I miss Frances Mason
Frances was a member of a church where I served as pastor. She died three years ago. I still miss her.
She came by my office the first week I was on the field in the church. “Pastor,” she told me, “I want you to know that I will pray for you every day. As spiritual leader of this church, you will experience some tough days. The Enemy doesn’t want you or our church to do God’s work. He will oppose you constantly.” Frances paused for a moment and then said with a smile and twinkle in her eye, “And there are some pretty mean people in the church. You will need prayer to deal with them.”
Frances was good to her word. She called or wrote me every week, asking for specific prayer requests from me.
The Demands of Being a Pastor
When the first of my three sons shared with Nellie Jo and me his sense of God’s call to local church ministry, we were totally supportive, but we gave words of caution as well. We knew that there are few vocations as tough as being a pastor. The pastor is expected to meet the needs of all the church members. He quickly finds that he will disappoint and even anger those in the church if he doesn’t meet their expectations.
I tell seminary students preparing for local church ministry, particularly the pastorate, that they only need three attributes to please every one in the church: omnipresence, omnicompetence, and omniscience. As long as they can be everywhere at one time, excel in every task of pastoral ministry, and have supernatural knowledge of all the needs in the church, they will do fine. Otherwise, they will disappoint some people.
Hardly a week goes by that I don’t talk to a pastor who is discouraged or even despondent. Ministry is tough. Critics can be brutal. Many consider quitting; many do.
Perhaps the reason some churches struggle is because they have struggling pastors. And there are few people to whom the pastor can turn when he is hurting and discouraged.
Back to Frances
But I haven’t finished my story about Frances. She did much more than pray for me. She organized an intercessory prayer ministry for me. I was overwhelmed. I felt undeserving but very grateful.
Frances’ concept for the pastor intercessory prayer ministry was simple. She asked for commitments from church members to pray for my ministry and me every day for five minutes. At the height of this ministry, over 500 people were praying for me every day.
From my perspective, these were the best days of my ministry as a pastor. I truly could sense the power of the collective prayer in my ministry. And the attitudes of those praying for me grew more positive. They showed much grace toward me, even when I did not lead, preach, or minister as well as I should.
Frances said that God was putting a “prayer shield” around me. I do know that the power of prayer for me was unmistakable in my life.
I miss Frances Mason. I could never repay her for the love she had for me, and the ministry she led on my behalf.
But then again, maybe I could make some form of repayment. I can set aside five minutes each day to pray for my pastor. Maybe others will join me.
And maybe this ministry could grow in churches across our nation and world. Perhaps it could begin in your church with you.