Good morning! At least it’s morning here right now. Come on in! Glad you’re here! Grab a cuppa something – it’s a bit cool here today, so hot tea is my choice. Find a comfy spot, and let me share what’s on my heart today. Shepherds. The kind that shepherd our souls. Pastors, priests, bishops, elders, deacons, Sunday School teachers. Those in spiritual leadership. They do so much for so many, they take a lot of heat sometimes, they are responsible for others in ways most of us cannot even imagine.
This week, we have a situation in a local archdiocese where an Archbishop has resigned, and the neighboring Archbishop is covering both areas until a suitable successor is found. It’s heartbreaking. Not only for the people, but for the man himself.
Growing up in the Lutheran Church, I didn’t have a clue about our pastor. I saw him infrequently, since I only attended Sunday School, and was actually a bit intimidated; I suppose just because he was an authority figure in his blacks and collar. Looking back, he was never unkind and he was usually smiling. His wife was more reserved. Years later at his funeral, she would remark how happy she was to no longer be a pastor’s wife. A pastor’s family gives up so much!
In my teens, I began to hear people pray for our Baptist pastor. I began to pray a little for the pastor, that he would preach a good sermon, that people would come to the Lord. Later yet, as I became an adult and also became acquainted with some ‘church politics’, I began to pray more for the pastor I was under. I prayed for his integrity, his protection, his ability to hear from the Lord. When he left the church he had founded amid scandal, I prayed even more for his restoration. I also learned to pray that those in spiritual authority over us would be kept safe from temptations that so regularly assail them.
This week, it was brought home again in a striking and heart wrenching way how much our spiritual leaders need us. They desperately need our prayers, our encouragement, our understanding of their own humanity and fallibility. They need our true forgiveness and sincere good will when they make those human mistakes. They need our friendship- not to take us into their confidence; but to know that we are there, faithful to the Lord and His church, supporting the leadership He has placed us under. They need to see a smile on our face, hear positive words, and know we’ll serve wherever we’re needed.
My church has some 875 families. One priest to care for all of them. Think about your own church for a minute. How many people attend there regularly? How many others are simply on the church roster? Your pastor is spiritually responsible in some way for all of those people. How would you like to be responsible for hundreds of ‘children’? Can you imagine praying for each one? Can you imagine how many times you’d be gotten out of bed in the middle of the night? How often are they called away from their own family to care for someone in the church family? I believe that is truly the reason the Apostle Paul said it is better to be single, so one may be more devoted to the Lord and His family, without neglecting an earthly family.
So, how can you pray for your pastor? Pray for their holiness. Pray that they be protected from falling into temptation. Pray for them to walk in wisdom, understanding and knowledge of the Scriptures. Pray for peace in the congregation, and don’t get involved in unnecessary controversy yourself! What is unnecessary? Anything that does not directly impact the truth of Scripture being proclaimed in the place. The color of the carpet, the layout of the furniture, the altar flowers, the music choices, or sister so-and-so’s style of running her committee are not valid reasons for controversy! In the long run, how much something costs and whether it could have been purchased cheaper or from another source, is irrelevant. Stop complaining, gossiping and backbiting, and pray. Pray for the committee members, the choir director and choir members, the elders, board and council members, deacons, church secretary and associate pastors. Pray for their families.
The official “Pastor Appreciation Month” isn’t until October. But let’s not wait. Send your pastor an encouraging card or e-mail. Tell him you appreciate him. Say an extra prayer for him and your church family.
Maybe you need to go to your pastor and have a talk. Or maybe you just need a church family to begin with. Find a pastor or priest. They can help you settle into a church family. Above all, pray!