by Robert Earl Houston
I’m personally saddened by the news reports of death among clergy. As many people know, for years I’ve been running a newsletter/web page that reports on the clergy who have died. I do this because I believe that we honor sometimes the wrong people in death. Pastors who have served the Lord’s people are deserving of honor.
In the words of one of my friends in Fort Worth, Texas, “Houston, I check your list to make sure my name is not on it.” When my lists first came out, for many of us, it was the only way to know that a colleague had died instead of the traditional way of going to the baptist conventions and hearing the names of the dead called in the Memorial Service (which most conventions no longer operate).
The recent reports of pastoral suicide has troubled me. It’s not like it’s never happened before, but with the advent of electronic media, you not only hear about it, but you hear details, rumors, and you can even watch live-streaming of the service via the internet. You can be in Maine and hear the news. You can be in Hawaii and hear the news. You can be in Florida or Washington states and hear the news. Not months later, but in a matter of minutes.
All of this has led me personally this week to devote a large portion of my prayer week in lifting my pastor, Minister Barton Elliott Harris, senior pastor of the Westwood Baptist Church, University Center, to the Lord in prayer. I pray seven things to the Lord on his behalf and maybe this may help you in praying for your pastor:
1. I pray that the Pastor is well physically. He is only a few years older than I am, but I pray for his physical health. I pray that he takes care of himself.
2. I pray for his mental health. I pray that his mind (and he has a photographic memory) is alert, strong and sharp. I pray that he has someone also to confide in and pray with as well.
3. I pray for his joy. That’s right – I want my pastor to be happy. I especially want him to be filled with joy so that the same joy may be shared with the people he encounters.
4. I pray for his family. I pray for his wife Carolyn Washington Harris. I pray for his entire family especially his siblings and nieces and nephews. And for those he has grafted in as his extended family.
5. I pray for his help. Not only do I pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to be with him. I pray that the Lord would raise up supporters and give voice to members to support their pastor. It’s sad that some churches say “we want a leader” and then refuses to submit to leadership.
6. I pray for his travels. I want my pastor to be free to travel and minister as the Lord directs. I don’t want my pastor shackled. I want him to do what God has blessed him to do and to give him safe journeys as he travels and knowing that wherever he stands, he stands as my pastor.
7. I pray for his leisure. I pray for his hobbies. I pray for his competition as he plays board games. I pray for him as he shops. I want my pastor to have a life outside of the pulpit, so that his life is not shortened in the pulpit by stress.
I pray you will join me in praying for your pastor.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.