“So what do you do all week, anyway?”
If you're a pastor, you've probably heard that question more than once. Some people have the idea that pastors enjoy a six-day weekend, with one day of work on Sunday. Others picture them as spending all day every day reading and studying. Others might have the idea that a pastor meets people, drinks coffee, listens, and talks–almost like a psychologist with a spiritual twist.
Pastoral work might be summarized as “leading and feeding.” Or as shepherding. Or as overseeing. Or as preaching and teaching. A good pastor does all of these things. However you articulate the overall function of a pastor, one of the main areas of any pastor's job is member care–spiritually caring for the souls of the people God has brought to his local church.
What does member care look like? There's a sense in which you can sum it up in these two words: comfort and confrontation. Here's a glimpse into some experiences in a week of member care (none of these are recent, so any similarity to you is a coincidence!!):
- Praying for members: pastors gathering to pray for each church member by name, systematically and alphabetically; praying specifically and repeatedly for members that are hurting, wandering, or flagrantly sinning.
- Visiting the family of a church member whose loved one is dying in their home; praying with the family and just being there during the last hours of a beloved saint's life.
- Calling a church member who is out of state for the funeral of an adult child; encouraging him and letting him know that we love him, are praying for him, and are rallying around him during these difficult days.
- Meeting for prayer and fellowship with a brother who is earnestly seeking to lead and shepherd his family; praising the Lord for His faithfulness to this brother.
- Encouraging a father whose child has rejected the Lord and seeking to counsel him about how to evangelize this child who is still at home.
- Counseling individuals experiencing significant struggles in their home; confronting sin as it comes to light and calling these brothers and sisters to repentance and to living in light of the gospel.
- Confronting a brother who is admittedly struggling to lead at home; encouraging him to fulfill his God-given roles and responsibilities; and exhorting him to believe that God has empowered him for this ministry.
Comfort and confrontation involve much more than this, but for the pastor, there is great joy in the process of leading and feeding church members and seeing them grow to be more like Jesus.