I Will Pray for My Church Leaders
I Will Pray for My Church Leaders
Scripture Reading: I Timothy 2:1 - 6
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Introduction / Illustration: Chamberlain's Charge Saves Battle of Gettysburg
Joshua Chamberlain was a student of theology and a professor of rhetoric, not a soldier. But when duty called, Chamberlain answered. He climbed the ranks to become colonel of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Union Army.
On July 2, 1863, Chamberlain and his three-hundred-soldier regiment were all that stood between the Confederates and certain defeat at a battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. At 2:30 P.M., the 15th and 47th Alabama infantry regiments of the Confederate army charged, but Chamberlain and his men held their ground. Then followed a second, third, fourth, and fifth charge. By the last charge, only 80 blues stood standing. Chamberlain himself was knocked down by a bullet that hit his belt buckle, but the 24-year-old schoolteacher got right back up.
It was his date with destiny. When Sergeant Tozier informed Chamberlain that no reinforcements were coming and his men were down to one round of ammunition per soldier, Chamberlain knew he needed to act decisively. Their lookout informed Colonel Chamberlain that the Confederates were forming rank. The rational thing to do at that point, with no ammunition and no reinforcements, would have been to surrender. But Chamberlain made a defining decision: in full view of the enemy, Chamberlain climbed onto their barricade of stones and gave a command. He pointed his sword and yelled, "Charge!"
His men fixed bayonets and started running at the Confederate army, which vastly outnumbered them. They caught them off guard by executing a great right wheel. And in what ranks as one of the most improbable victories in military history, 80 Union soldiers captured 4,000 Confederates in five minutes.
Historians believe that if Chamberlain had not charged, the Confederate army would have gained the high ground, won the Battle of Gettysburg, and eventually won the war. One man's courage saved the day, saved the war, and saved the Union.
- It takes courage to be a Pastor / Spiritual Leader. Serving God is not for the faint of heart.
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. (KJV)
Purpose: Every Christian leader who is called and gifted for leadership needs the prayer, support, and encouragement of the church family
Transition: The need today for churches is for leaders to be courageous and strong as they fulfill their roles as under shepherds for the church family.
- Far Side cartoon
Why pray for our church leaders?
- Pastor’s challenges
- 2016 Schaefer Institute – Francis Schaefer’s legacy
- 79% of Evangelical and Reformed pastors are happier personally
- 88% of churches are treating their pastors better, too
- 75% are better at their spiritual formation
- 57% are more satisfied in their calling
- However, 54% of pastors still work over 55 hours a week
- 57% can't pay their bills
- 54% are overworked and 43% are overstressed
- 53% feel seminary had not properly prepared them for the task.
- 35% battle depression
- 26% are overly fatigued
- 28% are spiritually undernourished and 9% are burnt-out
- 23% are still distant to their families
- 18% work more than 70 hours a week and face unreasonable challenges
- 12% are belittled.
- 3% have had an affair
- Yet, 90% feel honored to be a pastor!
- Why 90%?? Because it is a calling!!
- 2016 Schaefer Institute – Francis Schaefer’s legacy
- Based on the personalities of pastor’s they face all kinds of issues of balance of priorities in their lives.
- They face temptation
- Satan has pastors and church leaders in his sites
- They receive little appreciation and encouragement
- They have to accept that as part of their job or they will never make it even if it is a calling.
- Elders and other leaders’ challenges
- Time pressure as lay elders with meetings and overseeing ministries and shepherding people under their care
Illustration: John MacArthur and disciple
- Unfair criticism
- Lack of appreciation at times
- Decisions that affect families and people’s spiritual lives
- Church Discipline– most difficult. Will we stay true to the Word of God and the whole counsel of God or ignore a problem to ease the pain of the truth and not deal with it.
- Finances and budget of the church
- Keeping the pastor’s accountable
- Hiring/Firing and Being a Church Family
- Strategic Planning and Waiting on God
- Listening to God in Our Losses and Leading by Faith
- Maintaining Integrity spiritually and emotionally
- All that and they are not getting paid a wage but doing it because God has gifted them and called them to be an elder
- By the way, elders are the trustees as far as the state and federal government are concerned. We are liable beyond the insurance
Transition: I am starting off by sharing the problems and struggles of church leadership. Maybe you were not aware of some of these things that ministry leaders face. We will look at what some biblical leaders faced and how they dealt with it and how God continued to use them in spite of their issues. We all have issues and isn’t good to know that God can still use us no matter the fact that we have issues in our life? Amen!
What the church family can pray against for their pastor’s and spiritual leaders
- Burden for their people’s spiritual and physical wellbeing – Nehemiah 1:1 – 11
Nehemiah 1:1 – 11
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” 4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.
