Review of Peter Orr, Fight For Your Pastor, Wheaton: Crossway, 2022. One word in a sentence can make all the difference. Peter Orr’s new book Fight For Your Pastor is […]
Review of Peter Orr, Fight For Your Pastor, Wheaton: Crossway, 2022.
One word in a sentence can make all the difference. Peter Orr’s new book Fight For Your Pastor is named intentionally. It is not titled “Fight against Your pastor” or even “Fight with Your Pastor”; it is entitled “Fight for Your Pastor”. In this book, Peter Orr outlines 7 practical ways to be a faithful member in your local church–to support your pastor and help him fulfil his calling to feed the sheep. The importance of this book is set out early in the foreword by Dane Ortlund: “Pastors are just as fallible and fallen as any of us, yet the pressures they are under are unique and unremitting. Peter Orr sees what is at stake in the war zone of a pastor’s heart and calls all of us [congregants] to obey the New Testament and not just tepidly receive our pastor’s ministry, but also to proactively fight for his ministry, heart, and joy. He needs it.” (Emphasis added). This book equips us to be an encouragement to our pastors, so that he can sacrificially love and care for his people faithfully and sustainably.
How often do we encourage our pastors by telling them that their work in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58), and that we are blessed to be under his ministry as he declares the truth of scripture day in and day out? I am certainly guilty of neglecting the encouragement that my pastor, like any believer in the Lord, needs. When Paul says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” in Galatians 6:10, he does not exclude pastors. When Paul repeatedly reminds churches to encourage one another (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11), he does so with all believers in mind–including the command to encourage our pastor.
Perhaps, however, we may be tempted to acquit ourselves of such guilt by thinking that it is enough to not criticise our pastors publicly. Yet Peter Orr pushes us to a higher vision: we are to actively fight for our pastor and seek to love, encourage, and exhort him. One of the most striking things about this book is the number of testimonies that Orr collects from pastors around Australia. He draws on his various connections to show that there is a real need to encourage our pastors in the work that they are doing. Some testimonies are a sober reminder from the discouragement of anonymous pastors in the book, while other excerpts point to the edifying fruit of sincere conversations between congregants and their pastors. The amalgam of both voices provides a helpful balance, avoiding the extremes of cynicism that can come from a plethora of discouraging anecdotes, and the potential naivety that may be produced by an unanimous anthem of heart-warming stories.
The biggest way that this book shaped me was in relation to my prayer life. Although I knew that I should pray for my pastor–and though I have prayed for my pastor in the past–Orr frames the chapter on prayer more strongly. Instead of entitling the first chapter “Pray!”, he simply entitled it “Fight!”, to undergird the gravity of the spiritual war that is taking place in the heart of a pastor. The apostle Paul himself demonstrates the need for prayer as he often asks for churches to pray for him in his letters (2 Corinthians 1:11 – “you also must help us by your prayer”; as well as Ephesians 6:19, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, Romans 15:30-32, to mention a few other examples). In the past, I did not see the repeated emphasis on our need to pray for leaders to the extent that Paul lays out in his letters. This book helped me see that fighting for our pastor in prayer ought to be the regular rhythm of all Christians.
In conclusion, this book is only 100 pages and easy to read. It’s aimed at Christians of all educational backgrounds, as it is not a dense book filled with theological jargon. It’s personally challenging and rich in practical applications. Thus, I highly commend this book to all who call themselves Christians.
– Koh Saito