Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pastors are People Too!

Being raised in a pastor's home wasn't always easy but the experience and understanding I gained...was priceless.  There is a special place in my heart for pastors and church staff.  I've had the privilege to associate with some wonderful pastors and church leaders over the years.  From those associations, I've gained some precious friends that I've truly come to VALUE.

Honestly, having a friend who is a pastor is a blessing because he can identify with my calling and understand my perspective, both of ministry and life in general.  I love and respect the God-called individuals who serve in the local church.

Most pastors, at the least the ones I've met, speak very positive about their congregations.  Still, sometimes you hear about HURTS they've encountered along the way.    

One pastor told me that he wished he could sit down with his entire congregation, look them in the eye and tell them about all the hurts they'd encountered since being at their place of service.  The hope was that if they could express their heart, their church members would have a better understanding of how to help them avoid future hurts.

I met a pastor a few years ago that blessed me with his huge heart.  I listened to his hopes, dreams and hurts and it seemed like a few things stood out that I had heard from others pastors too.  

Here's a few things pastors wish their members knew... 

1. Please wait till after service before you make a request.  Most pastors are in prayer and study just prior to service.  If they're hearing from the Lord and getting His voice in their spirit it will be distracting listening to your complaint or recommendation before they preach.  What happens is considered a "co-mix" of God's voice and your voice.    QUESTION: Whose voice do you want speaking to you from the pulpit?  Please don't ask your pastor to make last minute announcements or address the toilet issue in the restroom on their way to the platform.

2. Please keep your criticism to yourself until you've had time to pray and think through your criticism.  Pastors receive several criticisms each week, via emails, letters (anonymous ones too) and phone calls.  If you add that up, that's about 200 a year.  Those verbal jabs take their toll.  We all make mistakes and none of us are above criticism, however, please be prayerful before you're critical.  By the way...anonymous emails, letters and calls...get deleted immediately.  If someone isn't man or woman enough to list their name...their criticism isn't worth the time to read.  On that note, If a pastor has been face to face with their members while ministering to them, praying for them, counseling them and meeting their needs...it is extremely disrespectful and immature to send an email or a letter to them when you decide you're done with them or the church.  

3. Please remember that pastors face spiritual warfare as much as anyone.  Pastors and other staff members are on the FRONT LINE of ministry.  The attacks from the devil and his imps are relentless.  Unfortunately, some of the most painful words come from friendly fire - people who should know better by now, but refuse to mature.

When we remember that pastors are people too...we can alleviate some of the struggles that our leaders have because they're spending too much time dealing with issues (junk) that take their focus off the main tasks to which God has called them.  

Friends, I'm convinced that the need for prayer for our pastors and leaders is URGENT!  If you have a pastor or leader that you love, then take time to hear their cries and then respond with love, encouragement and above all...PRAYER.

How to PRAY for your pastor

  1. Pray that he/she will have a greater insight of the Word of God and then use that understanding to apply it in their life and ministry.
  2. Pray for their protection from the work of Satan.
  3. Pray that their heart will remain soft in the face of abrasive and abusive people.
  4. Pray for their personal spiritual growth.
  5. Pray for their success...however it would be that God would define it for them.
  6. Pray that they will speak the truth with boldness and humility.
  7. Pray that they will persevere through whatever trial they are facing.
  8. Pray for his children - that they will grow up with a positive impression of church ministry.
  9. Pray that he/she will remain pure, and that their love for their spouse would increase daily.
  10. Pray that you will know how to encourage your pastor.

Pray for Your P-A-S-T-O-R
Here's another way to pray for your pastor - especially if you have trouble remembering what to pray about.  Use the letters of the word, P-A-S-T-O-R to remind you of specific prayer requests.  For example:

P - Purity 
  • Pray that your pastor will remain pure in the face of constant pressure in an immoral culture.
A - Adversity 
  • Pray for your pastor that he will be able to confront adversity with faith and endurance.
S - Strength 
  • Most pastors work long hours and at least six days a week.  Pray that he will have the strength to continue his ministry.
T - Teaching 
  • Pray for your pastor that his teaching and preaching will be effective, powerful and clear.
O - Organization 
  • Your pastor has more to do than any one person can handle.  Pray for your pastor that he will be able to prioritize correctly.
R - Rest 
  • Your pastor needs rest.  Pray that your pastor will sleep well each night and that he will take enough time away from ministry so that he does not get worn out.