Appreciating my fellow clergy

As you reflect on ministers who have impacted you, whether in the past or present, take the time to let them know how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you.

Willie E. Hucks II is associate editor of Ministry.

In some parts of the world, during the month of October, Christians express gratitude for their pastor in any num­ber of tangible ways. Regardless of how they do it, the message is clear: “We’re glad you’re our pastor. Thank you for sacrificing yourself in our behalf.”

During my district pastoral ministry, I was the beneficiary of such kindness from my church members; and they inspired me to reciprocate. Once a year, I had a special service to return the favor. I took a Sabbath afternoon to honor each of my parishioners with certificates that focused on some element of their service to the church (yes, each one!).

Throughout the years, however, I gave thought to how I could expand upon such a ministry. Church members reach out to their pastors; I, as pastor, reached out to my parishioners. But I felt that we, as pastors, needed to do a bet­ter job of appreciating our fellow clergy.

Grateful for mentors

A year into my pastoral ministry, I was discouraged. Knowing there would be growing pains, I still felt the chal­lenges were overwhelming. So, during a workers’ meeting, I approached a fellow minister, who had approximately 20 years of pastoral experience, and shared my frustrations with him. As I placed before him several scenarios that I was encountering, Alfred Booker took this inexperienced rookie to the side, gave me that proverbial shoulder to cry on, then counseled and prayed with me.

That event transpired almost 30 years ago, yet it left an indelible mark on me. I shall forever be grateful for his ministry to me. I’m sure many church members, over the years, expressed their appreciation to Pastor Booker for ministering to them, as well. I wonder, however, how many of his fellow clergy have taken the time to do the same.

Grateful for retirees

Early in 2013, my colleague, Jonas Arrais, and I were in Ghana, participating in a beautiful ceremony honoring retired pastors from throughout the country. The Ghana Union Conference, under the leadership of Dr. Samuel Larmie, presented each retiree with a medallion and the wife of each pastor with flowers.

Later that afternoon as I was reflect­ing upon the events of the day, that which most deeply impressed me was the joy on the faces of the recipients of such an honor. It was as if someone said to them, “We recognize you have labored sacrificially in God’s name for His people. Rest assured that your efforts are not in vain.”

Since that day, I have given more thought to retirees who have contrib­uted to shaping me to be the person and minister that I am—and strive to become. One such minister is my Greek professor during my undergraduate matriculation, James Melançon. Time and space prevent me from sharing his blessings in my life. But no visit to Huntsville, Alabama, is complete without visiting him and his wife in their home—letting him know how thankful I am for his influence in my life.

Grateful for young pastors

In the 1980s, when I began my pastoral ministry, I never imagined most Adventist pastors would someday be younger than I! But here I am. When young, I reminded myself of Paul’s words to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Tim. 4:12, NIV).

In my attempts to practice the golden rule of Matthew 7:12, I cel­ebrate and applaud the ministries of those who are younger than I. They are advancing the kingdom of God with force! Whether they are Tara VinCross in Pennsylvania, Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi in Switzerland, Noah Washington in Maryland, or Gerardo Farias Alvarez in Chile, to name only a few, these soldiers of the cross impact countless thousands through their ministries; and I am grateful for how they allow God to use them.

Be grateful

As you reflect on ministers who have impacted you, whether in the past or present, take the time to let them know how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you. We, as clergy, form a team that moves unitedly under the direction of Christ; and our greatest strength comes when we lend our sup­port to one another, recognizing that we are not competitors—rather, we are colleagues who labor together under the headship of Christ.

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Willie E. Hucks II is associate editor of Ministry.

October 2014

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