A Pastor’s Wife on Pastor Appreciation Month

You should know I count my dear wife, Margi, as the greatest gift God ever gave me besides salvation. Brave, strong, kind, true, generous, never quitting, dedicated, hard-working, smart, fun, funny, and beautiful. She asked me to share this with you… Please use the share buttons below if you’d like to encourage the pastors and ministers in your life.

October is pastor appreciation month. I am a pastor’s wife. I grew up in church. I came to hear the sermon, which sometimes I loved, sometimes I criticized and sometimes I daydreamed through. I came selfishly to hear what I needed to hear to carry me through the week. I actually never once gave a thought about what the person delivering the sermon had faced that week, that month or that year. Until I married a pastor.

I now know that my husband has to deliver his sermon extolling God’s goodness and grace, His provision, His love and kindness – no matter what.

  • When there is financial pressure and he wonders how he will ever retire, he still needs to preach that God will provide.
  • When there is bad news from the doctor for him or those he loves, he still needs to speak of God’s great love.
  • When illness hits and there seems to be no relief and no response to prayer, he still needs to teach God is the Great Healer, Jehovah Rapha.
  • When his wife cries and wonders why God doesn’t seemingly answer prayers, and his heart breaks watching her struggle with this, he still needs to preach that God answers prayers.
  • When he is sad, he must still declare the joy of the Lord.
  • When his children are hurt or wounded, he continues to preach that God loves the little children, even though it would be easy to not find love.
  • When unspeakable loss is suffered, he still proclaims that God will restore.
  • When it seems that God is taking forever to answer a prayer and he becomes impatient, he must still utter words declaring patience and longsuffering.
  • When he wants to be angry and bitter in spirit, he must reflect God’s kindness and caring.
  • When he has been hurt so deeply by someone, especially someone close to him or someone in his congregation, he must set aside pettiness and preach that vengeance is God’s and forgiveness is needed.
  • When his heart’s prayers for mercy seem to find no answer, he must still trumpet amazing grace.

Dear churchgoer, stop and take a moment to consider the person that feeds you from God’s Word. He is not a super human. He is human. He suffers the same losses, fears, sadness, uncertainties, questions that you face. He does not have a “you are godly” shield accorded to him so that the ills of life bounce off him or his family. He is not immune from the trials of life. Indeed, Satan would love nothing better than to see an effective leader stumble and fail.

In truth, I have learned that the man of God that stands before you week after week is a sensitive human being who silently faces the battles of life and bows his head and prostates himself on the mercies of God because sometimes he can no longer function under his own power. He is not immune from the battles of life that scar the soul and wrench the heart. He just needs to get up week after week and summon the Holy Spirit to speak through him to encourage, educate, challenge, mobilize, and yes, sometimes even amuse you.

This October please take a moment to thank your pastor for the incredible calling he/she answered. It is a calling that requires more than most of us would ever really give thought. It is an honor, and yet an incredible challenge. Pray for those men and women who serve God’s call. Show your love and care. Who knows? Maybe that person that has served you for years desperately needs to be encouraged and uplifted in prayer. Satan is a mighty adversary. Maybe that the man or woman that is called to meet your needs now needs your hand to lift him up and your shoulder to lean on.

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13, NKJV).

~ by Margi Giovannetti, Facebook.com/Margaret.Giovannetti

October is Pastor’s Appreciation Month and the 2nd Sunday of each October is Pastor Appreciation Sunday. Encourage those who encourage you. Sharing is appreciated.

 

Advertisements

Your Church Smells

italianfood1As a kid, my family enjoyed dinner every Sunday after church at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. This would be the Italian side of my family. The second thing that hit me when I walked through their door was the plastic covers on the lamp shades–thankfully NOT on the sofas and chairs.  The first thing was the smell: a heavenly blend of garlic, marinara sauce, and Italian spices from the roast beef.

Play, watch TV, eat, fall asleep while the grown-ups visited. A good life.

Whenever I smell Italian food, I think of Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

If you were to visit (they’re in heaven now, so you can’t), you’d say their house smells “Italian.”

If you were to ask them to describe their home’s smell, they would say… “Our house has no smell.” Or maybe, “Our house smells normal.”

italianfood2Your own culture is invisible to you. It doesn’t smell like a culture. It doesn’t smell at all, to you. It’s your NORMAL.  My Irish friends don’t listen to Irish music, they listen to music. My Greek friends don’t eat Greek food, they eat food. We become oblivious to the smells and textures of our own culture. We interpret them as NORMAL and as UNIVERSAL. Who DOESN’T love the smell of cooked cabbage, right?  (Peeeeewwwww!)

And that’s what can make church-people like me so dangerous: we create a church-culture that WE can’t smell. But our VISITORS CAN SMELL IT. It’s the first thing that hits them.

