What an oxymoron, the skeptical optimist. Is it possible for such a creature to exist? Yes, and you will find an example in John 6.
At the feeding of the 5,000 there was a skeptical optimist present in the crowd and his name was Andrew. When Jesus discovered the hunger needs of the crowd he asked if anyone had food. Andrew spoke up and said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (vs. 9)
Pastor, are you guilty of allowing your church to become a “one horse church”? That’s an intimidating phrase - one horse. It stirs a challenge to our leadership and tends to carry negative connotations. Despite its negativity, I feel compelled to use it because we need to challenge ourselves to recognize and reverse it if it’s happening in our church. Notice I said “we.” I include myself in this challenge.
One of the challenging tasks pastors face is working with lay people in the church. The challenge comes in trying to balance leadership with cooperation. Sometimes when a pastor assumes a leadership role he ends up being accused of being a dictator. On the other hand, he is foolish if he does not cooperate with lay people.
Several years ago Dr. Paul Meier, Dr. Robert Hemfelt, and Frank Minirth wrote a book entitled, We are Driven: the Compulsive Behaviors America Applauds! The book addresses the driven mentality that afflicts Americans. I experienced this first hand on a mission trip to Mexico. Our church in Alabama went to Matamoros, Mexico to build a church.
As I selected this title I did so by looking in the mirror. I am speaking to me. By speaking to me I can speak to fellow pastors. We are cut, in many respects, from the same mold.
What a message, “He knows!” In several locations, the Bible assures us that God knows. There are other references, but I will mention only three. “Are not two sparrows sold for a cooper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.” (Matt. 10:29) In the very next verse Jesus repeats the same concept, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matt. 10:30) The Psalmist expressed a similar thought, “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” (Ps. 147:4)
Do you ever feel as if you are under relentless attack? These attacks could be from Satan or Satan’s emissaries. Let’s be honest, sometimes Satan uses enemies within the church. Ezra faced such attacks. Remember Ezra’s task was to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. As he undertook this task he came under attack. Consider the relentless nature of the attacks he faced.
How are you living proactively? Specifically, in what ways? It seems the best way to answer this question is to share a definition so that we’re all on the same page. One definition states: the “action to control a situation rather than just responding to it after it has happened.” As pastors are we controlling the situation or merely responding to it?
If somebody were to suggest that you take a break from ministry would you accept it as a meaningful suggestion or an unwanted piece of advice? Ministry breaks tend to come in two varieties.
I recently read Andy Stanley’s book, Visioneering (God’s blueprint for developing and maintaining personal vision). I recommend the book, as you consider vision casting. The book is worth the read, just to get to chapter seventeen. In this chapter Andy discusses distractions.