I received a phone call this afternoon from a brother in the Office of the Holy Ministry who I know from online. We've always found an amusing camaraderie in the simple fact that we share a name, and he has always been a source of encouragement in the midst of strife. He reminds me not to give up hope that the Lord will find a place for me to return to parish ministry. Today his message was simple: I'm praying for you.
We pastors pray for our congregations constantly. That's one of the primary duties of a congregation's pastor. Indeed, we pray for "the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs". But we also take some time to pray specifically for our brothers in the Office. Some might see this as selfish or self-serving. This is not the case. Well, we are sinners whose every act is tainted with sin, so I can't say these prayer are completely selfless, though we do strive for that. But we pray for our brothers because we understand the struggles our brothers face. As I write this, one brother is struggling with the possibility of resigning from the Ministry altogether. Another has received a Call from a congregation who wants him to serve as their pastor. A number of them are wrestling with depression. Some, like me, anxiously await Calls to return to parish ministry. The list goes on and on.
You do not need to be a pastor to pray for a pastor. If you are a layperson, I encourage you to pray for your pastor constantly, whether or not you see eye to eye with him. I promise you, he prays for you, even (and especially) when there is difficulty between you. Show him the love which Christ bears for you. He needs it, and it is a blessing for you to share it with him, even as it is a blessing for him to share it with you. As the member of a congregation which I do not serve as a parish pastor, I pray for my own pastor as well. He may be a Chicago Cubs fan, but I still pray for him.
For my brothers in the Office of the Holy Ministry: I'm praying for you.
And for my brother with whom I share a great and well-spelled name: Thank you for your prayers. I'm praying for you, too.