The word noble means: of excellent or superior quality. The word fraternity means: a group of people sharing a common profession.
If you are a pastor you are part of a noble fraternity. Senator John McCain, in his inspiring book, Faith of my Fathers, said “Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.” It’s easy to feel alone when you are pastoring a smaller church. But you are not alone. You are part of a special community. The members of this community share the joys and the sorrows you face…they are your fellow ministers in the gospel, comrades, soldiers, a band of brothers/sisters.
Each week I interact with pastors across North America and overseas. I’m constantly impressed with the superior quality of the men and women who are pastoring our smaller churches. Most are overworked, underpaid and under appreciated. They are invisible to a culture that values and rewards size over substance, success over significance. Along with you they understand the challenges unique to the smaller church. They have been disappointed, betrayed, accused, abandoned, and attacked by the very ones they are called to love and pastor. Like Rocky said in Rocky Balboa, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up.” This fraternity of which you are part of is filled with men and women who keep getting back up. (I think I can hear the Rocky theme.)
Paul said, “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews…” (I Thess. 2:14) Paul is saying: Thessalonians…you are not alone. Your brothers in other places are suffering and struggling just like you are. Be encouraged. Hang in there.
I want to remind you that you are not suffering alone. Draw strength and encouragement from knowing that you are part of a noble fraternity. They call the men and women who served in WWII “the greatest generation.” I think the pastorate is the greatest occupation. Humbly take pride in who you are, even if your church is smaller than many others. It’s hard to pastor, that’s why so few do it. You’re doing it! Keep at it! Keep getting up! You are part of a noble fraternity.
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