Letter to Assistant Pastor
It had been several years since I had held the pen for
“Why, Pastor, Why.”
God had given me the idea for something just as significant for the Assistant Pastor, and I had kept the first words tucked away in a drawer. In the back of my mind, for years and years, I knew that, after writing “Why, Pastor, Why,” the natural next step would be to write something for the Assistant Pastor. I just didn’t get all of the words until sixteen years later. Yes, sixteen years. “Why, Pastor, Why” had kept us so busy, that I didn’t have the time, or inclination, to get back to something for the Assistant Pastor.
God gave me the words to “Letter to Assistant Pastor” in a variety of different locations, over those sixteen years, so I wrote the words on just as varied types of paper. I had some notes written on note cards, “sticky notes,” memo pads, and note pads. Yes, it took sixteen years to sit down and put them all together. Then, it was time.
What God gave me was not a poem, as with “Why, Pastor, Why.” I didn’t know “why” until the very end. The work to honor Assistant Pastors was not even a poem. It was a letter. I wrote the letter, written from the Pastor to the Assistant Pastor, and then … I got the ending. The ending that surprised even me! All these years, I just didn’t know. You’ll have to read the “Letter” to find out what I am talking about.
Haven’t we all known such wonderful Assistant Pastors? The words fit those I have been so blessed to have known. And, I hope those you have known.
In this volume, we have included the original “Letter to Assistant Pastor,” in its entirety, just as it was given to me, and then, we include the condensed version, in order to make it available as a plaque or print presentation.
Here’s a new quote God gave me, just for the Assistant Pastor:
“Jesus needs an Assistant Pastor. And, so does the Pastor.”
Letter to Assistant Pastor
My Dear, Faithful, and Beloved Assistant Pastor:
For a long time now, you have knowingly, and willingly, stayed in the shadows, out of the spotlight. You have faithfully served me, while staying under my shadow. You have never complained about me getting “top billing.” In fact, you seemed to always take extra joy when I was exalted, when I was praised. Even for work that you had done. You always made sure that my name, not yours, was mentioned; that I got the credit.
You have worked all hours of the day and night to make sure that my goals were met. You would make sure that all of the congratulations, the reward, went to me. If you did not succeed, you would never mention my name in a negative way. You would take the blame. The only time my name was mentioned was to praise me for being with you every step of the way, for giving you encouragement to keep the faith. Your faith in me never faltered.
Even in despair, you would talk openly about how I was now helping you back up from failure, and how I was the one who would give you the help and encouragement to keep trying. You’ve wept, you’ve cried, wondering why I haven’t done more. Then, you realized that, many times, my plan was not to change the church-it was to change you.
You have made so many sacrifices of yourself, and your family, in order to serve me, and my family. I know that there were times you thought, “Let someone else clean it up, pick it up, get here 45 minutes before service, take the offering, give up days off, and give up family vacations for camp or conference.” But, you never said it.
Whatever trial you were going through, you never, ever, lost your faith in me. You were never afraid to come to me for help, or advice. And, even if, in your heart, you did not always agree with my suggestions, you always followed them. Sometimes, even blindly, always trusting that I had what was best for you in mind. You may have questioned, or not fully understood my judgment, but you never argued with my decisions.
Many times, I have asked you to speak for me, in my place. Many of those times, when you faithfully “stood in” for me, it was very difficult for you. I know that so many of those times when you stood behind the pulpit in my place, you were going through trials of your own. It took great courage and faith to deliver a message that you would find out, later, was really meant for you.
I know my shadow is large. But, even if you had to keep moving, your only desire was to make sure you stayed underneath it. I’ve known that, all along, some people have thought that you’ve stayed covered, even suffocated. Please know that you, and your dreams, haven’t been smothered. They’ve been covered. With prayer and protection.
When life was at its toughest, you’ve felt like that shadow had overtaken you. It had. It was my shadow. That’s why, when things were at their worst, you felt my presence so strongly. You felt that I was so near. It’s because I was.
I haven’t held you back.
I’ve held you up.
You’re right. You have been living in someone’s shadow, the whole time. My shadow.
Remember that you are not his assistant. You are my assistant.
You are not working for him.
You are working for me.
Thank you for your praise, your thanksgiving, your dedication, your faithfulness, your patience, and your life.
Signed, with eternal love,