I read this awesome blog written by my friend and co-pastor Marty Thurber.  Tears came to my eyes as I read it.  It moved me, and I wanted to share it with you.  I have grown up as a pastor’s kid, married a pastor’s kid, and raised two pastor’s kids.  Our family has only known ministry.  We are very fortunate because we have been blessed with amazing churches with mostly kind people in them; however, I know that isn’t always the case…  My heart is often moved by the stories I hear from other pastor’s families–stories of pain and hurt.  Ron and I both feel called to minister to the families of ministers, and whenever we get a chance we love hanging out with other ministering families.  So this touched my heart.  If you take the time to read it–and if just part of it resonates with you–it will be worth the post.  We are all in this together; we are on the same team, and love and prayer will get us through together.

Now let the words of Pastor Marty Thurber bless you.

“I’ve seen too many good pastors just quit.  I’m sick of it.  Really, it’s sickening.  I just heard about another one this week.  I’m sorry, but there is no excuse for it.  None.  You can try to tell me it was time, he just needed to do something else, the church needed a change.  You might be right, but I still believe that something is just wrong with the whole thing.

“So here’s what I think.  I know that all leaders and shepherd types in the Bible are called by God, and God can call anyone He chooses.  That’s the way it works.  But God also does some on the job training with them after the call.  The same is true of pastors:  we’re not hired, we are called.  Someone in an office or church may ask you to go through a hiring process, but God is either behind the call or not.  Best to find out if He is.  Beyond the call, there is a list of things that the pastor has to be good at.  I’m listing these things as a reminder of just how awesome pastors are, because they have to be good to great at these things.  Here’s a starter list:

  • Good communicator & good preacher; there is a difference between the two.
  • Lover of the lovable and doesn’t believe that anyone is unlovable.
  • Knows the difference between the Truth and truths and how to set people free with the Truth, so they can discover and enjoy the truths.
  • Loves the Gospel.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Celebrates grace, convenes grace, and carries it everywhere he goes.
  • Brokenhearted for the hurting, but strong hearted enough to face those that hurt others instead of help to heal others.
  • Is good at pointing fingers at the Cross, Christ, God and the Holy Spirit.  Just lives to open up the Bible with anyone who wants to learn of Christ.
  • Is good at listening, and knows the difference between gossip and holy conversation.
  • A good student and a good teacher.  Good, preferably great student of the Word and Prayer.
  • A great empathizer but a poor sympathizer.
  • A good leader, maybe a great follower.
  • Able to take care of his bills and stretch his funds, much of which he uses to help others.
  • Knows when people are funnin’ with him or making fun of him.  Knows they are cursing God when they curse him.
  • Is good at character management and poor at reputation management.
  • Loves his wife and kids, if he’s fortunate enough to have them.
  • Knows how to protect them from the rare–but mean-spirited–comments and actions that occasionally come their way just because they’re in the pastor’s family.
  • Is good at managing money, people and resources.
  • Knows how to lead.  Knows the difference between leadership and management and people who say they want leadership all too often mean they want you to lead them or manage them back to Egypt.
  • The good pastor is not overly disturbed by this though.  The great pastor knows how to keep his eyes on the Glory of God to lead His people out of Egypt and closer to Mt Sinai and into a covenant with God Almighty.
  • The good pastor knows when to make war and when to make peace.  The great pastor knows the cost of war and what to war against and how much more challenging it is to wage peace.
  • The good pastor never quits, except for short periods, the great pastor knows how to stop all together and go into the quiet places, the fierce landscapes to hear anew the voice of God.
  • The good pastor knows he can’t do it by himself; the great pastor knows just how much God actually does do for His people and the pastor.
  • The good pastor beholds Jesus every day, the great one gives everyone around him the chance to behold Jesus every day.
  • The good pastor works hard, the great ones get everyone to work hard.
  • The good pastor starts with love and ends with love.  The great ones never doubt God’s love.  They may yell at God, shake their fist at God, cry out to God, but like Jeremiah, they hang on to God.

“And all this goes for women pastors by the way.  Actually, a woman pastor has to be great to start with just to be good in our churches today.  My hat is off to them.

“There are many good pastors out there.  They exhibit much of the above, and then some.  If you are a church member, I hope you are treating them well.  They have been called to your church and family to make your journey richer and everlasting.  Learn to help them.  In fact, make them an offer, ask them this simple question, “How can I help you be a better pastor of our church?”  Then promise them that you will be there for them when they ask for your help.  Learn to lift up their arms toward heaven.  Drop your agenda for your church, your pastor.  Don’t join the line of members who line up at his door with advice on what will fix everything around your church.  Join the line that asks “how can I serve God, you and this church?”  Don’t be astonished when your pastor starts crying.  He almost never hears this question from members, it will move him and motivate him if he is a good pastor.  After the shock wears off, he might actually surprise you.

“If you are an administrator of pastors, or a pastor of pastors, get out here and hang with us.  One of my supervisors recently hung out at Barnes [& Noble] with me and the wife.  Way to go.  Go fishing with us.  Let’s get our cameras out and walk through town taking pictures we can pray about together.  Don’t ask me how I’m doing; I’m not going to tell you.  I tell God and my wife how I’m doing, that’s about it.  Instead, just find out by hanging with me.  I don’t mean fly into town and run over to the cafeteria with me, paying for the meal.  That’s nice, and you have my permission to keep doing that.  But if you really want to keep your pastors healthy, get into their lives at least once a year.  Go do something fun, distracting, real, different with them.  Bring the boat and skis, get two or three of us together.  I know, we’ll resist.  We’ll wonder, what’s he want to see me for?  I believe we’ll get over it.  Just make it early in the week, we get busier and busier as the week goes on.  Keep praying with us.

“If you’re a pastor, wake up!  You’re an awesome part of God’s family.  God thinks of you everyday and God’s thoughts are power supreme.  You are not a victim of the difficulties and difficult people in the world or your church.  Ask yourself why you started pastoring in the first place and why God called you in the first place.  Plead with him to renew that call.  Understand when you lose purpose, you lose heart.  When you lose heart, you’re vulnerable to hanging up your spurs.  And if you’re a good pastor, called by God, on the journey to be great in God’s service, we can’t afford to lose you.  Fight back.  Pray your way out of the darkness of divided churches, confused members, bickering board members and throw up your hands asking God alone to lead these people.  Pick up the book Resident Aliens, by Willimon and Hauerwas and read chapter 7, then read the other chapters, then read Jeremiah again.  Then read the Gospels again.  If He continues to use you as His under-shepherd, praise Him.  If He moves you on, praise Jesus.  He taught us to shake off the dust and to serve where no one wanted Him to serve.  Just don’t quit.  Yell at someone in the office, call the boss, call his boss, call me even.  Yell at me, but don’t quit.  We need you good pastor.”

by:  Pastor Marty Thurber


Photo Credit:  Julie Escobar