Marsha and I went to the Colts game yesterday. It was her birthday gift to me from back in September, and this was the first Sunday that I was "off" from preaching in churches and when the Colts were in town. We assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that it would be an easy victory, and we looked forward to watching Andrew Luck quarterback the Colts.
Then yesterday morning as we were on our way to worship, I heard ESPN announce that Luck would not play. Instead he would be replaced by one of the oldest quarterbacks in the NFL, Matt Hasselbeck. So the Colts game turned into a struggle without Luck, but with a lot of "lucky" breaks to help the Colts win. It was exciting, even if not a well-played game by either team.
Sitting at home on Sunday night after the game, I found myself reflecting on the absence of the Colts quarterback and the related fact that October is "Pastor Appreciation Month." There is a part of me that does not want to believe any one player on a team – even a talented quarterback like Andrew Luck – is that essential When the quarterback is injured, should not the rest of the team step up and carry forward with the back-up quarterback? Today the Colts struggled to win without their starting quarterback.
Likewise there is a part of me that does not want to believe that the pastor is that essential to the life of the congregation. Don't get me wrong: I value our pastors, and I am a pastor myself. But I want to believe that the strength of the church is the laity, the people who endure while pastors come and go. I get letters all the time when indicate that if I, as bishop, would "just send a good pastor" then their local congregation would be just fine. I don't believe that. I know that the pastor is a key person, an important leader, with a God-given role, but I don't want to let everyone else off the hook for being responsible for the health of the congregation.
But then a game like the Colts game today reminds me that a leader is a leader, and leaders must lead. When any group is without their leader, it is difficult to excel.
I admire the fine job that back-up quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck did yesterday. I admire the fine leadership that many lay leaders provide in their local congregations. But I see, once again, the value of a good leader.
So ... show your pastor some appreciation this month. If your pastor loves the people, leads them toward being faithful disciples, and helps them to transform their part of the world – then consider yourself blessed and not just lucky.