October is Pastor Appreciation Month. But one month out of twelve is not enough to show appreciation to pastors. And here’s why.
According to a Forbes article published in 2014, being a pastor or other religious leader is one of the most stressful jobs. Expectations that are placed on clergy are higher than on other professionals. As a result, clergy tend to feel isolated and depressed.
I’m the proud dad of two girls. Watching them grow from infancy to toddlerhood is a joy. Everyone says these are the best years. It is fascinating to watch them learn new things. When things “click” and they get it, they always have the proudest looks on their faces. The thing they were trying to do for so long, they finally did it!
This is especially seen when toddlers begin to learn how to walk. As I watched my 14-month old basically run around the house today, I pondered what lessons the church could learn from toddlers. Here are three.
1. You will Fall.
As toddlers begin to learn to stand, and then to walk, they often stumble and lose their footing. As churches revitalize, there is always a risk that something is not going to work. It is always possible that you will fall. But, you will not walk if you do not take that first step. And the first step often requires us to step outside of our comfort zones.
2. Get Back Up
Falling will happen. As toddlers are learning how to walk, the first fall does not hold them back. They get back up again and go. As churches revitalize we must be willing to get back up again. Failure is not final. With each stumble, fall, or faceplant we learn something new. And it is from those learnings that we evaulate what worked or what did not work. From there, we can stand up, and try again.
3. Rely on the Parent
Babies and toddlers always keep an eye out for their parents. They never go too far without the parent nearby. And, little ones know that if they need help, a parent will come running. Most often, the parents know to come because the toddler has cried out. As churches revitalize they need to keep an eye on the Parent. When we lose sight of what God is doing in our midst, we rely too much on ourselves. We need to rely on God. And we need to cry out to God to breakthrough and do a new thing.
“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” (Genesis 8:20, NRSV)
The first thing Noah did after stepping out of the ark is built an altar.
Immediately, they worship.
On mission trips to Costa Rica, the team and I would worship with the hosting congregation. We were doing ministry in a little shantytown known as Los Diques. The first time I went on this mission trip, I was not ready for what I experienced. Worship was different from what most of us experienced in the States. And it was not just because it was in Spanish.
Back in 2005 I was in seminary and making plans to do a directed study in Costa Rica that included a mission trip to Los Diques. After much preparation and great support from family, friends, and a church who caught the vision, in January 2006 the first team made their way to Costa Rica.
Since that first trip in 2006, my experiences in Diques have influenced my preaching, teaching, leadership, and ministry in general in various ways. It’s not uncommon for me to share the story of Don Victor, the pastor at the Church of the Light of the New Day in Los Diques, when teaching or preaching.\
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