Earlier today I wondered how I could reach out to encourage some of my pastoral counterparts fighting the good fight (1 Tim. 6:12). The trick with this kind of thing comes with realizing that pastors fall into the crazy busy category. None of us relish the idea of getting spam-like texts, n0 matter how well intentioned.
So the Lord gave me what I think amounted to a pretty sweet idea. I texted this to a bunch of guys:
One word from you please? Pray for my _________________ .
So far I have received the following in reply:
- inner being (OK, cut us some slack. Pastor-wordsmiths struggle with brevity, this one included)
- heart (spiritually speaking)
- children (painful story attached to this one)
- niece (getting married)
- wisdom (um, that would be mine)
Not a huge sample by any means. But, I would suggest we can distill some takeaways from it for building a prayer list for our pastors.
One, pray for our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 warns us of their default condition. We may know that better than most as we day-in and day-out attempt to minister to others’ hearts. Unbelief can plague our dispositions more than we care to admit.
Two, pray for our families, immediate and extended. Before we are shepherds to our flocks, we are shepherds to our households. Your pastor may carry greater burdens than you ever imagined about the state of his marriage and the welfare of his children.
Three, pray for our health. I battle constantly the temptation to sacrifice self-care, like exercise, on the altar of pastoral demands. Some of that comes from my struggle with ministry idolatry, but not all of it. Most of us labor under excessive demands, feeling the weight of the responsibility upon us. Neglecting things like walking, running, and working out in some way over time can easily lead to weight of another kind.
Fourth, pray for our ministries. We want to be efficient/effective on every front. We need massive doses of wisdom for pastoral care dilemmas that occasionally boggle the mind and seemingly defy solution. We long to bring words of life in preaching, teaching, and shepherding that flow like a fountain of life in the lives of our people (Prov. 10:11).
Bottom line? “Brothers and sisters, pray for us” (1 Thess. 5:25).
Kind sir, it has been the prayers of friends like you that have truly sustained my family over the course of the last period of our life. Grateful that you are given to such a ministry.
Jeff, glad to be a part of a large company of those supporting you before the throne!