Yesterday, I blogged about the value for my ministry and personal growth in being a student again. I received one especially touching email in response to my blog yesterday from a mother whose son is in ministry. As I hinted about the danger of burnout, especially in regard to the vital role Shepherd/Elders play in the church, this mom shared her heart and her concern for her son and for the men who aspire to Shepherd the church. I asked for, and was granted, permission to share her words with you today.
There is a small fear I don't allow myself to entertain often that someday my son might get burned out with his job. Right now, he has tremendous zeal and passion for his ministry. If he were a ditch digger with that same passion I would not worry if one day he woke up and said, "I don't want to dig ditches anymore". Quite a different concern if he ever says "I don't want to preach the gospel anymore because the task is too difficult." A parent with grown children worries their children will become disenchanted and leave the church. That is a given for all of us. How much greater the fear that the beloved church might beat your child down so much that they walked away from their passion, that passion of spreading the good news far and wide, of helping transform lives, of ministering to those in need - both believer and nonbeliever? I have seen brothers and sisters become vicious at times. Is there a more dangerous person on the planet than a misguided Christian?
I say all of that to say this...maybe we need to occasionally rise to the occasion and lift up our shepherds and ministers for they do carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. They may lay hands on us at the lowest times of our lives. Every single elder came and prayed with my dad before he passed away. Without even knowing my husband's parents, several of them came to their funerals. That gave us tremendous comfort. When our shepherds stand before the congregation and reach out to those who have responded to the gospel it brings me to tears. We do not have priests in the churches of Christ, nor do we put any man in an exalted place. Nonetheless, the scripture tells us that elders that serve well are worthy of honor and praise.
A couple of weeks ago, I urged you to cut the spiritual leaders within your church some slack. Despite their leadership, they remain fallible men. This week, can I encourage you to seek out a Shepherd, a Minister, or someone who has mentored you in the footsteps of Jesus. Pat them on the back. Take them out for Sunday lunch. Share with them a word of encouragement. Lift their spirit. It just might be God uses you as a conduit whereby a leader on the edge of burn out is encouraged, renewed, and re-energized in their ministry.