Tribute to a Pastor
There are special occasions when it may be appropriate to give a tribute to a pastor.
This material applies for any tribute, but especially a tribute to a pastor.
If you are planning to write or give a tribute to a pastor, I encourage you to read, pray, and reflect on the examples of tributes found in the Bible.
WHAT is a Tribute to a Pastor?
A tribute is a public acknowledgment of gratitude, esteem, and respect.
Pastors, teachers, parents, and all those in authority who lead and teach us can certainly use encouragement and inspiration.
Theirs is an important obligation, the responsibility of guiding souls.
We must be as careful as we can, that we do not give flattery or worthless praise.
Those close to the pastor probably know a fault or 2 about him, because after all, he is human.
But a tribute to a pastor is not about the pastor
, however good he is.
It is about showing esteem and respect for the office, the authority given him by God, and thanking God first, and then the pastor, for being faithful in following God's call.
In my humble opinion, a tribute to a pastor should not be one of praise to him. Rather, to God be the glory.
A tribute to a pastor should really be a tribute to God for the work He has accomplished in the pastor, and the privileged, sacred work God has given the pastor to do, of assisting God in His greatest work, the salvation of souls.
Remember Jesus told His Apostles, who were the first pastors He appointed to His Church, "Without me you can do nothing."
A tribute to a pastor should be one of encouragement and inspiration to him, and especially prayer. Prayer of thanks to God. Prayer asking that God continue to bless him and his flock and his work, especially that he remain faithful to his calling.
Even Jesus knew his Apostles needed encouragement. Before He died, He told Peter, I have prayed for you, that when you turn, you confirm the faith of the brothers.
Which is, after all, the work of the pastor. To guide, to encourage, to show and lead by example, his flock on the path to heaven.
But who gives him encouragement and inspiration and prayers?
That, my friend, is our sacred duty.
Pray for him often, daily, and even more often. You end up really praying for and helping yourself.
And when fitting, take time to give an appropriate tribute to a pastor.
HOW do you give tribute to a pastor?
Different congregations have different customs when they give a tribute to a pastor. When you honor a pastor with a tribute, you want to do what is fitting and proper when you honor your pastor. Questions to decide are, do you want it inside the Church building, before or after service, at a reception afterward in another place....
Here are some ways to do it. The guidelines are similar to those you'd use on Pastor Appreciation Day. Again, there are different church customs to keep in mind. A tribute to a pastor could include the following:
- A visiting pastor could give a special sermon.
- A presentation of speeches by the elders or other respected members of the parish.
- Songs sung by the parish, choir, or children.
- An inspiring skit or small program.
- A plaque can be presented.
- An appropriate gift can be given, such as a cross, picture of the Good Shepherd (Pastor means Shepherd), or some other special significant religious item.
- And especially, Prayers and Blessings for the pastor, and if at all possible, prayed over the pastor.
- And many other ways that the Holy Spirit can prompt us.
Oh. and don't forget we're human. We all like to eat and drink a little once in a while. :)
So a breakfast, reception, desert, refreshments, dinner, picnic, potluck are usually a good idea. Just don't have them all at once!
Choose what's appropriate for the occasion, time of day, and the needs of the people.
Maybe you can figure out by now that I used to help with some of the planning and practical arrangements in the parish. That way, the wonderful ladies of the parish knew what preparations to make.
Why so much preparation? It's because every event, including a tribute to a pastor, is not only for the pastor, but for the edification and unity and building up and encouragement and inspiration and blessing of the whole parish.
And most of all, to honor and glorify God.
WHEN is a good time to be honoring your pastor?
Some good times to give a tribute to a pastor are:
- On Pastor Appreciation Day aka Clergy Appreciation Day, the 2nd Sunday in October.
- During October, which is Pastor Appreciation Month.
- On an important Anniversary, such as 10 years at a particular church or 25 years in the ministry.
- A wedding anniversary. (Don't forget a tribute also to the pastor's wife. Okay, to not offend, some pastors aren't married and some denominations don't allow it.
- An important milestone in the Church, such as 10 years of a new Church building or founding of a school, honoring the pastor or Church leader who started the project.
- At the time a pastor leaves for another assignment.
- At the time a pastor goes into retirement.
Comment on HUMOR
I'd like to make a note about humor when doing a tribute to a pastor.
