The Pastor’s Most Valuable Player (Exodus 17)

Stan Toler recently wrote a little book entitled, You Might Be a Preacher If

You might be a preacher if you’ve ever received an anonymous U-Haul gift certificate.
You might be a preacher if you’ve ever dreamed that you were preaching, only to awaken and discover you were.
You might be a preacher if you find yourself counting people at a sporting event.
You might be a preacher if you’re leading the church into the 21st century, but don’t know what you’re preaching on Sunday.
You might be a preacher if you ever wanted to wish people Merry Christmas at Easter, because that’s the next time you’re going to see them.
You might be a preacher you’ve ever wanted to give the soundman a bit of feedback of your own.
You might be a preacher if you’ve ever walked up to the counter at the Dairy Queen and ordered a church split.
You might be a preacher if you’ve written a letter of resignation on Monday morning.

Leadership today is tougher than ever before, and it’s no different in the ministry

an anti-authoritarian atmosphere pervades the world and the church
people distrust leaders
on top of that, we’re exposed to tapes, books, seminars, and television productions of pastors who are all better than we are
and not only that, consumerism has entered the church
if we don’t like what we find in one church, we just bail out and go to another

I don’t think any pastor is going to find it easy in the ministry

I began to ask myself this past week, who is the pastor’s most valuable player?

Faithful, quietly working
Gifted person

I’ve been blessed by all of these. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the most valuable player for the pastor is not any of these people. The pastor’s most valuable player is the man or woman who comes alongside the pastor and becomes the pastor’s prayer partner


the city: Jerusalem
the evangelist: an untutored fisherman: Peter
yet the secret of that day of 3,000 people being converted was that they had spent time in prayer
you see, in Acts 2, they prayed for 10 days, he preached for 10 minutes, and 3,000 people were saved
today, churches pray for 10 minutes, preach for 10 days, and 3 people get saved


the place: India
the missionary: William Carey
a shoe-repair man; a cobbler
he looked at a map, and under great opposition left England for India
he translated the Bible into 25 different Indian translations, and became the father of modern missions
what was the secret of his great work?
he had a sister; a crippled, bedridden sister, and everyday he wrote to her and shared his prayer concerns and heartbreaks, and she interceded on his behalf
that was the secret of his great work

THE YEAR: 1830

the place: Rochester, New York
the preacher: Charles Finney
the place: Rochester, New York
in one year, out of 10,000 people, 10% or 1,000 people were saved
the secret? Finney’s prayer partner, Abel Clary
“Mr. Clary continued as long as I did,” Finney wrote, “and did not leave until after I had left. He never appeared in public, but gave himself wholly to prayer”

THE YEAR: 1872

the evangelist: an obscure YMCA worker named D.L. Moody
in just ten days, 400 new converts came into the church where he was preaching
the secret? in London, a bedridden girl, Marianne Adlard, had read a clipping about Moody’s ministry in Chicago, and prayed that God would send him to her church, and interceded for him while he was there

THE YEAR: 1934

the place: Charlotte, North Carolina
many people in Charlotte were deeply moved, including a farmer’s son named Billy Graham, who was converted
the secret: several businessmen, along with Billy Graham’s father, had spent a day at the Graham farm praying that God would touch their city, their state, and their world
little did they know that Billy would be saved, and it would literally change the world

THE YEAR: 1949

the place: Los Angeles, California
the evangelist now: Billy Graham
the results: an extended campaign that resulted in a change to mass evangelism
Graham had held many similar events with smaller results
the only difference between the L.A. crusade and all the others that had gone before it had been the amount of prayer he and his people had given it

Somebody has said that leadership determines the direction of the church; structure determines the size of the church; relationships determine the morale; the personnel determine the potential of the church; but prayer determines the effectiveness of the church.

