Monday, 15 September 2014 00:00

Wounded: When it is Hard to Love

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"Are you crazy?" and "Do you think you will even get into the house?" The previous two questions came from the lips of the nephew (Don) of the chairman of deacons. The questions came from my desire to meet a need for that deacon.


Just a month earlier this deacon stood before my congregation and said I was the reason the young people had left the church. Brother Mickey's (the disgruntled deacon) daughter-in-law joined the conflict by sharing things that were false. Brother Mickey had a big heart. I knew he was responding to the hurt he perceived me to have caused.


The previous Sunday there had been a divisive meeting at the church. A group of people (10-15) including the deacon's son and daughter-in-law wanted to vote me out as pastor. Most of the complaints were over important things like the use of the church van and borrowing toilet paper without permission. This was the beginning of the list.

Thursday, 14 November 2013 09:51

At The End of the Rope!

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A word from Pastor Tim - Have you ever felt like you were near the end of your rope?  Be encouraged by the testimony of this faithful pastor.

President Franklin Roosevelt was credited with saying, "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."  About three months ago I felt like I was near the end of my rope, as a pastor, and I wasn't tying any knots!  But, God changed all that.

As stated, this experience began about three months ago.  I was facing several challenges. Soon I will be seventy years old.  I was beginning to doubt myself because of my age.  I felt there was no enthusiasm in my preaching.  Also, I have been the pastor of my current church for twelve years.  I was questioning whether I had lost my effectiveness. 

Several challenges arose in my church that complicated things.  I had hoped that a “Lay Renewal Weekend,” which we conducted last spring, might bring new life to our church.  One consequence of the lay renewal was that our music director and youth minister resigned.  I was wondering what would come of these resignations.  This caused a good bit of discussion among our deacons.  I assured the deacons that I was not planning to leave, as the other staff had done.

In light of my age and the issues we faced I spent much of the summer pondering what I should do.  On top of this I had proposed an idea to our lay leaders, which was quickly rejected.  This rejection left me discouraged and feeling down.  This also caused me to doubt my leadership. 

In response to my feelings of rejection, God spoke to me while I was resting in my recliner the next afternoon.  The Lord asked me if I would reject my children if they did not agree with me.  The obvious answer is no.  Even so, God reminded me that He did not reject us and I should not reject His children, just because they disagree with me.

In the midst of these things, God began to work.  First, He reminded me of what a fellow teacher told me when I first started teaching school in 1968. The teacher said, "When you close your classroom door, you're teaching in a one-room school house."  Of course, that isn't true anymore in school systems, but the implication is that the teacher is totally responsible for the success of his students.  When God reminded me of that teacher's statement, I realized that my future depended on my response to God's Holy Spirit!

God’s work, in my life, was like a handoff from the quarterback in a football game.  I ran with it!  Then, the most amazing things started happening.  A number of people from our community began visiting our services and taking an active part in our church.  These people showed up without being invited.  Imagine that! 

The need for a worship leader was filled as one of our deacons began leading the music.  The deacon had a sensitive and responsive heart to the needs of the church.  Our people responded to this attitude.

The youth leadership was filled as two couples volunteered to work with the youth.  Youth attendance improved.  During this time the youth building was completely remodeled.

During this experience my preaching was more like it was twenty years ago.  I was excited about preaching again!  It was fun again!

I recently attended a Shepherd’s Connection retreat, for pastors and wives, in Shreveport. Many of those who attended were where I had been.  My wife enjoyed the fellowship with pastors' wives who needed understanding hearts. I was happy to share my story with others.  My life has been renewed.  I know God is using me and will continue to do so!

Saturday, 25 May 2013 17:22

Healthy Shepherd = Healthy Sheep

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A note from Tim:  We are heading into a busy month for pastors.  June weddings and graduations add to our normal workload, as do summer mission trips and vacation Bible school, etc. Take a moment to consider one pastor's thoughts about how refreshing yourself can improve your marriage and your ministry.

 

I recently had the privilege of drawing from a well of refreshing water.  My wife, Nicole, and I just returned from a week that was devoid of pastoral responsibilities.  We benefited from SHOR Ministry (Shepherd’s Haven of Rest) with Charlie and Suzanne Grigsby.  SHOR Ministry provides a refuge for pastors and wives who are overloaded, burned out or hurting.  They do this at no cost to the pastors.

During the retreat we connected with other ministry couples who shared our struggles and discouragements.  It was great to know that we are not alone.  It is even more encouraging to discover that you are NORMAL!  This connection was refreshing in and of itself.

Also, Nicole and I were given the liberty to reconnect as a couple.  The only request of SHOR Ministry was that we fellowship with the entire group during the evening meal.  Other than this minor request, we were free to venture out and be alone with each other.  It is amazing how precious that time proved to be.  Nicole and I laughed more than we have in years.  We experienced small adventures together. We created special memories which are only shared between us.  Even if it meant Nicole falling into a creek!

During this time we began to heal.  You see, we were called to a small Louisiana church seven years ago that was hurting and dying.  In those years we have experienced a lot of hurt.  The pain caused Nicole and I to disconnect as a couple.  Within those seven years we never took time to invest in our marriage.  Sounds excessive, but many of you are in the same boat.  Burned out, overloaded, and running in two different directions.  Thanks to SHOR Ministry, and the Grigsbys, we were forced to take time for ourselves.  It was great!

In this time of rest and revival, I was given a thought.  This is a thought I consider to be a "duh" moment. That thought consisted of four simple words, "Healthy Shepherd = Healthy Sheep."

