Jan White

Through the years, I’ve seen T-shirts with messages such as, “If you can read this, thank a teacher” and “If you read this in English, thank a veteran.”

Someone needs to print this message on a T-shirt, “If you know the story of David and Goliath, thank your Sunday School teacher” or “If you understand the teachings of Jesus, thank your minister.”

If you know the books of the Bible (my husband learned them by singing a children’s song); if you know about Bible heroes like Moses, Samson, John the Baptist, Peter and many more; thank your spiritual mentors.

Spiritual mentors could include your parents who read Bible stories to you while you were growing up. Or, Sunday School teachers who, week after week, taught a lesson — often based on a person in the Bible like the little boy who gave his lunch to Jesus and 5,000 men plus women and children had plenty to eat. I remember the colorful, paper/flannel Bible people on the felt-covered board that helped make the Bible lesson come alive.

The ministers, whose sermons you listened to during worship services, mentored you in how to live the Christian life according to Biblical principles. Being a preacher’s kid, my father was my pastor during my growing up years. Since then, I’ve grown even more in my faith, learning Biblical truth from ministers at churches I’ve attended.

October has been designated as Clergy Appreciation month, specifically to thank your church’s pastoral staff and their families for the hard work and sacrificial dedication provided by these special people. Some churches recognize pastors on the anniversary of their ministry at a particular church. Pastors are often called shepherds and congregations the flock.

According to www.focusonthefamily.com/pastorappreciation, “God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments — the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his or her parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.”

The idea for Clergy Appreciation is based on the Apostle Paul and the first Christian churches he established. “In 1 Timothy, he wrote, ‘The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching’ (1 Timothy 5:17). And, in 1 Thessalonians, he said, ‘Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work’ (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).”

Having grown up in the parsonage, I saw firsthand the demands of the ministry when my Dad would receive a call about a member in the hospital or death in a family. No matter what time of the day or night, he would go wherever he was needed.

Some members think the pastor and his family should be perfect people who have all the answers and never make mistakes. These are unrealistic expectations for anyone. Pastors can be overwhelmed by their responsibility to God and their congregation. Think about what you can do to encourage your minister. Take time to thank your spiritual mentors.

Jan White is a wife, mother, and freelance writer who lives in Andalusia. Her email address is jwhite@andycable.com.

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