As we turn our thoughts towards Clergy Appreciation Month again this October, I was reminded of the verse on which this celebration is based: 1 Timothy 5:17.
Let me quote it in two different versions:
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” (NIV)
“Pastors who do their work well should be paid well and should be highly appreciated, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching.” (Living Bible)
One thing that had escaped my notice, until today, is the word “well” as in “those who do their work well.” I suspect we have all worked alongside someone who has not done their work well, whether it was simply not putting in the effort to do a good job, all the way to leaders who have abused, mistreated, defrauded or deceived those they serve. Sadly, those on the far end of that scale (and we all shudder when we see news reports of that youth pastor who was just arrested for child abuse or that church leader who embezzled funds from the building project) bring dishonour on not only the profession, but the whole Christian Church and the very name of Jesus.
Thankfully, the vast majority of pastors do serve well. I want to highlight a few of the ingredients that I believe show that a pastor is doing their work well and to give a huge shout-out to all of you who are making the effort to demonstrate that in your ministry.
Whether you lead a team or you labour solo, managing the work of the church takes hard work. It involves being forward thinking, anticipating the “what-ifs,” the challenges, the needs. It means planning and learning to say “yes” and “no” wisely. It means managing your time appropriately – both your time at work and your time off work – so that you maintain a rhythm that is healthy. It also means helping to monitor and balance these matters for your staff, board and volunteers. Sometimes it means making hard calls alongside your leadership team. None of this is easy, but diligence to do these tasks is part of doing your work well. Thank you for managing the work of the church.
Recent events, more than ever, have required pastoral leaders to “read the signs” and respond well to the changing needs. We’ve all learned how to flex, whether that is taking your worship services online, figuring out how to offer pastoral care without seeing people in person, sorting through provincial health guidelines and their application to your setting, or leading a team that is working from home. Leading well has meant being nimble to respond, listening well to the feelings and opinions of others, but not being paralyzed by conflicting ideas. Responsiveness also means hearing criticism but evaluating carefully what is valid and must be considered, and what is unfair, untrue and potentially destructive to you and your ministry. Thank you for being responsive in a trying season.
How do we measure success? Is it by the number of attendees? The health of the church’s bank account? The number of programs under our administration? The number of conversions, baptisms, members or size of our staff? Any or all these measures may have real significance but at the end of the day, our control over many of these factors can be precarious. I would suggest that a pastor who is faithful to his/her calling is a successful pastor even when metrics are disappointing. Showing up, serving with humility, doing the work to which you have been called, even when it is hard, is to be respected and will earn the Lord’s commendation. Thank you for being faithful to the Lord and to your calling.
Who we are when no one else is looking is indicative of our integrity – or being the same no matter who we are with. Leaders who consistently treat others well, whether they are big givers or a thorn in our side, have integrity. Leaders who lead with confidence, but not arrogance. Leaders who are willing to be held accountable and who ask for those lines to be clear. Character matters. Thank you for being people of integrity, even when others are not.
Much more could be said, but we want to conclude by saying a deep, heartfelt and sincere thanks to all of you who are working well in service to God and his people.
At Focus on the Family Canada, we see the good work you do, we stand ready to serve you with our confidential clergy call line (1.888.5.CLERGY) and/or our ministry leader retreats (KerithRetreats.ca) if and when you need support. But most of all, we want you to know that we value all the efforts you are making to help the church survive and thrive in the midst of an uncertain and emotionally trying season. Thank you for hanging in there when it is hard, when it costs you and your family, when it would be easier to pack it in, or when you are energized, engaged and well-supported. Please know that at our daily staff meetings, every time we meet, we pray for our pastors.
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:9-12)
Wendy Kittlitz is the vice-president of counselling and care ministries for Focus on the Family Canada. Wendy is also the Clergy Care program director.
http://clergycare.ca/app/uploads/2019/04/ClergyCare-2018-300x100.png00Wendy Kittlitzhttp://clergycare.ca/app/uploads/2019/04/ClergyCare-2018-300x100.pngWendy Kittlitz2021-10-06 19:41:352021-10-06 19:41:35Appreciating clergy for a job well done