This morning I had the privilege of sitting in on a world I am normally not privy to--the local pastor's breakfast. It was a blessing to see local pastors from different denominations and churches gathered together for prayer and encouragement. There was a spirit of geniality in the room. A visiting pastor shared his testimony and encouraged the others to pray for revival and a greater presence of the Lord. Before closing the meeting, the pastor that had invited me took the opportunity to introduce me and encouraged the other pastors to meet me and invite me to their churches to speak.
As I sat there I couldn't help but feeling like I was seeing something often spoken about, but rarely seen. Like those wildlife photographers that spend years trying to get sight of a rare animal doing something never caught on camera before. I am encouraged to know that this is a monthly gathering of pastors in my community--one of the least reached in the United States; and despite my feeling that I was stealing a glimpse of something rare and beautiful, it was, probably to them, something quite mundane and ordinary.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore. (Psalm 133)
Since October is 'Pastor's Appreciation Month,' let me take a moment to express my genuine thankfulness for the ministry that you men offer to the body of Christ as under-shepherds. While at the meeting I flipped through my bible to the book of Acts to find the names of a few men, who while often overlooked were some of the most influential in the history of the world. Acts 13 records the meeting of the elders (pastors) of the church of Antioch for prayer and fasting--their names were Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Barnabas. Many Christians know the name of Barnabas as it is attached to Paul, but few would recognize Simeon, Lucius and Manaen.
These men were the ones that stayed behind when Paul and Barnabas were set apart for their ministry to the gentiles. These were the pastors of the church at Antioch. They were instrumental in the sending of these missionaries who turned the world on its head. Often we consider that the missionaries have the greater honor--but I want to suggest that the sender has a greater glory than the one who is sent. Jesus said, 'As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.' (John 20:21) If the Father received glory in sending his Son, then those leaders at Antioch were recipients of higher honor as they listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and set apart Paul and Barnabas.
I don't know how often missionaries express their gratitude to local pastors--but as one missionary I would like to express my thanks to those countless pastors who have served, many times without recognition, like these men in Acts 13, and by doing so, freed up others to take the Gospel abroad. Thank you for your service to the Lord in the local church. Thank you for your faithfulness.