I spend a lot of time in prayer for the leadership of Missio Dei. It helps a lot that my dad is one of the leaders and that I am close friends with a couple of our elders’ wives. It also helps that I have an extremely informed knowledge of the amount of time that these men spend shepherding the members of Missio and of what is involved in the shepherding. And it is good for me to pray for the leadership of my church. It is good for everyone to pray for their leaders.
I spend almost no time in prayer for the leaders of other churches or for Christian leaders in general. If I read on a blog that Desiring God or Sovereign Grace or some other ministry is putting on a conference, I will say a quick prayer that God be glorified through it. If I read on a blog that a leader is going to travel for a speaking engagement, I will say a quick prayer that the Lord keep him safe and bless his time. But this is all.
I was convicted by my lack of prayer for Christian leaders around the world earlier today while reading a post by Mark Driscoll where he was offering up advice to pastors/leaders on how to deal with people who are spreading gossip and slander about them. I read down the list, interested because this is something that my family has experienced time and time again and I was curious about Driscoll’s advice. I was struck by his fourth point.
Driscoll wrote, “Protect your family. Your wife and family should not read any of this garbage. If you have to screen her emails to ensure no one is forwarding links to her, then do it so she’s not getting shot in the heart every time she opens her inbox”
“A shot in the heart.” Wow. I know how that feels, the extreme and sudden pain that comes from hearing your father (or husband’s) name dragged through the mud. I understand the ache when someone that you care about is criticizing your father/husband. I can empathize with the anger that makes your entire body shake as you briefly allow yourself to imagine all the things you would say if the person dared to make the comment to your face. I have felt the sadness and discouragement.
Here is a women whose husband has been criticized far more publicly than my father ever has. I can empathize with her, but as a daughter for her father rather than a wife for her husband. I know, to a smaller degree, what this man and wife are going through. And yet I have never prayed for them.
I read his blog every day and have read one of his books. I am aware that he is my brother in Christ and that he is faithfully proclaiming the gospel to people that I will probably never come in contact with. This man’s ministry has had influence over my life. Not massive influence, but influence none the less. And I have never once prayed for him or his church or his family.
Shame on me.
Please do not misunderstand me. It is right to pray for the leadership of your own church. It is right that the majority of your time in prayer for the leadership in your life should be by those who are shepherding you specifically. If you had to choose between praying for your own church’s leadership and the leaders of influential Christian ministries across the world (which, of course, is not a choice that would ever need to be made), I would say to pray for your own church’s leadership. But we do not have to choose. We can pray for both.
Consider joining with me to grow in our faithfulness in keeping our own church leadership bathed in prayer. And consider also those influential ministry leaders across the world that you can be in prayer for as well.