"Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work…" 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.
The word "Thanksgiving" implies that we are going to give "thanks" for something. As Christians, we give thanks for the love of God and the sacrificial death of His Son. The gift of God allows us to experience salvation, redemption and the blessing of viewing all good gifts as coming from the Father. We could create an endless list of all the gifts of God, but I would like to focus on the gift of the bivocational pastor.
Pastors have no small task. Pastors have answered the call of God to preach His word and shepherd His flock, all while holding down another job. The bivocational pastor does not view himself as "part-time," but as a full-time pastor who derives his income from another source. The bivocational pastor may tirelessly labor at a factory or behind a desk, but the church is still on his heart. While the pastor works, he may be contemplating his ministerial tasks. He thinks about sermons, those who need to be visited, what meetings need to be attended and prays for God's provision.
It has been said that fewer than two-thirds of churches have full-time pastors. If bivocational pastors did not exist, most churches would not have a pastor. Sadly, many books are written for large churches and many conferences are held during prime working time. If the pastor were to attend the conference, he would be forced to use vacation time. The bivocational pastor may also be tempted to believe that he is a "sub-par" or "junior" pastor (this is a lie from the enemy and should be rejected). Bivocational pastors are pastors, period. We should encourage these men and be thankful for their ministry.
If you are a church member with a bivocational pastor, I want to encourage you to be thankful for this servant of God. Consider some practical ways of expressing thanks for the bivocational pastors. Following are some ideas for your consideration.
• Pray for your pastor and tell him that you are praying for him.
• Offer to help with practical tasks around the church (printing and folding bulletins or cleaning and maintaining the building).
•Remind your pastor that he has a mission field that a lot of full-time pastors don't have. Encourage him to share the good news with his fellow employees.
• Let him enjoy his time off. Unless there is a critical emergency, let your pastor rest.
• Invite people to church! This will encourage your pastor, especially if they get saved and then baptized.
• Organize and participate in a Tuesday night visitation to witness to the lost. This will significantly encourage your pastor!
• Help your pastor with books and continuing education. The pastor may have never been able to attend seminary, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want to learn. A set of commentaries or Logos Bible software may mean the world to your pastor.
• Don't forget about his family! Do something nice for his wife and kids.
• Follow his leadership. Remember that God called this man to pastor this church. Do whatever you can to support his leadership.
• Tell him you are thankful for his ministry.
This Thanksgiving, we are very grateful for all that God has provided (especially for the provision of Jesus Christ for our sins). We are now challenged to remember the pastors who also have another vocation. If you know a bivocational pastor, why don't you stop and give thanks for him now?
Kenny Rager is a church evangelism strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, covering the western half of Kentucky.