It was one of those “youth events.” My friends and I loaded up in our family vehicle—all eight of us. We were going to the next town to eat pizza after Sunday night church. I climbed into the driver’s seat just like I did when my family all rode in from the country for worship that evening. But this time my mom said, “John, I’d better drive.” She said it as she looked straight into my eyes as if to say, “There is no dispute about this; move over.”
Wow. Right in front of my friends, my mom played the “parent card” and I was irritated, and yet I, sullenly compliant, moved over to the center of the bench seat in the vehicle. I thought to myself, “What is she thinking? I’m a better and faster driver than she is. After all, I had been a licensed driver for a year.”
Sometimes loving parents have to do things their adolescent children do not think is necessary or understand. I’m confident my mom didn’t necessarily want to drive, but she believed it was the right thing to do. It is amazing that now as an adult, with a family of my own, I recognize the huge weight of responsibility my mom felt for my safety and the security of my friends.
What I also find amazing is that within five years of this event, I was on that same parking lot loading up a church bus with 40 passengers. As the associate pastor of that great church, I helped share the driving with four other men. We drove non-stop from North Central Texas to Bozeman, Montana, on a mission to help a sister church make gospel advance in their community.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. As I travel across our great state, I rejoice before the Lord about the hundreds of men of God who are called to serve our MBC churches as pastors and staff. The vast majority of them are great leaders in their local church and communities.
Sometimes pastors have to make decisions or take convictional stands that are right even when some of their constituency may not understand. Sometimes they have to play the “parent card” when friction occurs within the church – or outside the church in the public square. But that is what leaders do; they courageously, humbly do what is right, sometimes at great cost.
In our Baptist context, that means many of our pastors must lead their churches to do what is biblically right, while living in a culture that is hostile to truth and convictional behavior. It is in light of these times I humbly submit seven words of encouragement to the people of God living in a hostile culture. All of us may encourage our pastors if we:
1. Remember—as believers, we are never survivors. We are victors in Christ, members of the Lord’s royal family. We must act like who we are.
2. Stay on the mission—be the people of God on a mission to make disciples of the Lord Jesus, here and everywhere. What’s the name of the person in your world that needs to know the Lord? Are you open-handed toward the support of your church’s work with people in your community and to the ends of the earth?
3. Exercise the truth that Jesus is Lord of all, not the Lord of some. He allows us to be managers of what we call ours, but ultimately He is the owner of everything including our schedules, dollars, relationships, purpose in life, etc.
4. Be aware there is an enemy out “to steal, kill, and destroy.” He works hard at destroying your personal purpose and your local church’s mission.
5. Love one another enough to stay together through difficult times. We must value every person in our church as part of the royal family of God. There is a reason they are with us on this part of the journey of faith.
6. Be tender with one another—every one has pain in their past. The authentic church walks together through the tall weeds of life with one another.
7. Like runners in a race, fix our eyes on the goal. The goal is not heaven. The goal is to run the race toward “Christlikeness.” Run with such passion and single-hearted devotion to His purposes that one day He calls us “faithful.”
The mature among us, the ones worthy of imitating, demonstrate these kinds of behaviors. Plus, when these seven descriptors are collectively evident in the life of the church, you bless your pastor and you bless one another.
For additional ways to bless your pastor, go to Baptist Press and look for articles by Diana Davis for some fresh ideas. Take the time to do something special in October to express your gratitude for the leader the Lord has called to your church.