not in category mode for script check
I was bone tired and worn out. My physical, mental and spiritual gas tanks were empty.I justified my schedule - and my ambition - to myself, my family, and staff as a temporary seasonal burst. "Like a sprint," I said. I rationalized CPAs do it every year during tax season, athletes do it before offseason, politicians do it before an election . . . blah, blah, blah.
But, just like when my car gets low on gas, my warning light came on.
So I did what most driven people do when they get close to running out of gas. I began to go faster! While I thought I could leap (or build) tall buildings in a single bound, I came to realize I was a man of flesh, not steel. I paid the price for that stupidity. So did my family, staff and church.
There were no scandalous train wrecks or moral meltdowns, but the erosion had clearly crept into my life and relationships. My burnout had even turned into a season of clinical depression.
All of this was avoidable.
I had become spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally unhealthy because I had consistently neglected practicing the Sabbath. Humans have been hard-wired to both work and rest. If we stop doing either, we stop living full and abundant lives. Each of God's commands was given to be a blessing, not a burden. good plan for staying healthy is to apply the Sabbath to your life.
No More Slavery!
The Sabbath originally was a gift to freshly emancipated slaves. Slaves don't usually get gifts, much less days off. Yahweh wanted them to know that they were no longer slaves, but His sons and daughters.
He not only provided deliverance, but rest and food as well. God provided twice the amount of daily manna they needed on the day before Sabbath, so they would not have to collect it during their only day of rest. What a generous God! He enjoys blessing us, if only we will let Him.
If you keep from desecrating the Sabbath, from doing whatever you want on My holy day; if you call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it not going your own ways, seeking your own pleasure, or talking too much; then you will delight yourself in the Lord. (Isaiah 58:13)
You would expect high-fives all around, but the Israelites were awkward with the new normal.
The people of God were not yet used to life without their Egyptian taskmasters. Some even wanted to go back to that awful life of slavery. Embracing a new lifestyle on God's terms took a considerable amount of courage. Many resisted and rejected His gift, which was also a significant sign of their new covenant with Yahweh.
We still resist and reject His Sabbath gift, don't we? I sometimes marvel at how quickly I slip back into my chains of slavery. A terminally driven life has the lure of Egyptian bondage, yet the pressure to succeed still draws me back there. But there is a better way to live.
I have personally experienced the pleasures of this wonderful gift and passionately want you to also. I'm not saying I have perfected the art of Sabbath keeping, because I still struggle every single week. But I am not going back to Egypt without a fight! I have found the rest of God right where He left it for us, in the open pages of His Word.
God not only blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy, He blesses those who courageously and consistently observe it. He wants to bless you as you explore and apply Sabbath principles to your busy life. You will find those closest to you will also be blessed when you consistently receive God's gift of rest. At first, you may want to resist these practical Sabbath principles, as the Israelites did. Your courage will be tested, but the payoff is worth the effort, I assure you.
Next week I will post about another dynamic aspect of the Sabbath in this four part series. To get my posts automatically by email subscribe here.
By Todd Adkins
Some of you will be deeply offended and leave this post right after the
next sentence. While you should love everyone on your staff it’s ok if you like some people more. In fact, it's important for you to realize that you are eventually going to end up with someone on your team that you don’t really like. I am not talking about someone who is downright toxic to your culture, those people should be removed from your organization. I am speaking of someone who adds value to your work and team but there’s something about their personality that rubs you the wrong way.
When push comes to shove you are a leader and you are going to have make some adjustments so that your team can continue to function at a high level.
Here are six ways you can lead staff members you don't like.
First, identify what is YOUR problem?
If their performance is satisfactory this is really your issue after all. You owe it to yourself and to them to take a good hard look at what it is that you find so irritating. Are they too negative, too obsessed with a hobby, or they are too aggressive? Is it something superficial? While you cant change a staff members personality, mannerisms, or modus operandi you can choose to change your attitude and how you interact with them. If you don't it is only a matter of time before it becomes apparent to them or the rest of your team.
You don't have to be personal friends with all of your staff.
There is a natural expectation of separation between work life and personal life in the business world but the lines are much more fuzzy in the church. The smaller the staff the fuzzier it gets. Be sure you manage expectations and establish healthy boundaries when bringing new people on board.
