Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Encourage your pastor. . .
The pastor is "on" when almost everyone else is "off." Pastors work weekends when most of our parishioners are off. Pastors work holidays when most of our people are off. Pastors work in the times when the circumstances take us from our work -- illness and death, especially. In addition, pastors are on call all the time. There is not a pastor who has not put family plans or personal needs second to an urgent situation involving a parishioner (and even a stranger on the street). We carry the every so difficult burden of divided loyalties between family and church. It is not hard to understand why a pastor struggles.
The pastor is constantly facing temptation from all sides. The devil is ready to strike the shepherd and see the sheep scatter and the world is increasingly filled with contempt against the gospel that the pastor is ordained to speak, teach, and manifest in the means of grace. The world is filled with new things born of a technology that cannot even begin to meet our appetite for stuff and the typical pastor is paid on the low end of the spectrum (especially in comparison to those professions that require the same kind of educational training as a prerequisite for ordination). It is not hard to understand how a pastor might be tempted.
The pastor is constantly loaning out his faith to others whose own faith is being tested by circumstance. We speak hope in the face of decay, comfort in the face of affliction, peace in the face of turmoil, life in the face of death, and truth in the face of the judgment of feeling or preference. It is not hard to understand how a pastor might find his faith weak or fragile before so many who yearn for confidence, comfort, hope, and peace.
Every pastor has some who know especially how to support him. There is a small number who demonstrate well both their appreciation and their friendship with the pastor and his family -- in every parish and in every community. There are more who support the pastor but hidden in their own prayer closets when they lift him and his family up before the Lord. God bless those who remember to pray for their pastors. But, speaking as one of those pastors, let me identify one of the most profound ways to support your pastor in his ministry. Go to church.
Given the trials, temptation, and risks facing any and every pastor, the sight of the faithful kneeling at the altar rail to receive the flesh and blood of Christ with such reverence is a blessed encouragement to me and, I expect, to all pastors. The presence of the faithful kneeling to receive the Holy Supper of the Lord reminds us that what we do and what they are doing, is of the greatest importance -- a solemn and blessed occasion in which we meet the Lord where He has pledged to be found. The reverence of my people when I, in my humility, bestow upon them the body and blood of our Lord according to His plan and by His command, never fails to encourage me. The children who follow my every action and hang on my every word, the parents holding babies in their arms, the aged struggling to kneel and yet refusing to choose the easier path, and the eyes of the faithful who behold Christ in this bread and cup, well, it is more than just helpful for a pastor. It is inspiring.
Do you want to make sure the doors to your church remain open? Do you want to make sure the pastor is there and ready to address any and every circumstance with the Word of the Lord? Do you want to encourage the pastor in his ministry? Then do for yourself and for him the duty and delight of being in church every Sunday, kneeling to receive the blessed food of His flesh and blood, and prayerfully and financially support the church's work and the pastor who has been set apart for it. It is no small thing. It inspires me and I am sure every pastor would echo this. Your faith and faithfulness encourages my own faith and faithfulness. God bless you!