A Word of Encouragement from the LCMS President
Here’s some encouragement from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s fifth president, Friedrich Pfotenhauer, back when he was president of the Minnesota-Dakota District. It was directed at lonely pastors and teachers in the district’s 360 congregations. In those days, pastors averaged three congregations. They traveled great distances by horse and buggy. Today, our pastors and commissioned workers are tempted by a loneliness induced by an antagonistic culture, which lures the minds of their people. There is so much to discourage. These encouraging words from 125 years ago are as fresh today as then. Pastors and commissioned workers, we love you. More importantly, our Lord loves you and your blessed work. God’s people, take care of your pastors, teachers and workers.
Pastor Matthew C. Harrison
President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Now he who is a faithful steward has rich consolation, also under the greatest difficulties. He can be certain that his God is pleased, and that is truly sweeter and more precious than all the glory of this world. God does not regard the glorious gifts and great results of His workers. He only and solely has regard for their faithfulness. He regards faithful preachers and teachers as everything. Christ Himself calls out: “How great a thing it is to be a faithful and wise steward!” [see Matthew 24:45]. He allows nothing to happen to them aside from His tenderness and forbearing. If you make a mistake out of weakness, He does not break His staff over you, as indeed brothers in the office here and there do. He consoles you, stands you up, and turns all things for good. While God in the Holy Scriptures speaks terrible words and curses against foolish and unfaithful servants, there is no harsh word spoken against His true servants, even though they have fallen into error.
When Elijah in weakness of faith wanted to set aside the office because he thought that he had accomplished nothing with his year-long preaching, God did not address him with harsh words. He came to him in a “still small voice,” 1 Kings 19:12. He revealed to him for consolation that 7,000 souls still remained in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Faithful stewards may also be consoled that God’s eyes shine down upon them in a friendly and caring way. Precisely our dear traveling preachers, when they have been cast out into the wilderness, should not think that they are lost and forgotten. God keeps track of you. To Him you can also present your need with complete confidence when you think that you are about to succumb to loneliness and physical hardships. The Lord will help according to His wisdom and in a way that appears most appropriate to Him. He says to His faithful steward the same thing he said to Israel [Jacob]: “I have taken your journey to heart,” Deuteronomy 2:7; and He moves him to another place in the vineyard. Or the Lord says to His steward what He once said to Moses when the prophet would happily have gone into the Promised Land: “Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again,” Deuteronomy 3:26. But then the Lord either sustained His tired servant or gave him new power, that he mount up as on wings of an eagle, that he rise up and not grow faint, that he walk and not grow weary [Isaiah 40:31].From At Home in the House of My Fathers © 2009 Matthew C. Harrison, published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.