As Paul wrote to faraway believers, most whom he’d never meet, so I write to pastors:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people. (Col. 1:3-4)
I’ve sat at my favorite coffee shop and in my study at home thanking our Father for you who read these letters, who have written to me, and whom I’ve met along the way.
I thank him for your faith in Christ Jesus. To begin with, I’m so grateful that you have remained true to Christ and his Word. Were it not for the Lord’s tenacious grip on us we would surely have wandered off. I thank him for pastors who, though scarred by sins and failures, have had faith enough to come boldly (or even timidly) to God’s throne of grace again and again.
You have, at the Father’s direction, taken on Jesus’ own disciples—Simons, Johns, Marys, Marthas, Aquilas, Priscillas, Thomases—walking with them, teaching them, waiting for them, as they grew up into Christ. I thank God for pastors who have led whole congregations of uneasy saints through some wilderness toward promises God set before you.
I thank God for tired pastors who have borne the battle in the heat of the day and have the wounds to show for it, and for pastors who not only fought off wolves but who were also stampeded by their own sheep. I thank him, too, for young pastors who will explore Scripture, grace, and shepherding for years to come, and for so many pastors who come to their flocks with fresh joy and Scripture-based clarity.
I also thank the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the love you dear shepherds have for God’s people. There is something so precious about pastors who dearly love their congregations. They know it’s a stretch sometimes to call them saints but still they love them, even when there are a few they don’t like. I thank God for the pastors who walk hospital halls and visit nursing home dayrooms, who sit through meetings and who stand, Bible-ready, to feed hungry believers.
I thank the Father for pastors who pray for their people when they’re in distress but also when they’re not. Who pray that their love would abound and that their faith would prove golden, who pray for the stalwart as well as the wanderers.
I thank God for pastors in large churches who find ways to love their people well even when they no longer know everyone’s name, and for pastors in small churches who know far more about their congregation than their names. I’m grateful for pastors who know and tell the conversion stories of their people and who relish their adventures of faith. I especially thank God for shepherds who love children and honor aged saints.
We see the Father’s goodness when you entrust babies to his promises and his church, when you baptize the reborn and serve them at the table of Christ, when you pronounce a couple to be husband and wife, and when you stand at a graveside, not only intoning “dust to dust” but promising the “blessed hope” of the saints. Our God has entrusted no others with such responsibilities or privileges, so I thank him.
My dear brothers and sisters, I thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for you.
Be ye glad!
Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He writes a weekly devotional for preachers on Preaching Today.