Yesterday afternoon, I talked with a friend on the phone who has been a pastor for more than twenty-five years. He’s an upbeat, optimistic guy who has brilliant ideas and loves shepherding the people who come to his church. I have always thought being a pastor is one of the hardest things a person could do, but my friend makes it look easy. It never occurred to me how hard his job was until I asked him how I could pray for him. He told me that the coming week was going to be difficult, that he had to officiate two funerals, one of them a suicide. He said he’d done many funerals, but these two were very close to his heart.
Can you imagine having to speak at a funeral? Moreover, can you imagine having to speak for God at a funeral? Can you imagine having to speak for God at a wedding, even? And not only that, can you imagine having to preach a sermon every week, lead a staff, counsel broken marriages, provide vision for a community, and all under the microscope of a small percentage of people that would judge you if you drove a nicer car than they?
In my speaking career, I’ve spoken in hundreds of churches, and you know, I’ve never met an arrogant pastor. Not once. I’m not saying they aren’t out there, because they are, but I think an arrogant pastor is an exception to the rule. Some pastors have failed their congregations, but there are many more who haven’t. Most pastors got into their jobs because they loved people and they loved God and they wanted the two to meet. I actually think pastors are some of the most important people in our communities.
Here are ten reasons pastors are important.
1. They lead social movements that change the world.
2. They speak truths that create guardrails to keep us out of danger and stop us from hurting each other.
3. They introduce us and remind us about God, who redeems us and guides us in love.
4. They model good marriages and families (Your mind may have gone to an exception, but quickly list five who do. It’s an easy list to create.)
5. They bring people together to live and work in community.
6. They counsel hurting and broken people.
7. They bring the presence of God into the most dark and painful circumstances.
8. Most of them could be making lots more money doing something else, but they sacrifice to build God’s kingdom.
9. They put up with our crap.
10. Because without them the world would be unimaginably dark.
I put together this list so that I could understand exactly why I was so grateful for pastors, because I wanted to know why I liked them when I shook their hands. I didn’t want vague notions, I wanted hard reasons. I suspect this list will grow. I spent a bit of the day praying for my friend, and I’m going to remember to pray for my pastor friends more often. I think they’re an under-appreciated bunch. I hesitate to imagine a world without them.
Tell us why your pastor is important to you, would you? Lots of pastors read this blog, and your comments will be encouraging!
P.S. That picture is of a friend of mine named Luis Palau. He’s a worldwide evangelist here in Portland who I love. I figured he wouldn’t mind me using a picture of him posing as a church pastor when he’s really only a pastor to a few small continents. Thanks Luis!