But With God~ Way 31
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for 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
Dear Pastors and Families,
Here we are at the end of a 31 Day Series on “31 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor”. As I reflect on the past 31 days, my hope and prayer is that you have been blessed by my words, that you have been appreciated in deeper, more meaningful ways and that your congregations have been encouraged and inspired to love God most and to pray for you often.
Your work is important. It is both excruciatingly difficult at times and wonderfully fulfilling at others.
But your faithfulness cannot be dependent on circumstances (otherwise the number of those leaving the pastorate each month would be higher than 1,500!). Nor can it be dependent on how well your congregation appreciates you.
I know that it is tempting to feel this way. I could be faithful in serving them, if they would appreciate me even a little! But it is a sign that you are nearing burnout when you find yourself being critical of the level of appreciation you receive.
So how do you remain faithful through the difficult times? How do you keep serving when you feel lonely, criticized, unloved and unappreciated?
The answer is found in scripture. Our satisfaction and joy in serving must be found in Christ. We must seek his work in us and through us. With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matt. 19:26)
When you feel like you have no strength to complete the tasks that lie before you…
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. ~Phil. 4:13
When gossip is flying and you have been mistreated…
The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still. ~ Exodus 14:14
When you feel trampled on and cast aside…
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:6,7
When you wonder am I really making a difference? and what’s the point?…
Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain. ~1 Corinthians 15:58
My prayer for each one of you is that you would be faithful in serving the Lord, regardless of acknowledgement or appreciation. I pray that you would be well loved and that others would see your faithfulness, but even if you aren’t abide in the Vine. I pray that your congregations would be able to echo Paul’s words and be able to say, I thank my God every time I remember you. ~Phil. 1:3 But even if they don’t, I pray that you would thank God for them.
May you set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Tim. 4:12). May you only serve out of Christ’s strength in you. When you pour yourself out for others, may our great God pour into you.
Whether you are in a place where you are deeply appreciated or in a place where you are actively attacked and mistreated, may you love God most. When your work is producing fruit, may you remember but with God. And when your work is seemingly ineffective, may you remember but with God and keep pressing on.
This post is the conclusion to the “31 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor” series. To read all of the posts, please go to the 31 Days of 31 Ways page.
Way 31: Pastors will know they are appreciated when their focus is on “but with God”.