As a pastor, I can honestly say at times that I hear it all—perhaps all pastors do. We hear folks tell us they are coming to church, yet never show up. I remember a time in my younger ministry days when I led a man to the Lord on a Friday night, who had sincerely given his heart to Jesus, and after a three hour meeting with him that night he told me he would see me Sunday morning. The church I was pastoring was very small at the time and as I sat behind the pulpit waiting for the service to begin I watched the door anticipating his arrival. He never showed. I looked up to the Lord silently and said “Lord I am so disappointed he did not show!” Quickly I heard a still small voice speak to my heart saying “You are disappointed with one not showing, I am disappointed because millions haven’t shown up for church today.” Needless to say my disappointment went away quickly knowing that the disappointment I had was no comparison to the disappointment my heavenly Father had as many, that day and to this day, turn from His message of salvation and do not heed to Him. Later on that evening, though, the young man did show up for night service and I felt better about his walk with the Lord. However, I try to never forget just how heartbroken the Lord is because of His call that so many are ignoring.
Today, there are many heartbreaks we as pastors go through which the average person in the pew on Sunday morning cannot see. Why? Perhaps because the only time they are invested in the church is during the one or two hours of service on Sunday mornings. The rest of the time they may not see that the pastor is holding the hand of a mother and father whose child has just left this world to go and sit and be coddled in the lap of Jesus. They do not know the call the pastor gets when someone’s parent has had a stroke, heart attack, or when someone received the devastating news that a loved one has cancer. No one really knows the toll it takes on a pastor to receive the call that a loved one is on the verge of death. No one really knows how the pastor’s only response is one that allows him to sit and minister with the family until their loved one takes their last breath.
My reason for this article is not one of sympathy. I am not trying to stir up a sympathetic response for any fellow pastor or myself who are on the frontline fighting spiritual fires to keep peace in the church or handling any of the above listed scenarios. We don’t need sympathy. I write this to let the folks on the other side of the pulpits and even those who are not faithful to God’s house to get out of their four-walled life and open your heart to see those who are hurting and dying, and to see the relationships that are falling apart. Our jobs as pastors are not limited to the church-structure or Sunday service. Ministry goes on 24 hours, 7 days a week. Even this instance of writing this article that I hope inspires you, is an act of ministry. If the church’s laypeople today could just see the hurt and death and hear the cry of pain from hospitals and nursing homes, they would know even though we are men of God called to preach the Gospel, our hearts are broken just as Jesus Himself who wept many times.
May we see outside our four-walled lives and see the real needs in front of us.