I get all sorts of emails from various ministries ... some I immediately delete, some I skim, and some grab my attention and I actually read! I recently received one that most definitely caught my eye - it was from the ministry of Thom Rainer and linked an article called, "Eleven Specific Ways to Pray for Your Pastor." I wanted to be sure and read this and see if he knew what he was talking about ... if his list was actually going to address concerns that pastors like me actually deal with in real life. As usual, I discovered that most others have a lot more wisdom than I do and that Rainer's list is really pretty good. Allow me to highlight just a few that I would ask you to include in your prayers for me.
One of the most important is to pray for the pastor's family. A common strategy of the enemy is to attack those you love and cause discouragement, despair, confusion, and pain. If the enemy can hit close enough to your heart and create enough distraction then he's effectively rendered you ineffective. And while I can honestly say that right now my wife, sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren are all in a good place, I realize that an all-out assault could come any day and great sorrow could be introduced into my life. My family wrestles with the same things as most everyone else - worry, relationships, work, finances, anger, pride, fear, faith, decision making, health, etc. and all that is somewhat compounded by having to grow up and live in a pastor's family, so I ask you to pray for the Boykins - from here to Sydney to Memphis to Chattanooga.
Another thing on Rainer's list is to pray about discouragement resulting from members leaving the church. I realized just this morning after being asked about a family who left the church several years ago, that there are still wounds from the past regarding some former CPC members who left. And while the overwhelming majority left for very legitimate reasons and we've been incredibly blessed here at Community to have never experienced any sort of church split there have still been a handful of folks over the years who left on bad terms. It's hard for me or any pastor to not take that personally. And whether or not that's a legitimate feeling is somewhat irrelevant ... it's a feeling that is real and that lingers and leaves some wounds that don't seem to heal very well.
And one more thing that I'll share - the opportunity to frequently share the Gospel. I contend that everyone I know who's entered ministry did so with the intent to be active and engaged in regular evangelism. But it's more common than not to find that same person soon so immersed in the administrative demands of church/ministry life (meetings, buildings, budgets, etc.) that involvement with the non-Christian gets bumped way down the list of priorities. The demands on a pastor's time are so huge that unless he intentionally find ways to enter the world of unbelievers it's just not going to happen. This is one reason why I've invested so much in a training opportunity with the ministry of Evangelize Today. It has forced me to engage with unbelievers on their turf and that has been such a blessing to me. So please pray that I would continue with this ministry and not allow other things to push it aside.
Thank you for your prayers!