Prayer for pooped pastors

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By Nancy Kennedy

Pray for your pastor. When religion is your living, it's easy to grow weary.

I get a taste of it every week when I sit down to write this column. First I have to think of something that's not only entertaining and worth saying, but something that I feel God wants me to say.

Then I have to make sure I'm as biblically accurate and as faithful to my particular denominational tradition (in my case, reformed theology - Go, Martin Luther!) as I can be without totally alienating the Baptists, Catholics and Pentecostals, etc.

Once I reach 750 or so words and I'm done for that week, I sigh, then start all over again thinking about the next week's column. In between columns, I might have to deal with people I've offended or those who think I'm on a fast track to a hot place. (I do get plenty of compliments, which keeps me going one more week.)

Multiply that by a bazillion and that's what pastors go through, just with their sermons. Some even need two or three a week! They also hear confessions, visit the sick, bury the dead and comfort the grieving. They have to handle hurt feelings and out of control egos, especially their own; counsel, raise funds and raise a family, all while living under a magnifying glass.

Someone once said that a person should never become a pastor unless it's impossible to do anything else, meaning unless the call from God is utterly certain. No sane person would ever want the job unless God was in it.

Pray for your pastor.

My pastor is the only pastor my church has ever had. This is our 25th year as a church and we're celebrating this weekend. We're celebrating ourselves as a huge, motley family and we're celebrating our pastor who has led us and whom we have watched grow (and fail) and learn to humble himself and struggle to love us, the unlovely.

Twenty-five years ago he had hair.

Every week when I write my column I think about him, knowing he's working on his weekly sermon. He's preached well over 1,000 sermons to people who don't always listen, who get impatient after 30 minutes and who sometimes walk out still stiff-necked and proud.

That's true of your pastor, too - pray for your pastor.

A few weeks ago, after a dinner at church, my pastor called us up on the stage area to look out on the pews so we could see what he sees. He pointed out where certain people sit, talked about the people the gospel has changed and whose changes have changed him and our church. He told of the man who, every year on the anniversary of his sobriety, tells him, "Eighteen years sober, Pastor," or "It's been 22 years."

We're currently going through a stewardship campaign, which means asking folks to give. That's seldom easy for a pastor. There are always those who grumble. Some pastors leave a church after a stewardship program. Some churches split.

Pray for your pastor!

Now for a word for the pastors who read this (and I'm incredibly honored to hear from so many who do) - There's a place you can go to be encouraged and refreshed. Steve Brown, my friend and the one I call my uncle-dad, has a new Web site just for pastors called PoopedPastors.com, with all kinds of resources available just for you.

Steve was a pastor for more than 30 years and he's got the scars to prove it. His heart is for those who are still dealing with the "turkeys and twits" in the pews and offers online video encouragement and guest bloggers who talk about all aspects of a pastor's life. Plus, there are pastors-only forums where you can be real and safe. Check it out at www.poopedpastors.com.

Back to us regular people in the pews. Mark Twain said he could live for two months on a good compliment. I suspect my pastor and yours feels the same way. I, for one, want my pastor to live long and live well.

But besides offering them sincere compliments, the best thing we can do for our pastors is take them off the pedestals we put them on and stop expecting them to do and be for us what only God can do and be. Let them be human and in process. Come along side them when they falter and walk with them in their valleys. Don't cover up their sin, but contend for the purity of the church.

Pray, pray for your pastor.