Just the other day, I had the opportunity to sit down for lunch and talk with seven other pastors from our community. To be honest, I never thought I would be part of a pastoral group like this, let alone, be the one trying to make it happen. In years past, I just wasn't that much interested in being involved in the lives of other pastors at other churches.
But I am today. Maybe it is age, maybe it is wisdom, or maybe it is just a better understanding of my own weakness; I don't know for sure. But what I do know is that pastoral ministry faces some very unique challenges. I am in the process of reading Jared Wilson's new book, The Pastor's Justification. In the chapter on "The Confident Pastor", he quotes Arturios Azurdia concerning the unique challenges facing those in ministry. If you ever wonder why only 1 out of 10 men who begin in pastoral ministry retire from pastoral ministry, listen to these words:
"To be sure, the minister of the Gospel is vulnerable to trials and temptations distinct to his calling: jealousy ("Why are his gifts more esteemed than mine?"); bitterness ("why does the congregation criticize everything I do?"); fear ("Will they leave the church if I teach particular redemption?"); depression ("Will this church ever grow?"); grief ("Why have there been so few conversions?"); frustration ("Why does the board appear to distrust my motivation?"); doubt ("Why has God caused such suffering in the life of this family?"); anxiety ("How will we ever afford to send our children to college?"); sexual indiscretion ("Why does it seem that my wife is not as responsive to me as other women in the church?"); despondency ("Why doesn't the congregation love Jesus with greater fervor?"); desperation ("Have I rightly discerned my call to ministry?")."
So what can you do? Encourage your pastor today. Pray for him today. Send him a short note today. Grow in your faith this year. Be his friend. Engage his family. But above all, the most important thing you can do for your pastor is this: Love Jesus Christ Radically!