Friday, October 14, 2005

On Behalf Of My Pastoral Colleagues, "Thank you Bill!"

By Bill Ellis, Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, WV (ANS) -- Pastors are everywhere. You will find them in every nation on earth. They are God's ambassadors. They represent Him in every arena of human experience. They may serve very small congregations of less than a dozen people. Some will lead a multiple staff of hundreds in large churches of thousands of people. The average church size in the United States is less than 100.

Pastors vary in their abilities, education and God-given gifts. Some are young, in their twenties. Many are still taking college and seminary classes. Most will continue their educational pursuits as long as they remain in the pastorate. They will spend a lot of money on quality books, conferences and seminars each year to equip themselves for the most demanding job on earth.

There is a growing shortage of pastors who are adequately trained for the parish ministry. Pastors face numerous tasks each week. They are expected to be skilled in many areas.

It is not easy being a pastor. It is a life that requires discipline and dedication 24 hours each day and seven days each week. An older church leader named Paul was a theologian, missionary and writer of the first century. In one of his popular letters, addressed to young Timothy, he wrote: "Work hard so God can say to you, ‘Well done.’ Be a good workman, one who does not need to be ashamed when God examines your work. Know what his Word says and means" (2 Timothy 2:15 TLB).

Church leaders, college ministries departments and seminaries are doing their best to recruit and train men and women for the pastoral ministry. It seems to be something like this: "If God calls you to preach, we will do our best to give you every opportunity for all the training and higher education you will need."

The more I learn about pastors, I find myself developing a deepening appreciation for what is called a bi-vocational minister. That means he has a second job that may supply much of the income for himself and his family so he will be able to lead a smaller and less affluent congregation. They serve at a disadvantage and often put in more hours than anyone else. It can be like working two fulltime jobs. Ministers who work at another job for necessary financial support may be salesmen, doctors, miners, teachers, administrators, bankers, nurses, mechanics, carpenters, truck drivers, coaches and just about anything else.

If you have a pastor take time during this October, the nationally designated month for "Pastor Appreciation", to do something special to let him know how much he is genuinely appreciated. Some of the most talented pastors are women. Whether your pastor is a woman or a man find a lot of ways to be generous and gracious in showing them that they are really appreciated. If married, the pastor’s spouse should also be included. If there is any job tougher than being a pastor, it is being married to one.

It is "Pastor Appreciation Month" for all of October or whatever month you choose to show special recognition. Include all the pastoral staff members of your church. Pastors are often the most important people in our lives. I am not aware of a more significant job. Think about it for a minute and you may come to the same conclusion. Let your pastor know, in a variety of ways, that he is genuinely loved and deeply appreciated.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 1600 columns and widely known as a motivator utilizing enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems make him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.

For information on becoming a subscriber to the Ellis Column for your newspaper or magazine, you may contact him at: BILL ELLIS, P.O.Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560 or by calling: 304-757-6089.

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