In 1992 a group of pastors and religious leaders established what they called Clergy Appreciation Day. The intent was to honor and show appreciation to pastors all over the world for the role they play in their churches. This later became what is known today as Pastor Appreciation Day which is celebrated on the second Sunday in October of each year. Many now consider the month of October as Pastor Appreciation Month. Although this special day and month has been established by men, the idea of showing some kind of tangible appreciation to a pastor by their local congregation has some support from scripture. With this in mind let’s consider what is meant by the word pastor and what God has to say about them.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term pastor as “a spiritual overseer; a clergyman serving a local church or parish”. And from the original biblical languages the literal meaning is “a helper, or feeder of the sheep” which is the more correct definition from a theological perspective. The word carries with it the thought that it is one who loves and cares for, in all ways, those whom he has been given charge over. And to be sure, God is the One who has given the pastor charge over the flock. In other words, the pastor is called, not self-appointed. In addition, the Bible leaves no room for the position to be held by a woman. Therefore, to summarize, a pastor is a man who has been called by God to serve in that capacity. If these two qualifications are not met, then the person who calls themselves a pastor is serving in the flesh and is not being led by the Spirit.
As we look at the scriptures we see way back in the Old Testament days, the prophet Jeremiah records these words from God himself concerning His chosen people. “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding”, Jeremiah 3:15. In his letter to the Romans Paul writes “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”, Romans 10:14. And in Ephesians 4:11, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,”. We can certainly see from these verses that God who chooses the pastor and gives the flock to shepherd.
God has also given instructions to those of us who are counted among the sheep as to how we are to consider our pastor. In his first letter to the Thessalonians Paul writes “We request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.”, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. In the book of Hebrews we see more exhortation concerning our attitude towards pastors. “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”, Hebrews 13:7 and again in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
There are many other verses that can be considered to understand the many aspects of being a pastor and how we are to act towards them. And in all of these we have cited, and those we have not, we will find that God uses pastors to take care of His sheep. And if we are not part of a local flock (church) with a qualified and dedicated pastor we are not being fed and cared for like God has intended.
The fact that my dad was a God called preacher and pastor has given me an insight to the difficulties that come with the task that others may not understand. I witnessed the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the trying times and the times of celebration that he and our family went through. I developed such a great respect for him because of how he carried out the responsibilities that God gave him because he always did it all with joy and not grief as we saw in the scripture above. And in the midst of it all, he always stood on God’s Word and never compromised what was right. And today, I have great respect for those pastor’s that truly love and care for their flock while still having the courage to proclaim the truths of God’s Word in a day that it may not be well received even by some of their own flock. I have been fortunate to have had those type of men of God as my pastor and I can certainly say that I have that kind of pastor today!
So, my hat is off to every pastor who stands on God’s Word and feeds and leads as God has intended him to do. No doubt some of you whom I greatly respect in that capacity are likely reading this post. And for those of you who are not pastors, the best thing we can do for them is pray for them on a daily basis. They have an awesome responsibility and I know Satan does everything he can to try to destroy the work they do. But I stand with and beside them! Do you?