Autumn brings harvests, and times of thanks for many blessings. October is set aside to thank those who minister to us — those working to lead and aid ministries. Because we so often lean on them in their jobs, those in the ministry are often overlooked when it’s time for recognition. It’s part of their jobs to help in times of need — to comfort those who face loss, provide strength to communities beset with disasters, and be there when all others are at a loss for speech or action. They serve “with wholehearted devotion.” And because it’s their job and it’s expected of them, we seldom show appreciation to them as we do for friends, or even strangers who lend the helping hand or heart. Yet the ministry folks serve in almost every nonprofit and community organization.
It is the churches that come forward, often providing key resources in times of tragedy, turmoil or disaster. Pastors minister to the families who lose loved ones, visiting and comforting while dealing with horrific scenes of devastation or chaos around them. They are there to restore faith to those couples who question their own after tragedy befalls a child. They offer hope to a widow wondering how she’s to go on alone after a lifetime partner dies. They provide strength to communities torn apart by nonsensical violence that seemingly touches everyone. They stand with military families who wait for a plane carrying their loved one home from a foreign war.
The pastors and their church leaders organize food and clothing drives and help hold together communities that have nothing but the ground they stand upon after a natural disaster, shaky as it may be. They roll up their sleeves and cook meals for workers, and help in the search for neighbors and friends and even pets who remain missing. In situations most of us would not wish upon anyone, they are ready to serve and minister, answering their calling.
Honor them for the everyday kindnesses: taking midnight phones calls from parishioners, making hospital visits during dinner hours, and giving up vacation time to officiate funerals of congregants. These men and women expect no recognition, no awards or even any praise. They go about their work as it is commanded, to be a good counsel and neighbor and lend a helping hand as their Teacher so taught them. But thank-yous are necessary to ensure our clergy know they are loved and appreciated.
This month, take a moment to remember those whose kind actions and strong leadership might have helped members of your organization, or who showed others a way to compassion and its place in today’s murky world of uncertainty. Handwritten notes are much appreciated and often treasured, especially when they refer to specific actions that made an impact on you. While the thought does count, theological books, dinner “at my house” or religious home decorative items are not really needed. (Think about the teachers who get apple-themed items from their students at every occasion; it can be overwhelming.) Instead of a gift, perhaps give them a gift card to a favorite store or restaurant — pastors and their families shop and eat out, too. Cash for a weekend getaway is appreciated and often desperately needed by weary leaders. Showing just a little love lets them know their work on Earth is appreciated, too.
Ben’s Takeaway: “October should be a time of refreshment and encouragement to our ministry leaders. Remember them with a personal note or gift card.”