Have you ever considered as a church member, all that your Pastor is packing on his back? Besides carrying the load of the church as Senior Pastor or the load of a ministry as a Staff Pastor, every pastor has a personal life and family that impacts him dramatically.
In Recent Months
In recent months, looking around the room during one of our monthly Ministry Team meetings, I surveyed the audience. There were around 40 people present, men and women who lead our specific ministries, along with some personal assistants. Among that group of not more than 40 people:
*Four of them had lost one of their parents in the past four weeks
*One of them had just lost twins through a miscarriage
*One of them had lost a 30-year-old son six months ago, which also meant another one of our staff members lost their son-in-law
Therefore, imagine this room of around 40 people — seven of them had suffered dramatic, life-altering loss in recent days.
Pastors Pack Personal Pain And Challenge Daily
Church members often forget the personal life of a Pastor. He experiences real pain, suffering, and loss just like them.
Dr. Keith Thomas, one of my dear Pastor friends was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six years ago. Through this past April, he confounded the wise, outliving this disease like few, if any, others. Can you imagine: He lived before the church and the world all of those years, having been handed a death sentence over six years ago. Yet, he literally crawled to the pulpit in his last days, sitting in a chair while he preached, stopping to catch his breath. Less than one month before his death, he preached for the last time.
Dr. Rick Warren, another dear Pastor friend, lost his 27-year-old son this past April. For all those years, Pastor Warren and his wife, Kay, carried the burden of having a son that dealt with mental illness. Before the entire world, Rick and Kay have carried this ongoing challenge on their backs. Yet, they remain faithful.
These two ministry families are representative of every Pastor and his family across the world. While these families may be extreme illustrations, please know that every pastor I know carries personal “stuff” on his back, PLUS church “stuff.” As a church member, are you being sensitive to the needs of your Pastor and his family?
Do Not Add To What Your Pastor Is Packing On His Back Already
I have thought about how the “critics” of Keith Thomas and/or Rick Warren feel today, knowing these men have suffered loss greatly, one of his own life, and another, the loss of his son. I talk to pastors regularly from all over the nation and the church critics are tough on them, causing immense despair periodically.
I understand — I have my own critics. I always have and always will, just like any other pastor. The amazing thing I have come to know personally, is that it does not usually matter if your wife is fighting cancer, or your dad dies suddenly, or your mom dies of cancer, or other painful matters arise . . . critics usually never retreat in the midst of pain. They just add to what the pastor is packing on his back already.
There have been Sundays where I felt like crawling to the pulpit to preach. Besides my own challenges or grief or losses, I had to deal with the critics, never seemingly able to live up to their unrealistic expectations. On top of this, I minister to them regardless of what they think or how they act, yet I’m ignored by them when I have carried my own pain and loss.
Pastors Need You To Help Carry Them
I love ministering to pastors and their families. I know what it is like. I am one of them. I have served all size churches, in all kinds of towns, and in all types of situations. Pastors need people to help carry them. If I can do that for a Pastor, I will do it.
As a church member, I want to challenge you gently but unashamedly, walk with your Pastor, carrying him not only in prayer but also encouraging him. It does not matter which conference I am asked to speak at, I am always told, “Just encourage our pastors. They are dealing with discouragement and never have anyone encourage them in their calling and pastoral journey.” How sad! I promise you, those word are the words I am told repeatedly.
The church should walk with their Pastor. The Church should lift their Pastor up in prayer continually. The Church should be the greatest defender of the Pastor, not his greatest critic. Don’t add to what he is packing on his back already . . . the burden of the church and various personal life struggles. Make it your goal to carry the load with him. Be like Aaron and Hur, who lifted up the arms of Moses, not weighing them downward. When they stood with Moses in prayer, the people of God won and when they did not, the people of God struggled. Make it your personal goal to stand with your Pastor, bringing honor to him because he teaches you the Word of God.
Yours For The Great Commission,
Cross Church has always invested in young men and women through our summer internship program. This year we have 18 interns with us from all over America. They will give to this ministry, learn from this ministry, be sent by this ministry, and will always be connected to this ministry through our investment in each of them. Each intern will work in a specific ministry throughout the summer and we will help them develop their calling by the Lord.
Before I introduce them to you, let me encourage you to do the following with them.
- Get to know them, you will find them a major blessing to your life.
- Pray for them and with them personally, each of them carries their own burdens.
- Feed them, have one or two of them for dinner in your home or bless them with a gift card to a local restaurant.
- Give to them, invest in them by giving of yourself or through the gift of prayer.
Meet our Summer Interns:
Ronnie W. Floyd