Your gift should 'speak' in recipient's heart-language - Word&Way

Your gift should ‘speak’ in recipient’s heart-language

Just as appreciation can take many forms, recipients respond in different ways. With Pastor Appreciation Month just around the corner, a few ministers across the state noted that all expressions are welcomed. Some, however, are more personally meaningful.

For Chuck Arney, pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church, Lee's Summit, a touch of the Spirit and of a little humor are favorites.

"I think for me, I'm not looking so much for a tangible 'gold watch' but those moments when Jesus/Spirit/God meets [me] and others at the same time," he said.

"That's the most encouraging — like when the church, pastor and everyone step out in a faith venture and you just sense the power of the Spirit moving along with you. That is when I am most encouraged."

Arney appreciates being teased because "it's sort of like being back in the sports locker room," he said. "When people joke with you about life in the kingdom, then I feel wonderfully affirmed."

But he added, all thank yous "go a long way."

Being allowed to be human is the key for Chris Cook, pastor of Parkade Baptist Church, Columbia.

"They give me the freedom and the grace to be a real person with real problems and joys. They don't expect me to be [a] super-spiritual pastor, living at the level of spiritual perfection," he explained. "They tell me frequently they pray for me — and I can feel it."

Parkade members also help Cook and his family in practical ways. Last year they provided meals each week for several months while Cook's wife attended graduate school and worked full-time. Such gestures speak volumes about congregants' feelings toward him.

As minister of students and communication at Third Baptist Church, St. Louis, Leslie Limbaugh has found encouragement to take vacations and church members' eagerness to know when she has taken opportunities for rest particularly meaningful.

Congregational flexibility and acts of kindness when she has been in transition or in crisis also have shown her how much members care. "Kind, affectionate nicknames" also bring a smile to her face.

The written word holds deep meaning for Scott Stearman, senior pastor of Kirkwood Baptist Church.

"The most powerful form for me personally is a card," he said. "When someone takes the time to take out an old-fashioned pen and writes a note, that means even more than any verbal and electronic communication, although I do appreciate those as well."

When getting ready to communicate appreciation, take a minute to discover which expression hits closest to the recipient's heart. That will mean as much as the gift itself.