Posted by Pastor Stuart

I usually don’t like surprises, but on a recent Sunday, I didn’t mind the surprise I got. The kids were helping to lead worship that day, and before the opening prayer, Steve Johnson stepped up to the pulpit. I know Steve’s a big kid at heart, but we had already assigned the prayer to someone else, so why was he pushing his way¬†to the pulpit?

Turns out, it was Pastor Appreciation Day that day. Who knew?? Well, apparently everyone did except for me. Steve gave me a nice card on behalf of the church, and said that the church appreciated the work I do. It was such a touching surprise, I didn’t know what to say. That Hickory Rockers would be generous and thankful didn’t surprise me, for you are a generous and thankful bunch. But whenever I am on the receiving end of your generosity and thanks, I am then at a loss for words.

Despite being surprised on Sunday, I think I was still able to mention that whenever people ask me how my job is going at Hickory Rock, I tell them, “I’m thankful every day.” And indeed I am. Whether it’s looking someone in the eyes while they are in a hospital bed, straightening the hymnals in the sanctuary as the sun shines quietly through the stained glass, fielding great faith questions from our kids, encouraging people in their amazing spiritual growth, or just watching the wind blow the trees outside the office window, I am thankful. That’s why, when someone finds out I’m a pastor and asks what church I’m at, I always say, “I get to be the pastor of Hickory Rock Baptist Church,” because to me it’s a privilege.

Ministry itself is a privilege, given that a group of people hires you to share life with them, guiding and blessing them along the way. And ministry at Hickory Rock is an added privilege, because you all are just so darn nice!

I’ll let you in on a pastor secret. (Don’t tell the other pastors I told you, or they’ll kick me out of their club.) Although ministry is a unique job, it’s still a job, and anyone who has a job regularly complains about their job; pastors are no different. When a bunch of pastors get together, it doesn’t take long before the complaining starts. And much of it is very warranted. Some pastors have to put up with a lot in their congregations. (I think we’ve all heard stories of unpleasantries that have happened in churches.) So when they share their church troubles with me, my heart goes out to them because it sounds very difficult and stressful. But then my next thought is, “Boy, I’m thankful to be at Hickory Rock!” We are a place that loves one another, seeks God, follows Jesus, and serves others. And we have fun doing it.

A quick check of tells me that Pastor Appreciation Day is an annual thing, on the second Sunday of October every year. This year, it occurred right after National Angel Food Cake Day (which I regret not celebrating) and it kicked off National Chestnut Week. The following Sunday, conveniently on our Harvest Day, is also National Chocolate Cupcake Day. (Note to self: don’t forget to celebrate!!) So, if the second Sunday in October is Pastor Appreciation Day, then I think the Monday after it should be Congregation Appreciation Day. I know that I appreciate you, and I know that the people we bless appreciate you: families who receive food that you donate, kids who get Christmas toys, students who get school supplies, missionaries who receive funds, and many more.

So keep up the good work, and know that you are appreciated, by myself and many others.

Grace and peace,

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