October is National Clergy Appreciation Month and I’m delighted that somebody thought this was important! No, I am not a clergyperson but I have a front-row seat to the one who lives in my home. For more than 35 years in ministry we have loved sharing births, deaths, marriages, divorces, family reunions, and everything in between with some of the most amazing people on the planet.
In every community we’ve lived and served—Dyersburg, TN, Atlanta, GA, Paris and Jackson, TN twice, Lebanon and Clarksville, TN, and now Memphis, we inherited a beautiful new family. Though I have an especially hard time saying good-bye whenever we move, we’ve discovered, like diarist Anne Frank, that people are inherently good and they’re as wonderful as the ones we left.
Clergy Appreciation Month is still pretty new—begun in 1992—but it is important. According to www.corporate.hallmark.com/holidays, the celebration was established with a mission of uplifting and encouraging pastors, missionaries and religious workers. Though not included in the list of folks to be appreciated, I’m adding funeral directors to this list and encouraging you to show them some love, too.
A few years ago I was emcee for a funeral directors banquet and as I was preparing for it, I realized that their work was indeed ministry. It entails nights, weekends, and lots of stress. They usually see us at our worst—the loss of parents, spouses, children, friends—and like clergy people, they do what they do 365 days a year, rain, shine, sleet or snow. In small family funeral businesses, many a vacation or planned time off gets rescheduled when several funerals have to be staffed.
This month, as part of your appreciation commitment, pick something from this list and show a little love.
- Send a card to a clergyperson/servant and share how their ministry touched you and made the difference. I think Roger does a fantastic job with eulogies and it makes his day when people send notes and say they remember.
- If your clergyperson was there for you during a particularly stressful time, let them know you appreciate them. Yes, they’re doing what they get paid for but the ministry of presence means so much. My father had a massive heart attack and died one Saturday morning while we were en route to the hospital. We called our friend, Mark, to go the hospital and be with my mother who was all alone. Mark dropped what he was doing and stayed with her until we arrived and on into the afternoon. He hugged and prayed and consoled, and for that I’m still grateful. I’m sending him another note to say so.
- When my law professor discovered that my husband was a pastor, he gruffly said “The only thing worse than being the preacher is being the preacher’s wife!” We laughed because preachers’ wives and now husbands, often get caught in awkward and strange places. I’ve heard spouses say “God didn’t call me, he called my spouse.” I disagree. It has always been my great joy to share Roger’s ministry and be his official sidekick. Spouses love affirmation and cards, too.
- Make sure your clergyperson takes time for renewal and rest. If you’ve never spent the day with your pastor, it’ll make you tired just thinking about it. Study, preparation, reflection, hospital visits, office visits, meetings—encourage them to take time for Sabbath and refreshment. Be supportive.
- This month is a gentle reminder to embrace those whose work is of a higher calling. It will bless you and them. We thank God for an opportunity to serve.
I am awaiting to see your appreciation comments at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.