Last Friday I came home from work and was struck with a strange emotion, panic. That was unusual. I had not felt such emotion in some time. We Christians are, in theory, supposed to have it all together. And we pastors are to be an example to everyone else. Right!
“I feel like I’m being eaten alive by a school of minnows.”
“I felt like I was being stoned to death by popcorn.”
Peter Drucker, one of the world’s greatest leadership experts, once listed what he considered the four hardest jobs in the world. Here are those four: President of the United States, a university president, a CEO of a hospital, and a pastor. Wow, strong words from a wise man. Although I’ve not held the first three jobs, I have served as a pastor for over 35 years. It can be tough and pastors must care for their souls. Consider these 8 ways to refresh your tired soul.
Today while reading J.D. Greear’s book, Jesus Continued, I was struck with a disturbing challenge. The challenge to Do Nothing! This thought was expressed within the context of a chapter on the Holy Spirit.
Greear develops his thoughts from Jesus words to the disciples in Luke 24:29. “I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
Jesus instructed the disciples to Do Nothing but to wait. Doing nothing is not in the DNA of most pastors.
Unity is a powerful force in God’s Kingdom, in our lives, in our families, in a business, and in the local church when it includes five essentials, seen in the great leader Nehemiah.
Every leader wants his or her organization, team, or church to be unified. Without it teams lose, churches flounder, and businesses drift. However, when your group is unified it’s fun, refreshing, invigorating, motivating, and productive.
The great leader Nehemiah could not have completed his massive building project of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall without unity. Nehemiah 3 lists scores of projects and people involved in the project and gives insight into these five essentials necessary to build unity. I use the acronym
UNITY to make it easy to remember them.
Are you as busy as you think? In looking back at my years of ministry I often struggled with a question: “How busy am I?” All of us know that pastors are extremely busy. That is a fact! However, there have been times when I was my own worst enemy. I perceived myself to be too busy.
Do you ever wonder what you would do differently if you could start over in ministry? As I draw closer to retirement age (I am 64) I find myself pondering this question more often. The beginning of a new year also challenges us to reflect on new beginnings. (We call them resolutions.)
Do you remember a time when a gift you gave lit up the face of a child or someone special? During the holiday season we are given the opportunity to repeat this action a number of times. As a believer it is my prayer that I would always remember the joy of giving.
Do you ever get up in the morning and feel flat? I equate this feeling to a flat tire. A flat tire is depressed, of no value, and not prepared for the purpose at hand. Surely pastors never feel this way. LOL!
So, what can we do when we feel this way? I share these thoughts from my journey.
1) Never pass a Salvation Army kettle without dropping in some money.
My friend Annie got me started on this. Recently, I noticed on her Facebook page that she was re-emphasizing this commitment, and told how after finding herself with only big bills on one occasion, she has made it a practice of having a number of ones and fives in the front of her purse, just for this reason.
Years ago I heard a speaker say, “The modern church has been given the task of maintaining an institution.” How true! Buildings, budgets, meetings and administrative tasks are a necessary part of church life, but it can be a drag.
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).
We are in the Thanksgiving season and want to take this opportunity to give thanks for you and to offer a holiday greeting.
Do you struggle as much as I do with giving up control? Recently I organized an event that required me to give up control. The requirements of this assignment meant that I had to put together a team and then release them to do ministry. The event was/is much larger than one person can handle. Such occasions require that somebody give up control, and that’s a hard thing for me to do. However, if I am called upon to lead people, it is critical that I continually give up control.
A few days ago, I borrowed a dirt mover from a neighbor. With the machine I borrowed some frustration I did not want. My neighbor and I spent three out or four hours working on the machine. At one point my neighbor went to pick up a part, to answer some of our frustrations. While he was gone I decided to use the frustrating, supposedly wasted time in a positive way. I used the time constructively to address another need.
Discouragement is a universal experience for ministry leaders and the word actually self-defines itself…dis-courage meaning no courage. Some of the Bible’s greatest characters faced it: Moses, David, Paul, Mary the mother of Jesus, and the apostles. Nehemiah, the great Old Testament leader faced it when he led the Jews to rebuild the wall. Yet, his response offers us hope when we face it.
Big picture thinking can be a lifesaver. How’s that so, you ask? Maybe looking at the big picture exhausts you. Many times, we are sabotaged by what I call short-term thinking. Let’s say it’s Monday morning and you are depressed because the attendance was off on Sunday. Low attendance may a relevant concern; however, before slipping into depression back off and look at the big picture. God is up to something, even when you can’t see it.
Are you a late-night person or early riser? The Bible says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late.” Ps. 127:2 Does this mean you are a bad person if you stay up late or rise early? Obviously, there is more to this verse than the surface meaning.
I love dogs. We’ve owned as many as four at once. One currently makes her home with us. Lulu (in the picture on the left) is a combination of a cat, a rat and a dog. She’s as quick as a cat and looks like a hybrid rat-dog. She was a stray when we took her in “for just a few days until we find her owner.” We became the owners. On the other hand, P-nut was our registered Chihuahua. I had the agonizing job of taking him to the vet last year to have him put to sleep. But he was a funny doggie. He was missing most of his teeth. And sometimes his lip got stuck on his remaining molars so that he sported an Elvis look (no kidding). When I reflect about our relationship with our dogs, I’ve learned these five lessons from them that apply to me as a pastor or to any leader. Leadership lessons from dogs.
“No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do.” When I heard this quote by Paul Tripp while I listened to his book Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry it caused me to pause and reflect. He’s right. No one talks to me more than I talk to myself. A corollary to his quote might be this. “We become more like who we listen to. If what we tell ourselves about our identity is false, then we develop a false identity.” In this post I suggest 10 question that might reveal when pastors misplace their identity.