We’re throwing a little party here today in honor of Pastor Appreciation Month. So, grab a slice of cake and enjoy this post by John P. King over at Smoking Newspaper. He’s a former pastor who has written a funny and insightful book about lessons learned in ministry.
And what would a party be without a present?
So, I’m going to give away a signed copy of his book. All this week, I’d love to hear from you just one thing that you have prayed or will be praying for your pastor. One word or a quick sentence is fine. Let’s encourage and inspire one another to pray for our pastors this month. It’s okay to duplicate others’ ideas. If it’s what’s on your heart, just share it!
Leave a comment here or on Facebook. Each comment gets you an entry and I’ll draw the winner using random.org and announce it in Saturday’s post.
And by all means stop by John’s blog and check out his devotionals. He’s even posted the first chapter for you! If you don’t win the book, you can find it on Amazon.com here: Don’t Smoke the Newspaper and Other Lessons Learned by a Pastor.
When I was pastoring in Oregon, a young man approached me and told me that he believed the Lord wanted him to be a pastor. As we talked, the first question he asked me as he wrestled with what God wanted him to do was, “What is pastoring like?” I have to admit that I wasn’t ready for that question. That one was a little different from the normal question, “What does a pastor do?” I had heard that question a hundred times. It’s a whole lot easier to answer about what one does than what something is like. However, a job description complete with responsibilities of both the spiritual and mundane, and a list of daily, monthly, and yearly activities was not what he was after. He wanted to know what he would be experiencing, not doing, if he followed the Lord’s call.
I thought for a moment and searched for a description of what my work, what my life, was like. I took this young man to the pulpit of the church and had him look out over the seats. I said, “Imagine all of the people of our church sitting in the pews. Now understand that on any given week, half of them will be experiencing some kind of victory. Life will be good for them. Imagine that all the people on the left side of the sanctuary are standing up because they are handling life. On the other hand, all the people on the right side are sitting down because life is handling them. They are going through some kind of struggle; a temptation, or trial, or tragedy. And as they go through, they will come to you looking for help commensurate to their need.”
“Next week, they will all switch places. The people on the right will be standing in victory, and the people on the left will be down, slogging through the difficulties of life. And the next week, they will switch back. And then switch back. And back again. And again.”
I explained to him that when dealing with the Christian life and the daily ministry we all should be engaged in, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” That is what the pastorate was like; rejoicing and weeping. Only the problem was, as I had mentioned earlier, the people who are toughing things out will always come to you. Unfortunately, the people in victory rarely do. So you are always tilting to the ones who are “weeping,” whichever side of the aisle they are on. The pastorate is a see-saw ride of moving from one hurting group to the next from one week to the next.
The look on his face said he was neither amused nor enthused. Of course, I didn’t want to leave him like that, so I proceeded to tell him what a pastor does. No, not the proverbial, full job description as mentioned earlier, but the one-line biblical definition. Most people think that the pastor’s job is to minister. You hire them to do the “ministry.” However, Ephesians 4 makes it plain that the five-fold ministry, including pastors, was given to the church by Jesus Christ “…for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12). As a pastor, he would need to train the people to do the ministry; to rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those that weep.” If he didn’t, then he would carry the load of “ministry” all by himself, and believe me, if he did, he would either be miserable or he wouldn’t be in the ministry for long.
With an understanding of what it’s like to be a pastor, what are my encouragements through all of this? They are two-fold.
- Get engaged in the “ministry.” It is not the pastor’s job to do it all. It’s their job to train us to do the ministry. It’s not their job to build up the body of Christ. It’s their job to equip us for the building up of the body of Christ. If we aren’t doing our part, the body won’t grow and it will make their job exponentially more difficult. However, if we are doing our part, then the church will grow and it will make the pastor’s job a delight.
- Rejoice! Remember, the pastor has their own life and family problems to deal with too. If the only things they ever hear from us are the hardships, it will only make them want to quit. Pastors take great delight in their people’s triumphs and victories. Trust me, as a former pastor, I LOVED hearing about what God was doing in the lives of my congregation. There was never any jealousy. It didn’t matter if it was something “ministry” oriented or some kind of encounter with God in their daily lives. Rejoicing with my people always made my day.
So as God moves in your life, tell your shepherd. They really do want to hear about it. And don’t forget to take your place in the ministry. Your pastor needs you.
Joy in Christ,
Rev. John P. King, M.A.
Copyright © 2012 John P. King, Used with permission
Verses from the NASB
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.