Five Hero Pastors

One of the greatest joys of my life is working with pastors. At Church Answers, we hear from tens of thousands of pastors every year. Most of these church leaders are unknown to the world except for their immediate church and, perhaps, their community. 

The pastors I know serve selflessly. Most of them are grossly underpaid, but they do not complain. They are on call around the clock. Sadly, some of them have not taken a vacation in several years. They try to smile when they hear it for the umpteenth time: “I wish I only worked on Sunday.” 

Because of my incredible blessing of working with and hearing from pastors, I have the joyous opportunity to hear directly about the lives of these church leaders. I want you to get a taste of what they do. And these stories are by no means uncommon. They are often repeated in churches every week. 

Here, then, are my five hero pastors from real life scenarios:

1. The pastor on a deathwatch. When the hospital called, the nurse informed the pastor that Jim would likely die within a few hours. Jim was a widower. He had no family. The pastor could not stand for Jim to die alone. He sat on vigil by his bedside for seven hours until this person he barely knew breathed his last breath. The pastor prayed for him in his last hours. He softly sang hymns for Jim. On occasion, the pastor would touch Jim’s hand just to let him know he was not alone.

2. The pastor who ministered to his fiercest critic in the church. When the pastor got the call that Byron had been in a terrible accident, he hurried to the hospital and waited with the family. He prayed with them. He comforted them. He encouraged them. He did not leave until the family received word that Byron would survive. Byron’s son asked the pastor as he left why he stayed with the family. “My dad has said terrible things to you” the son said. “He attempted to have you fired. He has made life miserable for you. Why are you here?” The pastor smiled and responded, “It is my honor to serve Christ by serving your dad. He too is a child of God.” 

3. The pastor who loved him unconditionally. At first it looked like an anonymous letter, at least by the appearance of the envelope. But when the pastor opened the letter, it was signed and full of venom. The writer of the letter was an atheist who heard the pastor preach on live streaming. The writer dared the pastor to meet with him. The pastor took the dare and had coffee with a young man full of hurt and anger. The pastor continued to meet with the man, even when he was attacking him verbally. After a few months, the relationship improved. Soon thereafter the young man became a follower of Christ. 

4. The pastor and his wife who gave away their last dollars. The church did not pay the pastor well. He and his wife could not even make it paycheck to paycheck. They had to depend on a local food bank to have food on the table. At the food bank, the pastor and his wife met a single mom who was in desperate financial straits. The couple looked at each other, thinking the same thing. They went to the nearby ATM and withdrew their last $30 and gave it to the single mom. By the way, it was this single mom who told this story after she became a follower of Christ. 

5. The pastor who stayed up all night and preached the next morning. I’ve heard stories similar to this one many times. The pastor was called on a Saturday evening to a home where a young man had locked himself in a room threatening suicide. Working with the police, the pastor spoke and prayed with the young man who finally relented and walked out of the room unharmed. The entire ordeal lasted almost eight hours. The pastor got to the church at 7:00 AM where he would look over his sermon for that morning and then preach with no sleep.

Your pastor is called by God to serve others. It is often a difficult life for the pastor and the pastor’s family. Criticisms are common. Finances are often challenging. Discouragement is pervasive. And words of encouragement can be rare.

Encourage your pastor.

Pray for your pastor. 

Love your pastor.

Posted on August 21, 2023

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Joe De Leon says on

    Interesting! I remember Reading “Shantung Compound” by Langdon Gilkey and his comments on Eric Liddell. (Remember the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire”) Langdon called him a saint and is that not a true hero?

  • Thanks.
    I heard a homily mentioning a bishop who was a POW. He was treated as terribly as the soldiers were. Yet he was the chaplain and formed a congregation within the POW camp.

    There was also a priest who I met and heard preach who was the Vicar of Baghdad and managed to lead a congregation while having MS and was frequently firebombed during mass. After years of this, he was ordered back to England by his bishop to save his life and not add another name to the list of martyrs.

  • Larry Webb says on

    God bless these folks that give themselves to God’s work. May we appreciate them and love them.

  • Jeff Peed says on

    The things we do for love. . . .

  • Dave Daubert says on

    I notice all of your hero pastors are “he”and “him.” Serving in a mainline tradition where half of our pastors are women, I can tell you that you only help the heroes made your list. Please try to be more welcoming and inclusive as, although I know many of the traditions who are your customers are anti-women in pastoral ministry, there are many women doing great work and your ministry would be enhanced to be more open to them. This is not a hostile comment – just a comment. Blessings.

    • Pastor Mike says on

      There are several evangelical traditions where women are also called and ordained to serve in ministry. They are often some of the most conscientious, hardest working pastors I know (I’m a male pastor of almost 40 years). Appreciate your comment.

  • Tom Couch says on

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. Now, these stories can be heard by a larger audience. Very helpful.