I recently attended an outdoor hall of fame banquet to celebrate the induction of a close friend. As several outdoor legends received well deserved recognition from peers and sponsors, the thought occurred to me that there is no equivalent event for pastors; at least not on a national or global scale, that I am aware of.

The longer I pondered this (it was a four hour event), the closer I came to the conclusion that I may have been wrong about the lack of awards for faithful pastors.

Earthly Rewards

Somewhere in the middle of this awards banquet, while deep in thought (and lament) about the lack of recognition for my pastor-peers, I received this jaw-dropping text:

Mark, just wanted you to know that Pastor ****’s life was saved, in a manner, due to your recent marriage conference. He said to me this morning, “I was ready for a breakdown until I talked to Mark Dance about self-care.” Mark, thank you for the many hours of travel your wife & you put in.

Jesus flat-out crashed my pity party. This note brought a simultaneous rush of guilt and gratitude, which helped me to see my ministry through the eyes of my ultimate Supervisor.

Pastor, I hope you will catch a glimpse of how God sees you. Nothing you do escapes his notice.

My dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. ‭1 Corinthians ‭15:58‬ (‭CSB‬‬)

Eternal Rewards

As I pondered God’s merciful intervention, I began to recall a special banquet in heaven I had accepted the invitation to almost forty years ago. This feast will be hosted by King Jesus.

Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb! Revelation 19:9 (CSB)

I don’t have all of the details of this wedding feast, but I do know that the sponsor has covered the cost of the meal. The purpose of this event is to honor our Savior, and not the saints. However, at some point in history’s grande finale there will be a reckoning for all, as well rewards given to God’s children for faithful service. We are clearly not saved by works, but will be rewarded according to them. Scripture gives us few details about the specifics of how a believer’s works are rewarded, but I believe there will be many unknown pastors who will be well known on the streets of gold.

When my friend Dr. Jimmy Sites was inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame, he made it clear to those present that his only true hero is Jesus Christ. Jimmy also said that he looked forward to one day placing whatever crown he would receive at the throne of King Jesus.

Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.  Colossians 3:23-24 (CSB)

Pastors, be encouraged. Your labor is not in vain. Your faithfulness is not being overlooked. Even if church members miss the opportunity to show their love and appreciation, Jesus will not fail to reward your faithfulness here on earth as well as in heaven.

For God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints — and by continuing to serve them. Hebrews 6:10 (CSB)

Photo by Raphael Koh on Unsplash