As a pastor, you never quite know what the congregation will do for pastor appreciation Sunday, a verbal roast, a vacation you weren’t planning on, a hearty dinner or…? And they like to keep us in suspense too. But it is always worth the wait.
This year there were so many wonderful parts of it. There was, of course, a great meal — a multi-course Italian dinner. But there were also many cards of appreciation. And so many people came up to us personally too and expressed private words of thanks for our help, support, discipleship and leadership in their lives. That is so meaningful. These would have been enough reward to last a long time, for as Paul said, you are our crown (1 Thess. 2:19).
But the congregation added more. They brought thoughtful gifts too. Knowing that we enjoy going out to eat but seldom do, the congregation gave us gift cards to restaurants including my favorite fast-food lunch spot –Subway and JoAnne’s favorite “my-birthday-treat” place – Red Lobster. Then they brought out 2 huge bags, one for the Jones’ and one for Paashaus’. Inside were gorgeous handmade quilts lovingly completed by the quilting fellowship group, done in our favorite colors. JoAnne got it out nearly as soon as we were home and put it on our bed. She loves it. The ladies said that I had wandered through downstairs at church one day when they were working on it and remarked that it was a beautiful one. But I had no idea it was for us. It is the Dresden Plate pattern, one of my favorites too.
As I thought later about the wonderful day, I was humbled as I was reminded that I have tried to build into our church leaders a climate of appreciation. I frequently write notes thanking them for their work. I encourage them to do the same for others. I teach how important it is to look for the gifts God has given to others and how God wants to use them in his work. And now, on pastoral appreciation day, this climate of appreciation was coming back to us as pastors. Perhaps in some way I am experiencing what Solomon was talking about, “He who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward” (Pr 11:18 NIV). It seems I am reaping multiples of what I have sown. It’s a God thing! Awesome!