–written October 31, 2019
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and I am blessed that God has provided me with two wonderful pastors, and one Pastor Emeritus who have served and labored over my local church for many years. I have been in several different churches, but my current church has been the best so far. I have learned more in the past three years, than I have in the previous sixteen years in the Lord. I owe all this to God and His sovereignty in placing the people in my life today, especially the pastoral leadership of my church.
One of the major things my pastors taught is how to more effectively relate to others. About three years ago, I had a tumultuous work relationship with one of my managers at the time. One day, things became so bad between the manager and me, that I actually went into one of the services upset and very bitter towards this person, even though I was not scheduled to work that day and hadn’t even made contact with this person in a few days. So, I decided as a last-ditch effort to maybe quell my intense emotions and be able to concentrate on the sermon that night, that I would talk to Pastor John* about what was going on. (You can read the whole story here.) Pastor John gave me a few poignant Bible Verses. I told Pastor John, “I tried to be nice to him [meaning my manager], but I don’t think anything is happening. “ Then, Pastor John told me something I will never forget: He said, “Patricia, you have to trust God’s timing. Just because your manager hasn’t responded now, doesn’t mean God will not work in his heart later.” This not only convicted me to be more patient with my manager, but also helped me to see that I hadn’t really been trying that hard at all at being kind to him. That night, I wrote an apology note to my manager, asking him to forgive me of my bitterness towards him. The next day, I was able to see my manager as a person in need of grace and love, rather than the monster that I crafted into my mind for one and a half years. Thus, Pastor John was instrumental in helping me reconcile with my manager, whom I’m pleased to say I’m on good terms with my now-former manager and he’s happy where he is at now. Pastor John recently helped me to think differently about my job, through one of the sermons he preached. Instead of thinking of my job as a “necessary evil,” especially when I’m stressed, God spoke through my pastor, and they helped me realize that I am at the job I’m in for a reason—to give hope to others and to spread Christ’s love there. Yes, my job gets very stressful at times, but as long as I’m doing what God (and those He put over me at work) commanded me, God’s sovereign will and His faithful love will cover me during those times. Pastor Don* and Pastor Todd* also taught me how to more effectively relate to others through how they are patient with others and willing to serve wherever they are called.
Another thing that my pastors have taught me is how to be more authentic, both in my relationship with God, and others. One of the things that I always appreciate about people in general is their willingness to admit fault and to be vulnerable, and not try to maintain this “perfect fake image” in front of others. All my pastors model this to a good degree, but I have especially appreciated this coming from Pastor Todd. One time he admitted on the pulpit that he got pulled over for speeding! Thankfully, because the police officer liked our church, Pastor Todd got off with a warning. I found this vulnerability and honest confession refreshing in an age where there are many church leaders who will try to hide their sins and flaws; with the appearance that they know “everything” and that they are “holier-than-thou.” There were other times too that Pastor Todd was open about his personal struggles with sin and temptation. This is refreshing to me because I feel that Pastor Todd’s honesty makes him more relatable to someone like me, who also struggles with sin and temptation on a daily basis. In other words, his vulnerability and authenticity makes him more human and trustworthy!
One of the most important things that my pastors have taught me is how to be more passionate about Jesus Christ. All of them have emphasized, over and over again, God’s love and sovereignty over the whole world. I learned from Pastor John that God’s sovereignty intervenes in our whole lives, down to the bosses we will have and the parents we have. I learned from Pastor John that if we loathe our bosses and constantly complain about them, we also have a problem with God, because it is He who put them there in our midst, possibly to teach us something or for God’s sovereign and good purposes in our lives! This has taught me in order for me to be more passionate about Jesus that I need to trust Him even in the tougher circumstances of my life, and not to complain about the people He decides to place in my life. I learned from Pastor Todd that in order for me to be more passionate about Jesus, I need to learn that Jesus loves me very much and He always has good in mind for me, according to His purposes. I learned from Pastor Todd’s teaching on the book, “God is More Than Enough,” that when I become discontented with my circumstances, I need to check my heart to eliminate any worldly and selfish desires on my part, especially the want for something more than what Christ has already graciously provided me. Pastor Don, Pastor Todd, and Pastor John all have taught me the importance of spreading the Good News and to show God ‘s love to all those around us, even those we may consider our enemies.
Because of my pastors’ commitment to teaching exactly what Jesus taught, and because they strive to live authentic and blameless lives, they have helped strengthen and shape how my faith is today. Of course, none of us are even close to perfect, but I will always appreciate the good that these three men have done in our church and in my life.
*=names have been changed for privacy reasons