Pastor Appreciation (October 27, 2013)

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When I was asked to talk today, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to talk about. I pondered long and hard. I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning trying to figure it out. What could I say? I knew who I was going to talk about, and what the overall subject was. But how would I get there? What would be the filling for this hour long speech of mine? So I figured, I might as well go to the only authority I had on this subject. Not my wife, nor Pastor’s wife. But the ultimate authority on the Pastorate-God’s Word. The first thing I needed to know was how to define a Pastor. What is a Pastor?

The word for Pastor is a word which is translated into English as a shepherd or one who keeps animals. Think about it. Back in the days of Jesus, a shepherd was dedicated to his flock. His job was to watch for enemies trying to attack his sheep. His job was to defend the sheep from the attack. His job was to heal the sick and the wounded sheep. His job was to find and save lost or trapped sheep. His job was to love them, and to share in their lives so that the sheep would trust him. These jobs of a shepherd seem to me to be the exact same thing which our Pastor has done for us. Our Pastor is dedicated to his flock. I’m sure everyone here has had one or several of those moments in life where you needed the intervention of the shepherd. Our Pastor has been aware of false doctrine being taught out there and has protected us from those that would try to steal us away. Our Pastor has worked to heal us when our hearts are broken, when our lives seem to crumble into dust before us. It is our Pastor who has been there giving us instruction from God’s word, on how to put things back together again. He has been by our bedsides praying with us when we are too ill to get out of bed. He even brings us before God when we misbehave so that we always have someone intervening on our behalf. Our Pastor has sought out the lost sheep and brought them back into God’s house. We are all God’s sheep, and our Pastor has been faithful to seek us out. “All we like sheep have gone astray” He has brought us back into fellowship with our God. He has introduced most of us to our Lord and Savior- Jesus Christ. He teaches us about the cross, and the sacrifice that Jesus made on that cross so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. He has helped those who were trapped in sin to be free from its’ bondage, that we “…may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…” And lastly our Pastor has loved us. Oh, how he loves us. Selflessly and no matter what we’ve done whether good or bad. He has remained steadfast in his love for us.

Next, I want to look at the qualifications of a Pastor. If we look to 1 Timothy 3:1-7 we read “…If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” Now, that’s a long list. So I’ve broken it down into two types of qualifications. There are qualities that a Pastor must have and qualities that a Pastor must not have. First, the qualities that a Pastor must not have. He must not be a heavy drinker. Someone that drinks is someone that doesn’t allow God to be in control, but rather the alcohol. He must not be violent, he must not be proud. He must not be greedy, and he must not be a new Christian. If a man were to have any of these qualities he would not be considered acceptable as a Pastor. These qualities all seem to focus on attributes which work in excess, all of which will effect the people around him. Excessive drinking, excessive anger, excessive self worth, excessive desire for wealth, and an excessive lack of experience. All these attributes would directly impede those sheep he would shepherd for no sheep would desire to come near him. Sheep come to the shepherd because they know him, they trust him and as a result they trust in He whom the shepherd trusts. But if the man who would lead Christ’s local church is so caught up in worldly sins how then could he be listening to God?

Now for the qualities that a Pastor must have. He must be above reproach. His reputation must be spotless. No one should be able to say the Pastor has done this bad thing, or shamed himself or his church in any way. He must have only one wife and be faithful to her. He must be gentle in his ways and have a well behaved family, he must be respected by those outside of the church as well. But the must have characteristics of a Pastor that I feel are the most important are these-He must be temperate, not going to extremes. He must be self controlled. His actions must show that it is God who reigns in his heart not worldly desires or possessions, or even substances, but God alone. He must be respectable. That means that he’s always on his “best” behavior. His integrity is the model which others will follow. He must be hospitable. The Young’s Literal Translation says that he is to be a friend to strangers. I believe that this hospitality refers to not only welcoming people into his home, but also being able to welcome people into God’s house as well. The last qualification I want to talk about is perhaps the most important. It is the ability to teach. Being able to teach is having the passion and ability to completely fulfill the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” How does a Pastor reach people for Christ? He teaches them. How does a Pastor help his flock grow spiritually? He teaches them. How does a Pastor protect his flock? He teaches them. Our Pastor has helped us to bear the burdens that have come into our lives. He has taught us to stop seeking answers from out there {point outside} and he has taught us to stop seeking answers from in here {point to head}. Rather he has taught us to pick up our Bibles and read them that we may know God’s answers. Our Pastor has taught us so much, I’d like to share some of those things that I have learned at his side. When we were painting the fellowship hall years ago, Pastor asked me if I knew Jesus Christ as my personal savior. At which I stumbled around some vague answer. I didn’t know about the relationship we are to have with Christ. That day Pastor taught me to seek out and understand what and in whom I believe.

A couple years later he came to my home to celebrate my birthday. He came with a new front door for my house. And then later on he proceeded to install it for me. There was no thought of reward, no request for a return favor. It was just our Pastor being Pastor. He taught me that day how to give selflessly.

When Pastor led us to go to Mississippi after hurricane Katrina and help another Tabernacle Baptist Church clean up. He taught me how to serve selflessly and how to trust in God’s provision according to his timetable. He taught me how to listen to God when he speaks, and how to answer the call to minister. He also taught me how to properly play dominoes.

For the past several years I’ve tried to maintain a schedule where every other Wednesday, after Bible Study I would go with Pastor for the day to hear him deliver his radio message and to do visitations. I learned so much from Pastor on those Wednesdays. He taught me how to listen to others, and how to be a source of encouragement for others. Often he would think of some insights for being a Pastor and share them with me so that I could grow, and that I could become a source of growth for others. He also taught me about some really neat places to eat.

Some other little tidbits he taught me over the years-the proper way to eat a biscuit.{explain}

He has taught most of us the proper pronunciation of pecan and what the difference is between a pecan and a pee can is.

He has taught us not to trust the spell checker, but rather to proof read everything, especially sermon titles?

He has taught me that if it isn’t written down, it will be forgotten.

He has taught me never to try to start a church project and add the words, now Pastor all you’ll have to do is…

He has also taught me to never leave my shoes where he can get at them. They get very cold when sitting outside overnight in the winter.

So today I want to do more than thank Pastor for all he does. I want to thank God for putting a man in my life’s path that has had the courage and the conviction, the spiritual and moral fortitude to stand up for Jesus. And to stand in the middle of my life’s path holding a sign, that points me back to God’s will every time I mess up. I thank our God for putting this man in my path that when as a dumb sheep I don’t open the doors that God has provided, he is there to help me see that door and go through it.

There is one last thing that Pastor has taught me and that is this. Where is your eternal destination? When you leave this building today where will your tomorrows take you? Where will you spend the rest of eternity? The bible tells us that…

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