Every week we have a list of people on our prayer list. Because of privacy laws, we don’t get real specific. There is a category called “Those in need of healing, comfort, or guidance” It is usually about 15 people. It fluctuates a little as people are asked to be put on, and are taken off. On Sunday there will be a person on the list that has never appeared there before: me.
I’m not sure why this is such a big deal to me. It really shouldn’t be. Yet I thought about putting myself on the list last week and didn’t. I’ve been having headaches for the last three weeks. I’ve got medicine for them now, and it seems to work. When the medicine wears off though, it can be miserable. Last week I had an MRI just to rule out the worst-case scenario. Today I found out that my brain image is normal (which, I assume, is a relative term).
In between the scan and the results was a Sunday in which I was not on the prayer list, and I cannot help but wonder if I failed my congregation in not including myself on the list. I talk a good game about being a community of faith. Whenever we share prayer concerns and joys, I talk about how great it is that we can come together and lift up each other in prayer. Yet when it was my turn to be lifted up, I resisted.
I think I resisted because I was mixing concepts of spiritual and secular leadership. As the primary leader of our congregation, I lost sight of an important aspect of spiritual leadership – the ability to be vulnerable. Culture tells us that leaders need to be strong and resilient. Leaders are supposed to be Superman, invulnerable to the frailties of the rest of us. I spend so much of my energy rejecting that cultural myth of masculinity, leadership, strength and power; and yet when it came to me being in a time of need, I fell right back into it.
I remember though, that being a leader is not about being invulnerable. Acts 6 tells us that being a spiritual leader is about being “of good standing, full of the spirit and of wisdom.” In this case, it was wise to ask for prayers. My head is killing me sometimes, and I desperately want to know why. I am in need of prayer. Besides that, I am risking my body two times a week on a football field like an idiot. I am in need of prayer.
The more I think about it, the more I realize I need to be a fixture on the prayer list. I put myself on the list today, and I’m having trouble imagining a time that I will think to myself, “Well, I’m good – I don’t need prayer anymore.”
So the pastor is on the prayer list. I am in need of your prayers too, and that doesn’t make me any less of a leader. In fact it makes me a better one.