It occurred to me last night as I was thinking through our week that Easter week is likely the most demanding time of the year for most pastors and their families. With that in mind, I would like to encourage all of those families who serve in leadership roles within their churches and let them know that I will be praying for them throughout this week. Additionally, I'd like to encourage EVERYONE to be praying for their own pastors and others as they serve throughout the week and prepare for the weekend.
Let's pray for quality time for pastors and their families during a week when quantity will most likely not be possible. Jared will be away from home every night this week except Tuesday teaching, preaching, or leading in some way. Some of this is just the "regular" events of any given week, but we have 2 added weeknight services this week for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. This may or may not be the case for all churches, but my guess is that there will be some level of additional responsibility for most every pastor this week.
Let's pray for focused and efficient preparation. In addition to the "normal" services and events of each week, our particular church family will have 3 extra services. Of course, each of these will differ in the intensity and level of preparation required, but certainly they will require extra time and attention from our pastors. This means either more time away from home in their offices or more time at home spent focused on their studies rather than their families.
Let's pray for pastors' wives who will likely feel like single Moms for much of this week. Based on the 2 points above, it is likely that many pastors' wives will not get much help or attention from their husbands this week, and in fact, many of these pastors will most likely need more help from their wives than they typically ask for. Rest assured that most of us know what we signed up for in our marriages to ministers, and we try not to spend the difficult times in fetal position in a corner. ;-) However, certainly there are times when it is easy to become so exhausted and distracted by "ministry" that we have no time for the sweet moments and fun times of the holidays with our own families. Let's pray that God will grant special moments for stillness in the midst of days that seem the opposite of still and fun memories of time spent together, however brief.
Let's pray for overwhelming grace for those who face this added workload in the midst of difficult ministries. By God's grace, our family is part of one of the most amazing bodies of believers I've ever encountered. They love, serve, and support each other (and us!) better than any community I've ever known. So while we will certainly be pooped out by the end of this week, we will be joyfully pooped out. We are not so naive as to believe this is true of everyone. In fact, we know some for whom this isn't true. Many pastors faithfully serve in already incredibly difficult situations. Places that don't feel like home. Congregations who don't support or respect them. Overly demanding expectations or many different sets of expectations which contradict each other. The list could go on and on. For those who live these difficulties week in and week out, their "normal" task list likely already feels like more than they can handle. Let's pray that rather than having the additional demands of Easter week make their burdens even heavier, that somehow the added focus on Christ's finished work on the cross will release chains and set their hearts to freedom.
Let's pray for hearts and minds stubbornly focused on the Gospel. I know it will vary from church to church as to the extent we see this happen, but I think it's a safe assumption to say that most every church will experience higher attendance this weekend than usual. I would imagine this leads to all sorts of creative thinking as to what is the very best message to offer to this larger-than-usual-crowd which may or may not be more heavily populated with unbelievers than our typical weekend gatherings. But the truth is that whether they attend church once a year on Easter Sunday or three times a week every single week, what ALL souls need is the Gospel. May our pastors stay focused on this and not be tempted to steer toward a watered down or more "attractive" message. What happened leading up to Easter was not attractive in any way EXCEPT FOR what it delivered to hopeless sinners. May we pray that our pastors will trust the Holy Spirit to open hearts to receive the truth. May they flee from all thoughts to deliver little more than a warm, fuzzy feeling on Sunday morning, and may they realize that for those who may only attend church once a year, there is no more critical message than the ugly, yet beautiful truth of what the Gospel really means.