Tag: bible (page 3 of 9)

12 tips for pastors, Twitter style

Part of the reason I love Twitter is that I can scan it so quickly. Since it’s short, 140 character-max text-only updates, it’s easy to scan and get the highlights. It tends to be just the type and length content I’m looking for many days.

And from a writing standpoint, I love that Twitter forces you to distill what you want to say into 140 characters. You’ve got to cull down the content that you could unpack for 3 pages…into a sentence or two.

So I thought I’d share a few things I have been stewing on. Some of these I’ve found myself needing to stew on because I need to change…others I’ve noticed in others and hope I never see in myself.

These truths could each be pages long, with lots of references to research and theology. But I don’t want to bore you with all of that. 🙂

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12 tips for pastors. Twitter style.

  • Your family is your primary ministry calling. Other people come and go, but your family sticks around…for better or worse. #PastorTips
  • Quit complaining about people. It makes others wonder when you’ll complain about them. #PastorTips
  • Leading with a heavy hand will leave you with few people to actually lead. #PastorTips
  • Having a seminary degree doesn’t make you a good pastor any more than having a set of clubs makes you a good golfer. Love people. #PastorTips
  • The day you quit recruiting volunteers is the day you should start looking for another job. #PastorTips
  • If you ‘don’t have time for a small group’ then you will ‘have time to look like a hypocrite’ when you lead people to join one. #PastorTips
  • Put the theology book down and read a book on leadership. Your staff will thank you. #PastorTips
  • Work with the door open way more than you work with it closed. People need YOU, not just your ability to study. #PastorTips
  • Little steps in the wrong direction lead to bigger ones. Guard your heart NOW. #PastorTips
  • Encouragement begins when you help people see God at work in them when they don’t see it in themselves. #PastorTips
  • If you’re not leading people towards small group, your view of their spiritual growth is too short-sighted. #PastorTips
  • Quit letting ‘comfort’ drive your decisions. Let faith punch your comfort in the throat. #PastorTips

 Any Twitter-length tips you’d add?

 

How to wreck your ministry…it’s easier than you think

Nobody wants to wreck their ministry. Nobody.

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image credit: CreationSwap user Boaz Crawford

Everybody wants to be a part of a church (or non-profit) that is flourishing. Everybody that steps into ministry wants to be a part of an organization that helps others grow, and take courageous steps of faith. I’ve never met someone who said, “Gee, I’d sure like to ruin some innocent people’s lives today at my church. Let’s get after it!”

But the truth is that wrecking your ministry, and the ministry of others, is easier than you think. Typically, through a series of poor decisions (or a lack of intentionality), a slippery slope leads you quickly to a rocky, muddy ditch.

The good news, though, is that with intentionality, flourishing in ministry is possible.

How to wreck your ministry

Obvious:

  • Have an affair
  • Kill someone
  • Quit praying
  • Develop an illegal addiction

Not so obvious:

Anything you’d add?
 

11 ways to fight well, from 1 Corinthians 13

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image via iStockphoto user contrails

Every couple fights. It’s a reality of living in a fallen world.

But not every couple fights well. Another reality of living in a fallen world.

Couples that learn to grow through their arguments can have some of the strongest marriages on the planet.

I know that 1 Corinthians 13, though often shared at weddings, isn’t a passage just for love in marriage, there are a lot of principles we can learn as they relate to how love acts.

Fighting well, from 1 Corinthians 13

1. Don’t fling old poo.

Stop bringing up past failures. Love keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5)

2. Listen when the other person is talking.

Don’t just be preparing your rebuttal. Love is patient. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

3. Think before you speak.

Love is patient and kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

4. Always hope.

Assume the best about the other person. Don’t assume their motive was to undermine you. Assume they love you. Because they’ve already told you that. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

5. Don’t threaten to give up.

Constantly threatening with “divorce” and “I’m going to walk away” erodes the health of your marriage. Thankfully, God doesn’t ever threaten us like that. (Deuteronomy 31:6). Love never gives up. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

6. Stop the yelling.

Don’t yell for yelling sake. When you raise your voice and your temper and your emotions, you only escalate things. And you sound a whole lot like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

7. Always rejoice when the truth wins.

Even when Especially when the truth doesn’t land in your favor, and you lose the battle. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

8. No name-calling.

Love does not dishonor the other person by reducing them to a demeaning, offensive name. Love is kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

9. In kind, affectionate ways, touch each other.

Reach out and hold the other person’s hand. Pat their leg. Put your hand on their shoulder. There’s something disarming about physical affection. And, maybe more importantly, there’s something about physical affection that, in the heat of the moment, you don’t naturally want to do. Choosing loving physical affection helps calm your raging heart. Love does not demand its own way. (1 Corinthians 13:5)