Be professional and courteous with them.
The key here is to remembering to be professional and treat them how you would want to be treated. Take a genuine interest in them and margin time for them. Make a conscious effort to engage them in conversation about their life outside of the organization.
Knock out a big project shoulder to shoulder.
It gets much harder not to like somebody if you have worked hard side by side to achieve something great. I would also remind you that taking on something particularly difficult together can have an even greater effect. This is much more risky, however, as pressure may also further exacerbate the problem.
Don't make them an inside joke.
If this person has a quirk, mannerism, habit, etc. that is bothersome or downright annoying do not share it with other employees. Just because its funny doesn’t mean you have to share it. It is not funny and will ultimately undermine your leadership with your team. If you have a team like mine there are no holds barred and everyone and everything is fair game…but that’s another post.
Focus on their value to the team.
At the end of the day, you have obviously already decided that this employee is adding enough value to keep around so focus on what makes them so valuable to the team.
Todd is the Director of Leadership at LifeWay, host of the popular 5 Leadership Questions Podcast and the upcoming Leadership Pipeline Conference .
Perfectionism almost pushed Michael Phelps over the edge a couple of years ago. “I was a train wreck,” Phelps told ESPN. “I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self-worth. There were times where I didn’t want to be here. I felt lost.”
How can the most decorated Olympian in history become depressed to the point of considering suicide? Nobody in history has won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which were gold. What more could a person want in life?
In 2014, Phelps hit rock bottom. A couple of DWIs and some unflattering social media photos drove him to considering suicide. His story is documented in this short video.
Michael reached out to retired NFL star Ray Lewis, who convinced Him to seek clinical help. Lewis also gave him a copy of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. Phelps said, “I started believing there is a power greater than myself, and there is a purpose for me on this planet.”
I’m so glad God used Lewis and Warren to help Phelps find a life beyond the pool in Jesus. Michael is not as mature of a believer as he is a swimmer, but that comes with time. One of the beautiful first fruits of his repentance was reconciling with his estranged father – the source of his perfectionism.
Many pastors and leaders know full well the pressures of perfectionism. We live and serve in the public for much of our lives. We also live privately under the gaze of our Lord. How then can we keep from falling into the same trap Michael Phelps did? I want to suggest three antidotes to pastoral perfectionism:
Recognize Perfectionism As Fool’s Gold
I started pastoring in 1987 and have wasted a lot of energy trying to please people, especially myself. Now that I serve the Church by serving pastors, I want to help them find their identity in Christ, not His Church.
If you reach your attendance, giving or baptism goals this year, celebrate those achievements with humility. Be careful not to embrace those victories too tightly because they are temporary.
Phelps found out that even his gold medals became fool’s gold when they defined who he was instead of what he did.
Embrace Your Own Imperfections
Imperfections are not excuses for our sin, but neither are they inherently sin. I have a legitimate problem remembering numbers which makes me bad at math, not a bad person or a bad pastor.
Will Rogers said, Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
Save Some Grace For Yourself
Perfectionists are hard on everybody – especially themselves. Pastors should not only share the Gospel of saving grace, we should also save some of that grace for ourselves. You will make some mistakes, and you will even commit some secret sins throughout your ministry. To think otherwise is naive at best and arrogant at worst.
Leading your home and yourself “beyond reproach” does not mean leading perfectly. It means you will have to lead your ministry and family in humility and utter dependence on God.
When Michael Phelps traded his old life of perfectionism for a new life of purpose, he found a lane called grace. We all need to find that lane if we are going to finish strong.
By Monty Hale, D.Min.
Monty is a good friend and fellow pastor advocate. He is the Director of Pastoral Ministries, South Carolina Baptist Convention
I’m sure they thought they knew what they were doing. They had limited knowledge and had not really grasped what was about to happen when Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Three men, who had been caught up in the excitement of the parade and the idea of the Kingdom, were challenged by our Lord. They had a heart for following. They truly loved the thought of being a Jesus person. They just didn’t see what the Lord saw.
