For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you. — Colossians 2:1.
… the pastor’s work severely taxes the sensitive part of his nature. …
His position, too, brings him constantly in contact with something that is painfully exciting. As it is his special business to observe the defects and necessities of his hearers, that he may minister to their wants and guard them against those influences which would endanger their interests, there is ever something meeting his eye or his ear that touches some tender chord of his heart. In each visit he makes among his people, he finds much to excite his sympathies, and the agitation is often so great that it requires weeks to restore composure. Here he enters a family surrounded by abundance and greatly devoted to gaiety and mirthfulness, and, unless he would be repulsive, he must adapt himself to their condition, and enter somewhat into their pleasures ; and yet he may be deeply pained at the absence of spiritual tastes, of religious devotion and holy enjoyment. On a little further he comes to the cottage of the poor, and the circle of fashion and merriment is exchanged for penury and gloom. On further he enters the abode of sickness, and death and mourning. In other places he will find some to admonish for their neglect of duty— some to reconcile whose views and tastes are opposite — and many to satisfy who are well supplied with all manner of objections and difficulties. He who has parsed through all these scenes, returns to his study with a heavy, agitated heart ; and yet, in this state of mind, he must enter upon those investigations which require calmness and cheerfulness to ensure success. Here rises the conflict ; in the draft which is constantly made upon every part of a pastor’s resources ; the numberless duties he has to perform ; the various scenes through which he passes; the conflicting habits and opinions with which he has to deal, and the final consequences of his ministrations upon his hearers and himself. Here lies that crushing weight which presses upon the men of this profession, and gives them such paleness and excitability. They are never without business; never without anxiety ; never without perplexities; and hence their frequent gloominess and early prostration.
Josiah Finch, “SERMON V. THE PASTOR’S CONFLICTS” The sermons of the Rev. Josiah J. Finch; with a memoir of his life
Josiah Finch was a Baptist pastor who preached in Mississippi and North Carolina. This book of his sermons was published in 1853. The excerpt shows a wonderfully colorful description of what a pastor’s life would be like. You can picture all the kinds of people and situations he or she would have to deal with. Pastors may see joy and mirth, but also have to see “penury and gloom”, “sickness and death and mourning.” Then off to settle some fights and do paperwork. Let’s go straight to prayer.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, we cast the job of pastor before you. We see how they may experience joys of parishioners, but even these visits may tax the nerves or challenge the morals. We pray for strength and witness in these times. We pray for the suffering that pastors are often called to deal with, when they visit simple cottages. We pray for strength and light and a remembrance that it’s not up to them to heal or complete the comfort. Remind us all to pray, sympathize, help, and cast them on You. We pray for the suffering within congregations, of those who fight over trivia, that you would be the Prince of Peace in these situations. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: Think of one nice thing you can do for your pastor, and perhaps one so small it wouldn’t even merit the extra duty of a thank-you letter or phone call.