10. Keep the details between the two of you. (and a healthy ‘accountability’ partner, if you have that)

When you fight, don’t run home and share the details with your parents. Don’t share them with your friends. Keep them between the two of you. For health sake, though, you may need to have someone safe, who knows you both, that you can share your heart with. Just make sure this is the same person every time, and that this person loves Jesus and has your best interest at heart. Love keeps no record of wrongs…but outside parties do. (1 Corinthians 13:5)

11. Pray before, after, and during.

Loving someone through an argument is something that can only happen supernaturally. It comes from God. If we’re going to love our spouse well, we must ask the One from whom we received love in the first place.

 

 

 

 

Don’t waste your fail

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image credit: vmvt.it

When I was in college, working on my undergraduate degree, I had a class in swine production.

I know, I know…sounds just like what you’d expect a guy who would end up as a pastor would study, right?

My path to full-time vocational ministry was not the one of least resistance.

A few times that semester, we got to visit a pig farm, and see the whole production. We’d help with the newborn pigs, watch a feeding time, see how research was conducted (on the research farm on campus), and meet with various workers. It was fascinating.

And made your clothes smell horrible.

There was no faking that you’d been to the pig farm. You had to change clothes and shower before your next class…every time.

One thing that stuck with me from that class was the way that nothing was wasted on the farm. Not even the pigs’ poop.

The poop was piled in a barn, and over the course of a year, the poop would compost, leaving a rich fertilizer that the farmers would use to fertilize the fields that other animals would graze. It was an incredible additive and boost to those fields, giving yields that greatly surpassed the non-fertilized fields. In other words, the poop made the crops grow faster.

Pig poop, though foul-smelling to us humans, contains nutrients that help crops grow really well. After it was harvested and composted (by which time it didn’t stink anymore), it was simply spread across the field in the spring, just before a rain, its nutrients used by the budding crops.

The poop from your past

You’ve got poop in your life. Things you’ve done that you’re not proud of. Things that have been done to you that you wish hadn’t happened. Dreams that you lost, relationships that crumbled. Jobs lost. Marriages destroyed. Addictions that you’re ashamed of. You’ve messed up in a way that you’d hope and pray nobody would ever mess up. You’ve done things…or not done thing…that you never want to repeat.

We typically do one of two things with that pain and suffering:

  1. Ignore it and act like it never happened.
  2. Wallow in it.

Neither is healthy.

Option 1 leaves us judgmental of others who have real pain, ignorant of our own Pharisaical stench. We’re left with a shallow understanding of our sin and pain…and thus a shallow understanding of God’s goodness and grace. Acting like “poop” never happened wastes our pain.

Option 2 leaves us in a crying, heaping, depressed, self-depracating mess. All of the time. We get stuck in what “could’ve been,” what “should’ve been,” and “who I wish I was,” constantly making ourselves pay for our past mistakes over and over again. OR making others pay for our past mistakes by disengaging from those who love us, and who would love to help. Wallowing in our “poop” wastes our pain.

I’ve got a 3rd option, and I take my cue from the pig poop.

Allow your failures to help someone else.

The way God brought you through the junk can help someone else who, right now, can’t see the light. They’re stuck. They’re in the middle of an addiction or the throes of suffering.

Live a life full of grace because you’ve been graced so much by the King. Live a life of love because you were loved first. Live a life of forgiveness because of the heaping amounts of forgiveness you’ve been given that you can never repay. Live a life of generosity because you’ve been given so much.

Your valleys can become great pastures that others can graze from as they see you living life to the full. (John 10:10)

No need to ignore the past. It’s purpose isn’t to hold you back. No need to wallow in it, either.

Let someone else graze from it.

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:6-7

 

Helping our children learn obedience

When I was a kid, my parents gave me an allowance. A huge, mind-blowing amount of money that left me spoiled rotten.

$2.50.

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image credit: CreationSwap user Flip Ologenau

Even when I was a kid, that wasn’t much money. I remember my friends getting $5 per week. And other friends getting $10 or $20 for every ‘A’ they got on their report card. That made my $2.50 look puny.

But I loved getting it, nonetheless. I’d have my eye on a new video game, or a Reds cap, or a GI Joe, and I’d stash my money away in my top drawer and watch it grow. Ever. So. Slowly.

Every week, my dad would give me two $1 bills and 2 quarters. “Son, do what you want with this. But this (he’d say, holding up a quarter) is to give back to God.”

See, tithing is difficult enough. So my parents made it a bit easier by giving me money in denominations that were easily broken into percentages.

