing the same for you.  

And if no one tells you this, pastor, let me tell you:

1) you are not forgotten
2) you are being prayed for
3) you are a blessing to others, whether they tell you or not
4) you have reasons to rejoice
5) and probably, if you focus on the blessings, you can recall some very encouraging comments that have come your way this month

Suggestion: save encouraging cards and notes for the down times and read them then.  If you got more positive feedback from a sermon, write that on the top of your sermon notes before you file it away. When people give you a gift that had nothing to do with a birthday or anniversary, write it down somewhere, perhaps even in an encouragement journal. Remember, we are not to keep a record of wrongs but God doesn't discourage a record of rights.  


Let me pray for you:  

Father God, I thank you for the faithful pastors who minister without much notice or fanfare.  I pray especially for the ones hurting deeply.  Perhaps like I did for so many years, they see this month as reinforcing how insignificant they feel. Too often, ministers compare themselves to one another and this leads to disrespect from one direction and a feeling of being judged from the other.  Let us not find our worth in numbers who attend, get baptized or saved, especially when contrasted with others' numbers. You, O Lord, are our judge and one day You will evaluate based on one metric: faithfulness.  Lord, help us to continue to be faithful, planting seeds, watering them and trusting you for the increase.  

In Christ's Name, Amen.  

Here's a great offer at an unbelievable price (on the Kindle): 

Answers to Pastors' Faqs  
By Howard F. Sugden and Warren W. Wiersbe

Pulled from decades of pastoral experience, Wiersbe and Sugden provide answers that you won't find in seminaries—answers that both new and experienced pastors need to know to survive and thrive in ministry.

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month...Only $0.99!
On Vyrso (logos) too for the same price

It's Your Call: What Are You Doing Here? Free
20 Titles on Leadership from Zondervan for $2.99 each on Vyrso
good throughout October

For those pastors who cannot afford expensive sermon prep software or a big commentary library, try building a Kindle library of great commentaries when they are on sale. I have repeatedly used about three commentaries on my Kindle that I got for a song! Believe me, I know what it is like to build your library out of your own pocket.  And you don't need a Kindle device to do this (there are apps for smartphones and for your personal computer).  Here are a few current deals:

Genesis-Leviticus (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) $7.99

Daniel-Malachi (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) $7.99

Romans-Galatians: 11 (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) for $7.99.  That is Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians and Galatians.  

The Expository Bible Commentary is a multi-set commentary that is great at helping you dig deeply into God's Word.  These deals represent saving over $30 per volume.  


For non-clergy members:
If you are reading this and you are not a clergy member but would like to appreciate your pastor in some tangible way, here is a resource for you
- if you are a little late, you could surprise your pastor all the more or be more prepared for next year.

Ministering to Your Pastor by John Piper

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