Michael J. Brooks
A distraught parishioner stood at the doorway after a Sunday morning service. The pastor had just tendered his resignation, effective in 30 days, and he tried to comfort her.
â€œNow, now, Gladys, God will take care of you and this church,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m sure the Lord will send you a pastor who is much better than me.â€
â€œOh, no,â€ Gladys said. â€œThatâ€™s what they all say, but they get worse every time!â€
Studies suggest pastoral tenure is increasing. At one time in my denomination, we were told pastors served 18-24 months; now the typical pastor will serve at least five years. Research also suggests the pastorâ€™s most effective ministry often only begins after five years.
However long the pastor serves, itâ€™s true that every pastor is fallible and needs help. He (or she) will say something inartful or forget a promise made. The pastor needs forgiveness but the pastor also needs support as he leads the church in outreach and ministry.
Itâ€™s a great story in Exodus when the narrator focuses on the time between the Red Sea and Mt. Sinai. The Hebrews once again complained to the Lord about their thirst (Exodus 15-17 could be called The Chronicles of Complaint!). The Lord determined to bring water from a rock and commanded Moses to take the tribal elders with him. The elders didnâ€™t participate in the miracle, but they witnessed it, and their standing with Moses was a symbol of solidarity. As we would say today, they â€œhad his back.â€
The same chapter tells the story of an attack from the Amalekites. Joshua appears for the first time in the Old Testament as Mosesâ€™ general who directed the battle. Moses determined to take the rod of Godâ€”the same rod heâ€™d held over the Red Seaâ€”and hold it above the battlefield to inspire his soldiers. But his hands grew weary.
Most of us know that our arms get heavy after a minute or so in the air, even when weâ€™re holding them up to praise God!
Two men, Aaron, Mosesâ€™ brother, and Hur, whom we donâ€™t know, upheld the arms of Moses to inspire the Hebrews to win the battle.
We sometimes credit the general for winning the battle, whether the general is Washington or Wellington or Pattonâ€¦but in this case, four men shared necessary leadership to bring victory.
Both stories teach us the proper role of lay people. The pastoral leader cannot do it all himself. He needs understanding and help and encouragement.
Pastor Appreciation Month is a good time for us to recommit to upholding the pastorâ€™s arms as he feeds the flock with Godâ€™s truth, and leads the flock with wisdom and humility. -30-
â€œReflectionsâ€ is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Ala. The churchâ€™s website is siluriabaptist.com.