10% of $2.50 is $.25. Boom.

I’d take my $.25 and stuff it in the offering envelope, seal that thing up, and away we’d go. It became a habit, a regular part of my life. I grew to have a healthy understanding of money, and living generously. It was easier to give because:

  1. The money didn’t feel like it was “mine” that I’d earned or deserved…it had come straight from my dad’s hands.
  2. It went straight from my hand to the offering envelope.

Because giving became a part of my life from such an early age, even when I was older, and making money “of my own,” giving to my church was an expectation I had of myself. It wasn’t, and isn’t, easy (in fact, I’ve found in my life that making more money doesn’t guarantee that generosity is easier). But it’s much easier than if it hadn’t been built into my life from an early age.

I’m convinced that one of the major roles of parenting is teaching our children to learn to obey God. Not in an overbearing, exasperating, constantly hard-nosed kind of way. But in a way that is full of grace, mercy, and truth.

Obedience is hard you too, right? Whether it comes to obeying God in your finances, in your marriage, in your job, with the amount of food you eat or the kind of media you consume, obedience at nearly every level is difficult. We’ve got an enemy that prowls around like a lion, ready to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8) The same is true for our children. So let’s make it as easy as we possibly can for our children to obey us (and, by proxy, God).

Obedience isn’t easy, so don’t make it harder than it has to be. When it comes to tithing, our greed and proclivity to covet makes obedience especially difficult. Let your children see how easy it can be to give, helping them develop good, God-honoring habits early on in their life.

It is true:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. – Ephesians 6:1

But parents, let’s do our part to make that as easy as possible. Don’t stop with financial obedience! Remove barriers, crack strongholds, and clear pathways in more and more areas of their lives.

Our children will thank us later.

 

 

9 Parenting Tips to Avoid

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Let me list my parenting resume

  • I’ve been a parent now for over 4 years.
  • I’ve read a lot of parenting books.
  • I’ve listened to a lot of parenting sermons.
  • I’ve preached about parenting issues.
  • I’ve blogged about being a parent.

Which means I have it all figured out.

Come on, you know that once you’ve written a blog about parenting, you’ve got it all figured out.

In my vast years of experience, I’ve noticed a lot of parenting nuggets being thrown around. And I’ve noticed a lot of things that aren’t shared as nuggets as much as they’re just lived out in the moment.

Things get out of hand, and go sideways in a restaurant, and you default to a certain behavior, whether in the moment you believe that’s what’s best for your child or not. Right?

You don’t really think that yelling back at your child in Wal Mart is what’s best for him, you, or the rest of Wal Mart, do you? You don’t really think that giving in to your child’s temper tantrum is what’s best, do you? But in order to save face, and just “get through” the moment, we make decisions and base our actions on more immediate gratification.

I’ve seen some pretty bad decisions that have been made in the heat of the moment. I’ve committed lots of these. And I’ve noticed a few things that you and I should avoid.

9 Parenting Tips to Avoid

1. Count to 3.

“Timmy, listen to daddy. I’m going to count to 3, and you have to _____. 1…2…2.5…2.75…2.85…2.94…” Don’t expect obedience the first time you ask for it. Give your child a chance to disobey you for a little while longer.

Delayed obedience is disobedience.

2. Always let them decide.

They’re a child. They decide what’s best for themselves. Eating a candy bar before bed? Yes! Oh, you don’t want to go eat there for dinner, like mommy and daddy do? Ok! You want to stay up late because you just don’t want to go to bed? Sure! Thanks for letting me know, you little ball of wisdom!

Children need your wisdom. And they need to know you’re the parent, not them. As a parent, God’s called you to be an authority in your child’s life.

3. Let your world revolve around them.

Get in as many “activities” as possible, because that’s what’s best for your children and your family. Always be doing something. And during the “off” seasons, find something to fill your time. Because “resting” (the Bible calls this “Sabbath”) is something we do when we die.

If you let them, children will make your world completely circle theirs. This isn’t healthy. Good parents help their family find balance between doing and being.

4. Don’t have a discipline plan.

Don’t plan for discipline…because that’s no fun! Just try to figure out in the moment what you’ll do. That way, if you’re really angry, you’ll do something stupid always do the right thing.

Plan out how you’ll discipline. Don’t make it an “in the moment” thing, or you’ll end up disciplining in a way that you regret. Godly discipline is loving, and for our good. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

5. Don’t make them go to church.

What kind of parent would you be if you forced your child to do what you know is best for them? You haven’t been called to shape the way your children grow and mature. Come on…do you even love your child?

Set corporate worship, and healthy relationships, as a weekly standard for your family, because you know you need it…not necessarily because you always wake up every Sunday eager to go. Do what’s best, not just what “feels” right at the time.

