The Prayer of the Embattled Pastor

 "Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and I have done all these things at Your word." (I Kings 18:36)

What Elijah prayed on Carmel, I pray.   It is entirely in order for the Lord's messenger to pray that the people to whom he was sent will recognize that God is God and in charge, and that he himself is the Lord's servant, on mission from Him.   I prayed that prayer during the worst time of my life when a little group of self-righteous and mean-spirited members clamored for my resignation. I was going through the fire, being tried as I rarely had.

The prayer felt like the dying gasp of the weakest child in God's family.   Did God hear the prayer?  Did He answer?   He did.

He heard and answered in His own way, and to the extent that pleased Him.

That's always the way.  And it's how we would want it if we knew all the facts, all the hearts of everyone involved, and all the plans He has for each of us.   It's a general enough prayer-that God will show Himself to be Lord to these people, and that He will make it plain to those who get these things that the messenger is His, on an errand for Him, doing His will.   Surely that's not too much to ask.

At one time or other, every pastor-if he is blessed-will have people questioning his calling, doubting his message, disagreeing with his leadership.  Blessed?  We recall Jesus saying, "Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake…for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-12).

Now, being vilified is no fun, to be sure, and I'm not suggesting otherwise.  I'm just saying the Lord's messenger should expect it and not think God has thrown him a curve when He allows it.

Pastors, missionaries, and ministers of all varieties would do well to read Matthew 10:16ff regularly to keep their bearings and to answer the unrealistic expectation that everything is always going to go smoothly.  Servants of God who do their work well may expect opposition.

Buck Knight, the founder of Nike, Inc., says in his autobiography "Shoe Dog" that entrepreneurs will have targets on their backs. And the more successful one is, the bigger the target will be.   That is true of anyone who steps out from the masses to give leadership and direction to them.   Let the pastor take note.

You will have opposition.  You will receive criticism.  You will become the target of rumors and accusations.   It goes with the territory.

So, when that happens, drop to your knees and give thanks.  After all, the pastor who is never questioned and never targeted for fiery arrows is probably not taking a strong-enough stand.

"All who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).

Expect it, whether you are a lay person or the preacher, a missionary or a denominational leader.

So, go ahead and pray that prayer.  "Lord, let these people know You are God.  And while You're at it, let them know I'm your servant and that what I'm doing is in obedience to Thy command."

Then, go do your job.  Do not flinch, do not back down, and do not fear.   You are serving the living God.  Act like it.

Joe McKeever is a retired pastor from New Orleans. 

He blogs regularly at www.joemckeever.com.


 

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