Traditionally, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I've never really taken the time to publicly thank the Pastor in my life for being my Pastor, because, well, most of the time, I think of my Pastor as my husband...because HE IS!!
Just yesterday, I sat and talked with my husband, also Pastor, about what God speaks to him and how God walks with Jeff through each day. You see, I have this perception of Jeff that he always has his act together - that he never really needs encouraging or uplifting. It's not that I don't do these things, even, but I probably don't go FULL OUT when it comes to doing those things because he is always so confident. The truth is, though, that he needs to be encouraged, thanked, and prayed for as much as the next person.
Let me tell you what I have a front seat row to everyday being married to my Pastor. He begins his day a little earlier everyday just so he and I can spend time praying together for one another, for our girls, and for you, LifeSong Church. He starts his day off as a husband by telling me each day that he thinks I'm beautiful (and for someone who does not see themselves this way, you have no idea how special those last words are to me everyday) and then he carries on to his next priority by taking our girls to school, and guess what the last thing is he says to our girls...Yep, he tells them they are beautiful! I know this because my daughters have told me how much that means to them. He then moves on to his office at LifeSong, but you can pretty much count on him not being content on staying in the office all day because he likes to hang out with people. I know this because #1, I know that he first spends time in that office of his praying his heart out for the people God has put in our life, and #2, I watched him cry last night as he spoke of nothing tearing his heart out more than seeing people come to know Christ. He lives each day with an urgency to see that NO ONE die without Christ. I am sure that even I don't understand the intensity that he feels about this, but know this to be true...HE CARES FOR YOU!
God gave Jeff a vision for LifeSong Church probably even in the first place he ever pastored. He would spend most days walking around praying in the cemetery beside the church, and it was there that it became apparent and URGENT that he do all he can to see that everyone hears the message that "Jesus Loves YOU", and "love your neighbor as yourself." He faced a lot of growing up at that church, and even the one that followed, but never have I seen him allow trial and hardship to deter him from that passion to see men and women saved. It's never been a time that neither he, nor I, look back on with regret because God has to use things in our lives to make us stronger and more ready to face the challenge and joy of planting a new work in LifeSong Church.
I know that for our family that God has allowed us to meet so many people in our ministry that often Jeff and I find ourselves so lacking in the time that we fully get to spend with everyone, but let me assure you that you will never find a more loving, compassionate, more SOLD OUT cheerleader than your Pastor, and I get to be along for a great ride of enjoying all of the same! We love you dearly. We love you for allowing us to grow up and learn with you, make mistakes right in front of you, and see God carry out a vision by allowing a man named Jeff Hickman to be used for Him in some small way.
Finally, I am very thankful for the four other men of God that compile a team of Pastors that, from my perspective, make my husband an even better man, so, for Larry, I am thankful to see in you a friend that holds Jeff accountable and loves him deeply...for Brian, I'm thankful that you are detailed enough to be the "nuts and bolts" guy that Jeff so fondly calls you (and depends on to keep him straight!) and for being a heart that is willing to do whatever it takes...for Allan, I'm thankful that you love Jeff with the love of a brother and the dedication of a friend...for Tim, I'm thankful for you being the Pastor's Pastor! You are like the Daddy that encourages his son to give it his all, and you make Jeff want to be a better man and father. For each of you men, I celebrate you today.
So, Pastor Jeff, I am MORE than appreciative for you in this, the month of celebrating Pastors! I am completely in AWE of you and your heart for me, our girls and for others, but my Love, it is the heart you have for JESUS that slays me the most. Today you are loved and today you are prayed for...that you may, each day, become more and more a "man after God's own heart."