6. Always be firm.

Don’t ever let up on your kids. Because if you do, they’ll get out of hand. No grace. No mercy.

Model for your children what the grace of God looks like. Sometimes, when they’ve disobeyed, show them grace, and explain the radical grace of God to them. Don’t exasperate your children. (Ephesians 6:4)

7. Don’t ever play.

You’re the parent. They’re the child. They need to understand that distinction. Don’t ever get on the ground and play with them. Don’t show them your weaknesses. And for goodness sake, don’t ever have fun.

If you don’t play with your child, you rob them of a beautiful gift. And you paint a picture of a boring God to them.

8. When you don’t know what to do, let Google be your guide.

Not sure what to do in this parenting situation? Google it! There’s so much great advice that will always point your children to Jesus, and help your family grow. Use Google, and Google alone.

Always be wary of what you read on the internet. Find a parent (or two or three) and ask them to speak in to your life as a parent. Surround yourself with people wiser than you, and bounce ideas off of them, growing from their wisdom and experience. 

9. As long as they’re not bothering me…

They’re watching something that may be a bit inappropriate for their age? Playing with something they shouldn’t? Spending too long on Facebook? Well, at least they’re out of your hair for a couple of hours.

Do. Not. Disengage. Know what is influencing your child. Set boundaries, and stick to them. Media shapes your children’s minds in powerful ways.

Anything you’d add?

 

 

 

7 reasons your team desperately needs your public support

The way you speak about your team publicly will set the stage for how you are able to lead privately. Whether “publicly” for you means from stage, in conversations, in emails, or in feigned heart-wrenching prayer requests, public criticism is more important than you might think. George Washington knew this.

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image credit: history.com

Washington was a man of exceptional, almost excessive self-command, rarely permitting himself any show of discouragement or despair, but in the privacy of his correspondence with Joseph Reed, he began now to reveal how very low and bitter he felt, if the truth were known. Never had he seen “such a dearth of public spirit and want of virtue” as among the Yankee soldiers, he confided in a letter to Reed of November 28. “These people” were still beyond his comprehension. A “dirty, mercenary spirit pervades the whole,” he wrote. (from David McCullough’s 1776)

Washington had a clear, accurate view of the people he was leading. But he chose not to rake them over the coals publicly, and in this showed incredible self-restraint and wisdom. It would’ve been easy for him to slough off the fact that he and the rebels were losing the battle against the British onto the people. To paint the colonists as a bunch of sloppy, ill-fitted, cowardly bunch. But he chose the honorable route of honoring them publicly.

You’re probably not the commanding general of the US Army, but this restraint is wise in relationships like

  • Pastor –> associate pastor
  • Small group leader –> small group member
  • Husband –> wife
  • Boss –> co-worker
  • church staff member –> church staff member
  • deacon –> pastor
  • volunteer –> executive director
  • student –> teacher

When someone speaks negatively of your team, it’s often easier to just shake your head in flaccid approval. Or join in, making you look better and them look worse. Whether you’re a leader in your church, in your community, or in your home, public support is vital.

7 reasons your team desperately needs your public support

1. Public praise builds respect.

Very few things will earn someone else’s respect of you more than them knowing you have their back no matter what. Even when you don’t fully agree with the decision they’ve made, and would’ve yourself made a different decision.

With public criticism, you rip others apart and cause them to disrespect you.

2. Public praise nips negative attitudes in the bud.

When you don’t give critics the satisfaction of dragging your team through the mud, you paint a vivid picture of a united team.

Public criticism breeds public and private criticism.

3. Public praise promotes creativity.

Instead of spiraling downwards into backbiting and complaining, public praise keeps the focus on what’s good, and where improvement and innovation can happen.

Public criticism squelches creativity because it causes you to lose focus on the problem, and spiral into negativity.

4. Public praise gives you a real chance for influence.

If you publicly criticize others, you have no chance of leading them behind closed doors. They won’t give you a chance, because you’ve ripped their confidence and trust.

Public criticism closes the door for private leadership.

5. Public praise for someone else brings public praise on you, too.

What goes around comes around, both positively and negatively. If someone is criticizing one of your team members now, they’ll criticize you later. Mark my words.

Private criticism permeates a team culture.

6. Public praise builds team.

Public praise helps show others that you are on a team, and that you are all headed in the same direction. It builds the confidence of those you are leading as they see they are being served by a team, not just one person out to criticize everyone else.

Public criticism deteriorates the health of a team.

