• Jamie McClanahan

The Burden of Pines and Pastors

The snow and ice are falling on a row of heavy-laden pines that border my property and a busy road next to my home. The beauty is portrait quality in HD, and I cannot look away. My mind wanders to distant memories of building snow forts with my sister and rolling snowmen with my children. The ice and snow-draped trees are breath-taking in the morning light. I wonder, how can something so beautiful be so dangerous and life-taking? Subconsciously, I push away the thoughts that death and significant damage are caused by snow and ice every year. I come away from that thought to notice a large pine branch dangling dangerously over the gazebo in my yard. I make it a mental task for the day to go out and shake the snow from threatening evergreen.

The time comes to head out and shake loose the snow and ice from the branches above the gazebo. I grab a shovel and a broom and head out to relieve the tree of its burden and prevent a roof cave-in from a snapped branch above. As I began to work on the branches, I notice how quickly they rose after the weight of ice and snow was removed. I saw other heavy limbs ready to snap under the burden of snow and removed the weight from them. Feeling good about my work, I retired inside for a hot cup of coffee. Later, as I began to prepare for the Valley Shepherds Podcast, I was reminded of the long row of weary pines, now upright and unburdened. I began to think about how these pines are much like Pastors and Church Members in the Valley.

I have noticed that Pastors have been heavily laden by many unique and weighty issues for the past year. There truly is a long row of weary pastors creaking under the pressure of many diverse concerns. The burdens of Covid-19, political gridlock, economic instability, church directional decision fatigue, and a strain in family relationships from things like virtual schooling and erratic church worship schedules and programs. What is the answer to all this weight and pressure? We must strive to lighten to load for Pastors and Churches in the Valley!

Several months ago, Pastor Will Soto and I began to launch a ministry called "Valley Shepherds" to help Pastors, Church leaders, and Church Members maintain Gospel Resilience in the face of such hostilities and difficulties. It is a ministry with both online and in-person resources. Online we offer a weekly podcast to help encourage pastors and church leaders in the Valley. We also have a website with many encouraging articles to help church leaders maintain Gospel Resilience. In-person we are holding regular pastors gatherings to encourage area pastors to persevere in the callings. We also participate in many one-on-one meetings to listen and help Shepherds in the Valley lead their flocks well.

The task is big, but it is possible in the Lord's strength and with the greater community of faith to keep pastors and church leaders in the Shenandoah Valley buoyant for the Lord and his Gospel work. Here are three ways you can help…

1) Pray regularly for area pastors and church leaders and their families.

2) Serve local pastors by volunteering to help us serve pastors during Valley Shepherds regular gatherings. When we gather with area pastors, we serve them a meal and give them books to encourage them to fulfill their callings.

3) Give to the ministry of Valley Shepherds. It is possible to give online to support this ministry through the Wayne Hills Baptist Church Website. Click on the “Give” tab, select “Pushpay”, and scroll down to “Valley Shepherds” to support us.

Please consider helping us reduce the weight and burdens of Pastors in the Valley!


Pastor Will: will@whbc.net

Pastor Jamie McClanahan: jamie@whbc.net

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