The heart and prayer of a true Spiritual leader!

Praying pastorI just love Apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Philippi in the Bible – we call it Philippians.  It is an incredibly intimate letter – an example of an ancient “letter of friendship” – it just oozes affection, love and concern.  In my opinion in it Paul expresses the heart of a true Spiritual leader – the heart of a pastor!  In it you find expressed the concerned heart of a Spiritual father and the nurturing impulses of a mother combined.  A perfect example of that is found in the opening passage of the book (1:3-11)…

Here’s my paraphrase of a few phrases from the passage…

  • “I thank God every time you come to mind”…
  • “Every prayer of mine for you is made with joy”…
  • “It is right for me to feel the way I do about you – you are dear to me, you are always in my heart!”

And Paul’s prayer for them?  It oozes thankfulness and joy!  It is saturated with the confidence that what God began among them collectively (and within them personally) would be fulfilled.  Paul’s gratitude for their ongoing partnership with him over the years in the Lord’s work is unmistakable.  But more than anything else the heart of this Spiritual leader (with the combined impulses of Spiritual father and mother) desires and prays for their Spiritual maturity, stability, growth, vitality and fruitfulness!  The heartbeat of a true Spiritual leader I tell you!

Listen, if you’ve ever had a pastor who cared for you like that, you are fortunate!  They are to be honored and esteemed!  They care for your soul (check out Hebrews 13:17) and just about every other aspect of your life as a Christ follower!  I think they would give up their very lives for the welfare of those they lead!  Two really great pastors – Spiritual leader like this in my life as a have been Pastor Leon Mitchell (my pastor as a boy growing up in Ronan, MT) and Philip Wannemacher (my pastor in graduate school in Springfield, MO)!  Who comes to you mind that fits that profile?

I couldn’t resist… Here is the Philippians passage from the New Living Translation… read it with relish and savor every word!

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God!  Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.  I am certain that God, who began the good work within [or among] you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart! You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News.  God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus!  I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.  May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.”

Don’t you want to be a Spiritual leader like that?  Aren’t you grateful for those who live out those qualities?

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