Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17, ESV)
One of the most important people in my life is my pastor. Yes, under unusual circumstances, some have lived for God without a pastor, but it’s nothing we would want to intentionally do. After all, God gives us spiritual leaders to provide spiritual food and to watch over our souls. It’s an awesome but weighty responsibility, one for which they will give an account to God.
Pastors come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and personalities. I began thinking about the spiritual leaders I’ve had in my life. I counted fourteen pastors, but I may have missed one or two from my early childhood. The youngest was probably in his late twenties and the oldest in his seventies. Some were bi-vocational. One was female. Others were high energy, fatherly, outgoing, studious, reserved, laidback. All were called by God.
- “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28, NKJV).
- “And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15, NKJV)
If my pastor, my shepherd, is responsible for my spiritual wellbeing, what is my responsibility toward him? First Timothy 5:1i7 tells me that those who rule well are worthy of double honor, “especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” Therefore, I will respect and honor my pastor because he labors to give me a strong foundation of truth. I will recognize him as the God-given authority in my life. I will support him, encourage him, appreciate him, and defend him. Just as importantly, I will consistently pray for him and his family.
Congregations often place high expectations upon their pastors, and those expectations, in addition to heavy responsibilities, may lead to stress and sometimes even failure. In one survey 75 percent of pastors said they were “extremely stressed.” This may lead to burnout, and some may even leave ministry. This is why our prayers are so vital. Just a few of the areas in which we should cover them with prayer are for:
- An anointed ministry
- Boldness to proclaim truth
- Integrity of character
- Wisdom and understanding
- Direction and vision
- Diligence in the Word
- A strong prayer life
- Humility and a servant’s heart
- Balance between ministry and family life
- A strong marriage
- Physical health
I thank God for a pastor who loves truth and loves his congregation. I realize his load is heavy and want him to know he is loved and supported. Exodus 17 tells the story of a time when Moses, the spiritual leader of the children of Israel, grew weary and needed the support of others. A battle raged between Israel and Amalek, When Moses’ hands were up, Israel prevailed. When he grew weary and his hands came down, Amalek prevailed. He needed strength beyond his own to win the battle.
- Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. (Exodus 17:12, NLT)
The battle of sin rages against the church. Now is the time for us to come alongside our pastor and hold up his hands. Working together and supporting our leadership, the church will prevail.