The past several weeks The Shepherd’s Connection has posted articles about depression. Depression is real, but there is hope beyond depression. In fact, there are a number of experiences (termination, burnout, conflict, even holidays, etc.) we face in ministry, which might be viewed as ministry killers. Many people see this with depression. That is absolutely not true.
Depression is real!!!! It can happen to anyone. In April of 2009 my primary care doctor discovered that I had a brain tumor. Through the guidance of my primary care doctor I ended up at a neurosurgeon in Shreveport, La.
Pastor, have you ever stopped to think of all the “stuff” your people have been through before you arrived. This “stuff” affects their church behavior and the extent to which they will follow/not follow you. Their behavior does not mean they are bad people. It means they are carrying a lot of “stuff” (baggage) that must be considered as you work with them.
While sorting through my mail today the first thing I noticed was Outreach magazine. This issue was devoted to the 100 Fastest-Growing Churches in America. This issue always intrigues me. The stories of these churches fascinate me. To read about churches running 20,000-25,000 in attendance is amazing. I marvel at these churches, their pastors, and the ministry they perform.
Barna Research discovered that 61% of pastors are lonely and have few close friends. The loneliest people in churches are often pastors. Why is this so?
The experts say that five key factors inhibit pastors from developing close friendships.
see part of my role as a senior leader as a developer of other leaders. In church terms, as much as I am called to make disciples, I am called to disciple disciple-makers.
I take this role seriously. I am consistently thinking how I can encourage people around me to be better at what they do. Several years ago, with another staff member - someone who once worked with me - mentioned my intentionality in developing leaders on his blog.
Here’s my theory on the subject.
The most powerful force in the world may not be the nuclear bomb or earthquakes or hurricanes. I’m convinced that words may be the most powerful force in the world. Words can bring comfort; they can bring hurt; they can bring unity; they can bring division. When used correctly, words are a powerful force to motivate people; they can also destroy. Some examples of the power of words are:
Patrick Henry stirred the spirits of the people of 13 colonies so that a motley crew beat Great Britain’s army: “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away. The place where we built our home, two years ago, has a number of roots that play havoc with a lawn mower. I have been working diligently to remove these enemies. A few days ago I encountered some roots that got the best of me. I just walked away.
What would you think if you met a chef who would not eat his own cooking? What about a surgeon who would not commit his care to a young person he had trained? What about a builder who would not live in a house he constructed? What about a pastor who is not a worshipper?
Do you sometimes go home on Sundays feeling emotionally spent? Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but it sure isn’t true for pastors. Take yesterday for instance. I administered a Sunday school at 9:00, drove to a speaking engagement and preached at 11:00, did a refresher course for Sunday school teachers at 5:00, and spoke for 45 minutes in a worship service last night. These activities were in addition to family activities and other responsibilities.
Several times in recent months, I have shared with you the lessons I’ve learned from our colt. This relationship is about to change since the colt is ready to be weaned from his mother, and will be leaving us soon. Please allow me one more story.
It has been said, “A rut is a grave with both ends knocked out.” Are you in a rut? All of us get stuck in one from time to time.
We try to avoid ruts. It’s not that we get trapped in ruts because of sin or rebellion; however, ruts are real! Ruts can be described as “entrapment, a bad attitude, depression, defeat, boredom, or sameness.” Rut living can include any or all of these definitions.
“There are so many clear dangers I see in leading in isolation.”
Not long ago, I sat with a new pastor trying to hold a church together long enough to help it build again. The previous pastor left town - after a series of bad decisions - some decisions the church is still finding out about each new day.
I am happy to help the new pastor acclimate, but my greater concern was for the pastor who flamed out too early. The one who didn’t finish well. The one who left a church in a state of disarray and struggling to recover.
Several weeks ago I wrote about an ugly church, the church at Corinth. Corinth faced many issues that made it an ugly church: division, immorality, lawsuits among members, problems with marriage, arrogance, and worship wars. We see similar issues in churches today. In fact, you may be serving an ugly church.
How do you relate to an ugly church? Paul gives us some wisdom. In II Corinthians 2 we find food for thought. First, we must exercise restraint. Paul said, “I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow.” (2:1) Paul restrained himself from making a painful trip to Corinth. He waited until God’s time was right.
Today I am feeling better than good. You might ask, “Are there days when you are not good?” The answer to that is yes and no. If, every morning, you asked me how I am doing, 90 percent of the time I would say good. However, there are days when things are better than good. Today is one of those days.
“Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and I have done all these things at Your word.” (I Kings 18:36)
What Elijah prayed on Carmel, I pray.
It is entirely in order for the Lord’s messenger to pray that the people to whom he was sent will recognize that God is God and in charge, and that he himself is the Lord’s servant, on mission from Him.
I prayed that prayer during the worst time of my life when a little group of self-righteous and mean-spirited members clamored for my resignation. I was going through the fire, being tried as I rarely had.
The prayer felt like the dying gasp of the weakest child in God’s family.
Did God hear the prayer? Did He answer?