I’m writing today to pastors. We at Church Answers want you to know how grateful we are for you, how honored we are to serve you, and how committed we are to providing tools and resources for you. Your day-to-day, week-to-week faithfulness really is an encouragement to us.
More particularly, though, I’m thinking about the role you play in the lives of your church members. I’ve thought about that role many times since I first pastored in 1981, and I’m continually amazed at one thing: the access you have to the lives of your members and the consequent opportunity you have to equip them through that access. Nobody else, in fact, has the kind of access to people like you do.
Think about it. As a pastor, you sometimes have the privilege of being with members when babies are born into their families. You may be in the waiting room, or you may arrive soon after the baby is born—but many families will welcome your presence and your prayers as new life begins. They want to celebrate with you.
On the other extreme, you are even more often invited into lives at times of death. You may well have been by the bedside of those dying, or you surely have been there to comfort families in their times of grief. You may not always have answers to their questions, and you cannot erase their pain—but your presence is itself comforting.
Moreover, you have the opportunity to journey with people you shepherd through every major spiritual experience they have between birth and death. You might counsel them through their decision to follow Christ. Perhaps you’re the one blessed to baptize them (or at least to be part of the experience if someone else does the baptism). They may turn to you if they sense some kind of calling to ministry. They might reach out to you when they’re wrestling with their faith. You are, after all, their under-shepherd.
Indeed, you are a needed part of their support system in times of crisis. Life is hard, and all of us need someone to walk with us at times. So many things come to mind when I think of crises I’ve shared with church members, like unexpected death, marital separation, natural disaster, wayward children, job loss, miscarriage and stillborn birth, broken dating relationships, emotional stress, faith crises, financial messes, health scares, and a myriad of other issues. In the midst of the heartaches and confusion of life, you are one voice who directs hurting people to the Rock.
Then, you might well be their go-to person whenever they face life decisions or celebrate life milestones. Having served as a pastor or interim pastor for many years, I can quickly list some of the times when folks have sought my input—things like college choices, career changes, engagement and marriage decisions, home purchases, and retirement options. Put on top of these things the celebrations I’ve been blessed to join—birthdays, graduations, significant anniversaries, sports championships, weddings, vocational recognitions, retirement parties, etc.—and I’m hard pressed to come up with anyone else who might share life with others like a pastor does. Ours is indeed a unique access.
To be a pastor is both an incredible privilege and a weighty responsibility. You influence more lives, and at a much more comprehensive level, than you may know. Thank you for all you do!
Posted on October 10, 2023
Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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