Hallmark holidays can get us men in trouble. You know the kind, Sweetest Day, Administrative Professionals' Day, Niece and Nephew Day (There really isn’t a Niece and Nephew Day, but if there was, I’d get in trouble over it).
In 1992 Hallmark created Clergy Appreciation Day, celebrated on the second Sunday in October and throughout the month when October becomes Clergy Appreciation Month. According to Hallmark, the day and month exist to “uplift and encourage pastors, missionaries, and religious workers.” The skeptical among us will also note Hallmark sells “24 Ministry Appreciation cards with card prices from $1.99 to $4.99.”
Hallmark doesn’t have a Congregation Appreciation Day or Members Appreciation Month, so I declare today, Sheep Appreciation Day.
Here are 11 Things the Shepherd Appreciates about the Sheep.
I appreciate when I see you drive into the parking lot and walk through the front doors on Sunday. You come back over and again to worship together with God’s people. Many of you are parents of young children. You stir yourself and your kids out of bed on winter Sunday mornings, get some breakfast, dress the little ones, and then bring the troop in for Sunday School and sit with them during worship, teaching them how to meet God. Some of you are older, and a day does not go by where you do not feel your age. To stand and sing for 20 minutes is difficult. To sit for 45-60 minutes of preaching is hard on your back, but you do it anyway.
I appreciate how you listen to my preaching. You listen, comment, nod, respond, and rarely fall asleep. And you do this week after week, that can’t always be easy.
I appreciate how you want to follow leadership. You sincerely desire to move together in a direction. When I do not convey ideas as thoroughly as I should, you ask good questions and raise legitimate concerns in a humble manner. When you do not agree, you commit the matter to prayer and ask the Lord to change your heart or mine.
I appreciate when you care for others within the body. When you give a meal, make a phone call, offer a comforting embrace, lend a hand and more to others within our church, you please the Lord as you give a cup of cold water in His name.
I appreciate when you show initiative in church life and ministry. You do not wait for me to tell you to exercise your giftedness or to do something. You do not require a program to function as a disciple of Jesus Christ. You sense the prompt of the Holy Spirit, and you obey His urging.
I appreciate your faithfulness to each other in your marriages. I know marriage can be hard. That’s what happens when two sinful, selfish people live together under the same roof, but you continue to fulfill your vows to each other for the glory of God and for the good of your spouse.
I appreciate how you welcome guests into our building and into our church family. You are intentional to connect with those you do not know, to make them feel at home among us, and to build bridges that foster gospel conversations.
I appreciate how you mingle around after worship. You are not in hurry to run away. You mill around the auditorium or lobby connecting with each other. I enjoy saying to you, “Last one out get the lights.”
I appreciate how you serve each other, like our women who attend so graciously to the little ones in our church nursery. Week after week you comfort crying toddlers, change dirty diapers, and limit what you might receive from God’s Word so that others can receive from God’s Word. I appreciate how you serve each other, like our men who assist as ushers greeting all of us, holding doors, finding seats for whole families who arrive just as worship begins, and troubleshooting problems that arise during our worship. Of course, there are many more examples of how you serve. I appreciate every expression seen or unseen.
I appreciate how you give your money to the work of First Calvary Baptist Church. Week after week, month after month you contribute your part. Without each contribution, we could not and would not have the gospel opportunities locally and globally.
I appreciate how you love me, Brenda, and our children. You ask about Michael and Lauren, who though they are out of sight are not out of mind. You are excited for Jennifer and her upcoming marriage to James. You encourage Emily in her many interests. You are kind to Jeffery including him in your lives and being genuinely interested in his life. You hug us, send texts to us, drop by our house with a French Silk or banana crème pie. You miss us when we are away and welcome us when we return. You smile when you see us. You help us with our needs. You pray for us. Since we have no family in Minnesota, you make us part of yours.
So, happy Sheep Appreciation Day. God’s best to you and my love.
As always I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.