As a student preparing for pastoral ministry, my classmates and I all had the ideal in mind. Ministry will be glorious! We’ll study, pray, preach, and visit with people. Our churches will grow. We’ll keep conflict to a minimum. Heaven on earth!
I was taught by a faculty of older men. Most were retired from long careers in pastoral ministry. They prepared us academically for sure. We wrote our papers and exams in Greek, Hebrew, history, theology, books of the Bible, preaching, and so on. One professor told us his goal was to tell us everything we needed to know that he did not learn in seminary. His practical advice has been invaluable!
“Put a special file in your drawer. Call it your D-P file. Into that file put every card, note, drawing, and word of encouragement you receive.”
I listened. I have one. Mine is now a large box! It goes back twenty years.
“When you feel depression come on and you think there’s nothing left in your tank for ministry, get out the D-P file. Read the notes. You will see that you’ve been a blessing to people.”
D-P was code for depression. I’ve been diagnosed with a case of the “Monday Morning Blues” many times along the way and it comes hard. You want to reach for the want ads and look for other work. Quitting is at the forefront of your mind.
I pulled out my D-P box recently.
I have a thank you note from a daughter in Mississippi. I buried her mother several years ago. Her father went home to glory this year. Each time she wrote a long note. I have them both. A church I served early on had a gem of an organist. The rest of the congregation put up with my rookie preaching. She always found “noteworthy” things to say to me. I have every one of Dot’s notes.
I don’t keep every note in the D-P box. Some I put inside the folder where I keep my study and sermon notes on each passage of Scripture I preach or teach. I have a child’s drawing of me preaching from 2 Timothy on a Sunday night in 2002. The caption reads, “Saint Paul says…” I even had hair in the picture!
A young couple in the church were blessed by the years of investment I put into their spiritual walk and young marriage. “We want you to have a new set of Michelin’s on your truck.” I have the receipt in my box. I drove 55,000 miles on those tires and had a twinge of sadness when I replaced them seven years later.
I could go on. I’ve received a box full of encouragement, enough to keep the “Monday Morning Blues” at bay.
Does your pastor have a note from you?
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Quietly ask that your fellow church members write the pastor or pastors meaningful notes. Gather them secretly and present them to him this season.
He will get the “Monday Morning Blues.” But he will also have the antidote!