The blessing of permission: Clergy Appreciation 2020

By Pauline Doerksen

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:3-6)

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints.” (Colossians 1:3-4)

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4)

These words, written to churches so many years ago, still convey an accurate message today: We thank God for you!

We at Focus on the Family Canada are thankful for you and we really do continually pray for you. Every weekday morning, we meet as a staff team to pray for those of you who lead our churches across Canada. We ask the Lord to give you wisdom and discernment as you lead your flock. We thank God for your faithfulness as you serve. We know that your job is complex, and you often wear more hats than you care to count.

Our concern for you has increased as we have seen you rise to the challenge of learning how to minister to those under your care in the ever-changing dynamics of a pandemic. We know this has added stress, tension, uncertainty and possibly an expectation put on you by some, that you should know all the answers, solutions and correct protocols to follow.

It has been fascinating to see your creativity through these times. There has been some serious out-of-the-box thinking which has been powerful to see. Your church doors may remain closed at this time; however, you have led well in living out church far beyond the building walls. Thank you.

It has been equally powerful to see how churches have united together through all of this. You have combined resources and fostered unity in continuing to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you.

While we have deep appreciation for all that you do as pastors and ministry leaders, you are also highly valued as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We recognize that you have limited energy, time commitments around family, and your own need for self-care.

In light of that, we would like to bless you with the reminder of the gift that was given to you by the very one who called you to serve. It is the gift of permission.

  • Permission to have limits.
  • Permission to work hard and rest well.
  • Permission to say, “I don’t know.”
  • Permission to ask for help.
  • Permission to turn off the notifications on your phone at the end of the day.
  • Permission to enjoy time with your spouse and your children.
  • Permission to relax and do something you enjoy.
  • Permission to be still.
  • Permission to go off to a solitary place to pray.
  • Permission to embrace Sabbath as the gift day that it was intended to be.
  • Permission to inhale and take in the love and belonging offered to us by our Heavenly Father.

Our prayer is that this permission will help to lighten the load on your shoulders. Our deep desire to serve and care for others can become very heavy – so heavy at times, that we need space to breath and relax. Taking a deep breath in gives us the ability to exhale well. We cannot survive unless we constantly do both. Inhaling brings life, purpose, value and sustenance to us, exhaling spreads that life onto those we serve.

Jesus modelled permission well for us. I appreciate the way Gary Smalley puts it in his book The DNA of Relationships:

“Throughout the Gospels, we find that Jesus tended to his own needs.

  • When he needed some alone time, he took it. John 14:23
  • He gratefully allowed supporters to meet his physical needs. Mark 15:41
  • He made it no secret when he felt hungry or thirsty. Matthew 21:18
  • He did not allow others to control his agenda. John 2:24
  • He didn’t shrink from asking his friends to support him in a dark time of need. Matthew 26:36-38
  • And he didn’t hesitate to remove himself from danger before his God-ordained appointment with a Roman cross. Luke 4:28-30

In short, Jesus practiced excellent self-care, yet he never allowed it to degenerate into selfishness. That’s how he could eventually march without hesitation to his crucifixion.”

To you our dear church leaders, you are loved, you are appreciated, and you are remembered in prayer, long after this season of Clergy Appreciation is passed.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)


Pauline Doerksen and her husband, Sam, are the program directors at our Manitoba Kerith Retreats location. For more information about our retreats, visit


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