Today, would you pray for your pastor(s)?
Oftentimes, people ask me how they might best encourage their pastors. Although I can’t speak for every pastor (or pastor’s spouse), I can share what would most encourage me (and my pastor-husband agrees).
What is the one thing that would most encourage a pastor? PRAYER. Truly, as pastors, we need prayer (and so do our families).
Ministry isn’t a 9-5 job. It’s all-consuming, no matter how intentional one might be in establishing boundaries and practicing the spiritual disciplines. The weight of the responsibilities: spiritual, administrative, relational, etc.; the desire to shepherd, lead, and care for others; and the sincere love of the church is always on a pastor’s heart and mind.
As pastors, my husband and I are committed not to act as if we have it all together, because we don’t. We hold our marriage, family, ministries and pastoral callings close to our hearts. And we don’t take those relationships or responsibilities lightly.
We also realize that our battle isn’t merely against ‘flesh and blood’. There are battles for which we fight, but are unable to see with human eyes. For some, this may sound absolutely absurd, and I understand. But for those of you who know about that of which I speak, I am not hesitant to ask for prayer.
How can you encourage your pastors? I truly believe it’s through prayer. Might I suggest a few ways for you to pray for your pastor(s) and their family?
• Pray for their spiritual health that it might be authentic and ever-deepening. Not routine, formulaic, or mundane.
•Pray for an unwavering ability to distinguish and hear God’s still, small voice amongst the competing noise of life, in order to lead effectively, shepherd diligently, and love unconditionally.
•Pray for them to identify and regularly connect with someone who can be a “pastor to the pastor” in order to purposefully and intentionally care for their soul and spiritual needs. This may be a soul friend, a spiritual director, or even another pastor.
•Pray against discouragement and attacks. Pastoral ministry can be brutal, discouraging work. Daily, pastors walk alongside of the hurting in their congregation and community, doing their best to navigate horrific and hurtful situations – divorce, death, spiritual doubt and disillusionment, and so much more. In addition to congregational concerns, pastors also have to navigate difficult, real-life, personal situations in their own families.
•Pray for their health and for rest that is refreshing and restorative. Pray for times of recreation that will allow their ministry mind to be turned ‘off,’ so they can simply ‘be’ and not feel as if they always have to be ‘on’.
•Pray for them to develop authentic friendships with safe, trusted ones who will simply allow them to be a person, not always on-call as a pastor. To intentionally connect with others with whom they can be completely real and vulnerable—sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly without judgment or criticism.
•If married, pray for their marriage to be protected, nurtured, and strengthened. To have consistent date nights and meaningful conversations, void of discussing church, work, or the like.
•If they are parents, pray for their kids. To know and love Jesus. To have a true connection with Him as their personal Savior. To find their identity in Christ alone, not in their pastor-parents’ job(s) and, especially, not in other people’s (unrealistic) expectations. Pray for the children of pastors to be resilient and understanding, specifically when pastor-parents are unable to attend their activities due to the demands of ministry or when last-minute meetings and/or emergencies arise.
As a pastor, this is what would greatly encourage me. And I believe it might encourage your pastor, too.
How else might you pray for and/or encourage your pastor(s) and their family?