One excitedly approached the Master with a declaration. “I will follow you wherever you go!” he proclaimed. Jesus didn’t answer like he thought he would. He was expecting a cheerful embrace and an extended hand of inclusion. He got a surprise. Jesus said that though the animals have places of refuge, he did not. He wanted him to look past the protection of the walls of the city and the comfort of the palace to a hill that led to a cross.
Another wanted to follow the Lord, but he wanted to wait until after his father died. This religious and cultural practice was quite acceptable and had become a religious right. Jesus’ reply was once again surprising. He said that the dead should bury the dead, but that he should proclaim the kingdom. The sacrifice for this disciple was to bury the religious and cultural practices that gave him comfort and security. There was nothing necessarily wrong with these things; they were just delaying the calling that was on the follower’s life.
The last was possibly the hardest. He wanted to take some time to go back and say goodbye to his family. His sacrifice was his relationships. Jesus responded in what seems to be a harsh rebuke, and once again it was a surprise. How could Jesus ask us to lay our relationships on the altar of the Kingdom? Does our calling really require us to place the plow in the dirt and set our sight on the cross of Calvary? As hard as it might seem, the answer is yes. Every relationship must come second to the Kingdom. That will mean setting your sights on the hill with the cross and plow toward it. He becomes your all in all.
The unforgivable sin is consistently the most dangerous trap for pastors and church leaders. Jesus taught that unforgiveness is unforgivable, which sounds harsh because it is.
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him how to pray, He taught them the ever popular Lord's Prayer. Forgiveness is literally the central part of it.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors...
Immediately after teaching them this model prayer, Jesus elaborates on it because He knows they will struggle a lot with hurt and forgiveness.
For if you forgive people their of wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. Matthew 6:12, 4-15
It is clear in the grammar of this text that we are only to ask for forgiveness from God after first giving it to others. Human nature has not changed, and neither has the Word of God.
Unforgiveness Is Unforgivable
I’m not hyping you up with hyperbole. Neither am I trying to defend or explain what Jesus taught. It is what it is.
Matthew 12:32 is the typical passage used when referring to the unforgivable sin: Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the one to come.
I talk to pastors every day of the week except on my Sabbath. I am a safe place for them to talk about their addictions and attitudes, fears and frustrations. Unforgiveness raises its ugly head in more of these conversations than all the other vices combined.
Some battles are worth fighting, but what if the battle wages on within us long past the actual conflicts?
Unforgiveness Is Optional
Here are five reasons we all need to aggressively deal with unforgiveness before it destroys our lives and ministries.
1. Unforgiveness will blindside you
2. Unforgiveness will grow inside you
3. Unforgiveness will spread around you
4. Unforgiveness will hijack your ministry
5. Unforgiveness Is a dangerous boomerang
This lesson obviously applies to all Christians, but my calling is to help pastors get and stay healthy. The road to church health and pastoral health is paved with grace for others, and yourself.
Forgiveness is a choice.
Use it or lose it.
I am not speaking from a place of innocence. Several years ago I was allowing anger to get a foothold on my life. I committed this passage to memory and God used it to root out that bitterness that was growing inside of me.
Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 HCSB
This passage did not remove that growing bitterness, but it’s Author did. He will do the same for you.
Every pastor has a private life and a public life. An inevitable train wreck happens when these lives don’t match. It seems like there have been an unusual number of messy ministry exits this year.
Today’s post is not a pile on for those pastors. LifeWay Pastors exists to lift up the arms of pastors, not beat them down. Here are five simple (not easy) steps to restoring a prodigal pastor.
- A Private Conversation
An intervention for a pastor needs to begin with a one-on-one conversation.
If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. Matthew 18:15
In my experience, most pastors will repent in this first conversation and are willing to go to the next step in a reconciliation process. If your pastor or pastor-friend is defensive and unrepentant, fall back and regroup with plan B, which is a group intervention.
- A Group Intervention
Your church’s polity will likely determine who these decision-makers are, and it may already have a formal process to follow. This level of church discipline needs to be made by a group, rather than an individual.
But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. Matthew 18:16
- A Restoration Team
This handful of people can literally make or break a pastor’s ministry in the long term, as well as the short term. I have benefitted from several of these types of pastor support groups of loving lay-leaders in the last three decades, all of which I have initiated. I also benefitted from an accountability-type of group which basically whipped me back into shape! Five is the ideal number in my opinion.
