C.J. gives us a quote for men who serve in ministry and how men can support their local pastor. He writes:
Men who pastor small churches have my deepest respect. These guys are my heroes for the way they quietly and faithfully serve and persevere in difficult and challenging contexts, and do so with joy. That is why, during a panel discussion at Together for the Gospel, I was coming out of my chair as John MacArthur made the following remarks in response to a good question by Thabiti:
Thabiti Anyabwile: I am thinking about folks who are traveling with me. I am deeply encouraged with their being here. And I see other pastors traveling with some of the elders and members in the church. I assume they are likewise encouraged. Any words that you would offer to folks here who maybe aren’t in pastoral ministry? Maybe they are here to support their pastor in the kind of faithfulness you are talking about. Any exhortations to them, practical ways that they can hold the pastor’s arms up in this kind of faithfulness and trusting in God?
John MacArthur: What I cherish the most is a true and loving loyalty. This disloyalty, betrayal, undermining, just cuts the heart out of your pastor. When I talk about loving loyalty, I mean when there is an issue that needs to be addressed you go eyeball-to-eyeball, man-to-man, and you confront it. And I love that. I love when guys come to me and say, “John, I think this is a problem. I think you are overlooking this. I think this is a misstep on your part.” Those are the men I cherish. Those are the men I pull to my heart.
But what is just terribly debilitating is to feign that kind of affection to the man and then undermine that among the people. That is the most difficult thing. It is the betrayal that that brings. I could endure any problem in a church. I am challenged to solve any problem. But it is so hard when the men that you trust betray you behind your back. Because he is God’s man in your midst, you give him your love and you give him your loyalty. Be honest with him, face to face, man to man, open hearted. But understand the burden that he bears, and you need to be his true friend. You really do.
It is especially important for pastors who serve alone. At a different point in the discussion, MacArthur addressed the struggles single-staff pastors face:
I find my joy in the church in the men I work with, in their growth and their partnership and their love and their loyalty and their support of me. For me, I think that would be the hardest thing about being a pastor at a small church, being there alone and trying to carry that burden by yourself. That is why some of you are here, because you need this. You don’t even so much need what we say—you need each other. You need to feel like you are a part of something way beyond your own thing, and we embrace you fully.
I have often said the Lord must prefer small churches because he made so many of them. And you guys that are alone in those churches, you are the real soldiers, you are the real warriors. We thank God for you.