I’m not a frequent traveler, but there are times when those of us who pastor are far away and may not be able to get back to our flocks very easily.
This happened to me a couple of years ago. Before I left for a conference, a dear saint, a founding member of our assembly, passed away. I knew that all my travel plans were set and the funeral plans had not been, so I decided to go ahead and go. I did this knowing that I could change my flights to get back in time for the funeral as the plans became more firm.
Once I received the call confirming the funeral plans, I made arrangements to fly back early from the conference to officiate the memorial and comfort this brand new widow, who would’ve been married to her husband for 62 years had he lived just one more month. It was all set; I was going to be able to make it in plenty of time. God had another plan.
Late into the night before I was to leave, it looked like the area where I would have landed was hit with a snowstorm. Early the next morning, I watched with heartache as flight after flight was cancelled. Confirmation came by way of an automated phone call that I would not be able to make it back in time.
What was I to do? The only thing I could do was to depend on the Biblical pattern of elder plurality and call on one of my fellow shepherds to do what they too are called to do: shepherd. He did not do this reluctantly, but joyfully.
One of the evident providences that shined through this event was the significance of elder plurality and the part it has played in our assembly for many years. I had every confidence that my brother pastor would serve as the Holy Spirit-raised-shepherd that he is. It was no surprise to me that these are the reports I received.
Brother pastors, may I encourage you to surround yourself with godly men, who don’t stand in the gap for you, but stand in the gap with you as all of you serve as under-shepherds of the One True Shepherd! I am thankful that all the elder/pastors with whom I serve are such men.