Ray H. Hughes, Jr.
It was a hot summer day in 1959, in the middle of an ole time camp meeting in Maryland. The worship service was authentic right down to the wooden benches and sawdust floor. Hundreds of people had packed in to hear the special singing with great expectations of what might happen once the evangelist approached the podium. Only the fact that the tabernacle was open-air and perched on the side of a hill, allowing a gentle breeze to occasionally sift through the crowd, made it bearable. Old fashioned hand held fans with pictures of Jesus on one side and the local funeral home ad on the reverse, really just slabs of cardboard stapled on what resembled giant popsicle-sticks, were in abundant use by the elderly in the crowd.
The choir finished on a high note. The atmosphere was charged. Everyone was expecting my dad, who was then the state overseer, to introduce the speaker. Then it happened. Someone drove a brand new green Rambler Station Wagon right into the tabernacle and right up in front of the pulpit. Who ever heard of such a thing? A car in the altar. What a stir it caused as everyone was wondering out loud as to what could be taking place. People were standing to get a better look. Excitement was everywhere because the most notable thing about the event was that the car was wrapped in a yellow ribbon with a giant bow on top.
Instead of Dad introducing the speaker, he was called to the podium and they presented him with the keys to the car. Everyone erupted into cheers. I remember how excited I was as a kid; now we had a car big enough to transport the family with our luggage. It even had a rack on top for extra cargo, no more trips crammed into a small car. Hallelujah, what a day!
Dad wasn’t pastoring at the time but the way I saw it then, as state overseer, he was sort of the head pastor for everyone. So, to me, this was the ultimate Pastor Appreciation Day. It let me know that people really did appreciate ministers and were willing to honor them for their labor of love. Someone had actually recognized all the hard work that had been done and they were now showing appreciation in a big way.
Some might be thinking that perhaps this is too much recognition or does anyone really deserve honor? Others could chime in: we need what we have to help the poor and needy. The pastor makes a good wage, why should we do more? Let their reward be in heaven that should be enough for anyone.
I prefer that we follow 1 Timothy 5:17 lest we slight the man of God in any way. “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” The scripture goes on to say in the next verse that “…the laborer is worthy of his wages.” NKJ
God Himself showed us the importance of honoring those in leadership when he showered praise on His own Son in 2 Peter 1:17, “For he received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
We simply cannot do enough for those who serve us so diligently. They deserve all the honor, praise, and gifts we can give to them. Our goal as parishioners should be to make this Pastor Appreciation the most memorable yet.