October 20, 2018 • Michael Wilbanks
I went to my family doctor to have some routine blood work done. She made a comment about the stress that comes from pastoring. I acknowledged it. She mentioned the emotional load of hearing everyone’s issues and committing to pray for those individuals. This lead to a discussion about anxiety and stress. Then she asked me, “Who do you go to when you need somebody?” I don’t remember exactly what I told her word for word, but I reflected upon the question on the way home. Where do I go when I need someone? I am thankful I have the ability to answer that question. Here are the seven places I go when I need somebody.
1. My Lord, who never leaves nor forsakes me.
2. My wife, who always supports me.
3. My pastoral staff, who are my right and left hands. I couldn’t imagine ministry without them.
4. My deacons, who I know will pray for me.
5. My church family, who I know loves me.
6. My peers in the ministry, who I know “get it”.
7. My inner circle of prayer partners, friends and deacons, who I know will take whatever I say to the grave with them.
It occurred to me on the way home that not all pastors have that. I mean, I know they have the Lord. Certainly, His grace is sufficient. If they are married, I pray they have a supporting wife (not all do). However, the rest of it is in question depending upon their ministry context.
This might be a shocker, but not all members of every pastoral staff are supportive of each other. Not all pastors have pastoral staff. Not ever church has deacons that are interested in the health and well being of their pastors, but instead they are more interested in their own agendas. Not every church family loves their pastors like they ought. Not every pastor has a group of ministry peers, but in some instances they have ministry foes. And not every pastor has an inner circle. They don’t have friends outside of their pastor buddies. They don’t have people they can trust. They are wounded and they are worried that whatever they say can be used against them at some point.
So they are guarded with their words. They are worried that their words will be spread, used out of context, and not understood by those who latch on to the gossip. It is a sad reality, but it is a reality for many.
So here is my challenge to you pastor. Go find another pastor. A pastor that might not have anyone to go to and be that person for them. Buy them lunch. Let your guard down with them. Be a regular dude. Share your burdens with them. Allow them to share their with you. Encourage one another. Pray for one another. And then watch how God blesses that ministry and friendship.