This chapter specifies exactly which cities in each tribe’s territory was given to the Levites, along with making the point that the surrounding pastureland was included. This was God’s plan for providing for the Levites. The pastureland, along with the sacrifices of the Israelites, provided for the needs of those who served the Israelite communities in ministry. In addition, this plan placed the Levites scattered among the rest of Israel rather than segregated. As priests, they were to serve all of Israel, not just themselves or one favored tribe.
In the same way, even today, God has promised to provide for those who serve in ministry through the people they serve. He has called us to go among the people, rather than withdrawing into an insular Christian cocoon. He has instructed us as believers to be faithful in meeting the needs of those who serve as spiritual overseers.
We are in the final week of Pastor Appreciation Month. What a great opportunity to give some extra thought to how you can provide for and bless those who minister to you and your family (although we should certainly provide for and show appreciation to our pastors throughout the year). Here are a few suggestions from our years in ministry and from friends who serve in ministry:
Pray for them and their family and drop them a card to let them know that you are praying for them not just this month, but regularly throughout the year.
Ask his wife what books are on his list that he’d like to read in the coming year and select a title from that list. Don’t pick a book that you think he “needs to read.” That doesn’t show appreciation. It indicates you’ve judged and found him lacking.
Gift cards to their favorite restaurants, but unless you’re also offering to babysit, be sure it’s enough for the whole family.
Join with some other families in your congregation and provide a vacation for him and his family. Be sure to cover everything for them to have a worry-free time of rest. Covering the hotel, but placing the burden of meals, activities, and transportation on their family may create an obligation to use your gift which strains their budget.
One of the simplest and most meaningful ways to offer appreciation is to invite their family into your home. Whether it’s for a Sunday lunch (remember, he probably won’t be available until after the time you’ve usually had dessert) or an evening meal, this is an opportunity to express directly your appreciation for him and his family. Be sure to inquire about allergies to ensure the meal doesn’t end with a visit to the Emergency Room.
Spend some time counting the ways your pastor has blessed your family. Maybe he spoke a timely word that gave your marriage new purpose. Perhaps he visited when a loved one was in the hospital or was by your side in the loss of a family member. He may have been the one to counsel a son or daughter who’d taken a wrong turn or to give wise advice that kept them from taking that turn. He almost certainly has shed new light on God’s Word as he preached and taught each week.
Just as God was faithful in providing all that Israel needed to live in His Promised Land, God has provided all that we need to live in His promises. Just as He provided priests to minister to Israel, He has provided pastors and teachers to minister to us. Just as He called Israel to give offerings for the provision of the Levites, He has called us to meet the needs of our pastors and their families. 1 Timothy 5:18 “For the Scripture says: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and the worker is worthy of his wages.”