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August 22, 2015, 3:28 PM

Pray for Your Pastor?


Many of you may have seen the Facebook post, "Pray for Your Pastor." The picture is a list of sad statistics:

  • 97% of pastors report being falsely accused or personally attacked by a close friend
  • 10% of pastors will retire as a pastor
  • 7,000 churches close their doors each year
  • 1,500 pastors resign each month
  • Etc.,

These numbers may be surprising to you, but for the many of us who have served for many years (and those in the LCMS who have served as a Circuit Counselor/Visitor), these numbers are too real and too frequently experienced. This blog, however, is not about throwing a pity-party for the pastors of Bethel. No, I just want to share with you something that is often behind those numbers.

The first thing we need to be aware of is the presence of spiritual warfare in the life of Christians and the Church. The greatest threat to our hearts and spirits is the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature. The devil works on us, often from within; he gets us to listen and begin to believe a series of "lies" and "half-truths," tempting us to turn from God's will and way or reinforcing the feelings of guilt and anxiety that our sin brings to the forefront of our relationship with God. Either we are convinced that God doesn't exist, or that He doesn't care, or that we don't deserve anything from Him because of our sin. If the devil can get us to believe any one of these thoughts, he will consider himself successful. The world is full of temptations to our senses and our relationships, presenting numerous opportunities to turn away from God for the "better/bitter" things of life such as fame and fortune, fun and irresponsibility, escapism and simple narcissism. And our sinful nature? It is the open door to all of the above. We are at war with this evil trinity - we didn't start it, we don't want it, but it exists nonetheless.

The second thing I would like God's people to understand is that while the pastors are human and have their foibles, they are still God's called and sent servants. We don't have a problem with disagreements; we have problems with people insisting on being disagreeable. We don't have a problem with suggestions; we have problems with people who believe in their suggestions as being the only way to act. We don't have problems with people who have something to say to us; our problems are from the nameless, shadowy people who go around our backs saying things about us. We don't have problems with knowing our shortcomings because we have so many self-designated critics to inform us (and the community) about all of them. Get the idea?

Back to spiritual warfare. The devil does his best work inside the church. In fact, if you were to study church history, you would discover that the church grows great in the face of persecutions from without, but often declines in the face of in-fighting when there is no persecution.

Pray for Your Pastor? Sure...great...we love it...we need it. But also focus on what Jesus teaches us all to pray, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." After all it is your soul and your eternal destinty that your pastors really care about!


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