Somewhere along the way someone got the idea to have “Pastor Appreciation Month” during the month October. I’m not sure whose idea this was and honestly I feel a little weird talking about it given my position as a pastor. I have a beautiful picture above my work desk given to me by the first church I served as pastor when they expressed their appreciation to me years ago. The picture is called “The Legacy”; it portrays a pastor holding his Bible in the pulpit proclaiming the Word of God. Portrayed on either side of him are “the great cloud of witnesses” from Hebrews 12:1 and one of the figures apparently represents the Lord Jesus, standing beside his messenger with his hand on the Pastor’s shoulder as the Pastor preaches. It is one of my prized treasures and I wanted it above my study desk because it helps me have clarity of focus on the primary duty I have to proclaim the Word of God.
Pastor Appreciation is a Biblical concept that appears in several places in the New Testament. One of these is found in Hebrews 13:7 “Remember those who rule (lead) over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” I can’t really speak for Bob, Ken and Wally, but I think they would say ya’ll have indeed remembered us with so many cards, notes of encouragement, the gift cards from the church and other tangible expressions of your love for each of us. I think it would be safe to say we’re all overwhelmed by your love and encouragement and we’re so appreciative of what you have done for us. Your thoughts and gifts mean so much and we’re thankful. Many of you tell us throughout the year you are praying for us and that you appreciate something we did.
The writer of Hebrews however was inspired by the Holy Spirit to immediately record verse 8 in that context of remembering your pastors: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ and so He inspired the writer to remind each of us we need to maintain clarity of focus and exalt the Lord, to keep our focus on the Lord and not on the men He has called to serve as under-shepherds. You see the reality is each of your pastors is human, just real men, men with flaws, fears and failures. We may show glimpses of inspiration but we’re certainly not infallible or inerrant. The sad part is that when God had to call pastors, He had to recruit from the human race so He got us, warts and all. The good news in this is that it magnifies Jesus and His grace even further. Pastors’ kind of live in a fishbowl, everyone is watching us and through that fishbowl, we look larger than we really are. When we do something wrong, we make a mistake in our judgment, or we flat out fall on our face in sin; it can be devastating to people because they are not looking past us to Jesus. So remember that Jesus is in fact the same yesterday, today and forever. He’ll never disappoint you even though we will. He will never leave you or forsake you even though He might call us to another place of service and battle as He has done with Bob. The reality is under-shepherds come and go, but the Chief Shepherd always remains steady and faithful to His bride.
These are historic times here at Calvary, included in this edition of “The Way”; you’ll find our proposed 2011 Budget for review. We’ll discuss this budget on Sunday evening Nov.21st and vote on it on Sunday December 5th. It is a historical budget in that for the first time in Calvary’s history, our budget is over one million dollars ($1,000,011.00)! It is definitely a faith budget of what we’d like to see God do but it is grounded in reality as well as we’ve considered actual expenses in order to be accurate with our planning. It has been through a myriad of processes, committees and staff review to ensure we’re being wise stewards; and I’m confident we are presenting a realistic guide for our 2011 ministries. While a million dollar budget may be a shock to your system, in my simple view of the world, it helps me gain clarity to realize the weekly need will increase $1,229.00 over our 2010 budget to $19,231.00. Our unchanging God who provided last year for His bride will provide this year as well.
With Bob Brown’s obedience to God’s call and departure to a new field of service, we’re also entering a historic season in clarifying and quantifying the staff needs the church has. I told you of Jean Carr’s plan to retire at the end of the year and I can tell you that your personnel committee is already hard at work planning for our future staffing needs. It is important the church choose staff for her long term future based on the clarity of focus the Lord is providing and His vision for what He wants Calvary to accomplish. Embracing God’s vision for us will require we keep our eyes fixed squarely on the Lord who is the same yesterday, today and forever. His constant faithfulness, His vision, His clarity of focus and His wisdom is what we must all pray for as we walk through these historic days together by faith. I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled to know Jesus is always the same yesterday, today and forever, that knowledge encourages me and helps me see clearly, from my little corner of the world to yours…
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
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