Dear Pastor: Will You Forgive Us?

Pastors have answered a high and difficult calling. There are few things that boil my blood faster or put my feet on a soap box quicker than when I hear God’s people hurling mean-spirited or spiteful comments at God-loving, servant-hearted pastors.

It gets ugly when sheep turn on their shepherds. And Satan, along with the world, watches. Smiling.

I love to intentionally encourage my pastors. When I see them at some mid-week church function, I am fully aware that they may have faced strenuous spiritual warfare. The enemy has likely lobbed a stream of fiery darts at them, whether it’s tough counseling sessions, disheartening church politics, or the death of a member.

It’s critical to convey to our pastors and pastor friends just how vital they are to God’s work and His church — to let these grace-filled men of faith know how much they, their families, and their ministries mean to so many.

So…to my pastors, all my pastor friends, and your beautiful families:

You embrace the calling to be crucified with Christ, yet sometimes we are the ones pounding in the nails.

Please forgive us.

You take up the cross of Christ without hesitation because it is not merely your day job–it’s your very calling, passion and purpose. Yet sometimes we watch from comfortable pews without lifting a finger as you stumble under that staggering weight alone.

Please forgive us.

You love us enough to sacrifice family time, shorten vacations and make yourself available 24-7-365. Yet when you need to unplug and allow God to recharge you, we haughtily demand your instantaneous appearance.

Please forgive us.

When life blindsides us with loss, relationship difficulties, health scares or financial burdens, you are the first to offer prayer and call in the posse to help. Yet when you need us, we wear busyness as a badge to dodge.

Please forgive us.

You willingly live in a glass house with our noses pressed against it, gracefully shouldering our smart aleck remarks and quick judgments. Yet when you lovingly ask us accountability questions, our self-righteous indignation could choke God Almighty.

Please forgive us.

But I want you to hear loud and clear: You are not expendable.

You are VITAL.
You are VALUABLE.
You are LOVED.

As you stand at the vanguard of deadly spiritual warfare, it’s an amazing privilege to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you on God’s battlefield. To heartily encourage you when you are weary. To follow where God calls you to lead.

THANK YOU for your integrity and tireless commitment.

Church, when was the last time you prayed for your pastor?

Little Old Lutheran Ladies Club

If history and literary geniuses have taught us anything, it’s that we love a good story. Stories that provide a new perspective. Stories that move our soul.

This is one of those stories.

A few weeks ago, several thousand LWML ladies attended our bi-annual convention in Albuquerque, NM. Long-time Twitter friend, Pastor Andrew (Drew) Ratcliffe, an avid supporter of LWML, attended the convention. Drew’s wife (Angie), her mom, sister (Liz), and a couple of Angie’s aunts also attended the convention with him.

Angie’s sister, Liz, was not very familiar with LWML since her Lutheran church in Idaho does not have an existing group. Her only familiarity with LWML is from attending her first LWML convention in Des Moines two years ago and the things that Drew and Angie have shared with her.

After attending her second LWML national convention in Albuquerque a few weeks ago, Liz penned her thoughts about the convention and shared them with Drew. Her thoughts brought him to tears, touching him deeply. After gaining Liz’s permission, Drew shared them with me to share with you.

I hope Liz’s beautiful story (in purple below) about the incredible Lutheran Women in Mission touches your heart and encourages you today.

Little Old Lutheran Ladies:

Some timid and proper, some outspoken and opinionated, many of them grandmothers, many of them widows. This used to be the extent of what came to mind when I thought of this particular demographic. I ought to be familiar with the subject, as the church I attend has many in its congregation.

After attending a bi-annual convention for an organization made up many little old Lutheran women (among others), I’ve been reflecting on the identity of these exceptional women:

