Editor’s note: Many churches celebrate October as Pastor Appreciation Month. If yours is among them, consider incorporating the devotion below into your plans. It is slightly adapted from the free ministry message that accompanies the Thanking God for Your Servant Heart product line.
In addition, CTA has a number of other appropriate, value-priced gifts you may want to consider using to acknowledge the work of your pastor and the entire church staff all year round. Think about how these could fit into a year-round plan of encouragement.
Did you ever watch the television reality series, Undercover Boss? The premise is that the leader of a large business comes into the enterprise as an entry level employee. In disguise, the boss trains to work at the front desk of a resort chain. The mayor rides along, learning the ins and outs of work on his city’s garbage trucks. The owner helps deliver product to his own convenience stores – at two in the morning.
Toward the end of each episode, the employees find out they’ve been working alongside “the big boss.” This “reveal” almost always comes as a shock. Viewers can see the wheels turning in the employee’s heads. “What did I say? How did I do? What kind of impression did I make?” The workers ask themselves all these questions and more besides as they try to reconstruct the experience. Some of them wonder if they will be fired.
Sometimes, the executive is indeed disappointed. Most often, though, he or she discovers ways to make the workers’ jobs more efficient, pleasant, or effective. Often, too, the owner finds ways to reward faithful employees. Some workers get a vacation at a swanky resort—paid for by the company. Some employees find their college debt erased. Sometimes a business owner even writes a check to eliminate the family mortgage!
What motivates business owners to do all this? Often, the boss is simply so thankful for the servant heart the employee has shown.
Getting to the Heart
Whether or not our earthly employer ever surprises us with an anonymous “ride along,” we know that our Lord Jesus has promised to stay with us always—even at work. Whether we collect a paycheck in a Christian school or volunteer as a helper in the nursery or food pantry at our church, our Savior promises to be with us always (Matthew 28:20). Sometimes we’re aware of his presence, sometimes not. But Jesus always sees what we do. He hears what we say. He even knows what we think!
How do you feel about this “reveal”? Does the reminder make you nervous? Does it send you searching back through your memory to discover what improper attitudes, cruel words, or unkind actions our Lord may have seen?
If so, be at peace. In Christ’s cross, your guilt has been taken away. The record of your sins has been expunged. Jesus is with you to hear your prayers and to help you grow more like himself. Every moment of every day, he is looking for reasons to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23).
After our Lord ascended to heaven, the apostle John was exiled on the island of Patmos. He had refused to worship Rome’s Caesar, affirming instead, “Jesus is Lord!” During John’s exile, the Holy Spirit gave John a compelling vision of the victorious life Christ was giving him. (Read Revelation 21:3-5.)
John wrote these words at a time when the Roman government was demanding emperor worship and persecuting Christians who refused to go along. Have things changed much? Somewhat, perhaps. Christians in our nation, at least, are not herded into penal colonies on remote islands. We are not thrown into arenas to be devoured by crazed lions. Still, as Christ’s servants, we serve in what we might call, “the old order of things.”
The world around us considers us old-fashioned and, perhaps, a bit dim, too. Who really believes in that “Jesus stuff” anymore? Political pundits think of us as right-wingers, focused obsessively on morals and manners. Many in our world consider words like “sin” and “salvation” obsolete. The culture largely ignores us until disaster strikes. Then, often, Christian leaders are called upon to justify what God is blamed for doing—in 30 seconds or less, of course.
As servants of Christ, though, we see life through a different lens—a much more joyful and hopeful lens. Here and now, already here on earth, we celebrate the new life Christ has won for us on Calvary’s cross. We treasure the fact that our Savior cleanses us from our sins day by day. We take advantage of the opportunity to share our innermost thoughts with our Creator in prayer. Compelled by Christ, we work and relax, serve and lead, as we look forward to the New Heavens and New Earth he is preparing for us.
When tears and darkness come, we know Jesus stands beside us, helping us carry our burden. We continue to witness God’s love to those we serve. We look forward to a time when there will be no more tears, to an existence so glorious that no words are full enough to describe it, an existance when the old order of things has passed away and God has made everything new, just as he has promised.
On that day, the day of the “big reveal,” we will see our Master face-to-face. We will receive, not his rebuke, but his commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” We will hear him tell about all the selfless prayers we have prayed and all the compassion we have shown to his little ones—to the young, the sick, those in prison, the lonely, the hungry, the poor, the discouraged, the confused. We will see his smile and enjoy the rewards he has planned for us from all eternity as we, by his grace, inherit the kingdom he has prepared for us (Matthew 25:34).
Taking It Home
Today we especially honor (name the individuals you are thanking) for their good and faithful service. (Share a few words explaining what their service has involved and what God has done through them.)
We want to give each of you a token of our appreciation as a reminder that we truly do thank God for your servant hearts! (Describe the “Thanking God for Your Servant Heart” items you are giving, perhaps reading a few words from the item.) We thank God for you, and we thank you for your faithful service! Well done!
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