During my time alone with God Monday, I was reading through all the things Paul faced as he served Christ. One verse in 2 Cor 11 really grabbed my attention. In 2 Cor 11:28, Paul wrote: “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
Some people may not understand, but the reason this verse grabbed my attention is because I relate. I’ve not experienced the extreme things Paul faced, but I relate to the cry of his heart. Many people don’t realize that most Pastors carry a deep concern for their churches (and other churches) 24/7.
Even when we take a break – or are on vacation – our hearts & minds are not disengaged from our church family. There’s “the pressure of concern” we carry with us daily; whether present or away. That word “pressure” relates to the burden of overseeing a church. Maybe you’re thinking: “Well, surely being a Pastor couldn’t be a burden.” You’re right, being a Pastor isn’t a burden – it’s a joy, but every Pastor carries a great deal of pressure because of our concern/burden for our church family.
Here are just a few of the pressures “I carry” to give you an idea: people who choose to reject Christ – marriages that are in trouble – parents who have rebellious kids – parents who embrace culture instead of Christ – terminal illnesses – tragedies and unexpected deaths – people who leave the church for no apparent reason or because they get mad and don’t want to deal with the issues – young people who abandon their faith – people with all kinds of addictions – staff conflicts – people who lie and/or spread gossip about you – temptations – hurt over leaders that abandon their posts – pressure on my own family members – etc etc. In addition to this, Sunday comes around every week and for me every Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday (ie – the biggest day of the year) because we may only have ONE SHOT at someone with the Gospel.
I’ve become friends with one of the most respected doctors in our area. Several years ago he told me he was writing me a prescription that required me to take a minimum of one week off every 3 months. He told me the emotional, physical & spiritual stress of ministry caused his father to leave the pastorate and start driving a truck, and if I didn’t take regular breaks I would probably burn out at some point due to the “concerns” I carry as a Pastor. The joys of being a Pastor are too numerous to mention and I absolutely love being the Lead Pastor at Grace Fellowship, but the pressures never go away. In addition to this, there’s the issue of spiritual warfare and sometimes it gets very intense and most pastors have a target on their back. Warfare & opposition go with the territory and are things every leader will face. In the midst of all this is still incredible joy in serving God and seeing lives changed!
Since Pastors deal daily with the “pressure of concern” for their church, let me share with you my own (incomplete but initial) list of things you can do to help me personally (or maybe help your pastor – if you’re not a member of GFC) These are in no particular order and came to my mind pretty quickly Monday morning as I thought through this passage in 2 Cor. 11.
1. Pray for me consistently & spend time thanking God for me.
2. Make my job a joy. (Heb. 13:17)
3. If you serve in any capacity – be faithful & serve well. (Col. 3:17)
4. Maintain a vibrant relationship with Christ & with your spouse if you’re married.
5. If you have a conflict in the church – deal with it Biblically. (Mt. 18:15-ff)
6. Extend grace when mistakes or misunderstandings take place.
7. Maintain a positive attitude, never gossip & don’t believe half of what you hear in the community.
8. Write me and our other pastors a personal note of encouragement or thanks occasionally.
9. If you can’t support the purpose of the church – leave without bad-mouthing the church or anyone in the church and find a church home where you can serve with a positive attitude & joy.
10. Again – Pray for me – that I’ll preach & lead with boldness & power, and be the husband, father, grandfather and friend God wants me to be.