Still working through Gardiner Springs booklet, A Plea to Pray for Pastors. This week Spring’s words will remind us of two things: 1) Who these men are that we call “pastors,” and 2) The size of the bulls-eye that their Enemy has drawn on their foreheads.
First: Who are these men we call pastors? Back in the day, church members, and even the community, regarded these men as “holy men,” or “men of the cloth.” The idea was that the men themselves were in some way spiritually a cut above the rest of us. Is this true? Well, yes and no. True, the men we call pastors need to be walking with God. They need to demonstrate a pattern of consistent holiness of life. They need to be growing in their walk with God, examples to the rest of us, and without blatant, disqualifying-type sin. They are held to a pretty high standard (a la 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1).
Yet, as Spring reminds us, these men are just that–men. Not angels, men. Exemplary? Lord willing, yes. With less of a sin nature than you or me? Not a chance. The next time you see one of our pastors needing to grow in the grace of humility, you can refer them to this quote by Spring:
And who and what are ministers themselves? Frail men, fallible, sinning men, exposed to every snare, to temptation in every form; and, from the very post of observation they occupy, they are an easier target for the fiery darts of the foe.
Which leads to our second point: Have you ever considered what a target our pastors are? Think about it: If the Enemy of our souls wants to discredit our church and diminish our influence in the community, who will he go for first? The Chreaster (i.e., someone who only attends worship on Christmas and Easter)? No; he will rather go to those most visible–the representatives, the leaders. Spring uncovers the Enemy’s strategy toward these men:
They are no insignificant victims the great Adversary is seeking, when he would wound and cripple Christ’s ministers. One such victim is worth more to the kingdom of darkness than a number of common men; and for this very reason their temptations are probably more subtle and severe than those encountered by ordinary Christians. If this subtle Deceiver fails to destroy them, he cunningly aims at neutralizing their influence by quenching the fervor of their piety, lulling them into negligence, and doing all in his power to render their work burdensome.
In light of this, how much more do these men rely on our prayers? In fact, when we fail to pray for our leaders, we leave them in a dangerous position:
How perilous is the condition of that minister then, whose heart is not encouraged, whose hands are not strengthened, and who is not upheld by the prayers of his people! It is not in his own closet and on his own knees alone, that he finds security and comfort, and ennobling, humbling, and purifying thoughts and joys; but it is when they also seek them in his behalf, that he becomes a better and happier man, and a more useful minister of the everlasting Gospel!
Have you been praying for Josh, Jason, Chris, Tim, Ben, and Paul? If not, please take a moment right now and uphold them in prayer. Write their names on a post-it note and put it where you’ll see it frequently, reminding you to pray. They are counting on you!