You're pastoring a church, have your hands full, and struggling to balance all the expectations put on you by the Lord, your congregation, your family, the community, and yourself.
Every day on your way to the church office you pass several other churches, some larger than yours and some smaller, some seeming to thrive and others that seem to have trouble keeping their doors open. Sometimes you think about stopping and introducing yourself to the pastor of that church nearest you.
But you don't. You're too busy, you tell yourself. And besides, he might see you as the competition and not want to become friends. Anyway, you don't have room in your life for another frustrating relationship, so you let it go.
It's a shame. You would love to know that pastor and he could benefit so much from knowing you. Here are 10 things we know for certain (well, okay, let's make it 95% certain; as the old expression goes: "Every rule has its exceptions, including this one") about that pastor:
1) He has his hands full trying to pastor his people also. That is true whether his congregation is made up of 50 people or 500.
2) He needs your prayers. The least you can do for him-and perhaps the best-is to lift him to the Father as you drive past his church.
3) He is probably married to a woman who loves the Lord but feels inadequate for the expectations put on her as a pastor's wife. In most cases, the expectations are her own and not from the membership, but not always. Sometimes church families can be demanding of the minister's wife. Unless she is strong and determined and married to a supportive husband, the burden can overwhelm her.
4) He and his wife need encouragement. Of this one, I am dead sure the percentage is one-hundred. There are no exceptions.
5) That pastor lives in a world of unfinished tasks. He goes to bed at night thinking of someone else he should have called, a sermon he needs to be working on, a program that needs leadership, a burden that needs addressing. If he cannot turn off his pastoral-engine, put all that aside with the Lord, and rest his mind and body, he's not going to make it in the ministry.
6) He feels guilty that his prayer life (not to say perhaps his sermon preparation or his pastoral visitation or his administrative skills!) is not what it should be. "We do not know how to pray as we should," said Paul in Romans 8:26. It's a cinch the rest of us don't, if Paul didn't.
7) He needs more exercise, more money, and more laughter in his life.
8) He would love to meet you for a cup of coffee. I suggest you not have an agenda other than a 15-minute visit to get to know one another. You'll know after a few minutes if you want to meet him again on another day.
9) His wife would love for you and your wife to invite them for coffee the next time. No agenda, just visiting. The wives will find a hundred things they have in common, including the two men in the room!
10) You and he have a lot to offer each other, but nothing will ever get done if you don't take the initiative and call him.
We've all watched enough nature shows to know when the roaring lion begins searching for his next meal, he does not take on the whole herd at once. He's looking for the loner, the animal too sickly or elderly or headstrong or stupid to stay up with the others. Once he finds that one isolated out there by itself, he has his next meal.
Satan knows if he can keep churches in isolation and pastors working alone without the fellowship of kindred hearts and the encouragement we can offer one another, he has weakened us and limited our ministries and won a victory of sorts.
Let's honor Christ by honoring His servants. Let's reach out and encourage one another, pastors. Some of the best friends I have had in my long ministry began as neighboring pastors down the street.
Joe McKeever is a retired Southern Baptist pastor from New Orleans, Louisiana. He blogs regularly at www.joemckeever.com.
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