How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Your Pastor is a Desperate Man
How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Why Should You Pray for Your Pastor?
Praying for Your Pastor in Light of His Qualifications, Part 1: The Necessity of a Qualified Ministry
Praying For Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 2: A Holy Ambition and a Holy Life
Praying for Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 3: Self-Control, Family, and Money
Praying for Your Pastor According to his Qualifications, Part 4: Humility and Teaching
Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Responsibilities, Part 1: The Pastor as Shepherd Leader
Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Responsibilities, Part 2: Feeding the Sheep
Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Responsibilities, Part 3: Protecting the Sheep
Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Responsibilities, Part 4: Leading the Sheep
How to Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Pressures and Temptations, Part 1: Anxiety over the Flock and Attacks from Professing Christians
In the last post I noted that pastors experience unique pressures that stem from the anxiety they bear for the flock and occasionally enduring attacks of other professing Christians.
Another pressure that pastors sense that tends to be unique among Christians is the pressure he feels upon his home and family life. I’m not talking merely about the time factor. Most Christian families are busy, and there are plenty of dads who find it difficult, due to travel or work responsibilities, to spend adequate time with their families. Rather, I am referring to the pressure that comes from the cumulative weight of time deprivation and the struggle to maintain within their family a steady and growing love for Christ and his church.
The Pastor’s Wife and Kids
That latter statement might almost sound counter-intuitive. Wouldn’t a pastor’s home be the best environment in which to nurture true spirituality among the family members? While there are certainly advantages of living in a pastor’s family, there are also some unique challenges that come along with this arrangement, especially when it comes to developing one’s relationship with Christ and members of one’s local congregation.
First, there can be an unspoken expectation from the church that a pastor’s children will behave and act in an unusually mature way, even as young kids. While it is true that a pastor must maintain an orderly home life and demonstrate an ability to manage his children well (1 Tim 3:4; Titus 1:6), it is not the case that the pastor’s children will be sinless or exempt from the immaturity of youth. Yet, when children begin to sense within the congregation a kind of double standard—one for the pastor’s kids and one for all the other kids—they will be tempted toward hypocrisy, rebellion, and bitterness. Add to this the fact that daddy’s absence is often due to his work at church and pastor’s kids can find themselves with a growing disdain for Jesus and His people.
Second, there are also unique troubles that come along with being a pastor’s wife. A similar double standard may exist for pastor’s wives, as well as unrealistic expectations for the wife of an overseer to fulfill (often unpaid) ministerial roles and responsibilities in the church. A pastor’s wife may discover that it is difficult, upon first moving into a new church, to find and maintain intimate friendships with other women in light of her connection with the one who oversees the church.
Due to this lack of relationship, a pastor’s wife may feel isolated and alone during the initial stages of her husband’s ministry. But as these early trials pass and she settles into church life and routine, a pastor’s wife will not find that she has now come to place where she is beyond suffering. One of the greatest burdens a pastor’s wife will bear will be for her husband when he is maligned and attacked by other members or regular attenders of the church. While a wise pastor will shield his wife from most of these troubles, there will be some trials about which his wife will become aware. Sometimes, even those who were good friends with the pastor’s wife will participate in or align themselves with those who are attacking her husband. When this kind of situation occurs, the grief that wives feel can be almost insurmountable.
Temptations to Sin and Compromise
Finally, we must remember that our pastors are open to powerful temptations to sin and compromise. As I noted already in this chapter, Satan has a special interest in derailing pastors. He will attempt to draw pastors into sin by intensifying their trials, using false and immature believers to wound and discourage them, and by inducing disillusionment about gospel ministry. But Satan will also work on a pastor’s weakness and sinful proclivities. Our great accuser has tailor-made temptations for every pastor, and he knows exactly how to create offers they can’t refuse. For some pastors, it will be inclinations toward pastoral fame, for others it will be an unhealthy desire for authority. Many pastors will find their heart enticed by sexual sin, while others will be intrigued by money and possessions.
The glory-loving pastor will be tempted to craft messages that are palatable to a larger audience or pursue ministry opportunities that take him away from his primary responsibility to shepherd his local church and care for his family. The power-hunting pastor will be tempted to abuse his position or demand inappropriate respect from others (see Matt 23:6-7). Satan will entice the lustful pastor with online pornography or inappropriate relationships with other women. The money-hungry pastor will be tempted to back away from confronting sin for fear of losing big givers; he may also find his heart for Christ slowly choked out by the desire for a comfortable life (see Mark 4:19).
Satan has millennia of experience overturning the lives and ministries of pastors, and he will stop at nothing to further his ongoing agenda of striking shepherds. Our knowledge of the pastor’s role, the reality of his temptations and pressures, and the fact that our enemy is constantly seeking those whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), should compel us to serious diligence in praying for our pastors. We should ask that God would cultivate in our pastors unwavering integrity and a passion for holiness. We should pray that the Spirit would constantly satisfy our pastor’s heart in the love of God (Ps 90:14) so that he might never be led away by other women, money, or fame. In all of this, we should pray that God would give our pastor wisdom in order to discern all of Satan’s schemes (2 Cor 2:11).
But we should also pray that our pastor would know his own heart and be aware of his particular temptations. While all of us wrestle with indwelling sin, we also recognize that we are more susceptible to certain temptations than others. This tendency toward specific kinds of sin is due to many factors: our background, our personality, our strengths, our weaknesses, and our place in life. We each need wisdom to discern where we are the weakest so that we might take special precaution in those areas, while not neglecting the others. Your pastor is no different, so pray for him.
Now that we have examined the pastor’s qualifications, roles, and unique temptations, I want us to consider briefly the kind of fruit that a praying congregation can expect from consistent, biblically informed prayers for their pastors. That will be the content of the next few posts.