Pastors need friends to stand with them, Hammond tells associational missionaries


FORSYTH, Ga. – Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. is reminding associational missionaries of the need to stand with pastors who are facing the hardships that come with life in ministry.

“These days are difficult,” Hammond told associational missionaries gathered at Maynard Baptist Church in Forsyth on Tuesday. “We need each other like never before.”

In a sermon based on 2 Timothy 4, Hammond painted a heart-wrenching picture of the apostle Paul alone in prison. His friends, except for Luke, had abandoned him.

Many Georgia pastors, Hammond said, can relate to Paul’s situation in that they need friends to stand with them.

“The reality is ministry is hard,” Hammond said.

That’s why, he said, pastors need associational missionaries to encourage them and to help lighten the load.

“It’s overwhelming when you think about the role that God has called you to,” Hammond said. “But it’s also exciting.”

Hammond, who once served as an associational missionary, said he’s well acquainted with the highs and lows of the job.

“I know your situation,” he said. “I know the excitement and the joy and the victories, and I know the frustrations.”

Hammond recited a list of their job duties.

“You have to be theologians, preachers, teachers, trainers, vision casters, fundraisers, spiritual mentors, and administrators,” he said. “You have to be staff supervisors and headhunters. You have to be counselors and conflict mediators. You have to be promoters. You have to be strategic developers and logistic engineers. You have to be community organizers and social media experts. You have to be event coordinators, financial managers, budget developers and activity coordinators. You have to be branding consultants, prayer mobilizers and brotherhood breakfast cooks. You have to be VBS promoters, student camp bus drivers, marriage coaches, disciple-makers, pastors to pastors, and evangelists. And that’s just a short list.”

Nothing on the work schedule of an associational missionary is more important than serving pastors.

“You need to be in their ear, loving them, encouraging them, exhorting them, helping them in every aspect,” he said. “Don’t feel like you need to back off. Be that confidant, that friend, that companion. … I want every Georgia pastor to run the race. I want every pastor in Georgia to finish well. And I will tell you, for that to take place, they’re going to have to have friends with them.”

Hammond closed by challenging the associational missionaries to encourage one another in the faith.

“Let’s cheer each other on,” he said.