In our minds, we don’t do contemporary worship or traditional worship or cutting edge worship. We just do worship. Everybody should like it, right? To us it is meaningful. To us it is reverent. To us it is celebrative.  It has become our “normal.”  It’s the music of our hearts. Hate to burst your bubble, but just because it’s in your heart, doesn’t mean it’s in everybody’s heart.

We universalize our normal. We get so used to it that we can’t imagine anybody NOT being used to it. It has no smell.

But our visitors smell it a mile away.  They smell our worship style, our color scheme, our musty air, our architecture, our pacing, our technology (or lack of it), the elements we include, the elements we omit, our language, our coffee brand, our Bible translation, our inter-relational harmony, our wood pews or theater seats, our printed media, our projected media, our choice of instruments, our volume, and our preaching style.  All the stuff that we stopped noticing  years ago. It all communicates.

Your church smells. The most important question you can ask is this: IS IT A GOOD SMELL OR A BAD SMELL TO THE PEOPLE GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO REACH?

Can you smell it?  If you can’t, your church is in trouble.

noseThe second most important question you can ask is: DO WE EVEN KNOW WHAT SMELLS GOOD TO THE PEOPLE GOD HAS CALLED US TO REACH? If God has called you to reach your community, what is their median age? What is the segment of that age you are best equipped to reach?  What smells do they hate? What smells drive them away? What smells do they love? You have to know. You have to listen. You have to relate… and you have to SACRIFICE.

That’s the next important question, actually the most decisive question of all: ARE THE PEOPLE AND LEADERS OF YOUR CHURCH WILLING TO BREATHE WHAT SMELLS BAD TO YOU SO YOU CAN REACH THE LOST?

I am NOT saying that we should water-down our doctrine. No way!  I believe in teaching the whole counsel of God from the Word of God. I am NOT talking about the content of our faith, but about the PACKAGING of it. I am talking about the morally neutral, cultural elements that define us. I am talking about the stylistic stuff. Stuff that leaders should be super-sensitive to.  Are we needlessly driving away honest seekers after God? Are we putting a stumbling block in their way because we don’t like the smells they like? Are we willing to sacrifice our preferences for the sake of lost people?

How long would you hold your nose (and smile) if it meant a great flow of hurting people into God’s kingdom?

Three lessons here:

churchworship11. Learn to smell your church through visitor’s nostrils. Okay, maybe not the most appealing analogy, but you catch my meaning.  You stopped noticing that old planter in the corner, covered in dust, years ago. But it tells newcomers you don’t care. You stopped noticing the handwritten signs taped to the walls. But it tells your visitors something.  You can put out a million signs that say, Visitors Welcome. But if you create a church that doesn’t smell good to them, don’t be surprised if they stay away in droves.

2. Sacrifice your preferences for the sake of lost people. Here’s where Paul smacks us upside our self-centered head:

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, NKJV.

If your church smells the same today as it did fifteen years ago, don’t be surprised if the young people go elsewhere. I’m not saying that your church is necessarily bad… maybe God is calling you to reach somebody other than young adults. That’s great. Be true to your call.  I’m just saying, don’t be surprised.

girlBut I’m also saying something deeper.  Are you, veteran Christian, so hardened that you’re willing to drive away potential converts for the sake of your personal preferences?  God help us! And God give us leaders brave enough to defy that unholy spirit.

“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our [younger, weaker] brother’s way.” Romans 14:13, NKJV.

Oops.  Did I catch you self-righteously nodding your head? “See!” you think, “You’re offending the bretheren and sisteren! It’s wrong!”

No, it’s not wrong. It’s wrong to offend the WEAKER brother or sister… that is, the new kids on the spiritual block. It’s not wrong to offend the veteran, by this Bible verse.

Dear Long-Time Christian, please give up your right to be offended. Please give up your right to have it your way. Please give up the drive that makes you lock the church in YOUR personal Golden Era… Please let the church smell FRESH.

phariseeslegalistsThat  means we may offend–we must offend–people just like ME:  veteran Christians. I should love lost people so much that I can tolerate any smell to get them saved and folded into God’s family. I must make that sacrifice, not the lost people around me. God calls me to that.  And if I’m not ready for that by now, the church should pass me by.  Lord knows, I’ve had enough time to grow up.

Remember all those times you said that every Christian is a missionary? Well, it’s time to practice what you preach.

Pretend God planted you in a far-off land. Pretend you’re a missionary to an alien tribe. Pretend you have to eat food you don’t like, sing songs you don’t like, and worship in a hut you don’t like… in a language you don’t like… so they can spend eternity with the Savior.  Be a missionary, and please, for heaven’s don’t grumble about it.

3. Celebrate the smells of other churches. Don’t criticize them if they’re preaching Christ and his Word.  Don’t judge their music or vestments or programs or language if they are reaching their community for Christ. So they’re not the same as you. So they don’t share your preferences. They can reach people you’ll never reach.