- Nehemiah is informed of the pain his people the Jews were facing
- He wept over their condition
- He prayed to God for wisdom and direction for His people
- Nehemiah took a risk because of his compassion and burden for his people. They lacked leadership and vision and he stepped in with the king’s permission to be their leader to champion their cause
- Fearful of the enormity of the task – Joshua 1:1-9
Joshua 1:1 – 9
After the death of Moses’ the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- Joshua was trained as Moses’ right-hand man for this very day
- He was shaking and quaking in his boots
- To become the leader of nearly 2 million Jews in the wilderness after wandering around for 40 years due to disobedience
- God came and spoke directly to him
- Joshua received his vision and mission directly from the Lord
- Be strong and courageous
- “Lord show me what you want me to do and give me the courage to do it.” – Scott Ridout new president of Converge World Wide
- There is power in repetitive prayers – Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker
- Burnout – I Samuel 19:1 – 8
I Kings 19:1 – 8
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
- Elijah had just defeated Baal and all of his prophets on Mt. Carmel and destroyed many of them
- Jezebel threatens him
- Elijah is scared but more because he is worn out, exhausted and burned out as a prophet of God.
- God takes him into the wilderness to a safe place and lets him sleep and ministers to him with food and drink to prepare him for his next ministry assignment
- We lose perspective when we are exhausted and burned out
- We do and say things we would regret.
- We get discouraged, down and out, depressed
- Remember that after Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, he was ministered to by angels. God will take care of us if we will come to Him. He promises to give rest
- Overworking – Exodus 18:12 – 23
- Confrontation – Galatians 2:11 – 14
Galatians 2:11 – 14
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
- Moral Failure – 2 Samuel 11:1 – 5 – David and Bathsheba
- Lack of Faith – John 20:24 – 28
Illustration: In a powerful article titled "Dying of Despair," psychiatrist Aaron Kheriaty observes the startling rise in deaths from suicide and drug overdoses. He points to a number of long-term studies that have analyzed the difference between high-risk patients who survive and those who die by suicide. Here's his conclusion of this research:
Over a ten-year span, it turns out that the one factor most strongly predictive of suicide is not how sick the person is, nor how many symptoms he exhibits, nor how much physical pain he is suffering, nor whether he is rich or poor. The most dangerous factor is a person's sense of hopelessness. The man without hope is the likeliest candidate for suicide. … We cannot live without hope.
- Pride – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 – Paul’s thorn in the flesh and the purpose of it.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
- One of the biggest dangers for pastors and spiritual leaders is the fact that you can start to depend on your talents and spiritual gifts instead of the Lord and then trouble comes
Illustration: Knute Larson – don’t listen to either statement
- Cynicism - Numbers 11 – 17; Luke 9:51 – 56
- The disciples wanted Jesus to call down fire from heaven and destroy those who did not believe their message
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.
- Men who walked away from ministry and faith
- Bart Erdman
- Charles Templeton
- Addictions– I John 5:21
- To escape the pain and stress
- To avoid facing the hard realities in ministry
- To develop an alternative reality
- Pastor this week on a break from it all
Quote: “The human heart is an idol factory.” – John Calvin
I John 5:21
Little children, keep yourselves from idols
- The Joys of being in Leadership – elders, ministry team leaders, deacons, and deaconesses
- 1. Seeing lives transformed and grow in Christ
- Leading people to Christ
- Baptizing – Church membership
- 2. Meeting all kinds of interesting people
- 3. Doing things that we would not ordinarily do
- 4. Accomplishing things as a ministry team that you could not do by yourself
- 5. Knowing that we are furthering the kingdom of God
- 6. Building deep committed relationships that will last into eternity
- Here’s what I love about being a pastor
1. Pastors spend every day on what matters most.
2. Pastors get to do just about everything.
- Meet people from all over the world
- Never the same day twice
3. We see people at their best.
4. Pastors get paid to think, write, and speak.
5. We help people.
6. Pastors have freedom.
7. We answer to a higher authority.
Application: Prayer and the presence of God are what transforms leaders. It is what keeps them in the game
Transition: Next, let’s look at;
What the church family can pray for their pastor’s and spiritual leaders
- God will grant them wisdom – Ephesians 1:17 – 18; James 1:5
Ephesians 1:17 – 18
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
- God will help them balance their priorities – Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
- God and the church family will encourage them – Hebrews 13:17
I Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
- God will grant them rest in their body and soul – Acts 3:20
That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,
- God will grant them peace with Him and his / her family – Philippians 4:7
- Peace that passes all understanding
Application: Please remember that pastors and spiritual leaders are not super saints.
Key Thought: Will you pray for your church pastors, elders, deacons, deaconesses, and ministry team leaders each day this week?
Pledge – Chapter 4
I will pray for my pastor every day. I understand that the pastor’s work is never ending. His days are filled with numerous demands that bring emotional highs and lows. He must deal with critics. He must be a good husband and father. Because my pastor cannot do all things in his own power, I will pray for his strength and wisdom daily.
Questions to Ponder This Week
1. Will you take a moment to reflect and remember all the different hats the pastor wears in a week?
2. Will you pray for your pastor and spiritual leaders that it will be well with their soul between God and their fellow man?
3. Will you pray that you will be supporting, encouraging and understanding of the pastor and the spiritual leaders of the church family?
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.