The phone rings at 4:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning…one of the members of the congregation is near death. The pastor answers the phone and within moments is on the way to the hospital. After realizing the church member is stable, the pastor notices its almost 9:30 a.m. Just enough time to get to the church.

Standing at the front door, the pastor welcomes everyone as they enter, while looking out the door to see where everyone else is at. The services get started and the deacon pulls the pastor aside to share that something must be wrong with the heat/air unit, there have been complaints about the temperature.

As the pastor goes to check on the heat/air unit, the treasurer hands the pastor a note to remind the moderator of the service that the insurance payment is going to be due next month, and the church really needs to take up a good offering today.

Just as the worship service is ready to start, one of the older members catches the pastor in the aisle of the sanctuary to complain about an error in the bulletin. Even though the pastor didn’t catch the small error, an apology is extended….though the pastor feels like it would never be appreciated.

After all of this, the pastor walks to the pulpit, opens the Bible and the notes prepared for this morning’s message, and the pastor is exhausted….yes, even before it begins. Yes, the physical exhaustion is because the pastor was up late on Saturday night preparing for Sunday, but the mental/emotional exhaustion is even more of a burden.

Yet, the pastor declares the “whole counsel of God,” gives an altar call, and even though no one responds (in fact several were slipping their winter coats on while the pastor was finishing the sermon), the pastor walks diligently to the door of the church and extends the same, warm and friendly handshake. And yes, this goes on week after week.

I can tell you about this pastor, because I have been there, but more importantly because I personally know hundreds of pastors by first name, and I see, hear and feel their struggle.

You might ask, “well, what does that have to do with me? What’s with the title “Have you told your pastor lately…?” I would think the answer is obvious. Have you stopped and told your pastor lately that you appreciate the labor of love, that you appreciate the sacrifice of family time, and the all of ministry your pastor has accomplished around you.

The truth is that only once per year is NOT enough…we should have a regular habit of telling our pastor how much we love, appreciate and care for their ministry. It can be done with a simple thank you, or a card, or you might even want to bless your pastor with a gift. How could that be wrong?

You say, “well does my pastor deserve that?” The answer is a resounding “yes!” God trusted your pastor enough to call him/her into the ministry, and I know that you will be blessed as you bless your pastor.

Why not take that opportunity today…you don’t know how long it might have been since your pastor heard those words.

God bless each of you.

–E.C. McKinley