By Jay Sanders
Dear pastor, I appreciate you.
Some of you will hear that a lot this month. You’re serving in a context where your people love you, and they enjoy making it known.
When you walk out to the parking lot after you get done preaching this Sunday, they’ll have a brand new Bentley for you with a tag on the front that says #trulyblessed and a Christian fish symbol on the back.
Congratulations. I appreciate you.
Most of you are in a completely different context. Perhaps you’re serving in a church where no matter what you do, it’s not enough.
Sure, you preached a great sermon last week, but you also parked in the spot where one of the more influential members of the church likes to park his Bentley with the #trulyblessed tag on the front.
You’re tired, weary, and desperately searching for well-paying jobs for pastors in the greater metropolitan Montego Bay area.
You may not hear it at church this month, but you’re hearing it from me right now:
“I appreciate you.”
I get it. We don’t know each other, so my words of appreciation don’t mean a whole lot to you. They probably read like something a guy like me is supposed to write during Pastor Appreciation Month. I understand that, but I also really mean it.
I appreciate you
I appreciate the pastor of the large church who’s breaking the often cruel stereotype of megachurch pastors being deep on personal platforms and wealth while being shallow on theology.
God has placed you in a dynamic, growing church that’s still not without difficulties.
You lead a large staff while shepherding an even larger congregation. You’re pulled in many different directions. You face the daily temptation to make it all about you.
But through it all you hold steady, keeping your eyes on Christ. You’re an example to me of what consistency looks like for others.
I appreciate your faithfulness
I appreciate the pastor of the small, struggling church in a part of the country most don’t even know exists. God has placed you there, not to punish you but to advance His kingdom through you.
People call you “Preacher,” but you’re so much more. You’re a counselor, worship leader, and youth pastor. In short, you are the pastor.
You’re a reminder to me that God doesn’t need celebrities to advance His kingdom. He chooses to use the available.
I appreciate your availability
I appreciate the pastor who’s suffering. Your health isn’t what you would like it to be.
There are other pains in your family. Emotional ones. Spiritual ones. They hurt just as bad as the physical ones you endure on a daily basis.
Thank you for showing me and so many others how to suffer. Through the troubles of this life, you keep your eyes fixed on the glories of the next life.
I appreciate your vision
Pastor, be encouraged.
Resist the temptation to place your identity in either your shortcomings or your successes. You’re not your last sermon. Your worth is not determined by how much your congregation appreciates you.
There is a better prize. It comes with steadily relying on Jesus while teaching your people to do the same. It’s a prize that will never perish or fade away. It’s kept in heaven for you.
And nothing, not even that brand new Bentley waiting for you in the church parking lot, can top that.
JAY SANDERS (@jaysanders714) is the senior pastor of Towaliga Baptist Church in Jackson, Georgia.