October is pastor appreciation month. This year, for some reason, I seem to be getting more appreciated than past years. On Sunday we got called to the platform and handed a nice gift. I had free breakfast and two free lunches. I’ve gotten a steady stream of cards and notes from the kids at our church’s school. This isn’t normal for me.
I’m normally the guy no one knows, who works behind the scenes. I’m not normally recognized.
I was recently attending a service at my parent’s very small church in southeastern Missouri. My father was out of town, but my mother and my family were present. I met the pastor prior to the service, and he knew from my parents that I was in ministry. This was a very traditional church, and they still followed the practice of calling on members from the pulpit to pray. At the time of the invocation the pastor called out for “Brother Link” to pray. I immediately wondered why he would do that when my dad, Brother Link, was not present. And then I realized that I was Brother Link.
I quickly started praying.
I still get weird about people calling me pastor. There are people that know me as a pastor, and depending on how formal they are, some of them address me as “pastor” or “pastor Link” and that feels weird.
Don’t get me wrong. I am called and set apart for ministry. I was ordained into the ministry on October 17, 2004. I’ve got the Bible to prove it. I have the documents hanging on my wall right now. The Church recognized God’s call on my life and set me apart for ministry. But it still makes me chuckle when I get mail addresses as “Reverend.”
There are a couple of reasons, I think. First, I’m no better or higher than anyone else. I know that I will be held to a higher standard when I meet God because of my role in leadership, but between us humans, we are the same. I’m no better than anyone. Please, do not put me or any pastor on a pedestal. We will just get hurt more when we fall off it. The title “pastor” is given out of respect. I know I’m just a normal guy, sinful guy, trying to do right guy. I will make mistakes as much as anyone else. I am grateful for the respect that my position gives because of my title, but am more concerned with earning that respect.
Another reason is that I am always in a support ministry role. That’s part of the reason I keep being amazed that I can work on my TV show project. The church get’s nothing out of it, except the kingdom growth potential. Of course that’s why we do all sorts of things. I’m just not used to being on this side of ministry. I’m more familiar with working to help others accomplish their ministry goals.
As someone who leads a team that supports other ministries, let me say that it is easy for people to forget that what we do is critical. I love the fact that much of what I am involved with has eternal significance. If you are leading a ministry, don’t take the support teams around you for granted. You need them.
Just because I am called “pastor” does not elevate me above those who work with me or for me. I’m the one who bears the brunt if problems occur. I shoulder the blame. I pass on the credit. That’s why I get uncomfortable when I’m applauded just for being a pastor. I know anything I’ve done is because God chose to work through me and those who serve around me.
So, if you are participating in pastor Appreciation month, please don’t be offended if the pastor you are trying to appreciate seems odd about the whole thing. He probably wishes he could turn the whole thing around and show his appreciation for you.