17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)
By Brother John L. Cash, Country Preacher Dad
Last week I told you that this week I’d tell you about the stresses that make pastors particularly in need of prayer. Now, before we go on, I want to make something clear. I’m doing fine today. Overall, things are pretty good. My congregation is treating me well. I really don’t have a lot of major concerns at the moment. So, the following paragraphs about the difficulties of the pastorate are about the pastorate in general. My situation is good, and I have no complaints.
Although things in the ministry are fine for this country preacher at the moment, this has not always been the case. To start with, we preachers have all of the problems that “regular people” have. (You know about those because you deal with them every day. That set of problems alone is enough to kill us all!) But in addition to that, they have what the Apostle Paul calls the “deep concern for all the churches.” (1 Corinthians 11:28)
That means that every time the phone rings at night, your pastor’s heart skips a beat; he braces himself, because the phone call may bring news of a crisis or tragedy that he will need to help bear. Is it difficult for you to deal with the death of loved ones, even though it doesn’t happen very often? Pastors deal with the terminal illnesses and deaths of their loved ones—their church members–on a regular basis. They face their own grief and the grief of others “head on.” (The grief and stress associated with doing funerals has a tendency to make me physically ill.)
And then, on top of that, the worst thing of all is that the devil works overtime to discourage preachers. His diabolical attacks are brutal. That’s why so many pastors leave the ministry. And that’s why you need to remember your pastor in your prayers.
One of my favorite devotional writers, Mother Angelica (of EWTN Catholic television) hits the nail on the head with her assessment:
You need to be united to your parish priest, and I don’t care who he is, what he is, what he does, or what he doesn’t do. I’ve had folks say, “Oh, but if you had to live under my pastor, you wouldn’t say that.” Do you ever think of what a sick heart he has? How lonely he is? What suffering he might have had in his life that made him what he is?
Then you gripe about the bishops. Do you realize the terrible responsibility of being a bishop? And no matter what you do, somebody is unhappy with you. You can’t stand criticism on a little level; can you imagine what they endure? You need to develop a spirit of compassion so deep that it embraces the whole world. Laity and clergy must be united in spirit for the greater glory of God. Mother Angelica’s Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality, p. 207.
So, in 2013, pray for your pastor, and do everything that you can to encourage him and help him. It won’t cost you a cent, but you will gain treasure in Heaven and reap great dividends in the eternal scheme of things.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 27 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school and teaches Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where we got a little snow this past week) The Cashes have two sons, Spencer (age 21), and Seth (age 18), who live in the parsonage, too, except when they are away at college. He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.