Just recently I was invited to a “pastors and their wives” Christmas party. As we sat around exchanging stories (not gossiping), I realized that we came from different walks of life but had similar experiences. Thirteen years ago when I asked my father-in-law for his advice in entering the ministry he said, “If there is anything else that you would rather do, go do it.” I knew what he meant. I am a fourth generation pastor. In fact, we referred to our dad as “Our father who art at a meeting.”If that wasn’t enough I married a pastor’s daughter. What’s ironic is that neither of us wanted to be in the ministry. Who says that God does not have a sense of humor!

Pastoral ministry can be tough at times. Two pastors were overheard sharing their struggles. One said, “I worry so much, I can’t sleep at night and have terrible nightmares.” The other replied, “That’s nothing. I’m sleeping like a baby. I wake up every three hours and cry.” What makes ministry so difficult? Is it the meetings, church conflicts, or competition with TV preachers (that is debatable)? I think the main struggle is to keep up the balance between “knowing that only God can do it” and “giving one’s best.” It is learning to discern between the voice of God and the voices all around. It is walking the tightrope of “being holy” and “being human.” Marcus Dods, a great pastor and author, wrote in his younger, “No day passes without strong temptation to give up the work.”

Ever wonder why pastors’ kids act the way they do. It is because they hang around the deacons/elders/board members’ kids! Well, maybe not. So why does the enemy attack the pastor? Because the conscience of a community is not the politician, government leader or any law enforcement official. It is the pastor of a local church. Our nation is facing tough times that might get tougher. Our churches will have to stand as beacons of hope. We will need pastors who have a tough backbone and a soft heart (not vice-versa). Our community will need “shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). Let’s not forget: As goes the church, so goes the community. In the general prologue of the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer (c. 1340-1400) described the vigilance of the pastor in the following words:

He never let his benefice for hire. . .  But dwelt at home and kept so well the fold  That never wolf could make his plans miscarry”

So how can you encourage your pastor:

  1. Pray for your pastor and his family. The more you pray for him, the more you will find yourself appreciating and liking him. I’ve never met a pastor I did not like. Although, some came very close!
  2. An inexpensive way is to just show up at church. Imagine preparing your favorite recipe and nobody wants it. That is somewhat the feeling after Sunday worship for many pastors.
  3. Tell your pastor and his wife that you appreciate them (hugs are optional). For Clearview readers: since you already do all the above, just bake a pecan pie.

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