We live in a crazed world that is entertaining itself to spiritual death. If it's not funny, if there's no jokes, some folks are bored to death. And some of the jokes aren't funny, they're sick, if not dead.
I do an immense amount of keyword research. I am appalled - and God must be too - how many people are looking online for funny pastor jokes and a whole lot worse. You wouldn't believe the garbage.
You must be very careful in what is done in and around God's house the Church. And especially around His temple, which is you
because you have Him inside you.
There is no place holier than the Church, no day holier than the Lord's Day and no authority on earth so precious to God as the Pastor, and if the Church and its members don't uphold God's honor, who will?
Especially on a day you have a tribute to a pastor, be very careful of bringing God, the Church, religion, and religious authority like pastors into mockery and ridicule.
It's a fine line to the next step of desecration, blasphemy, and sacrilege. It's serious business with God. When you touch the pastor, you touch the apple of His eye.
Remember Miriam, struck with leprosy and cast outside the camp for criticizing Moses.
It's also a lesson from God for gossipers who do the work of the devil using their gossip to attack God's authority and divide and destroy a parish.
And then remember Aaron, who was just as guilty as Miriam, if not more so, whom not even God would strike with leprosy because he held the office of the priesthood.
Back to the Topic of Humor.
Unfortunately, many modern churches are looking to entertainment to attract people to their churches. Some forms of entertainment are downright worldly, offensive to God, give rise to the occasion of sin, and have no place in the life of a Christian, no place in a Church.
In the use of humor, funny stories and jokes, and so forth, I would advise the greatest caution. There is a time for everything, and everything has it's time.
It is true, when you give a tribute to a pastor, it is a time of celebration and rejoicing. In a time so difficult for God's leaders and God's people, it is good to sing and praise the Lord for His blessings. But it is a spiritual, sacred, holy time.
Especially for the events held within the Church.
Now for the celebration afterward, yes, have good, clean, wholesome fun. Let the children run and play. It's the privilege of their age. They can't be expected to pray in Church all day. (I was a teacher in a parochial school for years before becoming a pastor.)
And if you have humor, make sure it's good, clean, and wholesome too.
Regarding jokes and funny stories, make sure they are appropriate. Don't offend. No personal jokes. Only clean respectful ones. Too many people are sensitive and are easily hurt, and probably are too shy to make others aware.
It should go without saying jokes about pastors, religion, the bible, are best to think and think and think again, and bite your tongue and think some more, before telling -- and probably best left unsaid. Because once you say it, you can't stuff it back in your mouth. (It's easier to put your shoe in your mouth.)
A reminder that we are teaching our children respect for authority, and your pastor is God's authority on earth.
And speaking of children, Jesus said it were better to be drowned tied to a huge rock in the depth of the ocean so there's no way you could survive, than find out the great punishment that's going to happen to those who scandalize children.
The Apostle James writes that he who offends not in words, the same is a perfect man.
Now that I've discussed some heavy truth in the matter, now that we hopefully have some necessary fear of the Lord in this matter, let me also tell you what I feel should be the spirit
of a tribute to a pastor ...
That's right. We're going to make mistakes. We all have problems in our own lives to work on.
In a good family, one with a spirit of true love, we grow, we learn, we mature, we forgive, we help one another back up after a fall, we look after one another's bumps and bruises. Because we're family. We're God's family.
It's a little more difficult in a very large church, because there needs to be more organization just to make things run smoothly. You think that's a problem, God's family is HUGE, and He's got to deal with all kinds of problems.
Jesus said, Be ye perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.
Over the years, my standard of perfection has changed. I used to think "perfect" meant keeping all the rules.
Now as I've matured, I think the key word Jesus said in this quote is Father. A perfect Father. A Father who treats each of His children as special individuals with special needs.
A Father who doesn't come down and pound us every time we make a mistake, provided He sees our good will and our efforts to please Him.
And also a Father, who despite all our differences, can bring us to unity together as His family, because the glue that holds a family together is love.
The love that works for one another and inspires and leads and serves and helps one another, knowing our God is Love and has shown true sacrificial love to a degree immeasurable.
A Note on the Forgotten
I think of how many church workers - such as pastors, teachers, and missionaries - are rarely appreciated, if at all.
They don't get - at least in this life - the appreciation they deserve.
Let us be mindful that the best tribute to a pastor comes in heaven. That's why I was inspired to write the poem
The Very Best Pastor Appreciation.
Thank your stars!
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