I have always tried to conceal this commemorative marker, because I have had the honor of pastoring two churches that have always shown me appreciation throughout the year.
Therefore, I want to emphasize the appreciation that any member can express towards their pastor at any time, rather than just during this particular month.
One of the ways my churches have shown me appreciation is through their constant prayers for my family, my ministry and me.
The prayers of the people are truly the source of life and health of the pastor and the ministry. Through faithful prayer, pastors are given spiritual strength for the ministry ahead and direction for the work God has prepared. The faithful prayers of the people are one of the most genuine expressions of appreciation anyone can offer their pastor.
A second way my churches have shown me appreciation is through their friendship.
Many pastors have struggled with developing relationships with their church members, but the willingness of pastor and people to build lives together is a true picture of appreciation. Friendship is one of the greatest gifts that can be shared and provides a wealth of comfort, strength, support and help as the pastor navigates the waters of life. While I have made many mistakes in ministry, allowing myself to accept the gift of friendship from willing members of my pastorate has not been one of them.
One final way that churches have shown me appreciation is through their willingness to work cooperatively with me in ministry. I am proud that I have always had members who were willing to share the burden of ministry, whether in committee meetings, outreach events or community activity. I am thankful that the members of my churches have been faithful to join in the work of ministry with me and with each other.
In each of these things my churches have demonstrated their true appreciation. These gifts, which cost no money and require no special occasion, are the greatest displays of appreciation I have ever received.
If you are a church member, please do not hesitate to share such gifts often with your pastor. If you are a pastor, please do not neglect the joy and benefit of these glorious gifts.
I am thankful for the churches I have been honored to serve and I pray that God will continue to bless me with many more years with them in presence, work and appreciation.
Marshall Dean Whitaker is pastor of United Baptist Church in Riverton, Wyo. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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