How to Pray for Your Pastor through Social Distancing
April 15th, 2020 / By: Tony Wolfe | SBTC Director of Pastor/Church Relations / comments
You can’t see it, but his head is hanging a little lower than usual these days. His brain is a fog of emotions, ideas, and information. At times he feels inadequate, lonely, helpless, anxious, and just tired. In this fourth week, social distancing is taking its toll on your pastor in a unique way.
I have the joy, in my role with the SBTC, to connect with and encourage pastors and wives across the great state of Texas. This season is one marked by an increased (and increasing) need for their intentional encouragement. While every pastor and every situation is different, there seem to be some common threads woven through the fabric of pastoral struggles these days. I thought I would share what I’m hearing with you, as a launching pad toward more specific prayer for your pastor through this season of social distancing. You can pray him through this. Here’s how.
If he’s like most pastors across the state of Texas, here are 13 internal conflicts your pastor may likely be wrestling through today:
1. Family and Marriage Tensions at Home. I love my family so much, and we genuinely enjoy one another’s company – but right now it feels like we’re living in a sardine can. It’s your struggle, too. I know. But his is different. Your pastor and his wife live in a glass bubble. He wouldn’t tell you this openly. He can’t. There is an expectation on your pastor to model a faithful, gracious marriage and family life (biblically so, 1 Tim. 3:4-5). You feel the freedom to be open and honest with your pastor and friends about first-world problems in your home. Your pastor and wife do not feel that freedom most of the time. Pray for his marriage and his home life.
2. Leadership Disappointments. Most pastors I know dream God-sized dreams for their congregations. They spend months—sometimes years—discerning vision, refining it, communicating it, then putting Jim Collins’ Good to Great bus into motion. But 4 weeks ago the wheels didn’t just fall off the bus; the bus turned over on its side, rolled down the hill, and caught fire. Many pastors are grieving the loss of their God-given dreams for the church family. Pray that God will keep his heart and mind focused on the church’s primary mission (the Great Commission) and core values while new leadership opportunities present themselves.
1. Family and Marriage Tensions at Home. There is an expectation on your pastor to model a faithful, gracious marriage and family life. They struggle just like you, but most often do not feel the freedom to be as open and honest about it as you. Pray for his marriage and family life.
2. Leadership Disappointments. Many are grieving the death of big dreams for their church family. Pray that God will keep him focused on the Great Commission while new leadership opportunities present themselves.
3. Relationship Withdrawals. He loves people. He loves you. And he misses you. Pray the Lord will sustain him and his wife in this relational vacuum.
4. Inability to Effectively Do Pastoral Care. He wants to be with his hurting people, but he can’t. And it is slowly eating away at him. Pray for God to give him meaningful moments of pastoral care.
5. Mental and Emotional Health. We naturally medicate mental and emotional dysfunctions within the context of relationships. Remove the relationships and you remove the balm. Pray that Satan would not win on the battlefield of your pastor’s mind and emotions.
6. Financial Crisis. Giving has declined, and every dollar must be maximized for Great Commission impact. Pray for provision, and wisdom in rethinking budgets and ministries.
7. Hurtful Comments from Church Members. Pastors expect a scratch or two from wolves, but it really hurts when the sheep bite. Pray that God will minimize the naysaying and maximize expressions of love and support.
8. Knowing When to Turn Off. His work is never done. Pray that he will turn it off and shut it down every day, to spend time with the Father and with his family.
9. His Wife is Struggling. There are a lot of unexpressed emotions bottling up in your pastor’s wife these days. Pray that God would give healing to her soul, appropriate outlets for her emotions, and the time to herself she needs to bring her best self to the family table every day.
10. Fatigue. The adrenaline rush from creating and innovating is wearing off. Pray that your pastor would get the physical rest his body needs, and that the activity of his mind would keep pace with the limitations of his body.
11. It’s All Just so Weird. This is a day of strangeness in ministry. It caught him off-guard—how could it not? Pray that he will remain focused on the Great Commission through the weirdness of it all.
12. Feelings of Inadequacy. Most feel wholly inadequate for this season of ministry. Pray that the Lord might anoint your pastor anew, filling him with the Holy Spirit.
13. A Highly Scrutinized Public Image. He’s being compared to the megachurch pastor down the road and the one 5 states away. Choices abound, and so do criticisms and unrealistic expectations. Pray for a quiet confidence in who God has made your paster to be, and a measure of satisfaction in doing his work every day, “as unto the Lord.”
Will you pray your pastor through this?