This year, I want to try something new.
As far as I can tell, there's no "National Take Your Pastor To Lunch Day" in this country, and the closest thing I could find was this...
For many of us, our work-lives and church-lives are separated by a great chasm. On the work side we face the stress of politics, producing results, and market shifts that jeopardize our futures. On the church side the talk is of family and heaven and love. It’s as if we teleport from parallel universe to parallel universe, forced to bounce between the specialized vocabulary and emotional ups and downs of each world. But when our pastor visits us on the job, we build a bridge between the two realities. We take a step towards a more integrated life.
That's all well and good, however, I'd like to suggest doing something a little more personal than inviting your Pastor to come walk around your office and place of work for a tour.
Why not just call up your Pastor and ask him if you can take him to lunch and that it's your treat? Seriously, Pastors are people too, and last I checked, they need to eat just like we do even though many of us think they just sit around in their office preparing that week's sermon all day either fasting or waiting for manna to appear on their desk.
I recently took my own advice and did just that a few weeks ago and it was great! I actually got to know my Pastor a little bit better when all was said and done. Imagine that!
I asked him about how he got into ministry in the first place (how he knew he was being called by God), what advice he would give if he could go back and speak to his pre-Seminary self, what his favorite Book from the Old Testament was, what his favorite Epistle from the New Testament was, what his opinion was regarding some current event news items as well as a few things going on in the LCMS right now, and we only spent a few minutes toward the very end talking about what was going on in my life.
In other words, I sincerely wanted to get to know HIM better and preferred to ask him the questions instead of making it all about me and my family.
That's because I'd imagine it's tough for Pastors to feel like they are important and that they matter when they spend all their waking hours and sleepless nights tending to God's sheep.
I hope he appreciated the hour or so we spent that one afternoon a few weeks ago enjoying lunch together, because I definitely did, and plan to do it again really soon.
Anyway, my point is that it doesn't matter whether the calendar says "National Take Your Pastor To Lunch Day" or not. Any day of the week could be designated as such so if you haven't had the pleasure of spending some informal, one-on-one time with your Pastor like that, then I strongly encourage you to prayerfully consider doing so, especially during a month when we celebrate the Pastors in our lives.
October has always seemed to me to have something of a “quieter” character. It’s not the month of Thanksgiving, or Christmas, although thoughts of preparation for them surely are beginning to “push their way” to the surface. Neither is it a month in which a lot of state and county fairs are held, nor the beginning of another school year. There are, of course some important events in the month. The fall schedules for high school and college are in full swing, Major League Baseball hosts the World Series, and our denomination observes the Protestant Reformation. I’m confident that you can add a few other events which have made their way onto your October calendar.
It seems to me, then, that October is a wonderful time for God’s people to share their appreciation for Pastors. It’s an excellent opportunity to express the respect, appreciation and admiration you have for your pastor(s) and for the work they do. With the month of October having been identified as Pastor Appreciation month you have a reminder to think either individually, as a small group (perhaps your Bible Study group), and/or as the entire congregation, as you plan for activities and gestures to encourage your pastors, demonstrating your love for them. This is not to say that other roles and activities of ministry are not important and worthy of appreciation, but in October, we take the time to specifically honor Pastors and thank God for them.
It has been suggested that Pastoral ministry involves activity in at least 13 different “task clusters” (i.e. Administration, Care-giving, Rituals and Sacraments, Management, Communication, Preaching, Public Worship, etc.) which require 64 personal competencies. Now, you and I know that Pastors are human, and no one is “excellent” in every one of these specific competencies, but the importance of the work means that your Pastor(s) are making efforts in each of them. Many of these efforts happen in quiet, confidential, and private ways. It could not be otherwise. As a result, there is much which is accomplished in Pastoral ministry of which you are unaware until/unless it intersects with you and your family, and it can be difficult for him to know of the support and affirmation of the people he’s called to serve. Please consider regularly providing support and affirmation for your pastor(s), and especially in October-Pastor Appreciation Month.
Here are some ideas to get you started in your planning:
1. Pray for your pastor
2. Authorize the formation of a special committee to “care for pastor”
3. Express appreciation, written and spoken
4. Respect his time, and encourage him to get appropriate rest and renewal
5. Live in peace
6. Discover and encourage him in his personal interests
7. Support a strategy for professional connections, including outside of ministry
8. Encourage him to plan significant and meaningful time with his loved ones
9. Lovingly insist he take vacation, and provide resources for his duties to be covered in his absence
10. If he’s married, learn from his wife of the special/unique challenges confronting her, and be sensitive to expectations inappropriately placed upon her
I think that's fantastic advice.
I, for one, am extremely thankful that the Lord has led me and my family to a faithful Confessional Lutheran church with a faithful and steadfast Confessional Lutheran Pastor.
No, the church isn't perfect (what church is?), it's tiny, it's a long drive away, it's in a somewhat questionable part of the city, and it's still a struggle getting my wife and kids to want to go there with me each week, but it's the only place I've been able to find in the entire area where the Pastor is not ashamed to be Lutheran in a Lutheran church week-in-and-week-out.
Seriously, it's just so nice to be able to come into church each week and not always "be on guard" like I was so often in the past since I just knew that there was going to be so much false teaching that I would have to address it with my wife and kids on the drive home. That was literally the worst!
There were times I was moved to tears due to the sheer frustration and sadness I felt having to go through that week-after-week. Now, I'm sometimes moved to tears by the simplicity of a faithful preaching of His Word and a faithful distribution of the Lord's Supper.
Really, I've told my Pastor that he will never truly know what a blessing he is to me and how much having a church like his to attend means to someone like me, and I thank God for him and it daily while also continuing to pray for him as well.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, as previously mentioned, any day can be "National Take Your Pastor To Lunch Day" so why not make plans to show your under-shepherd that he's not under-appreciated by you?
And if you can't take your Pastor to lunch? Well, you can still appreciate your Pastor by simply going to church and letting him do those things for which he is called to do, because he's the one chosen to stand in the place of Christ for you.
Thank you, Rev. Dwayne Hendricks from Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church! May God continue to bless you!
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!