As I look through the window of my early morning flight out of New Orleans, I can see the Crescent City slowly pass out of sight. I have to admit it – I love New Orleans. I always have. Some of my fondest memories as a pastor have been times spent with other Southern Baptist pastors and laypeople in this town. My first convention as a pastor was here. The first convention that I was able to bring my wife to was New Orleans. I have made many friends and spent several late nights around tables listening to my “heroes” talk of the early days of the Conservative Resurgence, and what it was like after we won “the Battle for the Bible.”
However, as I leave New Orleans I can’t help but feel a bit conflicted. I have a sense of excitement mixed with what can best be described as a sense of foreboding. There is something in my spirit that tells me that in spite of the election of my friend, Dr. Fred Luter, all is increasingly not well in my beloved convention.
Don’t misunderstand, I am very encouraged by the election of Dr. Luter. I’ve known him since I was a preacher boy and have been blessed by his preaching and committed Christian leadership in the face of tremendous trials. I’ve been challenged by the consistent ministry he has to young men in his church and believe that he will be a strong, stable leader for our denomination.
Dr. Brad Whitt is Pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina, and has served as President of the South Carolina Convention Pastor’s Conference.
“Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.” 2 Samuel 22:50
The first personal declaration of thanksgiving in the Old Testament is one for divine deliverance. It is David’s open acknowledgement of the Lord’s power, provision and protection in the midst of his enemies. In fact, standing just after the Lord’s awesome acts, David shouts and sings of the Almighty’s salvation “among the Gentiles.” He declares that he will “give thanks to the Lord…and make known among the nations what He has done.”
What is so special about this royal decree? Certainly a man as devoted to God as David would want to make his Master’s mighty acts known. His God-tuned heart would no doubt drive him to shout and sing of the Lord’s salvation. The force of this declaration, however, is not so much found in the fact that David desires to give thanks. No. Its importance is found among whom this testimony will be given – the Gentiles. David declares his desire to give thanks to God in the midst of those who don’t yet know Him. It is the witness of thanksgiving.
Dr. Brad Whitt is Pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina, and has served as President of the South Carolina Convention Pastor’s Conference
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. This is the month when many churches will take some time to show their appreciation to their pastor for his love and ministry over the past year. Some churches will take up a love offering for their pastor. Many will put a basket in the vestibule for members to place cards in with kind sentiments they want to share with their pastor. A few churches may even have a dinner or a reception — a nice time to get together to express their feelings for their pastor.
All of these things are nice and good. In fact, I believe that it is a great idea for a church to take one month out of the year to do something special to show just how much they appreciate the time and effort, love and concern that their pastor has for them.
I know that I’ve been blessed in recent years by a church that does just that. Now, it wasn’t always that way. When I first came to Temple Baptist Church I remember when one of our new staff members, who had come from a larger church in North Carolina that evidently knew how to show their love for their pastor, approached Temple’s deacon chairman and asked him if the church ever had some sort of a pastor appreciation day. The chairman got a funny look on his face and said, “No. We never have. We just always paid ‘em good.” My new associate shared how strange that sentiment was to him. He just couldn’t understand how a man so successful in the business world could overlook something so simple as expressing love and appreciation for a year’s worth of ministry. I remember him telling me how his former church would try to outdo themselves every year when it came time for pastor appreciation month. I know that pastor had to appreciate all they did to show him their love.