  • The many Sunday school teachers I had as a child that gave me a solid foundation for my faith.
  • The 80-year old woman from my church that sends me a card on every holiday and has remembered my birthday every year I’ve been alive.
  • The various ladies that lean over in the pew just a bit when I go up to communion to see which ridiculous pair of shoes I’m wearing that week. “I was hoping you were wearing my favorite pair – those heels with the polka dots!”
  • The 90 year old woman who really isn’t supposed to be driving, but made a trip from Meridian to the farm almost in New Plymouth by herself to visit my Mom after Dad died. “I wasn’t sure I remembered how to get there, but I passed the old Cloverleaf restaurant and figured I was heading in the right direction, so I just kept driving!” Mom said she opened the door and couldn’t have been more surprised to see her standing there.
  • The ladies in their pant suits or jacket/skirt combinations that love and compliment my crazy outfits instead of expressing disapproval.
  • The many widows of our congregation that make a special effort to check in with my Mom every week, and never shied away from the hard conversations and progressive bad news from her the past years.
  • The committee of women that provided and organized countless funeral dinners for families of the church with my Mom, free of charge.
  • The group of Lutheran women that formed a women’s missionary league during World War II, a time when being charitable and spreading the Gospel surely seemed of little importance to many.
  • That same group of Lutheran women who still give millions of dollars every two years to support many mission projects throughout the world. 

The women who traveled to Albuquerque, NM, despite some of them being poor in health, limited in their mobility, or facing tragedy and heartbreak in their home lives, came to give yet more of their time to this group.

I attended this convention, largely due to the suggestion of my sister. I was running through all the reasons I should be at home in Idaho instead of where I was when the event was starting.

As the convention progressed, I received the same lovely compliments and encouragement in my faith, but this time from Little Old Lutheran Ladies from all over the world.

These women are to be admired and respected, not pitied or dismissed.

I’ve realized through family discussion that my grandmother on my Mom’s side (that I never met) fit this bill. I am watching as my Mom and her sisters become them.

What an honor it would be to be one day included in the Little Old Lutheran Ladies Club.

I’m so grateful to Liz for her beautiful words and willingness to share them with you. Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I consider it a high honor to be part of LWML for over 20 years now. We are prayer-warrior women of ALL ages, nationalities, and from ALL walks of life coming together with a passion to serve the Lord through mission work.

I hope you share this to encourage other women — and perhaps take a moment to comment below and encourage Liz.

The LWML has been bearing abundant fruit in God’s vineyard for over 75 years.

Won’t you join us for the next 75?

To God be the glory!

http://www.lwml.org/bible-studies

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Pastors, Will You Forgive Us?

Pastors have a high and difficult calling.

There are few things that boil my blood faster or put me on a soap box quicker than when I hear God’s people hurling mean-spirited or spiteful comments at God-loving, servant-hearted pastors.

It gets ugly when the sheep turn on their shepherds.

And Satan, along with the world, watches. Smiling.

I love intentionally encouraging my pastors. When I see them at some evening function during the week ― whether it’s Bible class, a ministry event, or worship team rehearsal ― I’m fully aware that they may have faced a particularly tough day. Chances are the enemy has lobbed some fiery darts at them, whether it’s tough counseling sessions, disheartening church politics, or the death of a member.

They also have those joy-filled days when they perform baptisms, weddings, and celebrate confirmands. But those days happen far less than the rest.

It’s a privilege to convey to my pastors and pastor friends just how important they are to God’s work and His church ― to let these grace-filled men of courageous faith know how much they, their families, and their ministries mean to so many. But I end up getting chokey.

So … to my pastors, all my pastor friends, and your beautiful families:

You embrace the calling that crucifies you every day. Yet sometimes we are the ones pounding in the nails.

Please forgive us.

You take up the cross of Christ without hesitation, not because it’s a job, but because it’s your very calling, passion and life purpose. Yet sometimes we watch from comfortable pews without lifting a finger as you stumble under the weight of that responsibility alone.

Please forgive us.

You love us enough to sacrifice family time, cut short vacations, and be on call 24-7-365. Yet when you need to unplug and allow God to recharge you, we haughtily demand that you re-engage and make yourself available.

Please forgive us.

When life blindsides us with loss, relationship difficulties, health scares, or financial burdens, you are the first to offer prayer and call in the posse to help. Yet when you need us, we wear busyness as a badge to dodge.

Please forgive us.

You willingly live in a glass house with our faces pressed against it, gracefully shouldering our smart aleck remarks. Yet when you lovingly ask us accountability questions, our self-righteous indignation could choke God Almighty.

Please forgive us.

But I want to you know…

You are not expendable.

You are VITAL.
You are VALUABLE.
You are LOVED.

As you stand at the vanguard of deadly spiritual warfare, it’s an amazing privilege to stand in God’s army with you. To heartily encourage you when you’re weary. And to follow where God calls you to lead.

THANK YOU for your integrity and tireless commitment.

Church, when was the last time you prayed for your pastors?

C’mon, let’s encourage our pastors today.