FIRST-PERSON: Unknown heroes

Tags: ministry

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- Just thinking about some men who are faithful heroes:

1. They're pastoring churches that are average size in North America. That means on a typical Sunday they'll have around 100 (plus or minus) in worship.

2. If they read this, it might be at night. That's because they're often bivocational, working another job during the day while also pastoring.

3. Few people have ever heard of some of the places where they pastor. Some are in urban and suburban areas, but many are in rural areas you wouldn't even know exist unless you're from their area.

4. Their pastoral struggles are just as real as the pastor whose church runs 500 or 5,000. The scope may be different, but the issues are no less challenging.

5. Their names will likely never appear in their denominational newspapers. We just don't do much writing about the average pastor.

6. They often pastor not only their church, but also their community. Everybody knows "Brother so and so," even if you don't attend his church. He's one of the community shepherds.

7. Some are trying to balance church, family, a job, their education and their community. Even in the smallest, quietest places, pastors are trying to figure out balance.

8. They're trying to figure out how to reach and keep young people in their church, while also loving and respecting the older folks.

9. They don't mind receiving affirmations once in a while. Many are serving faithfully in "behind the scenes" places, and few people give them pats on the back they deserve.

10. Many of us were there once. We filled those shoes. We've just forgotten -- and that's too bad.

Thank you, pastor, for serving wherever God has placed you.

Chuck Lawless is vice president for spiritual formation and ministry centers and professor of evangelism and missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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