By Keith Boyette
Gratitude – thankfulness – is a wonderful attitude. Gratitude means someone or something has been seen, acknowledged, and celebrated. One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:6 (NLT): “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything, and thank Him for all he has done.” Worry is evidence of lack of faith. Prayer is a declaration of faith. Thankfulness is an acknowledgment that God is already at work in the situation. As we give thanks to God, we see what He is already doing, we acknowledge it, and our faith increases.
Our observance of the Lord’s Supper is part celebration of the God who is present, part remembering God’s mighty acts in and through Jesus Christ, and part thanksgiving. We pause to reflect, to give ourselves in surrender to God, to invite Him to become present anew in our lives, and to receive a fresh outpouring of His grace in our lives. The Eucharist is, in part, an act of appreciation.
We have much to be thankful for in this season even amidst the turmoil, dis-ease, and conflict of our times. October is celebrated globally as clergy appreciation month. While we did not always have a particular day or month to celebrate those called to love and serve God as clergy, appreciation for those who serve is an ancient practice.
Some would point to Paul’s admonition in 1 Timothy 5:17 (NRSV) to “let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” as an early expression of appreciation for those deployed as clergy. Paul writes to the Christians in Thessalonica, “Honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work” (1Thessalonians 5:12-13, NLT).
To accomplish God’s will, the body of Christ needs each of its members to be fully deployed and engaged in advancing the Kingdom of God. We are called to celebrate God’s abundant outpouring of His gifts upon individual members of the church. Nevertheless, clergy are set apart for an important responsibility – “to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
Others have written about the stress and discouragement that seems acutely a part of the lives of clergy in this season. Serving as a pastor is not for the faint of heart and is definitely not for those who have not been called of God for that purpose. Being singularly present to others, bearing their joys and sorrows, loving them, and representing God as the good shepherd in their lives can be exhausting and lonely. Others confide in clergy. Who stands in the gap for clergy? Far too many clergy have neglected the development of relationships where they can be broken, vulnerable, and honest with others. The demands of leadership, especially in the aftermath of Covid and the polarization present in so many of our churches and cultures, can be both discouraging and exhausting.
Yet many clergy give their all for Jesus and His mission. They joyfully do so because they have heard God’s call and they have received God’s gifting and empowerment. Often with reckless abandon, they make themselves vulnerable, risk rejection and continued attacks, face adversity, and lovingly declare the truth even when some find that truth offensive. They call people to confession, repentance, and to be more like Jesus. They offer people hope. They stand in the gap when another’s faith is hanging by a thread. They love the unlovely, serve the ungrateful, and persevere in the faith even when it is under attack.
We especially honor and give thanks for clergy who have become members of the Global Methodist Church. Hundreds have already been affirmed and welcomed into the orders of deacon and elder. They are leading congregations into a new day with renewed vision and purpose. They have navigated conflict and adversity, and still remained faithful to and unashamed of the Gospel entrusted to them. They have provided outstanding leadership in difficult times. Their faith has encouraged others to have faith.
So, it is good for all of us to pause and honor our clergy, giving thanks for them and all that God is doing in and through them. We continue to be grateful for the laity in the body of Christ. Churches need to celebrate the calling God has placed upon all of us to love and serve Him through each of our ministries.
But this month, we appreciate our clergy. Let all of us be present to our clergy, pray for them fervently, speak and write words of affirmation, encouragement, and gratitude to them, and demonstrate in our actions how grateful we are for each of them personally. Find a unique way to appreciate the clergy in your life regularly but especially in this month of clergy appreciation.
The Rev. Keith Boyette is the Transitional Connectional Officer of the Global Methodist Church, its chief executive and administrative officer.
Hurricane Ian Disaster Relief Efforts Continue
Within a day of Hurricane Ian making landfall in Florida, disaster relief provided through the generosity of donors to the Disaster Relief Fund of the Global Methodist Church flowed into impacted areas. Working with churches aligned with us, resources were provided to purchase generators, buy fuel, and provide food and water through churches in the communities which suffered significant damage. To date, $14,308.16 has been received and disbursed. One hundred percent of these donations have been distributed for immediate relief.
You can contribute to disaster relief through the Global Methodist Church’s website. When donating, select “Disaster Relief” as the gift purpose. Donations may also be mailed to 11905 Bowman Drive, Suite 501A, Fredericksburg, VA, 22408. Please place “Disaster Relief” on the check memo line.
Thank you for your generosity in responding to this need.