Thank You Friends
The reality is that I am not called to just exist as a solitary, isolated unit who loves God and desires to serve him. God has given me friends. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Did you get that? If you read it quickly, you would have missed it! Read it again:
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” - John 15:13
God did just not settle with words like wives, or children, or family. He said FRIENDS! Hmmm…
So, here is my confession: There is a group of men that I can honestly stay that I love. They are spread out across the globe. They have encouraged me, prayed for me, challenged me, and have consistently pointed me to Christ. Some of them are "old friends" and some of them are newer friends. Some of them I have never met face-to-face while some I regularly connect with. Who are these men? They are a group of pastors. Through the ministry of friendship, they have caused me to flourish.
We may pastor different churches in different denominations in different parts of the world, but we are all called to the same under-shepherding task and we will answer to the same Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). My desire is that the more we lock arms as fellow Christian brothers and “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24) and to steadfastness until the Chief Shepherd appears, the better off every one of my pastor friends will be on that day.
Here is the reality, according to a survey done by the Fuller Institute in the late 80s, only 23% of pastors report being happy and content in their identity in Christ, in their church, and in their home. This statistic breaks my heart. I get it. There are days where I personally struggle with these things as well. Stats like this stir me to think more intentionally and carefully about the mandate to "consider one another" found in Hebrews 10:24. As a friend, I am committed to consider - think about, ponder, deliberate, meditate, mull over, give conscious, hard brain space towards - my brother pastors, with this conscious goal: what can I do today so that they will be stirred up to love and to good deeds?
Church members, I pray that some of you will consider these statistics, reflect on how you care for your pastor, and perhaps lead a conspiracy of love during Pastor Appreciation Month to make sure that your pastor receives "double honor" (1 Timothy 5:17-20) from those they lovingly shepherd, teach, and lead so that your pastor can minister “with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).
Fathers and Brothers, I do love you (yes... you are seeing some man love going on here) and it is a privilege to not be alone in ministry. I commit to considering you not only during Pastor Appreciation Month, but as long as we minister together!
Together for the Gospel!