This past week I was part of a prayer event on the west side of Cleveland. Aaron DeLoach, another pastor from my church, and I went because we are currently in a season of prayer at our church…21 days to be exact. While we were there, we had the opportunity to pray with pastors from all over the greater Cleveland area. You had people from the West Side, the East Side, and as far south as Medina and Akron.
During a time of praying in small groups, one of the pastors in my group prayed a prayer that has stuck with me for a week now. As a group, we had just finished a conversation about how difficult it is to do ministry on the East Side of Cleveland. As a matter of fact, Aaron and I heard the East Side referred to several times as “the church planter’s graveyard”. We heard story after story about churches that tried to branch out into the East Side only to have a church plant fail within the year. One thing we have come to learn is that the East Side is a “well churched” area. By that I mean, most people have gone to church from time to time. Unfortunately, it is an area where church involvement can be seen in the same light as any other “community organization”. It’s on the list, but not very high.
It was coming out of this conversation that this pastor prayed for “Tougher Pastors”. He prayed, “The East Side is a tough side… And so Lord, I pray for a generation of Tougher Pastors.”
I love that!
It is been my prayer every day since. I’ve been praying, “God make me a tougher kind of pastor.”
So here’s what a tougher kind of pastor looks like:
-We don’t shave our chest!
-We no longer wear skinny jeans!
-We only drink our coffee black!
OK, not really – Here’s what I’m praying for when I’m praying for a generation of “Tougher Pastors”:
We’re in The Word
In the day and age that we live in, it seems as though we want to microwave everything. We spend more time checking out cool graphics and stage designs then we do digging into the Bible. A tougher kind of pastor puts his time in The Word. We don’t steal sermons. We don’t use other people’s research at face value. We dig into The Word. We let it speak to us. We pray for God’s message. And then we preach from what HE has communicated to us.
We don’t shortchange our study. We don’t shortchange the process of discovery that God intended when he gave us His Word.
We’re in the People Business
We live in a day and age where bigger is better. This seems to always be true. Everyone knows that in order for a business, organization, or church to be healthy everything has to be moving up and to the right. Unfortunately, in the pursuit of a “healthy church” often times it’s people that get in the way. People are messy. People grow at different speeds. Many times, people don’t realize their own areas where growth is needed. A tougher kind of pastor takes the time to get to know the people. A tougher kind of pastor remembers that the programs are designed to minister to the people, not the other way around.
We’re in it for the Long-Haul
We live in a day and age where people have a very short attention span. (Yes, it all has to do with being raised in a generation where everyone receives a ribbon, but I’m not going to get into all of that right now.) This generation of men and women (and pastors) have a very short attention span. When things get difficult or when something more “exciting” comes along they’re quick to jump ship and run off to greener pastures. A tougher kind of pastor is in it for the long haul. We don’t quit when it gets hard. We don’t quit when it gets monotonous or frustrating. Tougher pastors know that they are there because God has called them there… And it’s only God who will call them away.
…Anyway, has just been a prayer that has been on my heart this week.
I am so thankful that I’m at church with “Tougher Pastors”.
We live in Cleveland… East Side… We are a Tougher kind of Pastor!