Sunday, December 20, 2009

Your Pastor’s Christmas Present

When a church members loses her job, she almost naturally turns for help – or at least words of comfort and prayer – to her pastor.

When another member gets a diagnosis of cancer he, too, turns to the pastor for prayer and comfort.

There is the mother whose daughter is caught in the grip of illegal drugs emails her pastor to seek guidance and prayer and to just vent a little.

Then there is the young man who is finding that he may not be able to fulfill a dream texts his pastor for advice on what to do now.

This is almost a daily occurrence in the life of a pastor.

Add to this the parishioner who is upset because a cause they are deeply committed to seems to be on the backburner for others in the church and fires off an email to the pastor to complain. Or another member who has been ill and feels the weight of the world on their shoulders, vents in a multi-page letter and then shares that letter with other members in the community. Or the ministry group in the church who feel that their needs are not being met with the full attention of the pastor that they think should be. Or the concerns of the leadership that the downturn in the economy is effecting attendance and giving.

And on top of all this, the pastor has to deal with a spouse who feels a little neglected because he’s always at the church office or having to attend a meeting. And the pastor has to deal with the stress of one of his children who has a mysterious illness and another child who is not doing well in school.

Oh, and let’s just stir the pot a little bit more and put all of this in the month of December with Christmas services coming up. The pastor feel the added stress of knowing that on Christmas Eve he will have perhaps the one and only chance to connect with a hurting and lost soul with the Gospel of Jesus.

What does that pastor do?

These are not beyond the experience of any pastor, or any disciple of Jesus Christ. What may be beyond the experience is the pastor calling out for help.

The called and ordained servant of Christ carries a very large burden – as indicated by the stole they wear over their church robes on the weekends . But many times, that very same man who provides comfort and guidance to others fails to understand and realize that this burden Jesus has placed on them with His Call “is easy, and … light" (Matthew 11:30). Part of reason Jesus says this is because it is a yoke and burden that is not meant to be carried alone. Yet, not a few number of pastors fail to take this to heart. Instead, they take everyone’s burden on themselves and share none of their own with others.

Church members – give your pastor the greatest Christmas present he’ll probably ever receive! Pray for him and his family. Step up and help out. Start a visitation ministry or join an existing one. Help fund the mission of the church, even in tough economic times. Join a Bible class or start a new one. Smile in church! Find out how you and your spouse can mentor newly married couples. Go to church! Bring someone with you. Don’t just send a Christmas card to your pastor and his family – attend worship this Christmas Eve or Christmas Day! Ask your pastor if there is anything you can do to help out at church – and mean it – and if he says yes and points something out, do it!

Don’t think you have to stop going to the pastor for prayer and guidance. That isn’t the point of all this. You must certainly continue to do this – that’s why he’s your pastor! But please understand that he’s a man who also needs a little prayer, guidance, and comfort. You and he are in this thing we call the mission of God together!

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