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Pray for Your Pastor, Please

8January2013

“Since prayer is a spiritual good which is held in common by all, we dare not deprive anyone of it, not even our enemies. For since God is the Father of us all, he also wants us to be like brothers (and sisters) to each other, who love each other dearly and who pray for one another as each does for himself.”

–Martin Luther, LW42:26, An Exposition on the Lord’s Prayer.

As someone who sat in the pews for most of my life as a parishioner I can honestly tell you that I had no idea when I went to seminary 15+ years ago what it would be like to be a pastor. It is the most blessed vocation I can imagine. It is the most difficult vocation I can imagine.

I would venture to say that most people who end up in seminary love God and love people, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. However, it’s not until close to the end of our seminary education (which comes after earning a Bachelor’s degree first) that “they” tell us how we will be the lightning rod for all sorts of unresolved emotional energy and conflict in the local parish. Our job is to work to make the flock in which we have been entrusted by God, yes by God, into a healthier, more spiritually mature community of believers. This is very hard work for multiple reasons, one of which is that some folks don’t want to learn and grow and put aside old, unhealthy ways of being. Some are too comfortable right where they are, stuck in the muck and mire of their own unhealthy family patterns. It takes awareness and motivation for a single person to become  healthier, thus is it is a monumental task for a group of people, even people of faith, to become healthier. (By health I don’t mean able to run a 5K or bench press their own body weight. What I’m speaking about is the ability to reflect on one’s own way of being in the world and with other people; being open to constructive criticism without becoming defensive; being open to the spiritual disciplines without being threatened or feeling bullied because you aren’t ready to be that obedient; being willing to make your faith a lifestyle not just another option amongst many.)

Here’s the thing: when your pastor, your little “s” shepherd, works, prays and coaches the community of faith into being healthier, many times the faith family resists mightily! They may get angry that things are changing. They might get grumpy because the Truth is being told about what being a disciple REALLY is all about. They might back off and stay at home on Sundays, or go visiting other congregations to get some distance. There might be anonymous notes (not acceptable!), or temper tantrums (also not acceptable behavior), or gossip circulating around town about how the pastor “drove” people away. These reactions simply signal to your pastor that you aren’t dealing with change in a healthy way. They are OVER- reactions. . . not healthy responses to what’s really going in your heart, mind and spirit (which by the way, we truly do want to know- we just don’t want it shouted at us, we don’t to have fingers poked into our chests, we don’t want hate mail with no name on it, we don’t want angry phone messages and so on).

Here’s the thing: Your Pastor is NOT your enemy. Luther said we should even pray for our enemies but I certainly hope you aren’t praying for your pastor because you think he or she is your mortal enemy. On the contrary! We love you. We really do. You have to believe that! Pastors have years and years of education. . . which in the secular world would translate into way more income than we receive as parish pastors. I say this because I’m a realist and I’m trying to convince you based on something that the “world” values (and there’s a little bit of world in all of us). We are not pastors because we want to get rich, so let’s just put that aside. Pastors are called by God to serve people on their faith journey, to point them to God in Jesus Christ, to help them grow and learn and develop into apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. But it is difficult and painstaking work.

This past weekend a bunch of colleagues, as well as myself, posted an article on Facebook.

http://sayville.patch.com/articles/secrets-your-pastor-can-t-share-in-a-sermon

Some got really angry. Some understood and chuckled. Some criticized and cajoled and had a fit. Some cried because it was so very true.

Here’s my solemn plea: Please pray for your pastor. When my folks tell me they pray for me, I am so thrilled because I need it desperately. I struggle with darkness sometimes. I struggle with a deep pervasive loneliness that is a spiritual affliction. I get tired and worn out. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my vocation, because I do. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. And I love the people I serve, dearly! But I am concerned when colleagues get beat up emotionally. I’m concerned when pastors can’t tell the truth without repercussions because the truth hurts too much. I’m concerned when Christians fail to realize that their pastors are simply people, just like them, trying to do the very best for God and community that they possibly can. Please pray for your pastor. . . and treat him or her like you would your beloved sister or brother. And know. . . please know. . . that we are doing our best to pray for you, teach, preach, serve, coach, motivate, coax, lift up, bolster, feed and nourish you with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Will you pray with me?  Gracious heavenly Father, we give you thanks for another day in your holy presence. Help us on our faith journey as you draw us deeper and deeper toward your heart. Today we lift up the pastors who serve us. Give them courage and strength in their daily work. Give them energy amidst the busy-ness that threatens their peace. Give them confidence in your love and mercy and protect them from harm. I remember to you this day Pastor_________________, who loves you and has dedicated his/her life to serving you. Grant peace and joy in their serving. Amen.

Have a very blessed day friends!

ACL@CCD

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen Nevergall permalink
    8January2013 10:14

    Amy…as the spouse of a pastor I thank you for this. And please know that besides praying for my husband and his work, I pray daily for other pastors who have touched my life. You are in my prayers.

  2. seh permalink
    15January2013 08:54

    Thank you- such a good reminder!

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