“Take words with you,” said the 8th century prophet Hosea, “and return to the Lord” (Hosea 14:2).
Does the Lord want to hear words? Evidently.
Words are mighty important.
The Psalmist prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Before Job’s friends launched into the attack against him, one set him up for the fall. You used to be something special, said friend Eliphaz. But look at you now.
Surely you have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees. (Job 4:3-4)
Imagine that, having the power to stand someone on their feet by the power of words.
You see these come-ons all the time—
The best restaurants in every state. The best small towns in every state. The best town for retirees in every state. The best beaches, best whatever.
So, don’t be surprised if you look up one day and someone has compiled a list of the best churches–best small churches, best mega-churches, whatever–in every state. People are so shallow as to think such a list could be compiled and many will buy into it.
I’m by that the way I am the college football rankings. Today, as I was driving back from a ministry assignment, for an hour or more I listed to the Sirius XM station where spots guys discussed last night’s college football rankings. LSU was one, Ohio State two, and so forth. Back and forth they went: Shouldn’t Alabama be lower than 5th? Shouldn’t Baylor be higher than they are? Wisconsin too? People called in and for an hour or more they argued.
For absolutely nothing. Next week there will be a new ranking, based on this weekend’s games, and they’ll start all over again. It’s what these sports-talk guys get paid to do.
But it’s so much foolishness.
Paul was a tent-maker. James and John, Peter and Andrew were all fishermen. Matthew was a tax-collector.
Were they bi-vocational in their service for Christ? Did they support themselves by working for a living while they spread the Word?
More and more, I hear pastors say that bi-vo is the way to go. By supporting themselves they can start a church from scratch without having to solicit funds from supporting congregations until they become self-sustaining. By supporting himself, a pastor cannot be held hostage by a church bully–or a committee of controllers–who insist that he do things their way to keep from losing his job and throwing his family into financial crisis.
What are the skills a bi-vocational pastor would need most? Most, I expect, are the same abilities and strengths he would need in a full-time pastorate. For instance…
I’d like to start a trend. Since October is “Pastor Appreciation” time, let’s make November–the month of thanksgiving–“Church Member Appreciation.”
I’m suggesting–no, I’m urging–every pastor to write a minimum of 25 thank-yous to some church members this month.
I loving receiving thank you-notes. Writing them, however, takes a little more effort. But the benefits are astounding.
Two thank-you notes came in the mail last week.
After I had spent last Sunday evening sketching at her church’s “fall festival,” the preschool children’s director wrote: Thank you so much for drawing at our Fun Fest last Sunday! You blessed and encouraged our families so much! I’m grateful for you, your ministry, and the way the Lord is using you to draw others to Himself. Thank you again!
Four sentences. But it was perfect.
The fact that I have known that young lady, the preschool minister, her whole life and that her parents are my dear friends, did not matter. I love her dearly as she does me. But she still did the niceties and wrote a thank-you.
It’s a classy thing to do.