BY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RICK PORTER - OKOBOJI BILBE CONFERENCE MINISTRIES
The popular media culture can warp reality. Celebrities of all descriptions, but most assuredly those in sports, entertainment and national government dominate the Twitter feed, receiving most of the attention, whether positive or negative.
Meanwhile, closer to home, quiet people do the quiet things that keep civilization afloat. Sometimes heroic effort produces fleeting celebrity. Most of the time, the heroism is of the "get up, show up, dress up, and never give up" variety. Floods make the news. Trickles do spectacular work over time.
I appreciate the mayor of my city. I know him. Voted for him. I think he does a good job. But the guy who visits my house every Thursday morning to whisk away my garbage is my real hero. We've not met.
Skilled local physicians have granted me a few more years of life. But the people who kept me comfortable through it all, did the heavy lifting, and offered constant care were nurses, teamed with those who brought meals, mopped floors and made beds. I didn't catch their names.
Last week, this space reported the departure of a local church pastor and leader after nearly a decade of ministry in the area. He was not alone. Another pastor from another church in the county also concluded his tenure on Easter Sunday. No doubt the churches they served expressed much appreciation. But the departures remind me that appreciation is always in order (and too often in short supply) for the clergy who serve faithfully and humbly among us.
Though I am no longer an active pastor, I know pastoral life can be filled with emotional whiplash. Pastors rush from blessing a birth to grieving at a death-bed or from a marital crisis to wedding planning, all within hours. And, all this is lived out in a context of intimate human community which is presumed to be heavenly but isn't yet.
The week after Holy Week is a good time to give a shout out to those who work hard week after week to encourage our human flourishing at the deepest levels. They are little noticed. Their work is quiet. Confidences are kept. Crises are engaged. Tears shared. Counsel given.
Pastors are not seen as contributing much to the domestic product. The key words there are "not seen." Celebrity is "seen." The spiritual, though invisible, is real. Inner rest and peace with God and others is the stuff of happy, healthy living. These, like the air we breathe, are not seen but life-giving nevertheless. The Good News of what Jesus called "abundant life" is proclaimed and modeled and counseled by the clergy who "get up, show up, dress up, and never give up."
Please don't wait for clergy appreciation month or the farewell reception to encourage and support your pastor. Drop her a note today. Send a gift card in thanks. Or, just silence your criticisms, reduce your expectations and enlarge your prayer for these servant leaders among us.