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October is typically observed as “Pastor Appreciation Month” in churches across the country, so I thought I’d share a few words of appreciation to the pastors that have made a difference in my life.

Pastor Dwight Dye – the first pastor I can remember from early grade-school days.  He seemed to always have a smile and so graciously accepted when I gave him of a handful of cartoons I had drawn during his sermons.  I’m sure I was multi-tasking and listening as well.

Pastor David Shultz – this guy is extra special to me since he’s my dad!  I loved growing up listening to his sermons, which always contained interesting stories and illustrations that brought each lesson to life.  Anyone who has heard him speak would agree he has a wonderful way with words and a tender, fervent heart.  He baptized me when I was in 6th grade.  Years later he married John and I.

Pastor Jim Lyon – we’ve had the privilege of being taught and nurtured by Pastor Jim several times.  Each time we were challenged by the way he delivered the Word in his inimitable, eloquent style.  He has always made us feel welcome and at home and although he pastors a large congregation, we experienced healing and love among the people of that church, under his leadership, at two difficult times in our life.

Pastor Mark Adcock – Mark was the first pastor we “worked for.”  John served as associate pastor and I was director of music and worship.  Mark taught us to think outside the box so that the church could actually minister to outsiders and impact them in practical and creative ways.  He took some for the team because not everyone embraces new ways of doing things, but he forged ahead and people were blessed.

Pastor Harlem Burrow – Harlem was the associate pastor who worked with John when we pastored in St. Louis.  He and his wife Toni made an indelible imprint on our hearts, mostly due to their infectious joy and contagious love for Jesus and people.  They were a breath of God into our tired hearts just when we needed it most and became precious friends in the process.

Pastor John Crump – John is a friend from college who just so happened to be associate pastor when we served in Noblesville, Indiana.  To say he was supportive, creative, committed, true to Christ’s mission and a good friend would be an understatement.

There are so many pastors we’ve met throughout life that we admire and thank God for, it would be difficult to name them all:  youth pastors, music and worship pastors, mentors who were like pastors in that they cared for us and taught us so much.  I think of the pastors we knew when we lived in New Mexico and the bond John developed with them as brothers, fellow workers, and friends.  I think of the many pastors I had the privilege of meeting and supporting when I worked in the state office in Indiana.  My boss, Doug, was like a pastor to us in that office.  I could talk to him about anything and God used him to encourage, challenge and guide me often.

Last but not least, Pastor John Klotz – John is my husband, the man I was called to partner with, support, and serve beside.  I have seen him grow so much from our first rookie years in New Mexico to the seasoned leader he has become and is still becoming.  I’ve grown so much listening to him bring God’s Word, something he was truly called to do.  His strong convictions and rock solid belief in Jesus were one of the reasons I fell in love with him way back when.  I respect and love him for his faithfulness, his obedience to God no matter what, his transparency and openness, the way he never backs down regarding truth, and the wisdom God’s given him.

In a day and age where so many leaders fall to temptations, I’m happy to say that every one of the men I’ve mentioned has remained true and faithful.  They are men of integrity, not perfect, but following Jesus in the best way they know how.  They influence and impact many people and one of those is me.

Thank you, God, for pastors and their families.  Hold them up, protect them, give them strength and joy in the midst of hard work and sometimes hard times.  Bring about life change as a result of what they are doing in Your name.