Aren’t you glad somebody told you about Jesus in your language, your style?

That is a pleasing aroma to God.

Can you smell it?

stryper2choircathedralssheahillsong

I’d like to invite you to one more local book-signing.  I’ll be at Barnes and Noble on Saturday, April 25, at 10:00 to noon.  In many ways, this one is most important to me. I did signings at two local Christian bookstores, and that was fun. But this one is about our testimony. I’d really love the Barnes & Noble store to know that Christians come into their store and buy their books.  So if you can make it, just to visit for a while, or if you could hold off buying a book till then, that would be great.

Get on the email list and I’ll send a reminder.

The Magic Pill

magicpill.jpegWhat cures all, solves all, heals all, comforts all, is free for the taking, and most people have a huge supply sitting on their shelves?

“I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 2:21; 5:13, NKJV.

Continue reading

To Debate Or NOT to Debate?

boxinggloves.jpegIf you’ve followed this blog and its comments you noticed that the discussion turned errr… a little feisty yesterday. The heat centered on one commenter in particular whose comments tend to be critical of things I say. There are a couple like that, and I occasionally reply, but often do not.

Fellow commenters did.

Now it’s my turn. Continue reading

How To Compose A Resumé

resume.jpegSince our church has been hiring for two positions, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to peruse 174 resumes in the last 7 or so weeks.

Yikes!

I say yikes because I recognize that each resume represents somebody’s life; somebody’s hopes and dreams perhaps. I don’t take any of them lightly.  I know that sending out a resume is like putting your profile on E-Harmony.  “I hope somebody likes me.  I hope somebody wants me.”  It’s really tough.  I get that.

And I agonize over every resume.  I really do.  But it’s about a MATCH, not about if you’re good or bad.  It’s does your profile match our God-given dreams as a church?

Still, I operate from this assumption: your resume represents you at your best. I expect that on your resume you’ve put your best foot forward. In essence, it’s all downhill from here. Continue reading

Dispelling the Myth of the Magic Pastor

flightattendant.jpegIf you want to see an instant eye roll, ask a flight attendant if he/she knows Sherry or Diane or whatever flight attendant you might know. “Oh, so you’re a flight attendant? How cool. Do you know my cousin Sherry? She’s a flight attendant too!”

Instant eye roll of disdain.

What, there are only about 300,000 flight attendants, so the odds are HUGE that since you’re one, you know the one I know. Continue reading

Back to School Blues

lilredschool1.jpgMonday was JD’s first day in pre-kindergarten; today is Josie’s first day in first grade. We have the blues. Especially Margi. For the first time, the house will be empty of kids during the morning (pre-K lets out at 11:30). Margi especially misses the kids. I do to.

Yesterday we dressed up JD in his first-day-at-school-ever clothes, and hustled out the door promptly at 8:01. School starts at 8:30 (we thought) and we wanted to stop for a donut-treat on the way. A special reward for being a good boy on his way to school. I know, sugar isn’t good for learning… but it’s pre-K for crying out loud.

We arrived at 8:25 at school… to a virtually empty parking lot. Continue reading

Sabbath: Vacating from Church

 

brain_diagram.jpg

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11, NKJV.

One of the occupational hazards for a pastor is how hard it is to quit thinking about church. Even a casual encounter with an acquaintance in the mall can turn into a 15 minute church conversation, followed by a full day’s worth of reflection and fretting. I can’t help myself. I’m not complaining either; it goes with the territory and it’s why I’m paid the big bucks. No complaints at all; it’s part of being a shepherd.

In fact, there are a lot of jobs where you’re never off the clock: real estate and mommyhood come to mind. Moms understand pastor-hood best, I think. Relentless demands, and even when you’re not with the kids, you can’t help thinking about them. Continue reading

HeavenQuake… (on LOIS PETERSON)

There was a high magnitude quake in the evangelistic spiritual realm over Chicago today. At its epicenter was the passing away of one of the finest evangelists I have ever known.

I first heard the name of Lois Peterson disdainfully–almost as if the speaker was spitting. She was not popular among the old guard at my church.

  • “I can’t believe that she lets people smoke at her Bible study.”
  • “A woman shouldn’t teach men.”
  • “She’s not under anybody’s authority.”
  • “She doesn’t believe in the old sin nature.”
  • “Her ear rings are too big.”
  • “She said ‘damn’.”

Others despised her for these reasons. The rest of us loved her for them.

Continue reading

You Can’t Wear That!

Actual conversation:

Margi: You have NO shirts that you can wear.

Me: (confused) Wha? Huh? Duh? (mouth stays open)

Margi: (holding a bunch of shirts on hangers) You have a stain on every single one of these shirts. What–do you have a hole in your lower lip?

caveman.jpg

Continue reading