Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and a glorious one here in Richmond, with a high of 72 degrees and sunny skies, and children of all ages accompanying their mothers to church and taking them out to brunch afterward. I knew it was Mother’s Day. I even knew it was the fifth anniversary of my ministry at First Baptist Church. But I didn’t know Lee Hilbert was going to acknowledge that publicly.
Lee is the chair of our personnel team, and at the end of the 8:30 service he asked if he could make an announcement but he didn’t tell me what it was. That kind of thing can make a pastor nervous, especially if he’s preached on sensitive topics recently. But Lee quickly made it obvious that he was doing what First Baptist has been doing for decades: recognizing staff members on significant anniversaries.
He read a letter he had written that included this paragraph: “We are thankful that you love the Lord Jesus and that you have a heart for sharing the Word of God with others. Creating a new awareness within the congregation by emphasizing bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia (KOH2RVA) has been a wonderful way to encourage all of us to put the words of our Lord into action. It is also something that is easily understood by both members of the church and seekers beyond the walls of First Baptist Church.”
Now, Lee didn’t have to say that, but he did, and I’m grateful. And the congregation didn’t have to stand and applaud, but they did, and a lump rose in my throat that made it hard for me to say thank you. As Lee pointed out at the 11:00 service, it’s one of the few times he’s known me to be at a loss for words. But what do you say to people like that, who forgive you for preaching on sensitive topics, and join you in the joyful work of bringing heaven to earth, and give you a bonus check just for being with them for five years?
I think I know, now, how some of those mothers felt yesterday, when their children tried to thank them for their motherhood. “I should be thanking you!” they might have said. Because being a mother is both a joy and an honor.
Just like being a pastor.