I want to follow up on the topic I wrote about in last week's blog, "What is a pastor? What does a pastor do?" And I want to especially focus on two things that I think are very important for a pastor to do: Praying for and with people. And, visiting with them. Let's look at this a bit closer.
I think it is said of Martin Luther, when asked about prayer, said that he began each day praying for an hour for people and his ministry. And when asked what he does when he has an especially busy schedule for the day, "Oh, then I pray for 3 hours." Whether that is a true statement of Luther or not, it still makes a point for the importance of prayer!
No, I can't say that I pray for 1 - 3 hours each day for people and ministry. I wish I could. And I'm still working on this. Maybe when I get "older" I'll do better :).
But consider how wonderful prayer is, and what an opportunity prayer is! To be able to go to the throne of grace with boldness (Hebrews 4:16) with every kind of petition and intercession and praise!! So whether we pray for long periods of time, or a short one word prayer ("Help!", "Jesus!"), whether alone or with one or two others (knowing Jesus is with you, Matthew 18:20) or with the whole Body of Christ, prayer is a powerful and easy tool for each and every one of us.
Especially for pastors! A carpenter needs to have a good hammer, and a strong arm a good aim to nail together the house he's building. And a lot of things can get in his way: a thumb, a fly in his face, a distraction, and all of sudden he's in trouble (from hitting his thumb, bending the nail, etc.)
So a pastor isn't using a hammer and nails (unless it's on his "honey-do-list", but then that's on my time off). So the problems and temptations as a pastor are a bit different, but still needing attention and focus. And prayer is an excellent source of all that is needed (and for carpenters too). And of course, it takes more than prayer to be a good pastor, or a good carpenter. But it's a good start for every day!
And what is next in my list of importance as a pastor (and as a follower of Jesus)? I could say it in different ways, but here are a few that come to mind:
being with people, loving all people, building relationships with people of a congregation and community, loving the people God has placed in our lives, visiting people (in person, by phone, emails, texts, and any other way that we can communicate).
Oh, as a pastor I still need to spend time in prayer, study of God's word, reading about.all kinds of things: theology, ministry, and the news of the community, nation and world. I need to prepare sermons, Bible studies, blogs, weekly video messages, and for every area of ministry. I need to attend meetings, write emails, and work with the conference and synod that calls for work to be done. And I need exercise and rest. But more important than all of the above (except maybe prayer and reading Scripture) is the time spent with people. And with people I can also be in prayer, study of God's Word, and learn all kinds of things.
So I have made it a priority to be reaching out to people. I make it a part of each week to spend time in emailing and calling people of the congregations I serve. i hope you already know this, but let me communicate it again: I am always ready and willing and will make time to sit down with every one of you to listen to your story of faith, to learn from you, to share with you in the love that God has for each and every one of you! That is a top priority for me in being a good pastor. So PLEASE: let me know if and when and where you'd like to spend even a few moments with me. I promise it won't be a difficult task. And I promise we can be an encouragement to one another. And hopefully spend at least a few moments in prayer together!
With a promise to pray for and with all of you, whom God so dearly loves,
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Copyright 2023. Resurrection Lutheran Church, New Berlin, WI
RESURRECTION LUTHERAN CHURCH
Steve Rutter, Pastor
Julie Johnson, Worship Music Coordinator
Steph Albert, Worship Music
Larry Gnatzig, Office Administration
12400 West Coldspring Road
New Berlin, Wisconsin 53151