If you are like me, you love this time of year! Perhaps you have been…
Everyone loves a well-chosen gift! We have spent our entire married life in ministry. We know what things keep a Shepherd, a Pastor, a Missionary, a Speaker/Author or non- profit leader and his/her spouse encouraged and motivated. You and your family have been impacted by this pandemic and quarantine, and the uncertainty of the future—and so have the leaders you look to. As we look to October, traditionally Clergy Appreciation Month, we have some ideas that will encourage and enrich YOUR life and marriage—as well as your Shepherds, as you extend these opportunities to them.
Here are G.I.F.T.S. to encourage those who keep you encouraged:
- Give Thanks! In Luke 17:11-19 is the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers. “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan” Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? “(verse 15-17)
Be the ONE who says THANKS!
Sends the email, greeting card, gift card, with a note full of specific thanks. Share a scripture or quote that positively impacted you; donate to their ministry; tithe to your church; tuck in a little personal sentiment ( for example, when we had to move off our boat to care-give my elderly in-laws during pandemic, one friend sent me hand sanitizer in a mermaid dispenser and a mermaid key chain with an encouraging inscription!) You can also express your thanks by showing up for live or virtual events, worship services, and bible studies; share the leader’s posts to your social media or forward emails to friends who would also benefit from his or her teaching—or even better– say “Thanks” by volunteering your time and talent to help in ministry.
This Oct 8, you can express your thanks by inviting your pastor and wife, your church staff couples, married friends who run non- profits, or author/speakers to our “Clergy Couples Are Essential Date Night” (Those Ministry-Minded Marriage Couples Who Attend will also be given one access code for them to watch our new online recorded conference: ReOpen Your Heart, Home and Life Marriage course.) Please register your pastor and wife (with their permission) or send this link to the leaders you know.
Ask: Which leaders does God want me to encourage and invite?
- Invest in their Success. Give your leaders tools for success or provisions of necessity. Ministry can be a rollercoaster to feast or famine when it comes to finances. Our own faith in God’s provision has been stretched then BUILT often by the generosity and thoughtfulness of God’s people. In our life, over our four decades of ministry, we have had four cars just QUIT on us, and each time God has lead a godly parishioner or ministry supporter to either donate a used car or pitch in to help us afford a working vehicle. What are the necessities your shepherd or your favorite leader needs? Groceries? A phone up-grade? A computer? A conference for ministry—or marriage? School tuition for themselves or their children? A bike? Suitcase or briefcase?
I was delighted one year, when my Seasoned Sisters ministry team heard the airlines had destroyed my baggage, so they pitched in for a new PINK rolling suitcase for my speaking travel.)
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up... “(1 Thes 5:11)
Perhaps a ministry tool to boost balance his or her personal and professional life would assist them in living out God’s calling: Our Marriage Meet Ups: His and Her Planner Set for Couples That Want Purpose, Passion and Productivity is a powerful tool to garner forward movement in live—and love. One of the secrets to the success of our long lasting nearly 42 year marriage is the every Monday Marriage Meet up, a biz meeting for our marriage. This vital meeting has helped us balance ministry and marriage, make vital family decisions, and helped us stay productive. (Order sets for leaders you want to bless. To save, become a Love-Wise Community member and login for automatic discount an any resource in the Love-Wise store)
Ask: What would help the leader I want to encourage grow with God, in their personal or professional life?
- Fund their joy! All first-responders, ministry-minded marriages and clergy couples count as frontline essential servants. Much of what we have tried to do in this pandemic is give resources and opportunities to build and bless marriages–especially those who have been working hard for others. We are one of the relationship experts featured in Love Ideas Relationship Summit. Some recent stats that have come across our desks lately share the heaviness of this L . O. N. G. “shelter in pace”/ quarantine. According to a recent email from Invisible Disabilities Association, sponsor of Love Ideas Summit:
- Anxiety and depression are up three-fold since the onset of Covid
- 9% of adults say they’ve had at least one mental health effect, including symptoms of anxiety or depression (30.9%), symptoms of trauma or stressor-related disorder (26.3%), and starting or increasing substance use to cope (13.3%)
- Calls to suicide prevention hotlines have increased up to 800% since the advent of the pandemic
- Divorce is up 34 percent
Yet there is JOY in Jesus!
- The Joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh 8:10)
- Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice. (Phil 4:4)
- I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (John 15:11)
In today’s depressive world, we must cultivate our joy as a couple. Some ways we have nurtured the life-lifting laughter: on the way out on our prayer walk we listen to a clean comedian, we send humor back and forth on text, social media and email, we jump on Facebook Messenger video and spend time with grandkids and do child-friendly games, songs and giggles. We also look for unique dates, like the Marriage Well drive in comedy show (where cars honked as they laughed), and the drive-in concert where we drove our convertible and danced at sunset with an ocean view.
