Tag Archives: Pastor Appreciation

Will Graham: 4 Ways to Support and Encourage Your Pastor

By Will Graham, Cove Executive Director

People often compare me to my grandfather. They may say that I look a little like him, or that I sound like him. They ask if I study his preaching style to make my delivery similar to his.

Wil and Billy Graham

Not many people, however, pick up on one similarity that has nothing to do with genetics. Before beginning our evangelistic ministries, both my grandfather and I served as pastors of local churches.

In the early 1940s, after graduating from Wheaton College, my grandfather became pastor of a church in nearby Western Springs, Ill. He preached whole-heartedly and watched his congregation grow, even as he understood it was temporary and felt a growing passion in his heart for evangelism.

Similarly, as I was finishing my studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., I was called to lead Wakefield Baptist Church, a church plant of Bay Leaf Baptist Church, where I had been a pastoral intern.

I must admit that I did not want to be a pastor. I committed my calling to God and told him, “Whatever You want me to be, whatever You want me to do for the Kingdom, I’ll do it. But please don’t make me a pastor!”

It’s not that I didn’t respect the pulpit and pastorate. Far from it! I have always had a great admiration for the saints who lead their flocks week in and week out.

But from my perspective, pastors were underappreciated and underpaid, serving long and thankless hours only to hear complaints because the message was too long or too short, the music was too contemporary or not contemporary enough. You get the picture.

Despite my misgivings, when Dr. Ron Rowe, a wonderful friend and mentor of mine, suggested I become an intern in his church, I listened to his counsel. He suggested that I may eventually end up working for my father at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) or Samaritan’s Purse, and that both organizations work closely with the local church. He thought that serving in a church would give me a good understanding and help me later in my ministry.

I became the reluctant pastor. And, my friends, I loved it! I loved almost everything about being a pastor; the congregation, the staff, the deacons and leadership teams, and opening up God’s Word every week to boldly proclaim His truths.

When the day came that I felt called to leave my church and help my father at the BGEA, I sat down at my desk and wept. Here I was in a calling I had done my best to avoid, and now I could hardly bring myself to leave. But when God tells you to go, you go.

Why am I sharing all this? It’s because October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and – as a former pastor – I want to encourage you to go out of your way in the coming weeks to encourage and uplift your pastor.

Have you ever considered how much your pastor gives, and the sacrifices that he and his family make? In many churches, the pastor is not just the preacher, but also the accountant, janitor, chaplain, librarian and counselor. He rejoices with young couples as they pledge their lives to each other, beams as he cradles an infant for dedication, and cries with families who have lost a loved one. He’s on-call 24/7/365.

Burn out is a real thing, and a real risk, when we go too long without rest. It’s no different for your pastor. He needs time to be alone in the Word, not just working on a sermon, but being filled with the Holy Spirit and the full counsel of God. He needs time away with just his wife and family to recharge and be rejuvenated for the sake of the ministry.

There are several things you can do to support and encourage your pastor this month:

  1. Pray. I’m sure most of you pray for your pastor. Thank you for doing that. If you aren’t making your pastor a focus in your prayer time, commit to do that this month. Tell your pastor that you’re praying for him.
  2. Say something. A word of affirmation and encouragement costs you nothing, but I guarantee it means so much more than you can imagine to your pastor. Tell him how much you appreciate him and his family.
  3. Break down the walls. Disagreements can arise that build up walls between people in the congregation, and between people and the pastor. I had to deal with it in my church, and my grandfather dealt with it in his church. Make Pastor Appreciation Month a time of reconciliation, where you put aside the differences and focus together on the Gospel.
  4. Provide an escape. If possible, show your pastor how much you appreciate him by surprising him and his family with a brief time of renewal. Perhaps you have a deacon in the church who can preach for a Sunday, or maybe you can offer an extra day off during the week along with a hotel stay in a nearby city that will allow him to get away to relax.

At the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, we’ve decided to make pastors a priority as well. We’ve developed Leadership Renewal Retreats which are three-day events specifically designed to refresh and rejuvenate pastors, encouraging them in their ongoing ministries. The program, lodging and meals are all free for qualified pastors and spouses. We hope that your church and pastor can take advantage of this great opportunity.

My friends, as a former pastor I can attest the great blessing it is to lead a congregation, but I can also stand here and say clearly that it isn’t easy. There are struggles. This month, show your pastor how much you appreciate him in whatever ways you can.

Will Graham
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Click here for more information  and to register for a Leadership Renewal Retreat or a Pastors’ Institute (both free for pastors and their spouses) at The Cove.

If you would like to be a blessing and give to the Leadership Renewal Retreat project, click here.

 

What’s Happening at The Cove — October

COMING TO THE COVE OCTOBER 2015

Autumn is just around the corner and Asheville, North Carolina is one of the most beautiful sites to behold during “leaf” season.  We hope you will come enjoy God’s colorful display and His sweet presence here at The Cove.

Check out our schedule for the month of October below.  As you can see several of our events have sold out, so if you see something that interests you, we encourage you to reserve your seat right away. 

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Click here to see the available October Personal Spiritual Retreat dates or call 1-800-950-2092.

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Click on each of the links below for more information and to register. 