Many of you may have already learned this lesson, but for this type A guy, it was not always on the radar.  God revealed to me, through some down time and a cleared schedule that I need to prioritize my health.  Our health is holistic.  My mind, body and spirit are a unit.  By protecting my health, I can possibly ensure one of the greatest concerns of my life, the health of the church.  Could it be that as pastors we are one of the keys to a healthy church?  Could it be that we have missed this?  Could it be that buried under our heavy schedules and increased work load we are one key to a healthy church? Could it be as simple as "Healthy Shepherd = Healthy Sheep?"

SHOR Ministry helped me have a "duh" moment that could potentially change the health of our church. SHOR Ministry helped a pastor and his wife see their personal and relational health as very important.  I would encourage you, as you read this testimony, and serve in ministry that you seek people like the Grigsbys and ministries like SHOR.  The health of your church and of your ministry may hang in the balance.

  

Editor’s Note:  The Shepherd’s Connection also offers couples retreats.  Check our Support tab for Scheduled Retreats.  SHOR Ministry can be contacted at www.shorministry.com

Monday, 16 July 2012 22:20

Jonathan Edwards was dismissed

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jonathan_edwards_school2Do you ever feel discouraged, dejected, and insignificant? A few weeks ago my wife,Judy, gave me a copy of a page from a book she was reading (“Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God” by Noel Piper). At one point in the book Noel discusses Sarah Edwards, beloved wife of Jonathan Edwards. In discussing Sarah Edwards’s faithfulness, Noel Piper mentions a trying episode when Jonathan was dismissed from a church In Northampton. This was a prestigious church in which Jonathan devoted twenty years of faithful service, as pastor. From there Jonathan went to a remote church in the wilderness, in a community named Stockbridge. From there he went to be president of Princeton.

As I read this story several thoughts came to mind. First, here is a man who was one of the greatest theologians in American history, and was involved in one of the great revivals of American history, yet, he was terminated from a church. He faced trials.

Also, this great theologian walked through a period of insignificance. He labored for a period of time in the wilderness, as they called it.

The encouraging part, history remembers the great theologian, the great preacher, and the President of Princeton.

Pastor, don’t judge your future by your past. Don’t judge your significance by where you are today. Be faithful where you are!

Friday, 15 June 2012 13:18

New Pastor Did Not Want Me

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Have you ever felt unwanted? I experienced this trauma firsthand! I finished college, Seminary, graduated with a Master's Degree, and have served Southern Baptist Churches in four states.  God graciously allowed me to serve large churches with large Music Ministries.

After years of training, service, and faithfully doing what God called me to do, a pastoral transition led to my trial. One pastor left, another pastor came and my trial began.  

During the transition between these pastors my wife and I decided we would stand in the Pastoral gap - as the long-term Minister of Music - and go beyond the call of duty. I went to everything the church had that year and represented the pastoral staff. The Pastor search committee was formed and the chairman would get up in the pulpit and give a "report" on a regular basis. In his report he praised the current staff and said “we have the best staff the church has ever had. We are looking for a pastor that will come and work alongside this staff.  Those words were comforting. 

The search committee told prospective pastors the opposite. When the new Pastor arrived he never commented on the music. After he arrived, I asked his opinion of the music. He had no comment. To make a long story short, it was on his radar to get rid of me ASAP.  He moved me to a lesser position that was out of music. He also cut my salary in HALF. I could come and go as I pleased, He could care less and the message was loud and clear.  I went to him and told him I knew "the drill." I asked him to please let me go and give me a severance package. I told him I would slip out. He said “NO you go to the new position.” 

Thankfully another church came calling right away. In two months I submitted my resignation to leave the beloved church and congregation I had faithfully served for so long. We started with 15 in the choir and had built to 75-85 each Sunday with a full orchestra.  None of this mattered. The members of the Pastor Search Committee began acting "sheepish" around me. They knew what was coming....but none had the courage to step up and say a word.  

We were OUT and went to another church 1.5 hours away. This church was half the size and half the salary. However, I felt “needed” again.  I was reminded that some new preacher may not want me but that did not diminish my CALLING.  I was still God Called.  The new church responded with growth, acceptance, and love.  The church noticed and gave me a promotion. Wow!

It was humiliating losing family income plus being released after faithfully serving 25 years. God knew!  We trusted, prayed, and called on Him. He provided! My wife's sister called and said she was getting a new car and wanted to give my wife her old car. We sold our car and lived off that income for several months. People from our former church would shake hands and leave large amounts of cash in my hand. These blessings saw us through. I've told others, “money would drop out of the sky as God was meeting our every need.” Our house had been on the market for over a year. We eventually lost our home in a foreclosure. A great new friend and real-estate person in the new church showed us a new house. This house had just become available for rent, and it was perfect.  God was working, walking alongside us all the way. 

In addition to the painful church experience I lost two family members in one day. My sister and brother in law came home because my father was dying of pancreatic cancer. My brother in law (unexpectedly) died in his sleep about four hours before my dad. I mourned the loss of a church and two loved ones, all at the same time. 

Our best friends, from the church we left, never stepped up on our behalf. They seemed to "look the other way" and stopped communicating. BETRAYAL was the hardest thing to overcome.  The pastor search committee’s betrayal was almost more than we could take. I never got to the point where I gave up on God but I did question HIM greatly.  

The grief caused by the pain, disappointment, and feelings of betrayal would wash over us like a wave at the most unusual times.  It has been a year now. Two Sundays ago a couple came up to us. He was a- music minister from another state. They introduced themselves and shared how much they enjoyed the worship service.  They told us they had been fired by a young new pastor two weeks prior without any warning and told to get out.  I said "welcome to our church and our story.” I invited them to lunch. I told them “you don't know why you chose this church today but I can guarantee you, GOD KNEW."  Tears flowed from their eyes as we shared our story while listening to theirs over lunch.

God is AMAZING. HE can be trusted! I am still Praising My Savior, all the day long!