Posted by: morgan1965 | October 15, 2012

Clergy Appreciation Engenders Reciprocity

Clergy Appreciation Month, October, provides a designated time for church folk to manifest appreciation for their pastor in some tangible way. These expressions come in the form of cards, letters, gifts, public statements, personal notes, telephone calls, e-mail letters and personal conversations. This is a good thing, and pastors appreciate such heartfelt expressions. 

During this October 2012, I want to share some reflections on my appreciation, because I believe that appreciation is reciprocal. I appreciate the many lay people whom I have had the privilege of serving with in ministry, as a local church pastor, as a district superintendent, and as bishop. 

First, I deeply appreciate the laity who have prayed for me throughout my ministry. I am reminded of the song by Dorothy Norwood titled, “Somebody Prayed for Me.” The first verse says: 

“Somebody prayed for me, had me on their mind,

They took the time and prayed for me.

I’m so glad they prayed for me.” 

Pastors are not alone, although the journey might seem lonely at times. Prayers are often spoken by a parishioner, another pastor, a district superintendent or a bishop. It is always inspiring when a person says “I have been praying for you,” or “Our church prayed for you.” 

In one of my pastoral appointments, there was a weekly Tuesday evening prayer service. During the course of this prayer service, the lay people, among other things, would offer prayers for their pastor, asking God to guide, sustain and surround their pastor with grace and mercy.

 In the West Virginia Conference, there are a number of prayer shawl ministries in the local churches. I have been the recipient and the beneficiary of these ministries. It is difficult to describe the feeling that engulfs you when you receive a prayer shawl in the mail with a note. Invariably the note would indicate that over a period of time several persons had knit the shawl and then prayed over it on your behalf. The idea is to be wrapped in prayer. Now that is awesome.

Second, I have great appreciation for the laity who befriended me, receiving me as both pastor and friend. When I was a student assistant pastor, there was Ernest who made sure that I had a ride back to the seminary campus. In the process, he taught me to drive a stick shift. In another setting, there was Dave who often had lunch with me, and provided a listening ear. In one church, Carl would stop by the house and take me fishing, and his wife would provide all of the sandwiches. He taught me how to do surf fishing. In my last pastoral appointment, Mary made sure that I got several sweet potato pies during the year, and she often invited our family to have dinner with her family. It is my belief that a pastor should have some friends in the parish and outside the parish. All of us need a few good friends.

Third, I give thanks and appreciation for the laity who invited me to be on the spiritual path with them. These persons helped me to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ. There were laity who helped to enrich my prayer life, and laity who demonstrated faithful living. One particular lay man helped me to gain a deeper insight into scripture.

Finally, I am grateful for all of the lay people who encouraged me along the way. This was particularly true in my first pastoral appointment, when the congregation accepted me as their pastor and encouraged me with enthusiasm. That appointment, when I was just out of seminary, provided a sure foundation for me in ministry. I had a very positive experience at St. Mary Street United Methodist Church.

So, I give thanks for all the lay people whom I have encountered as a pastor over the years. These people have made a difference in my life in a very positive way.

Just as I encourage the laity to express appreciation to their pastor, I encourage pastors to express appreciation to the laity in their congregation.




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