How would you respond if your pastor freely shared his sinful struggles with you?
Once again, headlines are abuzz with stories of pastors and their struggles with evident sin. Why are we surprised? We are, after all, each caught up in an ongoing, galactic spiritual battle competing for the eternity of our very souls. (Eph. 6:12)
The fight between Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, Heaven and Hell has been like this since the creation of the world. It only stands to reason that since our pastors stand on the front lines of this fight, leading the advance of the gospel and making a difference in the lives of people who are choosing the love of Jesus, they live under the heaviest attacks from Satan and his army.
There is a never ending, strategic plan of destruction from the enemy targeting your pastor’s personal life, family, and ministry. In a spiritual battle, these attacks come wrapped in all sorts of trickery: temptation, pressure from others’ expectations, relationship stress, discouragement, health issues, etc. If you think that Satan isn’t after your pastor…please take your head out of the sand.
Our enemy is a master at custom-designing failure packages for anyone or anything advancing the gospel message and pointing others toward Jesus Christ. Your pastors have accepted a calling that author Paul Tripp refers to as a Dangerous Calling. No matter what you think their lives are like, unless you have experienced it, you cannot possibly understand the weight of what it’s like to lead, love, and live out the responsibility of spiritually caring for a congregation…many of whom are more apt to criticize you than to return care for you.
Our leaders are in desperate need of the constant support and back-up of an army of intercessors and prayer warriors! Jesus himself asked for the prayers of His disciples, and today, on behalf of our pastors, may I suggest…this responsibility is up to you and me!
I have read many commentaries pointing out the problems of our leadership and current church culture. Rarely is there a solution for cultural change offered that starts with you and me. But, I believe you and I can be the ones to generate the change.
So what do we need to do?
1-PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR
Our pastors need our regular supportive prayers in all areas of their lives. They need to know that they can boldly ask for your prayers and that YOU understand their marriages, children, finances, health, and other issues often hang in the balance and power of your prayer support.
I’ve seen and experienced the pain of spiritual warfare against my own pastor. In the height of our church’s growth, with new ministries being born and broken people coming to know Christ, our pastor began making poor decisions and actions that ultimately drove him all the way to suicide. This was a tragedy that sent shock waves well beyond our community and will forever impact the lives of his family left behind. Today, if you could hear testimony of his widow she would beg you to be the one who is committed to the preventive care and prayer support of your pastors and their families.
I often wonder if things would be different today if everyone in my church had been committed to regularly praying for him and his family. I wonder what would be different if in some of these “headline churches” there was such a commitment of prayer for their pastors. What if pastors knew their people were so serious about seeking God and expecting God to intervene in their lives that they could be transparent and vulnerable about their problems? What if they knew people would not be prone to gossip and criticism but rather would care enough and be responsible enough to passionately intercede for them with our Heavenly Father. Imagine the impact this would have on our churches, families and communities!
2-UNDERSTAND YOUR PASTOR IS NOT PERFECT
Praise God that He uses flawed, sinful people to accomplish His work on this earth. The fact is, He always has; (Exodus. 2:12, II Samuel 11, Jonah 1:3, Luke 22:34 list just a few examples)
Our pastors have an overwhelming responsibility and will be held accountable as such, but the chasm created on our part between impossible expectations and a Biblical atmosphere of love and care (both preventive and restorative) is often far too wide. You and I should allow our pastors the freedom (and confidence) to share their struggles and openly ask for our prayers. We need to allow them the space to make mistakes, confess and seek forgiveness.
3-REPLACE CRITICISM WITH CARE
If your pastor has gotten off track, recognize it for what it is, pray boldly and expectantly for God to restore him, to restore the affected relationships and ministry, and praise God that you can be the one to encourage him and keep up the banner of prayer support in your church.
We all make mistakes, share pain, and even tragedies along the way, but we are all part of the same body and Jesus has called us to pray. Pray for each other, pray for your leaders, pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).
If you love your church, your pastor(s) and leadership, one of the most essential things you can do right now and every day is to become a prayer warrior for your pastors and their families. Recognize the good work that God is doing through your pastor’s influence, celebrate those moments, become the voice of encouragement and affirmation. The rewards of your faithfulness in this area may not always be recognized in the moment, but will be felt throughout all eternity!
Will you join me in this movement and Be The One to raise the banner of preventive care and prayer support for your leaders in your church? It’s up to us!
Executive Director, Energize Ministries
Energize Ministries cares deeply for your pastors and ministry leaders. God has given us wonderful resources to help you be the one (#betheone) to provide greater care and prayer support for your pastors and ministry leaders. For more information, please visit Energize Ministries online or follow any of our social media channels.
#energizeministries #PFYP #betheone