All across this country are people who are known as pastor. They come from all walks of life. Some grew up knowing the sweat and hard work of farm life, others had their formative years in the small towns of our land, still other cut their teeth in the faster pace of large cities. The pastor’s of our land are from a wide span of age. There are young pastors in their early twenties, just learning the ropes of ministry, often newly married and taking the first steps of parenthood. Some are in their thirties, their optimism is matched by their youthful energy and they are getting a sense of what ministry all entails. Some are in their forties, starting to hit their prime. Their gifts are polished, their wisdom bank is filling and their impact increasing. Some are in their 50‘s and 60‘s, the wisdom of years of leadership is giving them an authority they never enjoyed earlier. Some pastors have made it to their 70‘s. Retirement is not for them. They want to finish well.
Some are evangelists, they can share the gospel, even imperfectly and things happen for good. Some pastors have to work at evangelism but can open a passage of scripture in a beautiful way that edifies those who hear. Some are gifted in administration, others in pastoral care. Some are visionaries with a relentless drive for growth and some are contented shepherds, caring for their small congregation is the strongest aspiration of their heart.
Some are handsome, some a unique in their appearance, some are bold and confident, some are timid and shy. Some are self employed, some live on almost nothing, others are well paid.
Yet with all the variety there is among pastors they all have something in common. They are all in a war. Our common enemy is doing all he can to take them out of the game. He will spare no means to bring about their destruction.
For many pastors, Satan’s weapon of choice is discouragement. His relentless accusations like arrows team up with criticisms levelled by other people. These arrows find soft spots in the pastor’s heart. They sink in deep and stay there. Many clergy are in an unending battle with condemning voices that tell them they are not good enough at their job. They are not a good enough person to be in ministry and on it goes.
For some pastors, Satan’s weapon of choice is conflict. Conflict in the home or conflict in the church. The purposes of God seem forever thwarted. The Evil One mixes up communication, gets good people to do hurtful things and after a time of this turmoil many pastors just want to say “enough already, here has got to be other ways to live out my years.”
Satan’s weapons of choice include pride. He loves to tell some pastors how important they are and how great they are, how indispensable they are. As their sense self importance grows their prayer life shrinks. As their confidence in their own strength increases the power of the Spirit is diminished and they find themselves struggling to see anything happen for God.
Some fall prey to the arrow of satisfaction. Satan wars against these pastors by making them content with the status quo. There is little desire to challenge the kingdom of darkness. Meanwhile the people of their community are on their way to a Christ less eternity and their lives falling prey to moral chaos.
Another favourite arrow of the Evil One is that of relentless demands. The 24/7 pastor is always on call, always available, always doing something for the church. There is always just one more good thing to do. Exhaustion comes sooner or later. Some catch it in time, some don’t and leave the work.
The thing about war is though there are many triumphant soldiers who can march home in the victory parade, there are also casualties. Some need encouragement to stay in the fight or wisdom on how to fight better. Others need care to recover from their injuries. Some injuries are self inflicted other injuries are through no fault of their own. There are those who have been maimed in the war. Some can’t walk without assistance, some move through life with a limp. Some need a hospital to recover. From time to time as I am visiting with a pastor I sense a Spirit prompting to simply say to them “you are a good man” and your doing a great job” It is not uncommon for them to tear up a bit and say something like “I almost never hear that” or “no one has ever told me that.” These are fine people, not perfect people but godly people who are serving the Lord well in their calling yet they seldom hear appreciative comments. As a result there is a festering discouragement in their heart.
So if you are a pastor remember you are at war. The Evil One is firing arrows all the time. If you meet a pastor today, speak a word of encouragement, it may be what is needed to help them battle another day.
“Be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power…and take up the shield of faith.” (Ephesians 6:10,16)