Pastors are among the least self-serving individuals I have ever met. I am a second career pastor who was a professional writer before beginning in pastoral ministry. Writers have a reputation for large egos and are often looking to promote themselves and their work. Working with pastors for the past 10 years I have found very few who were that egotistical. Instead I’ve met individuals of varied and large talents who rarely boast and usually don’t even have a current resume. They are so focused on serving where they are they just don’t think about having a resume ready to send to a prospective employer.

Pastors respond when members call at 3 a.m. during emergencies. They travel great distances to visit, pray and preach in multi-church district. They administer churches as ones who must give an account. I’ve known pastors to cut short vacations to return to their districts to hold funerals. No wonder then that Paul writes that we should, “esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake”  (1 Thess. 5:13 NKJV).

A group of pastors I’ve been privileged to work with recently are the mentors of the unordained pastors. We have asked them to focus on 50 different ministerial tasks in the first two years of the intern’s work to help them develop the necessary practical knowledge and skills that result in a successful and satisfying ministry. Mentors regularly meet with interns for prayer, study and to observe their performance and to demonstrate how to do various tasks in order to pass along their experience and wisdom. Elders Jerry Nowack, Jim Nichols and Nathan Stearman are three of the mentors who I want to point out, without diminishing the contributions of any of the others. A recurrent theme in the reports and feedback I get from mentors is on the quality of the interns with whom they work.

Recently I asked Elder Nichols to work with a ‘new’ intern. The one he has been working with has moved to the seminary. Jim said, “I have benefitted as much – or maybe more – from being a mentor as my intern has. Because of the distance we often call or email each other and have developed quite a friendship.” Elder Stearman commented, “Otavio has a bright future ahead. He has so many gifts and has handled many difficult situations with wisdom and tact far beyond his years of experience. He is truly a Spirit-filled pastor.” Elder Nowack told me, “Thanks for asking me to be a mentor to Michael. His enthusiasm and zeal for soul winning has helped rekindle mine!”

I could quote members who have mentioned to me how much they appreciate the support the mentor is giving their young pastor. What is true of these younger pastors is also true of the pastors who have 20, 30 or more years in ministry. No one will ever know the number of hours they spent praying, studying, or driving as they serve the members of their districts. Their dedication is intangible and often the results aren’t measurable in baptisms or attendance…but count me among their loyal fans.

John A. Sweigart, vp for administration, is also the ministerial director for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.