I became a youth pastor in 1971. I've been pastoring ever since - for fifty-one years.
A major part of a pastor's job description involves being with grieving people. We are caregivers and comfort bringers to suffering people.
A pastor enters into the grief of others. We have been trained to do this. Many pastors do this with excellence.
Not a week goes by without one or more grief-stricken people contacting Linda and I for help. In this, we are not exceptional. Every pastor does this.
Here are some of the ways I have done this, over five decades. I present this to you as non-exceptional pastoral ministry. Every pastor who views their calling as a shepherd to others knows about this. Every shepherd-pastor has a list like mine.
We do funerals.
We meet and pray with people who have lost loved ones.
We weep with those who weep.
We comfort parents who have lost children.
We comfort young people whose siblings overdosed and died.
We are with families and friends who have lost someone to suicide.
We respond in the middle of the night to crisis phone calls.
We meet with victims of murder.
We meet with murderers.
We visit people in prison.
We care for the suffering and dying.
We have been with people as they took their last breath.
We spend a portion of our time with the hospitalized.
We counsel adulterers and their survivors.
We rescue marriages and families.
We cry with the victimized.
We help the helpless.
We bring hope to the hopeless.
We have time to talk with hurting people.
We pray with people.
We befriend outcasts.
We agonize over the sufferings of others.
We counsel those grieving their moral failures.
Sometimes we are just there, with grieving people, saying little, or nothing.
We do none of this perfectly.
Every pastor I know does these things, and more.