We're all vulnerable. Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12).
The brother who gave us that reminder was himself constantly being knocked down but getting back up. If anyone knew the subject of vulnerability, Paul did (see 2 Cor. 4:8-10).
After telling young Pastor Timothy of a coming time when people would not stand for sound doctrine and strong preaching, but would "turn away their ears from the truth and will prefer myths," Paul said, "But as for you, be sober in all things (that is, clear-thinking), endure hardship (expect it, and plan to get through it), do the work of an evangelist (keep telling heaven's good news), and fulfill your ministry (do not let any critic pull you off course)." (With my interjections, that's 2 Tim. 4:5).
I find it amazing and truly heart-warming how such reminders to a minister 20 centuries ago fit us so perfectly today. That's one more reason, out of ten thousand, why you and I live in this Word. There is nothing like it anywhere.
Now, returning to our subject of the minister's vulnerability ...
The minister is most vulnerable at two times: in the few minutes before the morning service begins and in the half hour after it ends.
A wise minister will take steps to guard himself in order to give his best to the Lord and the people (Prov. 4:23 "Guard your heart." Acts 20:28 "Be on guard for yourself and for all the flock ... ").
A caring membership will protect the pastor at the same time for the same reasons.
First: In the few minutes before the worship service where he is to preach, the pastor is vulnerable.
As he greets worshippers who are just arriving, someone approaches the pastor with a criticism or complaint. Surely, they think, having the pastor's undivided attention like this must be of the Lord. So, they unload on him, dissing the Sunday school material ("heresy!" "wrong!" or "bland") or griping about another member. "Pastor, you're in charge around here. Someone needs to do something!"
They report some gossip they've heard this week or let the pastor know none too subtly that he failed to call on them in the hospital. Great souls that they are, they're willing to forgive, but they did want him to know.
All this registers on the minister's soul like road kill the complainer scraped up off the highway and deposited with him, expecting him to dispose of it.
Just what he needed before he leads this congregation in worship and preaches the message over which he has prayed and studied and labored all week.
In the men's room, a deacon with an issue "of great concern" corners the pastor. In the hallway, a sweet elderly saint grabs the minister to report something she heard about him or his wife or his children. A staff member whispers that a men's Sunday school class is upset because the preacher did not attend their Friday night cookout.
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