David’s Heart: Devoted but Distracted
with Stuart and Jill Briscoe, October 5-7, 2015

SeniorSalt Impact Concert
with Stephanie Seefeldt, October 5, 2015

Strength Through Grace  – SOLD OUT (Program and Lodging)
with Alistair Begg, October 12-14 , 2015

Pastors’ Institute: The Bible’s Priorities for God’s Shepherds  (Pastors & Spouses attend for just $99!)
with Alistair Begg, October 15, 2015

Solid Footings for Unstable Times: A Practical, Demystifying Study of Revelation 
with Dr. Ross S. Rhoads, October 21-23, 2015

The Invisible War: Seeing What Lies Below the Surface
with Chip Ingram, October 23-25, 2015
NOTE: Seats for seminar are available, but on-property lodging is full.  

An Evening at The Cove with – Dinner, Concert & Meet and Greet — SOLD OUT
with Annie Moses Band, October 25, 2015

Grace to Get Past Our Past
with Erwin Lutzer, October 26-28 , 2015
NOTE: Seats for seminar are available, but on-property lodging is full. 

Concerned couple over bills square promo with lower case info

Click here to go directly to the Resource page.

God Bless You!

 

A Message from Will Graham: Pastor Appreciation Month

By Will Graham:

It is continually humbling to be compared – and even mentioned in the same sentence – as the wonderful man of God that I call Daddy Bill, my grandfather Billy Graham. But many people may not know one key aspect of ministry that both my grandfather and I share: we both started our ministries as pastors of local churches.

When my grandfather was a student at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., he served as part-time pastor of an area church. Then, as he finished his studies, he became pastor of a church in Western Springs, Ill.  He wrote in his autobiography that he was so enthusiastic that he accepted the call without even asking my grandmother, to whom he was engaged!

My path to the local church took a similar route, except that I had absolutely, positively zero desire to be a pastor. As I became a student at Liberty University, I spoke with my dad about my major, and he suggested that I focus on Bible and Business. “No matter what you do later in life, those two areas will serve you well,” he told me.

I took his advice, and – as a young student – I fell in love with the Bible. I became a sponge, soaking up all the wisdom I could possibly gather from my professors. I grew to see the Bible not as a collection of stories, but as one continuous narrative of God’s love for us from Genesis to Revelation.

Despite this passion for God’s Word and the burden I felt to tell others of His love for them, I still fought the idea of ever being a pastor of a church. I didn’t want it! To me, pastors were underappreciated and underpaid. They were stuck dealing with unwinnable situations in interpersonal and interchurch conflicts and were often told everything they were doing wrong (not what they were doing right).

Yes, I even went so far as to tell God, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do, but I’m not going to be a pastor.” Looking back, this little statement certainly fits the old saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

I went on from Liberty to seminary at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, and it was there that Pastor Ron Rowe of Bay Leaf Baptist Church convinced me that – even though I didn’t want to be a pastor – it would still be good for me to get experience in a local church. He pointed out that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) always develops good relationships with churches where they are holding outreaches, and this experience would give me another perspective if I did end up as a part of the organization that bears my grandfather’s name.

His argument made sense to me, and I became an intern at Bay Leaf. Eventually I became the pastor of Bay Leaf’s church plant, Wakefield Baptist Church.

My friends, I loved it! It was one of the greatest honors of my life to lead that church plant and minister to the wonderful folks there. When the time came for God to call me to my evangelistic ministry and position with BGEA, I didn’t want to go. I wept openly because I didn’t want to leave, but when God directs your path, you follow. That’s one thing I learned through the process.

So, why am I sharing this whole story with you? It’s Pastor Appreciation Month, and I want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to support and encourage the pastor of your church. “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other” (1 Thessalonians 5:1–13, NIV).

Whether your pastor entered the local mission field enthusiastically like my grandfather, or reluctantly like me, his calling is not one to be taken lightly. On any given day, your pastor is – with God’s help – guiding a flock that is dealing with depression, infighting, spiritual warfare, budget issues, divorce, lost jobs, deaths, and life-threatening diseases. And that’s in addition to all the other aspects of the role, like sermons, weddings, evangelism, programs for all ages, and community outreach.

Here are several questions for you to consider this month: Are you encouraging your pastor? Are you praying for your pastor? Are you seeking to build him up and not tear him down? Are you showing love and grace and support to your pastor’s spouse and family in order to make his job easier both at work and at home?

We all need to be held accountable and offered guidance at times, but is your criticism constructive and are you engaging your pastor in love and respect?

My friends, I ask you to please examine yourself and consider honestly your answers to the questions above. If you recognize that you are not being as supportive as you can be, start by praying for your pastor and let God direct your path from there. Make sure your pastor – and his family – know how much you appreciate him this month. And don’t let that encouragement end on October 31. Your pastor needs encouragement year-round, just like you and I do.

Considering giving a Cove gift certificate to show your appreciation to your pastor?  For more information or to to purchase, call 1-800-950-2092 .

Will Graham is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel under the banner of BGEA. Will has spoken to audiences around the world. He graduated from Liberty University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and in 2001 graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. Will and his wife, Kendra, have three children. He currently serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.