I was a pastor for quite a few years. I got to sit in on all the behind-the-scenes meetings, and I had a front row seat for all the good, bad, and ugly that happened in our church (and happens in every church). I rejoiced with parents when their children professed Christ and wept with children when their parents professed divorce.
To use a rather bad analogy, I got to see how the sausage was made. It wasn’t pretty most of the time.
When you’re a pastor, there are certain things you wish you could tell the folks in your congregation, but can’t because they would seem self-serving.
Now that I’m no longer a pastor, I can say those things. I say them to give you a greater appreciation and respect for your pastors, and to spur you to pray for and encourage your pastors.
Being A Pastor Is Really Hard Work
We’ve all heard the joke that pastors only work one day per week, and I think most of us know that isn’t true. But I don’t think most people realize just how hard it is to be a pastor.
Pastoral ministry is an intensely emotional work. Every week, the pastor finds himself hip deep in the joys, struggles, failings, and heartaches of his people. A single day can contain the joy of sharing the gospel and the grief of ministering to a dying friend.
Most pastors spend a big chunk of their time giving themselves away. Refreshing others. Strengthening the flock.
This kind of emotional work can quickly suck the pastor dry, leaving him an exhausted shell of himself. Pastoral ministry isn’t for faint-of-heart pansies looking for a cushy job.
Your pastors work really hard. They spend themselves for your good and your joy. When you pray for your pastors, pray that God would strengthen and refresh them.
Pastoral Work Can Be Profoundly Discouraging
Unlike most jobs, pastoral work is never completed. There are no project deadlines and they can’t usually see tangible evidence of progress. The pastor’s work is only complete when he stops being a pastor, dies, or Jesus comes back.
On top of that, pastors are sinners working among sinners. Every day they confront deep, dark reminders of the profound sinfulness of men and women. A deacon in the church walks out on his family. A young mom is addicted to pain killers. A longstanding member is afflicted with brain cancer.
This means that pastors in particular are vulnerable to discouragement. They can feel as if their work doesn’t matter, isn’t making any difference, and will never end. They are vulnerable to the whispers of Satan, telling them they are a failure.
Whenever possible, encourage your pastors. Point out evidence of God at work. Pray for their encouragement.
Your Pastor Is Uniquely Targeted By Satan
If Satan can take down a pastor, an entire congregation is hurt. If Satan can take down a pastor, the name of Christ is slandered even more so than normal. If Satan can take down a pastor, he can disqualify that man from ministering ever again (depending on the nature of the sin).
We see it all the time. A pastor is caught in momentous sin. His reputation is destroyed, the church is left gasping, and the name of Christ is dragged through the mud. Church history is littered with the wreckage of broken pastors.
In light of these terrifying realities, pray that God would protect your pastor from the snares of Satan. Pray that God would deliver your pastor from evil. Pray that, for the sake of the gospel, God would guard over your pastor.
So Pray and Encourage
Your pastors probably aren’t going to tell you these things. But I will, because I want you to pray for and encourage your pastors. And because they keep watch over your soul as ones who will give an account, you would be wise to pray for them and encourage them.
Thank you Paul, Dave, Josh, Rob, Scott, Lance, and Zach for being my pastors.