After a young seminary student had preached a particularly fiery sermon, one church-goer said to him, “You are a model preacher.” This filled the young student with pride until he took the time to look up the definition of the word “model.” That definition read: “a small imitation of the real thing.”
Humbled, the young preacher decided that he’d better try a different approach than his fire-and-brimstone one. So the next time he preached, his words oozed with love and compassion. Afterward, a church-goer told him, “You are such a warm preacher.” This made the young preacher feel good until he looked up the definition of the word “warm.” It read: “not so hot.”
I wanted to use this illustration today because the Coronavirus is forcing pastors everywhere to make some difficult decisions in terms of ministry. Should we have church services or cancel them? Should we visit our church members or stay at home and avoid the risk of either catching the virus ourselves or spreading it to one of them if we unknowingly have it? If we do decide to cancel services and stay close to home, how can we continue to minister to our folks?
Needless to say, your pastor really needs your prayers right now. For every second that you bash him for what he is or isn’t doing, take two more seconds to pray that God will give him the wisdom and discernment he needs to make God-approved decisions during these difficult days. And along the same lines, let me also encourage you to pray for our President and our other political leaders (national and local) as they attempt to steer our nation, states, counties, and cities through this crisis. As Paul, writing under the inspiration of God, tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1-2:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quite and peaceable life in all goodness and reverence. (N.K.J.V.)
You say, “But I didn’t vote for that person.” I hear you, but Paul didn’t exactly vote for Nero to be the Emperor of Rome, either, and yet he still instructed Christians to pray for Nero and all others who were in authority at the time. You see, this is all a part of being that “salt” and “light” that Jesus said we are (Matthew 5:13-16). Sure, it’s easy to be an arm-chair quarterback who handles every situation perfectly and never makes a bad call. It’s also easy to second-guess every decision a leader makes. But your second-guessing will be curtailed quite a bit if you will ask yourself, “How would I like to be in that person’s shoes right now?” And it will be curtailed even more if you will pray for that leader in accordance with the Bible’s command. Now, if you will excuse me, there’s some praying that I myself need to go do for some political leaders.