In 2015 if you get distracted—even briefly—you miss a lot.
Already this month, I have missed Older Peoples Day! (Though I’m secretly relieved no one sent me a card.) Just this week, World Teacher Day escaped my notice, along with National Vodka Day.
Always one to revel in a special occasion, I did some advance checking and found out Conflict Resolution Day is just ahead (October 15), and National Chocolate Day is the 28th. (I say chocolate should be celebrated the way Walmart celebrates Christmas—year-round.)
In my research I noticed certain causes get more attention. School Lunches and Customer Service get a whole week—don’t ask me why. (In China, if you’re a rat, sheep, goat or dragon, you get your own year!)
Who decides this stuff? Did I miss a special election?
FYI, October is Eczema Awareness Month and—gulp!—National Vaccine Injury Month (Hmmm, let’s think about….you can get a shot and get injured…or not get a shot and get the flu. Decisions, decisions.)
And, of course, this is also Clergy Appreciation Month.
Being a minister—in America at least—is not the most dangerous occupation. And there are others professions equally as stressful.
For example, I substitute taught at a junior high school a couple days back in the 80s and still have some nervous tics from the experience. (Which is why on my first day in the Oval Office I will sign an executive order to give teachers—and military personnel, police and firefighters too—a 100% pay raise.)
Every job is challenging in its own unique way—I get that. But since this is the month that some VP at Hallmark said, “Sales are dipping…how ’bout we honor the religious workers!” (and since I know a little bit about that particular world), here’s my salute…
- Props this month to all you pastors who enter hospital rooms and nursing homes to offer a word of encouragement, to pray over broken bodies and scared hearts. Thanks for making the effort to save toxic marriages, for going after lost sheep, for constantly calling us back to eternal realities. God sees.
- Bravo to you preachers who courageously proclaim biblical truth (even in the face of the unnerving promise that as a teacher of God’s Word, you will stand before God and face a stricter judgment). Thanks for the faithful study, fierce wrestling, and earnest prayer you invest in preparing sermons for our skittish, distracted, and not-always-so-receptive hearts.
- Special grace to church staffers everywhere who receive criticism weekly about the music or the missions emphasis or the youth group—how it is too “this” or not enough “that.” (Forgive us for all the times we church members act like the impossible-to-please husband who told his wife he wanted two eggs for breakfast—one scrambled and one fried—and when she brought him his plate, he reamed her out for scrambling the wrong egg.)
- Thanks to you ministers who press on—even when we parishioners not-so-subtly let it be known we: wish your messages were deeper (and also shorter and more entertaining); want you to be better with people (but also more project-oriented); would like to see you out in the community more (even though we always want to be able to find you at your office).
- Prayers up for you pastors who are dog-bone tired, who feel like you have poured out more than you ever had to start with. Your tank has been dry for awhile. You’re not sure you can go another day. I’ve been where you are. My heart aches for you. Grace to you. May strength and peace be yours—and may you somehow experience those rivers of living water Christ talks about.
- Finally, special blessings on the wives and kids of pastors, who live in a fishbowl and often take flak and get hit by shrapnel. You get a backstage view of the inner-workings of church-world, which isn’t always pretty and sometimes isn’t much different from the world at large. May you have the discerning grace needed to separate a good God from the actions of his imperfect followers.
I am fortunate to be part of a church family that is led by as good and gifted a pastoral staff as you can find anywhere.
So, this October…to the team at The Bridge Community Church in Ruston, LA…thanks for all you do. I appreciate you more than you know. You are beloved. You are much in my prayers.
(Hey, if we can call attention this month to injurious vaccinations, unwanted skin diseases, and nasty school lunches, then surely our faithful clergy are worth a shout out, right?)