[Okay, jumped the gun in posting this, but since it already went out to my email subscribers, I guess I’ll just release tomorrow’s post now. Here ya go!]
Being an elder/pastor can be a challenging gig (even for a volunteer/lay elder like me). You are responsible for the spiritual care and well-being of a diverse group of believers at varying stages of life, which means you get to be part of their worst moments and hardest struggles. You have the privilege and responsibility of carrying the burdens of several others, often with little or no way to share that with anyone for the sake of the person’s privacy and reputation. You have to make decisions for the good of the entire body that some fraction of the church body won’t understand or agree with, and on any given day, your necessary actions upset one or another segment of the church family. You are sometimes accused or maligned, and you cannot respond in kind. Assumptions are made about you that you sometimes cannot refute without divulging confidences.
The under-shepherd of the flock helps to care for its wounded, chase down its straying, and bear with the biting and kicking of various unruly sheep. We must give an account to the Great Shepherd for how we cared for His sheep. It is a hard and glorious task. I love it and I’m grateful for it, though at times I wonder if I’m really up to it or if I’m doing it well at all.
It’s a hard and often thankless job. That’s why it’s a blessing not to have to do it alone.
I love my brother-elders. They are my dearest friends and confidants. They give encouragement and reproof when I need it. I trust their judgment and I heed their counsel. I have asked them regularly to call me out if I’m speaking or acting in a way inconsistent with my calling. I rely on them to watch my back and challenge me to run the race well. We spur each other on to obedience and good works.
The last 3 years have been a wearying and rewarding journey–one that I couldn’t have done alone. I thank my God for the men who are walking with me, the men with whom I serve and the men I get to help encourage and support as they lead well.
If you are a Christian, and your pastors/elders are leading well, please pray for them and please tell them what they mean to you. I know we’re technically past “Pastor Appreciation Month,” but I can guarantee you that your pastors have already gotten multiple emails this week from congregants telling them what they’re doing wrong or how they aren’t measuring up. It’s a breath of fresh air when a brother or sister reaches out just to say, “Hey, I see you serving well, and I appreciate it.” That’s better than all the coffee cups and bookmarks and other “appreciation” trinkets that pastors receive over the years.
(Though I have to admit, a thank-you note PLUS a sweet treat or some coffee is doubly delightful to a weary pastor.)