A prayer for our pastors

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PreachersThe Bible says, “Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.” While the phrase “all days of his life” may not seem terribly significant, I contend it is remarkably significant. Staying committed and faithful in ministry, over the long haul, can be incredibly challenging.

Year after year, studies indicate that the number of ministers who resign their ministry positions each month hovers around 1,500. Surveys reveal that more than half of seminary graduates have left the ministry within five years of graduation, and less than 20 percent of those who begin serving as pastors will continue in that role until retirement. The reasons for such high attrition rates in vocational ministry are many but, regardless of those reasons, the numbers are startling.

A New York Times article summarized the plight of many in pastoral ministry: “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen.”

Every Sunday I have the privilege of preaching in a different church in Kentucky. The pastor is usually present. While a few minutes of interaction before worship and casual discussion over lunch afterward does not provide the opportunity to see deeply into any man’s heart, what I have seen gives me a growing love and appreciation for those who serve as undershepherds of the Good Shepherd.

I see men who love people and have a God-given desire to serve others. I see men who love the Lord and want desperately to please Him with their lives. I see men of conviction, who would be willing to lose all of their worldly possessions before they would stop “speaking about what they have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). I see men who eagerly proclaim the gospel with the confidence that God will use even their stuttering to bring the lost to Himself.

I also see men who carry heavy burdens. They help carry the grief of those who grieve and the pain of those who hurt. They help carry the brokenness of children whose parents are divorcing, the confusion and sorrow of parents who must bury a child, the emotional devastation of a man whose wife has been unfaithful, the fear of a young mother diagnosed with cancer, the regret of a man who looks back on the wasted years of his youth, and the concern of a grandmother for her lost granddaughter.

Yes, they cast their cares upon the Lord (1 Peter 5:7), but they do not have the privilege of turning off their love and concern for His sheep when they say “Amen” and close their eyes hoping for sleep. Why? Because God has called them to be pastors.

God, thank you for our pastors. Bless them. Use them. Protect them. Reward them.

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13 Comments

  1. Josh Rucker
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this Dr. Chitwood!

  2. Ron Wells
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Thanks Dr. Chitwood for your precious words of understanding and encouragement! I too pray for you and your teams of leadership for Ky Baptist. God bless you my friend.

    Dr. Ron Wells

  3. Brent Rowe
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this encouraging post and for your prayers. I am thankful for the support you are showing pastors around our state.

  4. Ron Hicks
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I forwarded this to my Facebook page. Well said brother.
    PS – Im still looking for my brownie.

  5. Moses L Radford
    Posted May 7, 2015 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Bro Paul.
    I know that you are right about the pastor carries the load of many. I am a pastor and now for 33 years come 1st Sunday in July. We need the prayers of the saints.

  6. Barbara Satterly
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your word–and a great reminder that our pastor needs our prayers and support!
    We are truly blessed with a great, Bible preaching pastor (Dr. Steven James) at Gethsemane Baptist Church in Danville. Also, thank YOU for all that you do in His name and may God continue to bless you as you do His work!
    Blessings & Prayers!
    Barbara Satterly
    Chaplain,
    Marketplace Chaplains

  7. Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Hey Paul,

    Thank you so much for your great words and huge heart for pastors. I am beyond honored to call you friend. Thank you so much for taking our pulpit this past Sunday (5/3/15) at Crossland. You were extremely well received and brought a powerful and timely message. The feedback has been great.

    Crossland is a better church and I am a better man because of your friendship. God bless you, Gregg

    • Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Thank you my brother! The feelings are mutual. Loved being there on Sunday. Might God continue to bless your leadership at Crossland!