Richard W. De Haan comments on the autobiography of L.O.Dawson in which the latter tells the story of a minister who died. At his memorial service, the church was filled to overflowing. Various speakers praised the virtues of their deceased pastor and friend.
"Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees" (Job 4:4, NKJV).
When it was Mr. Darwson's turn to address the congregation, he affirmed the truthfulness of the gracious words that had already been spoken. But then he told the audience that if as many of them had been in attendance at the regular services of the church as were there at the funeral service, their pastor would still be alive.
Dawson made this shocking observation to the grieving parishoners:
The story in Dawson's book concluded with this convicting remark:
Most people who are not in responsible leadership positions such as pastors and husband/fathers have no idea how lonely a walk it can be especially when those leaders are pouring out their lives on behalf of those they are leading and serving. I can absolutely testify of this as both a pastor and a father/husband. The burden of leadership is often heavy and sometimes crushingly so. The majority of leaders are not ego-maniacs out to fleace their flocks or selfishly lord it over their families.
"Empty pews broke your pastor's heart. He did not know of your love. He died for lack of the things you have today so beautifully said and done."
May it therefore be said of us as it was of Job: "Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees". Don't wait until somebody dies to express your love, appreciation and respect. Do it today! And remember - pastors need encouragement too.
Richard W. De Haan, Encouraging Words in Our Daily Bread (RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1998), July 5