A funny thing happened to me this week. I have been trying to reach a good friend, with whom I speak almost weekly. However, on this occasion we hadn’t spoken in 4-6 weeks. I had tried sending text messages, making calls, and leaving voice messages. During this period he was having phone problems. He was missing calls from me as well as from others.
A few nights ago, as I was trying to fall asleep, I was overcome with a feeling of loneliness. My sons live in Chicago and Southeast Asia. I do not get to see them and their families as often as I would like. My father and only brother are both deceased. They died in 2007 and 2008. My mother and I are the only immediate blood relative family members left. My church is made up of people who are mostly related or life-long friends. These factors could contribute to loneliness.
We all know pastoring is a full-time job. How can anyone, especially Paul, serve as a pastor and hold down a full-time job? Surely, “Paul, Bi-vocational Pastor” must be a misprint. Surely, Paul could not have worked a secular job and have been the great missionary preacher he was. Surely, Paul could not have worked a secular job and written approximately half of the books in our New Testament. Surely, Paul could not have worked a secular job and proclaimed the gospel in all the locations he visited. Yet he did.
Do you ever feel compelled to think outside the box? A few days ago, I felt burdened to minister to a man, who is suffering with severe health issues. Due to my schedule it appeared almost impossible to fulfill this task. My mind went into overdrive and I thought outside the box. I ended up buying my friend a hamburger and visiting with him, over lunch.
God made us to be in relationship with each other. We were made for community and we all want good friends. But what do good friends look like? What do they do or not do? In the most intimate of the 13 letters the Apostle Paul wrote that help form the New Testament, Philippians, we see a portrait of what to look for in a friend. Consider these 5 behaviors that a good friend will consistently live out and ask yourself if you model them as a friend yourself.
(The Shepherds Connection shares this article to give wisdom to all who face such issues.)
If all the questions church people send my way this may be the most difficult.
Our pastor has been here umpteen years. He has lost his vision and his energy, and the church is dying. At what point does a pastor need to be told that his time here is up?
There are no simple or easy answers to this. Handled wrongly, this matter can destroy a church, inflict a terminal wound to a veteran minister, and hurt his family in lasting ways.
A recent husband/wife confrontation left me torn between two extremes, laugh or criticize. This episode went something like this. I came home at the end of the day and had to pick up our garbage can at the end of the driveway. After unloading the garbage can by our garage, I parked my truck in the garage. I mistakenly left the tailgate on my truck down. Leaving a tailgate down is not conducive to lowering a garage door. See where I am going? LOL!
Do you resent someone in your church or a former church? Come on, ministers don’t carry resentment, do we? LOL!
I once struggled with resentment toward a group of leaders who thought it was time for me to change churches. They thought they knew God’s will for me and for our church.
I once struggled with resentment toward a group of people who deserted our church and went to the church down the street. They thought the other church was more spiritual, and more spirit-filled than our church.
Recently I took a friend to a catfish pond, in pursuit of the “big one.” I must say up front, it was not a good day for fishing, but it was the only time available. It was cold and the wind was blowing out of the east. My daddy always said an east wind would kill fishing.
Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion but voluntarily, according to the will of God; not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (I Peter 5:2-3).
We have written extensively on this website about church members who take the reins of the church, calls the shots, and who bullies parishioners and pastors alike. But a friend wrote, “What are we to do when the bully is the pastor?”
We were excited about our youngest son and his family flying in from Chicago to spend the holidays with us. Did I mention we were excited about their visit? That is when “it” showed up. The check engine light came on in our van. Sometimes technology gives more information than you want to know. The computer adviser instructed us to get the van to a shop, pronto. That was not what two excited parents wanted to hear, especially when we were ready to head to the airport. (By the way, we did get the problem resolved.)
In Romans we find a warm word of thanks from Paul for his co-workers Priscilla and Aquila. “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” (Romans 16:4)