PASTORS: What causes a man to take a job like this?

EDITOR'S NOTE: October is Pastor Appreciation Month in numerous churches across the country.

ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) -- Pastors are vital Kingdom leaders. Without their effective leadership, healthy churches cannot be built. Without healthy churches, everything else -- from missions to seminaries -- ultimately fails.

Being a pastor -- depending on the day -- is either the best job in the world or the worst. Pastors regularly experience God's power accomplishing salvation, restoring families, empowering preaching and healing broken lives. They also see people at their worst, including Christians, who sometimes take out their anger, fears and bitterness on their pastors.

Yet, pastors keep coming back for more, like these two men:

One received a death threat. It resulted in an arrest, conviction and imprisonment. He presses on, knowing someday the threat may return, but if it does he will deal with it as best he can. Leaving his pastoral post is not an option.

Another received accolades for community leadership -- until he took a stand on biblical gender definitions as timeless aspects of God's creation. Now he is facing blowback, all because he preached the same message God-fearing people have taught for thousands of years.

What causes a man to take on a job like this and stay with it? Only one reason: a profound sense of God's call.

Most pastors cannot imagine themselves doing anything else. They serve selflessly, motivated by an inner compulsion to preach, teach, counsel and lead.

You can do two things to support pastors -- yours and others' -- not just during October's Pastor Appreciation Month but throughout the year. First, do something to make your pastor's job a little easier and speak an encouraging word to him. Second, find a young man who is considering becoming a pastor and help him pursue his calling. Let's work together to care for today's pastors and help the next generation of pastors step forward to fulfill God's call.

Jeff Iorg is president of Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. This column first appeared on the seminary's website at www.gs.edu/gateway-blog.
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