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A WORD FOR TODAY, July 16, 2021
“Look! Praise Yahweh, all you servants of Yahweh, who stand by night in Yahweh’s house! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary. Praise Yahweh! May Yahweh bless you from Zion, even he who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 134, WEB
Our church had an intern for a year. She was at the end of her seminary education and is now waiting for a call and her ordination as a pastor. Our church is medium in size with several pastors and staff members. It was a good experience for her, not only in positive ways but also in lessons that will be helpful in the future. Unfortunately, a pastor’s job is not always peaches and cream. People are people and we are all sinners, sometimes treating others in less than Christian ways. This is especially true for our pastors who seem to get the brunt of our disappointment with God and the church. These experiences were good for her because it helped her discover ways to deal with trouble while under the close care of a mentor. She will still have support when she is installed in her own church, but she will also be on her own.
The irony of the life of new pastors is that they usually find themselves called to small churches where they have much more responsibility than they would in a larger church with other clergy and staff to deal with the many aspects of ministry. We often think that a pastor only works one day a week, on Sunday when he or she preaches. During the rest of the week they just praise the Lord, right? Oh, they may have to read a bible verse or two, maybe visit someone in the hospital, but they certainly don’t work more than a few hours a week, right?
Actually, a pastor’s job is very stressful and extensive. They are on call 24 hours a day, always available to meet the spiritual needs of their congregation. They must also take care of the emotional and at times physical needs of the people. The church has bills that need to be paid and the building needs maintenance. It takes a great deal of work to coordinate the logistics of all the services and other events, such as bulletin preparation and newsletter publication.
On top of that, a pastor must stay well read on the issues of the day and must be spiritually healthy to deal with the things that threaten the ministry of the church. They must spend time in prayer, for the congregation and listening for God’s will. A sermon takes time to prepare, so they must take time daily to read and study the scriptures so that the Word is written on their hearts and they are prepared to speak the Gospel to the congregation.
A minister does not have an easy job. They suffer from stress and burnout quite often because the congregation demands so much and they overextend themselves. Yet, the most important job of a pastor is to minister to the Lord and praise Him. This is why it is so important for us to pray for all our clergy, those who minister in large churches and those who minister in smaller ones. We need to pray for those who are just entering ministry so that they will find a place in God’s kingdom where they can use their gifts to His glory and build up the Church on earth.
Most of all, we need to remember that amidst the many tasks the pastors of our churches have to accomplish during the week, there is one that is most important: they need to spend time in prayer, raising hands in praise and thanksgiving to God for His many blessings. We can help give them the time to do this work by taking on some of the other responsibilities. It is perhaps easier in a larger church because there are so many more people to spread the work.
We have an important job to do too: to pray for those who minister in our churches and elsewhere. They are called to lead us in God’s kingdom, but we are called to lift them up, to encourage them, to help them do the work of the Gospel. We should never be the person who burdens the pastors with unnecessary stress. We should never be the one to create negative experiences for them, taking them away from the true work of ministry. We are also called to be ministers, though not ordained, to praise God and serve His people in all the ways He has gifted us to do. That means spending time with God every day in prayer, in service, and in praise.
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org.