As a young teenage boy, a highlight of my summer occurred at great-grandma's cabin. We called it such because great-grandpa long ago passed away, and only great-grandma was left. Going to great-grandma's cabin was commonly referred to as "going up North." Up North existed a plethora of lakes offering endless activities for summer fun. "Our lake" existed where the family cabin sat on the channel waterway connecting Lake Lawrence and Roosevelt Lake. It was in that cabin we "stayed." Whenever telling of my anticipated summer event to a school friend the inevitable question came, "Where you going to stay?"
Anxiety seems a little like that to me. "Where are you staying?" That little apprehensive unease of certain outcomes you're not quite sure about. Where are you staying? Sometimes those little uncertainties grow into suffocating feelings of helplessness. A "What's going to happen now?" develops into sure inexplicable panic.
Concern grows into apprehension, apprehension into worry, worry into fear, fear somehow morphs into trepidation, and trepidation explodes into peacelessness. That kind of anxiety. If that kind of anxiety visits you, Where are you staying upon it's arrival?
Once I asked a homeless person, "Where do you stay?" He restlessly answered, "I stay nowhere, I stay everywhere." Anxiety seems to bare similarities with that homeless gentleman's experience; at least to me.
Where Do You Stay?
When anxiety reaches unhealthy levels I like to ask myself, "Don, where are you staying right now at this very moment of this experience?" It's a good question to ponder.
In Isaiah 26:3 exists a very helpful Bible verse:
"You will keep in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You,
The word "stayed" is very interesting. Isaiah, the prophet who wrote these words lived in a corrupt cultural decaying period of his nation's history. He faced severe economic and security uncertainties throughout his entire life. "Stayed" in the language Isaiah wrote the above phrase is from the Hebrew word סָמַך (Samak). It is used in a variety of ways. It means to, "to lean, lay, rest, support, put, uphold, and lean upon, sustain, or refresh."
It asks questions, "Where is your leaning?" - "Where is your resting?" - "Where is your refreshing?" - "Where is your supporting?" Or, back to great grandma's cabin, "Where is your staying?"
A good diagnostic question asked when confronting anxiety is, "At this very moment, right now in the height of anxiety, where am I staying?" In other words, "Your anxieties about this or that leans towards, or is supported by what assumptions, thoughts, apprehensions, fears, and trepidation?" Where are you staying; right now?
Here's the truth about great-grandma's cabin. That fond place way up in Northern, Minnesota belonged to my great-grandma. She stayed there; not me. While a place of my staying from time to time, growth, maturation, and health required moving onward. My stayed staying placed existed in another place; my place, not great-grandma's. A place of my own yet to discover.
Finding a secured peaceful stayed staying place in this chaotic crazy world is best captured in the "You" of Isaiah 26:3. At least is seems that way to me.
In "You" is my stayed stay staying place.
Just My Thoughts,
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October marks Pastor Appreciation Month. In my past blog, "Ten Reasons Your Church Can't Keep a Pastor," lack of appreciation is a strong reason pastors leave their pastorates and ministries. A pastor friend of mine shared over a cup of coffee, "You know Don, I haven't received a 'thank you' in over a year. It's not required to do my job, but it would be nice once and a while." That pastor recently contacted me for some information. He is looking elsewhere to pastor.
Imagine your church without your current Lead / Senior Pastor. Now, imagine your church absent of all its pastors. Far-fetched you say? I currently can name two churches whose pastors all resigned within two months of the Senior Pastor's departure. A Little Appreciation could go a long way.
Here are 5 Ways to Show Appreciation for Your Pastor
1. A simple "Thank you." Every now and then, I'd find a "thank you" card in my box at church when I pastored. It always encouraged me, especially early Sunday morning when entering the building to prepare for Sunday services.
For the Coffeeholic pastor, such as myself, a gift card to a local coffee house proved more than a nice gesture. Often, when using that Starbucks or Caribou coffee card, thoughts towards the giver were of appreciation and gratitude. Just a simple "thank you" might be the best investment you can make in your pastor.
2. Agape Gifts. "Agape" is that Greek word used in the Bible to indicate a sacrificial love acted upon by decision; not feeling. Agape love suffers inconvenience to do something beneficial for another. Once while driving home after visiting a member in the hospital two hours away, I dreaded my arrival. The dread exacerbated itself due to 18 inches of falling snow turning my drive into five hours of treacherous journey through rural roads. Thoughts of needing to blow the snow from my driveway before being able to park my car in the garage soured my tired mood. Upon my arrival, a newly plowed out driveway awaited me. APPRECIATION x 2! I never found out who plowed out my driveway that night. Thank you, whoever you were!
3. Do something nice for your pastor's family. Pastors' wives and pastors' kids (PK's) are the unspoken heroes of a successful pastoral ministry. Pastors' families are singled out for criticism more than any family in the church. During my many years as a missionary in South Africa, occasionally a package arrived at our home right there in SA. As we opened the box, my young sons' eyes popped at all the great little gifts presented to us by a thoughtful supporter. From Twizzlers to Matchbox cars, my sons still talk about it to this day twenty-five years later. I always reminded them, "It's because you are missionary kids (MK's), and you're special people." Make your PK's and pastor's spouse feel fortunate to be part of your church!
Besides, think of it this way. Would you enjoy listening to your husband or dad preach every Sunday for the rest of your life? Imagine never missing church one time just because your dad is the pastor? lol! Show em some love!
4. Take something off his plate. Why does your pastor mow the church lawn, lock the doors after services, wipe the windows of the main doors before service, ready the physical facilities for every funeral, deal with every financial issue, service every member's complaint, and visitors too!
Once after sharing a message on "Our Caustic Critical Tongues" from James 3, a visiting woman from the South launched into me. She exploded, "Why don't you do alter calls in your church?!" My response didn't mirror my message, "Because people like you who need to come forward in an alter call wouldn't get it." Refusing to break eye contact with her, she huffied herself out the door never to be seen again. Yes, I know I made up a word in that sentence. Sorry. :-)
5. Give Your Pastor a Break! Why not send your pastor on a cruise? Or, how about a weekend getaway? What about that conference he's always wanted to attend. Give him first class accommodations in a classy hotel. Send him on that fishing trip in Canada, or that desired mission trip. Give him a generous paid sabbatical. What? That's too generous? That's way too over the top? You get what you pay for, and you're more likely to keep an appreciated pastor.
October is pastor appreciation month? How will you appreciate your pastor?
Just My Thoughts,
Dr. D. J. Mingo
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Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.