Coming out of our weekend of spiritual renewal, I am excited about what lies ahead for us here at Mililani Baptist Church. I look forward to moving ahead as one body, focused on that task to which we have been called in Christ Jesus. Often when I get excited in ministry, I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head that I don't know where to begin. However, with age comes experience, and with experience comes some wisdom, and one thing that I have learned is that wherever God is taking us as a church, we must proceed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with much prayer.
I am currently reading a book by Elbert Smith called, "Church Planting by the Book." In it, Smith identifies common threads that were essential components of the earliest churches founded in Scripture. Prayer played a vital role in the foundation of the first church in Jerusalem and led to the spread of the gospel and the establishment of other churches throughout the Roman Empire. Read through the first 10 chapters of Acts and you will see that prayer wasn't something that the earliest Christians talked about doing, rather it was an integral part of their daily lives and helped guide them during the growth and expansion of the 1st century Church.
Last month in this space I encouraged you to pray for unity amongst our members as we moved toward our weekend revival. This month, in addition to continuing to pray for unity, I humbly implore you to pray for the church leaders here at MBC. One of the strangest things about churches in this age of consumerism and egocentrism is that churches are often one of the most exceptionally brutal places to serve within. It's a challenge to please everyone's needs when our culture places a premium on having our individual needs met before anyone else's. I've learned from experience that pastors tend to be some of the most sensitive, thin-skinned people of all. Combine that with the fact that they have their own sin issues, and their own family, marital, and health problems they must contend with…well it becomes easy to understand why pastors leave for other churches so quickly, and while many end up leaving the ministry altogether. Thom Rainer, in his book "I Am A Church Member" talks about the life of a pastor. He writes, "His day is filled with mountaintops and valleys. He is adulated by some and castigated by others."
God called out pastors to shepherd his flock, but it is also the responsibility of the flock to minister to their shepherd. So pray for you pastors. Pray for their preaching as they teach from the Word of God every week. Pray for their families. I've realized that my wife takes comments and criticisms of me twice as hard as I do myself. I once had a lay leader in a church who wanted me gone tell me that while they didn't care for me very much, they really liked my wife. My wife didn't take that as a compliment by the way. I responded by telling this individual that I really liked my wife too and that if and when God ever called me away that I was taking her along with me. Pray for your leaders and their families; pray for their protection. Most of all, pray for their emotional well-being, and for them to find rest in and draw their strength from the Lord.
Now in order to avoid sounding self-serving, I don't want you to just pray these things for your pastoral leadership. Pray for all of the leadership in your church. There are so many faithful people serving in leadership here at MBC that need your prayers. It's not easy to step up and lead, when that opens you up to the criticism of others, and yet so many here have chosen to serve regardless of the cost. Pray for those who teach and lead Sunday School classes and Bible studies. Pray for our Nursery Director and those who lead out in our various children's ministries. Pray for our youth leadership as they give up so much time away from their own families to pour into the lives of others. Pray for our deacons, who serve in a variety of ways that aren’t often even seen. Pray for those who are serving as committee heads, as they deal with important issues in the life of the church. Pray for them and their families.
We are all in this together as one body in Christ Jesus. As we move forward in a rapidly changing world may we continue to show love, grace, and patience to one another. May we lift each other up in fervent and heartfelt prayer. I desire to see this very church be a catalyst in the expansion of the gospel throughout Hawaii and the rest of the Pacific, but before that happens we need to make sure that we are filled with the Spirit and making prayer a priority within this beautiful bride of Christ.