He was first my youth leader when I was a young unruly teenager, was the speaker when I became a Christian in the middle of my teenage years and later, sold me his vision of doing ministry in the west of Melbourne and became my pastor.
As a young man who is filled with confidence, passion and bravado I can sometimes be a headache to my pastor. I can also see how heavy the burden of leading a church is for him some days. I hope I can make it lighter, but I fear that mostly I make it heavier for him.
He is a fantastic man who receives far too little encouragement for the sacrificial way he has lived his life for God. Jono, this article is for you but it is also for other pastors. Jono is not the only one who works long hours, most pastors do.
Take some time today, appreciate your pastor. Head to your social media, tag your pastor and tell them why you love them and then attach the hashtag #appreciatemypastor. Better yet, give them a call or a message. Here are my top five reasons I'm incredibly thankful for my pastor.
1. Thank you for preaching the Word.
You could have preached anything you wanted and people would listen because you are a gifted speaker. Most people are easily led astray and get distracted, but you are more interested in God's word and the truth it holds than having a large audience following you to nowhere. I believe the Word today because you and the church gave me that grounding.
2. You care about who I am more than what I do
My pastor and I are do-ers, getting stuff done is what we do. I'm incredibly grateful that even through this, you care for who I am as a person far more than what I do as a Christian. You care more for my relationship with God than what I do on a Sunday (or a Monday for that matter). You want me to grow in faith more than in accolades. This is so rare and I am so incredibly grateful for it.
3. You are serious about Jesus
I remember as a 19 year old, when I caught up with you after I had left youth group. The first question that you asked me was: "do you still love Jesus?" Your desire to know Jesus and to make him known inspires me daily to represent him in my everyday life. Nothing else even remotely matters.
4. You are a strong, strong man who follows a stronger God.
We often joke about how much time you get pump the iron these days, but you are a strong man where it matters: in the heart. Rarely a day goes past without a crisis. I know that you take this on, that it is a serious weight and a burden to pastor our church. When I see you though, I see God's strength and grace pour out of you. You are a strong man with broad shoulders, but you trust and believe in an infinitely stronger God who empowers you.
5. You are a natural explainer.
You have no idea how often you have said something only for someone in the church to have later said: "Oh man, that's what that means". You cut down on the religious nonsense and leave us with gospel truth. In a world of multiple meanings, being able to explain God's truth in a way that makes sense is both rare and valuable.
Most of all, I am incredibly grateful for a man who has walked with me through all of my Christian life. I am sure that your time could have been spent elsewhere, but you spent it with me and I will always be loyal to you for that.
I am not the only one who has had a pastor invest into their lives. Take a moment today and appreciate your pastor. Write him a facebook status. Better yet, pray for him. Not just today, but every week. I can almost guarantee that they are praying for you.
James Young moved to the west of Melbourne to follow God's call on his life to tell young people about the greatest message they could ever hear – the gospel. On his days off, he seeks pain on a road bike, blissful beats by listening to Beautiful Eulogy and Trip Lee and relaxing with his beautiful wife Sarah. You can see more of his writing @radicalchange2010.com and follow him at @ragingzephyr on twitter.
James Young's previous articles may be viewed www.pressserviceinternational.org/james-young.html