October is Pastor Appreciation month! It is an incredible blessing. My church is especially good at appreciating its pastors. We get everything from monetary gifts to meals to cards to toys. I feel tremendously blessed to have received the extra blessings from the people of First Baptist Church of Brazoria. Seriously, they are awesome people who love us as staff. There are however a few gifts that have brought tears to my eyes when I have received them. While I feel more loved with each card/gift/affirmation I have received, there are a few that I thought you might be encouraged to hear about.
I don’t know if this person intended this to be a gift to me, but it certainly was. They came to my house at 9pm on a Sunday night, and asked me to teach them straight through Genesis. We sat at my kitchen table and I taught this young person straight through Genesis. At 1:55am we were in chapter 41 and were both quite tired. So we went as fast as we could to chapter 50. We finished at about 2:15 Monday morning. This was truly a blessing to me! To know that people care about the Word of God and value me as a teacher is both a tremendous joy and a great honor. Further, that someone would sacrifice sleep to let me have the privilege of studying with them was amazing.
The Sermon Notes:
I once had a student give me copies of their notes of my sermons through a book. (I teach through books of the Bible verse by verse, so you can literally just follow along through a book.) This gift touched my heart in a way that few others have. To know that someone took this great amount of time to be so attentive to the efforts I had put into preparing the sermons was a true blessing. One of the cool things in those notes was the application parts. The person had added personal application that I did not necessarily state out-loud. Little notes like, “call so and so to confess,” and, “remember the cross when faced with death.” (If you weren’t aware of how we teach the youth here at FBCB here’s a link to the sermons in 1 John, Exodus, I Corinthians, and Romans: fbcbrazoria.podbean.com. Just click the book category on the right of the page.)
Everything Already Set Up:
I remember coming in on a Wednesday and finding the entire room set just like I wanted on a Wednesday night! You see, there are little things that I like to have set up a certain way. Things like a clean stage, all excess papers thrown out or hidden, sometimes tables and chairs, microphones in the right places, power-point presentations done. One Wednesday I walked in and everything was cleaned, tables and chairs were set out with bowls on the tables for chips (that were in the bag on each table ready to be poured in) and smaller bowls for salsa, the salsa was ready, the lights were set up correctly, even the power point was done! I remember thinking, “it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, who beat me here!” That person then brought me a sonic coke and told me, “just chill before teaching tonight.” I remember thinking, “wow, this must be how famous speakers feel. To get to just walk in and teach, wow!”
The Random Books and Teas
I drink about 5 cups of hot tea a day. This wouldn’t be an odd statement were I a British national. However, I am a United States national who lives in Texas. So for me to drink tea that is not 90 percent sugar and wrestling with about 2 pounds of ice is abnormal. People who take the time to know me often buy me teas. I love the thoughtfulness! (Just for future reference, I love black teas… not crazy about fruity stuff but still can enjoy it.) I also love to read. I read about one book a week, they’re not always long or deep books but about one a week is right. People sometimes find a book they think I would like, and they give it to me. Sometimes the book is great, other times… not so much. But, I really appreciate these acts of love even the books that are not so great.
Beautiful Bibles and Artwork:
One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I love art! I was an art minor for a time in college and I delight in beauty. I have had people give me art works that they have completed and books of beauty that they have purchased. These gifts speak to a knowledge of me that is uncommon. Not everyone knows how much I enjoy art and I don’t often get the opportunity to display my own creative bent. I have also received two Bibles that are just beautiful. Both were unique translations that I did not already have (a rare thing to find for a pastor and a feat that takes extreme effort) and both were personalized by the people who bought them for me.
Random Anonymous Pizza on Wednesday:
Just a few weeks ago, someone randomly blessed our students by buying pizza for them on Wednesday night. I felt tremendously blessed to see the act of love toward our students! No one knew who did it! Sometimes your pastors can feel alone when they are trying to love the people. So this random act of love reminded me that others share the load with me for loving these students. It was as if someone said to me, “Hey John… we got your back bro! Have a slice of pizza on us!”
I remember when I was exhausted and someone in the church knew I had to do a bunch of busy work to do before a particular event. They called me and told me, “stay home with your wife, I’ll take care of ______ busy set up work. You don’t need to be here until the event starts.” This simple act gave me about 3 hours with my bride that I would have sacrificed. It was tremendous.
I have been given time with busy people just to chat. That has been a blessing. I know people are busy and it is difficult to carve out time to grab a coffee with your pastors… but you will bless them by saying, “hey lets go grab coffee,” then tell them what you have been learning from the Scripture. Then follow that up with, “so what has been exciting you about God lately?” or “what have you been learning from the Bible?”
My church is amazing and blesses me like crazy, not just one month of the year. There are countless other ways in which they appreciate the pastors of the church. Lunches, Gifts, Cards, Money, Affirmations, donations to Gospel for Asia, etc… The above mentioned ones are just a few that have blessed me. I cannot talk about all of them, or this would become a 20 part blog.