To the men who hold the title of “Pastor”. Often forgotten in the eyes of society, but viewed as dearly important in the eyes of God.
As I sat in my study working late into the evening, just beginning the piles of work that lay before me this week, it occurred to me that there are many pastors in our towns, counties, districts, and world that sit in their study week after week tending to the administrative duties that come with the title. All pastors will agree that Sunday always seems to approach very quickly, and it always feels like it’s tomorrow! Whether it be developing sermons and Bible studies, returning a back-log of missed phone calls, continuing their theological education, officiating a funeral or wedding, counseling an individual who finds themself in an unfortunate circumstance, giving advice, having 20 different conversations at the grocery store and restaurant, or making visitation rounds, the pastor is often pulled in 100 different directions.
Yet although they are pulled in many different directions, there is still only one pastor! The wonderful reminder that I often reflect on is “If you do not control your schedule, someone else will”. The word “no” becomes your best friend and most useful organizational tool. The classic “a pastor only works a half a day a week” is the biggest insult given from an individual to any God called servant, and a good clobbering ought to be in order! It’s a 24/7, 365 day a year job, and the pastor often devotes the entirety of his life to ministry while sacrificing the sacred time with their family. Ministry doesn’t stop.
I’ve counted it as a wonderful joy and privilege in my rather short stint in the ministry to fellowship with many Godly pastors across many different denominations and in many different states. But there is one thing that I find to be an increasingly troubling commonality as I converse with these wonderful men of God, and that is the plague of discouragement among pastors. Whether it be pastoring a difficult congregation, depleted finances, family problems due to the absence of the father and husband role as a result of ministry, sickness caused by stress from the ministry, or the depression and anxiety that comes from the pressures of leadership in which the pastor is always found in the public eye, often found feeling alone without the trusting confidant.
Although I’m about as sharp mentally as a dull butter knife attempting to cut into a rock, I find the only thing in which I can provide pastors with is encouragement. There is nothing that I can share with pastors they they do not already know, but one thing that I have found to be the most beneficial in my life is the encouragement which can be provided to them.
We often praise the pastor of 30,000 while easily forgetting the pastor of 30, but both are equally called and equally as important in the eyes of God. Success in ministry is not measured numerically, but rather it is measured by faithfulness. I shudder at the pretentious and arrogant spirit that seems to plague young preachers today...(notice how I used the word preachers and not the word pastors....there is indeed a vast difference). If us “young preachers” were as good as we thought we were, we’d really be something! Ha! Maybe if we thought as much of God as we do ourselves, we could really change the world. But unfortunately, pride always comes before a fall, and in my short time I have witnessed more than a handful of young and seasoned men alike fall into moral failure due to their own arrogance. How sad it is that these wonderful men of God allowed Satan to steal the sower’s bag of seed. Many of those sowers never recovered, and to this day still remain burned out, discouraged, and mocked.
I must admit, I am truly a blessed pastor, and my congregation certainly has blessed me more than I deserve! But I sympathize with those wonderful men of God who find themselves discouraged, depressed, and burned-out. Church members, if you see your pastor this week, tell them you appreciate them, pray for them daily, and SHOW them that you really do appreciate their efforts to advance the Kingdom here on Earth by attending worship and getting involved in ministry. Your pastor’s job is not to do the ministry, but rather to equip the members of the church to do the ministry! The call to ministry is one so misunderstood, yet so very important. Pastor, keep pressing on. It ain’t over till it’s over! Someone once told me: “When the Lord is through with you, He’ll let you know. But I can assure you of one thing, He probably hasn’t let you know yet!”
2 Timothy 4:1-5 - “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”