It resonated with me so deeply and, of course, Beth Moore is going to write it better than I ever could.
After Brad told me about Rick Warren's son on Saturday I cried a little (of course). I prayed for their family as I made dinner. Sometime later in the evening I told Brad, "if one person posts something hateful on FB about this, I swear I'm gonna quit facebook. I'm quitting it for good."
Maybe you've noticed there can be a whole lotta snark up in there on the FB? It greatly affects me when the latest "controversy" gets everyone fired up. I'm a feeler. I get all twisted up in my gut when hateful things are posted and the arguments that erupt in the comments. Gah. And these are on my Christian friends' pages. Double Gah.
I try to keep FB "friends" down to actual friends and/or family members... people I would share a meal with if the opportunity arises. Even still, there is diversity in my friends' list and there are just days that I don't spend much time there because there can be some downright ugliness. I hate that part of FB.
I feared that some idiot somewhere would write an awful, accusatory post about the Warrens and I was worried that one of my "friends" would share it. And then I was gonna quit. Thankfully that hasn't happened. All day today I have been thinking about this Facebook-hatefulness-phenomena and it occured to me that it really isn't new, its just more obvious.
I think about Pastor Rick Warren and his family, of quietly caring for a child with mental illness while also carrying on the work that Lord has called him to; then publicly asking for prayer in their deepest time of grief. I think of the words that Beth Moore wrote about Christians hating-on one another and I can't help but think about all of the pastors and their families out there. (Shout out to Pastor Dan in ND!)
They need our prayers. Desperately.
One of my favorite things about our church is the Pastor's Prayer Partners ministry (P3). Our Pastor started it some time ago and as he celebrated his 30th anniversary at our church yesterday, his only real regret is that he didn't start P3 sooner. I've often remarked to Brad that I think the American Church would be unstoppable if every congregation prayed earnestly for their pastor.
Brad grew up a pastor's son. I don't think its my place to share his family's personal stories of hurt via congregants; but I will tell you that Brad nodded emphatically the first time we heard pastor talk about P3. He gave some examples of things a pastor might hear:
- you don't dress you/your family well enough
- you spend too much money on the clothes you/your family wears
- we pay you all that money and you drive a clunker
- we must pay you too much if you can afford such a nice car
- you shouldn't preach so much about -----------
- you should preach more about -----------------
Our Pastor wrote a book called Pray for your Pastor and he included some statistics in the first chapter...
- 1500 pastors in America leave the ministry every month due to moral failure, burnout, or trouble in the church.
- Of pastors and their wives, 82% are discouraged in the work because they are told daily of someone who is displeased with them.
- 97% of all pastors have been betrayed, falsely accused, or hurt by their trusted friends. And as a result, 78% do not have a close friend.
- Of all pastors' children, 80% have a low trust of people within the church.
Ministry is an undeniable calling on the life of a person. A person who is called to ministry knows it because they are unable to do anything else with success. A person doesn't choose ministry, ministry chooses a person. It is that fact alone that makes the life of a pastor a difficult one. Pastors are imperfect people, who need the grace of God and men. Sometimes we forget that. We forget that pastors don't walk on water, they walk beside it. When a congregation forgets to protect their pastor with prayer, that pastor is more vulnerable to Satan's attacks. If everything rises and falls on leadership, it is clear why the devil attacks the pastor and his family the most in the church. Jesus taught in Matthew 26:31 that if you strike down the shepherd, the sheep will scatter. Jesus uses this metaphor often in the Bible to describe the people and their leader. He often described people with no leader as "sheep without a shepherd" (Matt. 9:36). The devil will target a pastor not only because he wants to damage a ministry, but because he seeks to destroy the people under that ministry. Your pastor will be satan's top priority, and that is why praying for him daily must be your congregation's top priority as well.
I wonder what it was like for pastor to stand before the church the first time he introduced P3. I wonder if his critics were uncomfortable. I wonder what kind of fury was happening in the heavenly places that day.
I can't tell you what a blessing it is to pray for our pastor daily. I can tell you, though, that you will experience those blessings if you begin praying daily for your pastor.
If you don't know specifically what to pray, then pray this: Ask God to protect your pastor physically, morally, mentally, and spiritually. I pray this for our pastor and his wife, for each of their sons and their daughter-in-law's and their GRANDangels as well. I pray for their marriages to be strong and well protected. I pray that their communication with one another is open, honest, and easy.
I urge you to pray for your pastor. Use your words carefully and your prayers powerfully. If you might be interested in our pastor's book, you can click here. Maybe you will even be moved to begin a P3 ministry at your church! THAT would be awesome!
*p.s. our church is classified as a mega-church, our pastor has no idea I am writing this and I am receiving nothing for linking to the book. I just wholeheartedly believe in this ministry of praying for our pastors; I truly believe it is crucial for a church's health and growth.