- A Restoration Plan
The Restoration Team needs to have clear objective, which is to restore the pastor, not railroad him. If a group’s intention is to simply get rid of their pastor, they probably need to come under church discipline more than the pastor does.
Keep the plan simple and make the “wins” obvious for the pastor. Once it is clear what is expected of everyone, schedule a regular meeting. Most of the restoration teams I have been a part of typically last about 6-8 months.
- Offer Practical Solutions
LifeWay Pastors wants to help pastors win at home and church, so we regularly offer resources and referrals we think will be helpful. I provided a list of options for struggling ministry marriages in a post called Where Can Ministry Couples Get Help?. Another potential post of interest is about depression in the ministry. Be on the lookout for a new post about options for other common pastoral addictions.
- Celebrate the Win
When your prodigal pastor makes progress, it needs to be celebrated in real time or he may get discouraged and give up altogether.
In a recent post about pastors and alcoholism by Dr. Ed Stetzer, several resources were listed, including an email link to me. Of the pastors who bravely contacted me, I was proud of one in particular who took a huge step worth celebrating:
I want to thank you for your reply. I truly appreciate it. I did it. I went to my first AA meeting tonight. I may want to talk more with you and even over the phone. Just nervous and scared. It’s hard being vulnerable, but at the same time – I love it. Does that make sense? Anyway, just wanted to give you an update. Be blessed.
Restoring fallen members or ministers is not rocket science; it is simply living out the Gospel within our own faith family. If a pastor you know is struggling, talk to him instead of about him. It is worth the risk, for both of you.
This post originally appeared on LifewayPastors.com.
By Janet Dance
Years ago at a pastor’s wife get-together I asked each to share if they felt like God called them to be a pastor’s wife or felt like God had tricked them into it? It was a playful question at the time, but I have since learned that this feeling of being set-up by God is a real problem for some.
I Was Called
Personally, I felt a call to the ministry before I had ever met Mark. At the time I was sure that the call was to international missions. My call was very emotional with a cluster of God-stories that made it very obvious to me. Despite where we served I was confident that I had been called.
Not all Wives Feel Called
Since Mark and I serve pastors and their wives now, I have learned that not all wives have this confidence. For a while I too struggled with the calling to be a pastor’s wife because I thought I was going to be a missionary. Because that did not come about, I wondered if I had heard God at all. Over time God assured me that my calling was primarily to Mark and whatever ministry God called him to. That may be hard to swallow for women who do not want to be valued as a helper but have bought into the 21st century American lie that if we are not independently of value, then we are of no value. Our marriage culture needs to be set by Biblical standards and p.c. or not, we are called to be our husband’s helper. (Genesis 2:22 – 24)
At an event last year a young pastor’s wife told me, “He’s called, not me. This is his thing. I have my own job.” Another young wife went as far as doubting her husband’s call because she did not feel it too. This frightens me because I have seen firsthand how vital our support both emotionally and spiritually is to our husband’s ministry “success.” It also frightens me because I know how hard ministry marriage can be. Both of these couples need to seek Biblical counsel and soon!
Every place God has taken Mark and me, I have felt a new and more specific calling except for one. I did not feel a call to move to Ft Worth so Mark could finish seminary. As I look back now, this is the only move in which Mark made a decision separate from me. We were newly married and in our immaturity Mark did not think to ask me before he decided, and I did not think to pray about it. Fort Worth was by far the roughest year of our marriage. I was not rebellious; I moved willingly, but when the rough part came, I did not have that valuable confidence and foundation that I was where God wanted me.
Our Callings Are of Great Value in Our Husband’s Ministry
Since then, Mark brings every possible change to me, we talk it through, pray it through, but most importantly, we do not budge until we both feel that we have heard from God. Mark is type double-A and driven, but he learned the value of including me as an equal partner/helper in the big decisions.
On more than one occasion we did not proceed with a possible ministry change because I had an unsettled feeling about it. We later saw why the change would not have been a good idea. I don’t say this to brag, but to point out that we have a very valuable role and responsibility as a pastor’s wife. I hope you feel that value as your husband’s helper in determining and defining His call on both of your lives.