I see you at the back of the sanctuary greeting people this morning.
And I see you on your lunch break out with a young couple doing premarital counseling.
And at the local softball tournament cheering on the adult Sunday School Class team.
And at the high school band concert.
And I see you leaving the worship team practice late on Wednesday night.
I see you in so many places around town. You see, I look for you. Because my parents were you. You are the pastor and his wife. And I see you everywhere.
But there are some places that I tend to see you that no one else does.
I see you staying late after the service, praying with the single mom at the back of the auditorium; your wife in the van trying to keep your starving kids at bay.
I see you at your front door at midnight, letting the struggling couple leave from a long night of hard conversations, and weeping and praying over them after they’ve left.
I see you at the local carnival, taking a few quiet moments on a bench to pray with a prodigal son from your flock, always being willing to take time away from your family fun to tend to the lost.
I see you at your daughter’s basketball game, counseling a man struggling with finances in the top corner of the bleachers, missing one of the best games your daughter has ever played.
And I see you sitting in front of your church praying in the early morning hours before the services start, your heart desperately begging for God’s glory to be revealed that day.
My mom and dad were in ministry for over 30 years. During that time, they ministered to tens of thousands of souls; in their home, in the church, out to breakfast at IHOP, at the pool, at the skate park, and even at gas stations. I’ve seen them shout for joy in seeing souls redeemed and restored and I’ve watched them weep and be shattered as they watch souls walk away from Jesus. I have seen the hours they spent counseling couples whose marriages are crumbling and the days they have spent in homes of those who are mourning… and then keep walking with them in the months and years after as they keep grieving.
I have watched my father stand over the grave of friends he has lost and my mother cling to the woman who is burying her husband. As a little girl, I listened to my father practice his sermons in the basement, while my mom spent her days keeping us out of his hair so he could give presenting God’s Word his best. I saw my dad leave before the sun rose on Sunday mornings to open the doors of the church and my mom share her husband with everyone in the church being a single parent.
Every. Single. Sunday.
For 30 years. I don’t ever remember my parents attending a church service and sitting together all of those years. Either one or both of them was up on stage, teaching a Sunday School class, bouncing babies in the nursery, setting up and tearing down after events, praying with someone in the foyer, or cleaning up a coffee spill in the hallway. Most of the things they did, nobody saw. But my brother and I had a front row seat to all of it.
Usually while we were wearing matching shirts for the events that we were helping at as a family.
It isn’t for the faint of heart. It is for couples who are called and takes the call with their whole hearts. And it’s these couples that we need to be surrounding in prayer – praying that God would strengthen them as one, that the Lord would protect their marriages and their children, that they would continue to seek God’s wisdom and will for their ministry, and that they wouldn’t get burnt out. Friends, we must come alongside of the pastor and his wife. They are the tenders of the flocks and the teachers of the Word. They are the arms that surround us in prayer and the hands that hold ours when we are at our most vulnerable.
But they need our hands to hold theirs, too. Don’t wait to see them until they are burnt out, church. Reach out to the couple who has reached out for yours so many times before. Their hearts and their Kingdom work is so worth it.