How do we show appreciation to ministers and their families? Read an excerpt from Dr. Daniel Overdorf’s book, Ministering to Your Minister and learn how Johnson University is partnering with Joy 620 to celebrate National Clergy Appreciation Month.
From Ministering to Your Minister
Ed Gebhardt poked his head into my office and asked for the keys to my pick-up. “Just need to borrow it for an hour,” he explained.
I welcomed the interruption. I’d stared at my laptop for 90 minutes with no progress toward Sunday’s sermon. Writer’s block tends to infect preachers’ fingers every Thursday morning. At least it does mine.
Ed is a friend. At the time he served as the chairman of the elders with the church where I ministered in Georgia. He has kids about my age, so his family adopted mine for holidays and special occasions. I could always count on Ed for a pat on the back and a cup of coffee when I most needed encouragement.
He didn’t want to disrupt my study time (he didn’t know about the writer’s block), so when I tossed the keys his direction, Ed snagged them from the air and ducked out of my office as quickly as he had ducked in.
I had no idea why he needed my truck. He had one of his own. I didn’t think much about it, however—Ed doesn’t always explain things, but he has more than proven himself trustworthy. I returned my stare to the laptop computer.
After an hour, during which I pecked out two sketchy paragraphs of a sermon about the Good Samaritan, Ed poked his head back into my office. “Thanks,” he said. He tossed me the keys and left.
In a welcomed burst of inspiration my fingers flurried across the keyboard for the next 30 minutes, finally getting something on paper that might just preach. Then my stomach growled its desire for lunch.
With Chick-fil-A on my mind I headed out to my pick-up. As I sat behind the steering wheel, I noticed some papers Ed had left on the passenger seat—warranty papers for new tires. Ed had stapled a note to the front: “No need to ever mention it.”
I slung the door open and leaned out to look. Then I climbed out of the truck to check the passenger side. Sure enough. Ed borrowed my truck and had four new tires installed. I shook my head and chuckled. Then I wept.
Although we weren’t financially strapped—the church paid us well—the checkbook had gotten a bit tight. We had two sons in frequent need of new shoes or trips to the doctor, I had graduate school tuition to pay, and we had just retrieved my wife’s minivan from a kind mechanic who always gave us a discount but still needed a hefty amount to fix her transmission. Altogether, I had found sufficient reason to ignore my balding tires.
But Ed noticed. And he dipped into his retirement check to minister to his minister. When I saw him on Sunday I honored his request not to mention the tires, but I shook his hand a little more firmly than usual. Then I preached my sermon about the Good Samaritan.
I could share 20 similar stories. I grew up in a parsonage then spent 10 years in local church ministry before I began teaching. More often than I can count, I have seen, felt, and tasted the warmth and love of churches who care for their ministers. I recall bills secretly paid, bags of groceries left anonymously on the front porch, gift certificates arriving in the mailbox, and bags of homegrown tomatoes and green beans left on my desk (with my favorite chocolate and peanut-butter chip cookies hidden beneath the healthy stuff). More significantly, I recall the prayers, the support of my sometimes harebrained ideas, and even the accountability given me by church leaders.
I wish every minister could receive as much blessing as my family and I received from churches and church leaders. Many have, but sadly, many others have not.
Excerpt from Ministering to Your Minister, by Daniel Overdorf (Rapid City: Crosslink Publ, 2012), 7-8
Johnson University Adult Evening Studies will partner with Joy 620 to host a Pastor Celebration Banquet on October 24, 2013. At the banquet, local ministers and their wives will enjoy a delicious meal, encouraging fellowship, and free gift bags, all in an effort to honor those who lead us in ministry.
Join Johnson and Joy 620 in celebrating National Clergy Appreciation Month.
Submitted by Dr. Daniel Overdorf, Dean of the School of Congregational Ministry