Monday, March 3, 2014

Support Your Local Pastor

      Yesterday I read a great blog article written by Thom Rainer entitled "Eight of the Most Significant Struggles Pastors Face".  He listed them as:  criticism and conflict, family problems,
stress, depression, burnout, sexual problems, financial problems, and time management.  It was an eye opening list that should concern all of us in the body of Christ.  The demands on those who are called to the pastorate have grown considerably over the years with the fast pace of life.
     In the book of Hebrews chapter 13:17, the author writes:  "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."  When we complain or criticize our pastors, church leaders and elders, we are making their work more difficult.  Rather than tearing them down, we ought to be daily lifting them up in prayer.  Only God can work change in another person, and since they are accountable to God for the souls entrusted to their care, we need to be talking with the Lord daily on their behalf.  Here are some practical ways we can pray:  1) Find out the day the pastor uses for sermon preparation and pray that God would assist him in his study.  2) Pray daily for the pastor and other leaders' families.  Family issues are of a real concern for all leaders.  3) Pray for God's protection not only for our leaders but also for the flock that God would deliver them from evil and temptation.  After all, Peter warned us that the enemy lurks around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  4) Pray that our pastors and leaders would not be overwhelmed by their work, burned out, stressed, discouraged.  Ask God to help them manage their time so that they can enjoy their family, friends and other activities.  When we can, we should also send a card, email or text them a note of encouragement...they need that too.   5) Pray for our leaders and pastors to have quality devotion time for themselves that they might be fully equipped for good works each day.
     Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus these words:  "And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ..." (Ephesians 4:11-12).  Our leaders and especially our pastors are a gift from Jesus Christ.  Their purpose is to equip us to do the work of service so we can build up the Body of Jesus Christ which is the church.  If we are constantly taking shots at them, we are actually hurting ourselves.  Again, I believe that prayer is the key.  If we wish to see church growth and powerful ministry, then, time on our knees will help this happen.
     Our society is so celebrity driven that often we pick up worldly notions of what a pastor should be or what he should do.  Often this is far removed from reality.  No one can be at every place all the time or meet every single need.   Our leaders and pastors are human beings that have the same struggles we all face.  They have been called of God to minister to others.  Just as they are called to account for the souls under their care, we will be called to account how we submitted to their leadership.  Did we make their job hard or did we pray for them, encourage them, and work with them rather than against them?  Granted, we may not always agree with them, but they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and should always be treated with respect in the love of Christ.  Those elected to Deacon, Elder and Pastor have a calling on their lives.  Let us make a habit of lifting them up to our heavenly Father and encouraging them that they can attain the goal of their high calling in our fellowship.  This will bring a sweetness to the body of believers which is much better than the sour grapes we often hear about.  Selah!

The photo above is courtesy of our son Aaron Thayer.  It is the picture of the Greek Orthodox church near Naples, FL.

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