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If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. – 1 Corinthians 12:26 (NLT)
I call them “my little flock.”
They are a small group of believers, numbering about 25 now, who comprise a local congregation who look to me as their pastor.
I said I wasn’t—“I’m a Christian speaker and writer,” I insisted.
My qualifications do not include training in ministry. I’m not ordained, not certified as a lay speaker or lay minister.
I just love them.
And I love delving into Scripture, preparing a message for Sunday’s sermon, and then delivering it to them. I so want to see them grow in their faith—to increasingly know, love and serve the God I know, love and serve (2 Peter 3:18). I want to help them not only grow, but also experience the joy of their faith (Philippians 1:25 NLT).
My husband—who sits in the back pew, times my sermons and waves his cell phone when it’s time to begin winding down—told me I’m a pulpit pounder. I didn’t believe him until one Sunday I found myself pounding the pulpit.
I was first called to fill their pulpit three years ago when they’d begun to search for a fulltime pastor. The quest took a year and a half, during which I fell in love with them. Then, after another year and a half, I was called again to fill the pulpit when they lost their pastor. After all, how can a church of 25 faithful members support a fulltime pastor, with benefits?
So I said yes, I’ll prepare weekly worship services, “but I’m not a pastor.”
I look out over the congregation on Sunday mornings, and I see my little, hurting flock. Some have undergone recent cataract and back surgery. Some are waiting for surgery or treatment. One dear lady was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, another deals with her ailments day by day, moment by moment, as there isn’t much doctors can do about her condition. Still others grapple with long-term illnesses and caregiving.
And then there’s grief.
Yesterday I conducted my second funeral service in as many months.
I didn’t expect this. I didn’t expect the sorrow I feel now.
I thought all I had to do was prepare Sunday services and occasionally make hospital visits. I didn’t expect all they are dealing with. I feel overwhelmed at times by their pain, and I don’t know how to ease it.
Except love them. And pray for them.
Perhaps the life-pain was there before and I just didn’t see it.
Maybe as my heart has opened more and more, so have my eyes.
For when they hurt, I hurt.
They are my little flock, and I love them.
And maybe that’s what being a pastor is all about.
Dear God, I feel so inadequate to shepherd these wonderful people, to apply Your salve to their life-wounds. Remind me to empty myself of me and to let You minister to them through me. Remind me You are the balm to their pain, and You are the light in the darkness of difficult times, Your promises are what give hope when the situation seems hopeless. Remind me You are their true Shepherd. Shepherd them through me. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read 1 Corinthians 12:12–27
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