Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Continuing to Appreciate Pastors and Ministry Leaders

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 – “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;  we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (NASB)

In 1970 there was a popular song by Joe South and sung by several artists including Elvis Presley that challenged, “Just walk a mile in my shoes, before you abuse, criticize and accuse, then walk a mile in my shoes.” One of the greatest lessons God has taught me is that, “I don’t know what I don’t know.” In addition, God is often willing to teach us if we open our hearts, mind and mouth and humbly ask Him to show us. You may quickly learn that it may not be an easy lesson, in fact if you had realized the pain before the gain you might not have signed up for this class at all. Walking a mile or even a minute in someone else’s shoes gives you a new perspective and often appreciation for the life they live, the ways they serve and suffer, and the blessings you have. Most importantly, it shows us how God provides all we need in everything He calls us to do and go through.

In the past days, weeks and months I seem to have found myself on an extended journey through struggle and sorrow both personally, and with friends and family I love dearly. It seems that every week has brought another phone call of breath-taking diagnosis, disaster, disappointment or death. As Christ-followers we “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15) and often, that requires a commitment; a journey together to stand in the comfort and promises of Jesus, that He will manifest His surpassing greatness and power in our fragile earthly bodies. Jesus reminds us in John 16:13, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

As I reflected in deep sorrow the past few days, I paused to pray for all the Pastors who minister to people in pain every day. They are often the first to arrive and the last to leave in a crisis. They minister in the most painful, unexplainable, catastrophic circumstances and not only maintain their faith but help others hold on to theirs as well. Pastors must hold many things confidential, not having anyone but God to talk to in some of the most difficult discussions and decisions. Pastors cannot judge, but must minister God’s Word; grace, mercy, encouragement, forgiveness, and truth even if their personal pain or preferences battle for a voice in their ministering moments. They weep, pray, sacrifice and reflect the love and lessons of Scripture to shine the light of hope in the darkest of days.

We often think of Pastors as preaching, teaching, marrying people, meeting with deacons or elders, shaking hands at the front door, and performing the occasional funeral – but they do so much more! How has your Pastor ministered to a specific need in your life? How have they stepped into tough times or tragedy to encourage and strengthen you? Have you ever prayed for your Pastor when there was a crisis in your church or community? May I humbly ask you to pray for Pastors now? Pray for your Pastors, the Pastors in your community, across America and around the world.

Let’s pray together now: Lord thank you for those who minister to Your Church. We thank You for those You have called to shepherd Your sheep; to bring words of comfort, strength, hope and peace to the hurting and the hopeless. We ask You now to bless them as only You can Lord; provide in Your abundant riches and lavishing love and meet their needs and the desires of their hearts. Holy Spirit fill them with fruitfulness and wrap them in Your courage and protection as they abide and trust in You.