Saturday, October 20, 2012

Why I Have a Crush on My Pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month! Have I mentioned that I have a crush on my pastor?  I think that is acceptable, given that he is also my husband.  Recently I told you a bit about the day Mike shocked me with the news that he was being called into the ministry.  Today I want to tell you how it is now, more than 31 years after that day.

Last Sunday Mike received a basket full of cards from people at our church.  They were tender and expressed such kind words; I had tears in my eyes as I read them.  I loved that many were made by children in Sunday School classes.


Do you see that bottom right card?  I loved that one.  It is so true!  Let me break it down for you.

Encourager - Mike is most definitely that to his flock.  He wants to help everyone feel confident and he encourages them to build on their strengths.  For example, people within the congregation often take turns giving the children's sermon.  Although it is for the children, it occurs right up front in the middle of the service with everyone watching and listening.  It is kind of scary if you aren't used to it.  One lady was nervous but wanted to try it.  He helped her along the way,  encouraging her as she came in to practice during the week.  She did a fine job!

Counselor - This is one aspect that I don't know as much about, but there is a good reason for that.  When Mike graduated from the seminary we had a discussion about confidentiality.  We felt it was very, very important that when people come to Mike for counselling, they could feel certain that their private matters were only for his ears.  Sometimes that has led to some weird moments when people THINK I know everything they have told them, but it is important.  I think there are times that this makes the burden of carrying others' pain a bit more difficult but he is a professional and that is what professionals do.  I can tell you that I've had many people, over the years, tell me that Mike has helped them so much.  Even if I don't know what they are talking about, it makes me proud of him.

Teacher - This part is not hard for Mike at all.  His Mom and one of his sisters were teachers and so I think it is in his blood.  He prepares thoroughly and has an easy, logical flow to his teaching style.  It just comes naturally.  When he teaches kids, he is just down-right fun!  He creatively works up games and other ways to make learning a blast for them.

Preacher - Mike is an introvert so it is really surprisingly weird that he is such a good preacher.  The very first time he was to give a sermon I felt very nervous on his behalf.  That was the last time that happened to me, though.  I never felt nervous for him to preach again.  He has a way of speaking the truth with a delightful mixture of humor, conviction and knowledge.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say it felt like he was talking directly to them.  He knows what he wants to say, he is prepared and knowledgeable, concise, and speaks the truth with a calm, easy-going style.  

Leader - I think many of us think of a leader as an exuberant, boisterous personality that has a flare for revving up a group of people.  That isn't Mike... ever.  His style is straight forward and honest.  Often one of the best leadership traits I've seen in him is his ability to calm a group.  He has a simple way of helping people work through issues or follow through on projects with an approach of kindness.  I don't know if any of you have ever noticed this, but sometimes a group of people have a tendency to pull in different directions and maybe even build a bit of resentment toward one another.  Mike is good at cutting through that to help them see how to work together more effectively and lovingly.

Comforter - Mike is truly a talented comforter.  This is not something he had to develop.  He knows when to speak soothing words, when to quietly listen and when to just give a hug.  Over and over and over I hear people telling me how much his visit meant to them when they were hurting...in the hospital...dealing with a shock...in pain...experiencing loss of a loved one... etc.    He does things like go out in the middle of the night to be with someone in the emergency room.  Just this week he spent much of his day off at the hospital to be with a lady facing surgery.  I've seen him drive 6 hours to attend a funeral of someone he didn't even know because one of the family members needed him there.  Sometimes I worry about Mike in this part of his job.  I worry that in taking on the pain of others, the burden will be more than he can withstand.  In this I have to trust the ultimate comforter, the Holy Spirit, to comfort Mike himself.

There was no card from me in the basket.  This post is my card to him.  I want to tell him how I feel blessed beyond the others because I get to not only have him as my pastor but I get to spend my life with him.  I want him to know that I see how he puts so much into his work.  When others tease him that he only works Sunday Mornings, I am well aware that he usually works 50+ hours a week.  Often, after putting in a full day, he spends his evenings counseling, at committee meetings or at home working into the night.  Sometimes that is the only way he can complete lessons and sermons after spending a day of interruptions as he attends to his flock.  He sacrifices so much of himself for others.  I want him to know that I see this.  I want him to know that I also appreciate his dedication to his calling and I am honored to be his helpmate.

The cards were all beautiful.  Many had Bible verses and poems.  Many had sweet and grateful handwritten expressions of appreciation.  Many thanked him for the blessing he has been in their lives.  One thanked him for reflecting Jesus and followed with Matthew 5:16:

"Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven."