Written by Pastor Jeff Cagwin
Today's highlight for me was a pastors' gathering at Calvary Church here in Valpo. It was very well done and included tasty grub from the new Big Daddy's Barbecue in town. I'd venture to say there were sixty-some people present, and it was cool to be together and to sing together (worship led by Seven Glory).
I felt kinda like the little kid at the big boys' lunch table -- seating was assigned, and I was happily seated next to my good friend and mentor Bob, senior pastor at Liberty Bible Church. Next to him was Gene, senior pastor at Valpo Nazarene; Steve, senior pastor at Bethel Church in Crown Point; Lionel, senior pastor at the host church, Garner, senior pastor at Bethel in Valpo; John, senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran; and Ben, senior pastor at GracePoint in Valpo.
I was humbled to be in the presence of these men and the others in attendance. The potential around the table and the room is tremendous--here are men leading tribes of worshipers, and the condition of their souls has inestimable influence on the condition of the souls of countless people in our community. Garner just lost his dear friend and mentor yesterday; he's a feeler, and it was apparent that he was feeling it. I felt for him. It was really good to see him worship amidst his grief. His good friend Lionel (pastor of the host church) lost his mentor to an accident a few weeks ago. These men are all every bit as human as anyone else. They are not supermen, but they've undertaken something remarkable in endeavoring to lead local communities of faith to love and serve God fully.
I love pastors. I have gained a distinct burden for pastors over the past few years. Pastoring is hard work, harder than you think. I've tasted that firsthand and ache to see so many pastors get taken down by the work. Generally, pastors burn out or rust out. The demands are relentless, the results are hard to quantify, the critics are countless, the objectives are elusive. Nine out of ten pastors leave pastoral ministry before they retire. Rates of divorce, depression and even suicide are shockingly high. Anyone who's taken a good look into the general state of pastors' lives has been deeply sobered and disturbed.
I love pastoring. I am not complaining. Just saying that it ain't easy, and those who pastor ought to be prayed for and supported and encouraged liberally. I try to do this for pastors I know, because when they're thriving, there's no telling what the Lord might do to kick in the gates of hell in our communities and world.
Thank You Lord for Your undershepherds...encourage them today. Build Your church in this town and beyond...and the very gates of hell shall not prevail (Matthew 16:18)!