I want to share with you four reasons why leaders need prayer
the setting is Exodus 17
it’s the story of Moses and the battle against the Amalekites

1. Godly leaders come under attack

At the LORD’S command, the people of Israel left the Sin Desert and moved from place to place. Eventually they came to Rephidim, but there was no water to be found there. So once more the people grumbled and complained to Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded.
“Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you arguing with me? And why are you testing the LORD?”
But tormented by thirst, they continued to complain, “Why did you ever take us out of Egypt? Why did you bring us here? We, our children, and our livestock will all die!”
Then Moses pleaded with the LORD, “What should I do with these people? They are about to stone me!” (Exodus 17:1-4)

you know the story: Moses struck the rock, and water came gushing out

Moses named the place Massah—”the place of testing”—and Meribah—”the place of arguing”—because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD going to take care of us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)

and when did the Amalekites attack? at a time of quarreling and contention
it reminds me of when Satan attacked our Lord

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (Luke 14:3 NIV)

the evil one knows when to attack leaders
godly leaders come under attack, and that’s why they need your prayer

2. Godly leaders are to inspire and to lead the people

Moses commanded Joshua, “Call the Israelites to arms, and fight the army of Amalek. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” (Exodus 17:9)

you might ask why Moses had to sit on a hill with the staff in his hand
two reasons: to see the people, and have insight into the battle
but also so that he could offer inspiration
in the middle of the battle, Joshua and the people could look up and see Moses interceding for the people

Moses understood the importance of leadership
he understood the maxim: “Speed of the leader; speed of the team”

the people can go no further than their leader has gone
and if the pastors and spiritual leaders of a church falter, the church will falter
if Satan can defeat the leaders of a church, he can often defeat the church itself

that’s why leaders need prayer, because they set the pace, and inspire and lead the people

3. Leaders are human

the Bible teaches us that Moses had to drop his hands because his hands became heavy
he didn’t have the physical stamina to keep it up

Moses’ arms finally became too tired to hold up the staff any longer. (Exodus 17:12)

you already know that pastors are hu man, and therefore they’re limited
our responsibilities are exceedingly heavy; no man or woman is capable of the task
Hebrews 13:17 says of spiritual leaders:

Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God.

no one is equal to this task

let me be honest and tell you up front that somewhere along the line, I’m going to disappoint you; which is why I’m asking for your prayer

listen to some of the struggles that pastors have

according to a 1991 survey of pastors, 75% of pastors report a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry
50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job
90% of pastors feel that they were inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands
70% say that they have a lower self-image than when they started in the ministry
40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month
33% confess having been involved in some inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church
and 70% of pastors do not have somebody they consider a close friend

4. Godly leaders plus prayer partners mean victory

So Joshua did what Moses had commanded. He led his men out to fight the army of Amalek. Meanwhile Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of a nearby hill. As long as Moses held up the staff with his hands, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites gained the upper hand. Moses’ arms finally became too tired to hold up the staff any longer. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side, holding up his hands until sunset. As a result, Joshua and his troops were able to crush the army of Amalek. (Exodus 17:10-13)

I thank God for this church
I am asking you to pray for your pastors

In a moment of revelation, Spurgeon discovered that neither his sermons nor his good works accounted for the spiritual impact of his ministry. Instead, it was, as one writer put it, “The prayers of an illiterate lay brother who sat on the pulpit steps pleading for the success of the sermons.” It was his partnership with people of prayer that made him effective. (John Maxwell, Partners in Prayer)

Jim Cymbala: “God is not interested in how many seeker-sensitive churches there are, but how many seeking churches there are…”

I’m going to close by challenging you with words from a ministry called “Prayer Partner”

Who is the “MVP”? The pastor’s most valuable player is not the financial giver, the influencer, the worker, the loyal church member or even the most talented singer. The pastor’s MVP is the PASTOR’S PRAYER PARTNER. Knowing that the most valuable influencers in the church are the prayer partners, [we have] committed to seeing over 1,000,000 Pastor’s Prayer Partners raised up all over the world.
In these final years before the new millennium, a significant spiritual movement is underway – an effort to enlist one million Christians to pray for their pastor. The members of this unique, all-volunteer army agree to pray continually and specifically for those who shepherd God’s flock. This is without question one of the most exciting, important endeavors ever undertaken and its results are certain to be far-reaching.
Will you be the one? Will you become your pastor’s Most Valuable Player? Would you commit to pray for your pastor for one year? If you will make this exciting, strategic commitment, please let us know of your decision.

adapted from a message by John Maxwell (

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada