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Lynna Clark: Love your pastor, take a sweater

The church was packed and the climate was questionable. My pastor friend was approached by an elderly lady who expressed that it felt stuffy in the auditorium and that he may want to adjust the temperature before he started the service. He shook her hand and thanked her with a smile. A few minutes later he was again warmly greeted by a woman who faithfully served. “Pastor it’s a little cool in here. You may want to turn up the heat a bit before we begin.” He thanked her for her input. On his way to the front of the room before he began the message he stopped by thermostat which was situated in plain view. There before God and everybody he looked at it closely as though pondering all things holy. He touched it but didn’t move it one way or the other. After church both ladies thanked him and expressed how much more comfortable they were.

True story.  I can’t share the kind pastor’s name lest I rat him out and ruin one of his most divine secrets. With the wisdom of Solomon he’s patiently shepherding his flock. I guess that’s why I am not a pastor. My solution would be to haul in a load of sweaters from the Goodwill and hang them in the vestibule. A sign above would read, “If you’re cold, take one. If you’re hot, don’t.”

One of our sweet daughters is a pastor’s wife. In times past she could never win at that game. However, currently they are in a church where they feel very cared for. She can tell that she is loved by the way people tease her. She sits near the front so that her husband can see at least one friendly face as he shares the heart of God. In case you didn’t know it, we Christians can be a tough crowd.

She picked up a bulletin one Sunday and fanned her lovely face which for some reason was a bit hotter than usual. She noticed that when she waved the bulletin to stir the air, all the ceiling fans would come on. When she’d stop, so would they. No pressure dear, but the comfort of the entire community rests on your sweaty shoulders. She had to laugh. It made her happy to know that the guys in the sound booth liked her well enough to do such a funny thing.

Can we talk? Imagine for a minute the heart of your pastor. Unlike crudmudgeons like me he actually has empathy… as in he cares. He’s grieved with the one who’s lost a child as though it were his own. He’s waited at the hospital for hours only to get bad news. He’s prayed for days which have turned into years and asked God hard questions. He’s spent precious time counseling couples who want to call it quits only to watch them give up. He feels the pain of his flock and likely wishes there were a thermostat he could touch to make everyone better… because he cares.

But mostly he feels the heart of the Savior, the One Who called him to lead on His behalf. Like the shepherd king David he “cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.” –Psalm 78:72

It’s official. October is Pastor Appreciation month. But it’s also National Window Covering Safety month. I may or may not check the curtains for hazards. But I do plan to at least cut my shepherd a little slack. With that in mind when I head to church I shall pack a sweater AND a fan. I may even uncross my arms or relax my frowning brow. I might get especially generous and smile, offering a little head nod at points of emphasis. Thank you Pastor Chris Shelton for caring for Life Church and for leading us so well. We sure do love you and Molly.

After all… it’s October!

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