We also each need to cultivate personal joy. Beginning Oct. 13, I (Pam) will be leading a women’s online LIVE weekly Zoom Face to Face weekly bible study on Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience. I will bring a devotion, then participants will have opportunity to interact. I will bring JOY, fun, a bit of humor and some practical, biblical, and science-based ideas on what works well to elevate our mood and emotions. Registration and details (Download your free Infectious Joy devotional)
Ask: How can I cultivate my joy and become a “joy-giver”?
Who can I invite to the Joy Study?
- Team Up for the Big Give: Note the sacrifice of your Pastor and leaders. Tell them you see them. During this seasoned of sheltering in, I wrote my part of the next of the Discovering the Bible series. Inspired by a comment of my friend, and author of Take Hold, Sharon Jaynes, founder of Girlfriends in God, I penned this sentiment that captures the heart of God:
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… (Exodus 3:7-8 emphasis added)
One of the best things you can do for a leader is to gather others who will rally resources and love like God loves. God SEES, HEARS, is CONCERNED, and will RESCUE. We can emulate the love of God by gathering resources to help minister our ministers. One of the kindest gifts our congregation gave us was a humor-filled “roast” of my husband, their Pastor Bill, and at the end of the evening, they gave us a fully paid trip to Hawaii. It had been years since we had a vacation alone together. With each parishioner giving what they could afford and pulling together, the refreshment we experienced helped replenish our love and renew our motivation to stay the course in ministry. Years later, after a particularly discouraging and depressive season of church ministry, friends teamed to give us a beautiful 25th anniversary celebration and served as the event team for a Love-Wise fundraiser date night and marriage cruise. (We have an IN PERSON marriage conference Nov 4-6, 2020 at Cannon Beach)
Ask: Who can I rally and team with to do something TOGETHER for a pastor or leader to meet a bigger need or give a greater gift?
- Secure their Selah Sabbath. During this pandemic, we have been working double duty, we are full time care-givers for Bill’s 91 year old parents (one frail on mind, the other frail of body). In addition, at the onset of the pandemic, nearly all our live speaking for the rest of 2020 rescheduled for 2021. We found ourselves working twice as hard, for half our normal income trying to effectively pivot our ministry to have more online options available. (We are grateful for some very kind, generous and faithful donors and Living Love-Wise Community Members, who are helping carry our ministry while we work to carry those in our Love-Wise and Proverbs 19:8 ministries.)
My husband officiated a small backyard family wedding this summer. No venues were available, so the wedding was moved to a family backyard only 25 minutes away from our R.V. Our friends, the parents of the groom, know that we have been sheltering in place in a 300 square foot (T.I.N.Y!) RV, so even though we could have driven back and forth for the rehearsal and the wedding, they gifted us a suite with a comfortable bed and large bathtub. (Neither our boat nor our RV has a tub, so I felt like a princess soaking in that bubble bath –something I had not been able to do for 6 months!)
Our family has been blessed on more than one occasion with a few days at a cabin or oceanside bungalow owned by church members. Some years, the sharing of these assets (along with a stocked pantry) were the only way we could afford a family getaway. Now, one of our joys is taking clergy couples out on the ocean on our boat!
Even a day off, with gift cards for meals out, and a slowed schedule can be a welcome Selah. Many Christian conference centers offer free or low-priced days away midweek for clergy couples. The years my husband was a pastor, a group of his friends planned regular Guy Gatherings and took Bill places he would never splurge on for himself: college and pro ball sporting games, go cart racing, deep sea fishing, etc. These days off , held a couple times a year, served as a mental break from the heaviness of ministry.
“Rests deserve as much attention as the notes you sing or play. Without breaks in the sound…music has no pattern or shape…Honor each rest as a precise note of soundlessness. Active silence.” 
“My soul rests quietly only when it looks to God…“ (Psalm 62:1)
(Download your Selah Sabbath worksheet inspired by Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience. )
Ask: How can I, or me and my mate, create a life-rhythm that includes a Sabbath rest? How can we give a Selah quiet day away to a leader we love?
Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, authors of 50+ books, relationship coaches and Co- Directors of Love-Wise
They, like you, are praying for an end to the pandemic so they can travel to see their sons, daughter in laws and grandkids– and so they can speak LIVE and IN PERSON again. In the meantime, you will discover many video and virtual opportunities to take advantage of their speaker at www.Love-Wise.com, including their weekly free Zoom Meet Up “Wisdom Wednesday” .
 Song of Silence, Cynthia Ruchti, (Abingdon Press). P 40.