Promise Keepers: The Night We Encouraged Our Pastors
When I was approached by Renew.org to write a series of articles about the founding of Promise Keepers, I was asked to recount what I had experienced and learned from eleven years on the Board of Directors at Promise Keepers. There are so many experiences to report. So many absolutely amazing moments to share.
Through this particular article, I would like to share one of the most impacting, never-to-be-forgotten experiences, not only of our P.K. days, but of my entire ministry as well.
Coach Mac’s world was college football, the gridiron, hard practices, strategy sessions, the locker room, and recruiting high school players, mainly from Texas and Southern California. He was a strong believer but actually had not had much experience being around church leaders. Working with our P.K. board and other meetings had brought him into close contact with men who worked in leadership ministry.
He discovered the stress, drain and struggles leadership minister’s face.
To say that he was deeply touched was an understatement. This led to an amazing experience as we came to the end of the Saturday night schedule. Here is an unfolding of the events of that evening:
In July of 1994, we were ending our annual men’s event at Folsum Field at C.U. in Boulder. All of the events of Friday night and Saturday had unfolded in such a wonderful, Spirit-filled way. There was amazing power in that stadium! Ask anyone who was there and they will tell you that God was visiting that stadium and those men with power.
At the end of the evening on Saturday night, Bill McCartney expressed sincere words of appreciation for the men present who were in the paid leadership ministry.
He asked all of the men present who were in church leadership to stand, which they did. He delivered an impassioned speech about these men, their work, their efforts and what they went through to lead the church.
He then told the crowd of 54,000 men that he wanted the ministers to come down to the front so they could be recognized. We estimate that there could have been as many as 9,000 to 10,000 leaders present that went forward. Again, the front around the stage began to fill.
As they began to come, Bill walked across the front of the large stage and began to encourage the men to applaud, to cheer, to stomp and to give shouts of encouragement and love to the men who were coming forward. The sight was amazing!
The 45,000 men who were remaining in their seats cheered, shouted encouragement and applauded for over seven and one half minutes!
Every time the applause began to fade, Coach would rev up the crowd and stir them to cheering and applauding. It was truly a moment I will never forget!
Knowing this was going to happen, I moved quickly down front to the stage as Bill introduced the idea of having the leaders come forward.
I must tell you that I was not prepared for what I witnessed. Men of all ages, older veterans, middle aged men, younger men, and some very young men all came down front. They jammed the area on the field around the stage and filled the isles between the groups of chairs on the field.
After everyone arrived, the men kept clapping, stomping, cheering and applauding. The encouragement went on and on. I was taking all of this in when, all of a sudden, it dawned on me what was happening around me. Men were crying all around me. Many were sobbing.
I distinctly, vividly remember one taller man, handsome with light wavy hair, standing next to me and pouring out his tears. He deeply sobbed. As he stood there with his hands over his face, I remember seeing the glint from the stadium lights off of the tears falling from between his fingers onto the turf below.
And it wasn’t just a man or two – it was a large group of men expressing their emotions and gratitude for the tumultuous recognition that they were receiving in those moments.
I have to admit that I was stunned. There were so many releasing the stress, struggle, and drain that ministry brings weekly to those who serve in ministry positions. I will never forget what I felt for those men (for all of us) who participated in that event. Those who were giving the appreciation and those who were receiving it were blessed beyond words. It was moving and impactful.
After the applause had died down, Bill had a few more words and then prayed and dismissed our fourth men’s event. I stayed and visited with the men around me. One brother told me that he could never remember in over twenty years of ministry anyone in the congregations where he had served expressing any type of sincere appreciation to him or his wife. This sentiment was echoed by many to whom I talked.
Friends, can we resolve to express appreciation to those who serve us as pastors?
I would add their wives as well. This also goes for the women who also faithfully serve in positions of ministry in our churches with music, youth, counseling, etc. and to their husbands, also.
Here are a few ways in which we can affirm our pastors and church directors:
- Words are powerful tools. Expressing words of appreciation to our leaders can make someone’s day. It only takes a moment to stop and address someone briefly, sharing words of love, blessing, and support.
- Sharing these encouraging words–not through an email, but through a hand written note sent by snail mail–will give them something tangible to keep, and maybe put on their desk or wall in their office.
- Getting to know your ministers and their wives could lead to you remembering their birthdays or anniversaries. A gift card or present of some kind may truly be that person’s love language.
- Hospitality is a dying art and practice in our culture. This is true but how about an invitation to dinner at your home? Or maybe just dessert and coffee. The power of this invitation is that you love and care for them enough to invite them into your home to put their feet under your table to break bread together and share in the Lord.
We are all creative enough to find ways to express love and appreciation to those to whom we want to express it. Those leading our churches need to be encouraged. They need the love, support, and care that tells them you appreciate them and their work. Just remember, kind words and kind deeds are powerful tools in touching others.
This is the sixth installment in our series on the Promise Keepers by one of PK’s founding members, David Roadcup. Here are the other articles in the series:
- Part 1: “Promise Keepers: The Beginning”
- Part 2: “The First Promise Keepers Event: Witnessing the Power of God”
- Part 3: “Promise Keepers and the Power of Prayer”
- Part 4: “The Promise Keepers and Spiritual Warfare”
- Part 5: “Promise Keepers & Stories of Changed Lives”
- Part 7: “Promise Keepers: Stand in the Gap”
- Part 8: “Revival: God Could Do It Again.”