7. Public praise shifts your heart to love.

Love hopes all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7) Your heart shifts towards love when you act lovingly, even when your feelings aren’t there yet. Try hoping the best for the people you serve with, even when you’re not 100% sure of the motives. Because that’s what love does.

With public criticism, your heart can grow cold to those you are serving with.

There is a time and a place for critically evaluating ideas, decisions, and character issues. But those hard questions are better asked in private than waved publicly for others to join in the gossip and negativity.

Next time someone tries to throw a fellow team member under the bus, yank them out before they get run over. It’ll be better for you, your team, and the hater you’re talking with.

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. – Paul, Ephesians 4:2-3
 

Don’t forget…you’re my friend

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Just the other day, my son (Rex, 4) was playing with his uncle (Carson, 7). They’ve been playing together a lot recently. And like most boys their age, they play well together. Most of the time.

But there are moments where you think that the house is going to fall apart. That the carpet is going to roll up, the dry wall crack, and the bricks scream in agony because of the noise. Partly because they’re just boys and they play hard. And partly because…well…”He won’t give me back my Batman!”

Amidst the landscape of imaginary fire-breathing dragons, Rex and Carson had their swords, shields, and helmets, wielding each with very, very little precision. Instead of the dragons taking the brunt of their zeal, it was often the door frame, the couch, or our dog. In the middle of the battle, Rex turned to Carson, looked him directly in the eye, and said

‘Don’t forget. You’re my friend.’

As swords and arrows were whizzing by, it would’ve no doubt been easy to forget which team you were on and who the real enemy was, swinging your sword at the wrong person. Chopping off the wrong head. Creating enemies out of friends. This wasn’t a cry of desperation for a friend…it was a cry of “We set this out beforehand. We were clear before things went sideways with the Ogre in the corner. So don’t forget.”

This saying has a sense of camaraderie, rallying hearts, minds, and purposes. Refocusing energy and relationships, energizing what was once dead in the water. This awakens you to old, dusty covenants that need revisiting. Brightens dead corners of your heart.

We need this reminder today, too. And I bet there’s someone in your life that needs to hear this from you. Someone you’ve been treating more like an enemy than a friend. Someone who’s seen your dark side more than your bright side. Someone who really is your friend, but for all intents and purposes looks more like a fire-breathing dragon to you. Or you to them.

Maybe forgiveness needs to happen. Maybe humility needs to happen. Maybe “it’s you, not me.” But it can all start with a simple shift of heart.

4 people who need to hear this today

Your spouse

they are your friend, right? But when was the last time you reminded yourself of this? When was the last time you told them? When was the last time you treated them like the best friend you long to see at the end of the day? The one you tell your secrets, your hopes, and your dreams? Time to remind yourself, and them, of who they once were to you. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22

“Don’t forget, honey. You’re my friend.”

Your child

It’s hard, in the heat of the moment, to remember this. I’m not advocating that parents need to be friends first, and parents second. That’s a lousy way to parent. But in the moment when things get loud, and patiences are being tried, it’s easy to forget that your child is a gift from God to you. That, no matter how they’re acting, they’re looking to how you’ll respond. You represent God to them, whether you like it or not. Will you lose your temper? Will you disengage? Will you abandon them? Or will you show up when they need you, loving them even when it’s hard? “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.” – Ephesians 6:4

“Don’t forget, son. You’re my friend.”

Your friend

You’ve got a friend in your life with whom you’re not as close anymore. Maybe it’s because of something they did to you. Maybe you did something to them. Maybe time and distance have taken their toll, and you’re just not close anymore. Friends are an incredible gift from God, though. “A friend loves at all times…” (Proverbs 17:17)

“Hey buddy, don’t forget. You’re my friend.”

Those you collaborate with

The people with whom you work can, and should, be your friends. If they’re not, you’ll be miserable, and your organization will suffer. Friends work well together, disagree passionately, and still head in the same direction. You’re all working towards a common goal. One may think that their way is quicker, but in the end you want the same thing. Remind yourself that you’re on the same team. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:14

“Hey man, don’t forget. You’re my friend.”

 And aren’t you glad we get this message of hope from our King? He is our “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Who do you need to speak this to today?

 

 

10 Things I Guarantee You’ll Never Say

I have said a lot of stupid things in my life. Many of which I’ve said right here on this blog. Things that have gotten me in hot water, cold water, and dry with no water.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the trajectory of my life, how I’m spending my time, and where I want to point. As I’ve thought back over the years, there are things I realize I’ve never said that have significantly shaped who I am. God’s changed me through generosity, community, laughter, my son, my church(es), and my own leadership journey.

Sometimes what’s not said is more important than what is said. And there are things you’ll never say, either.

I’m not a gambling man, but I’d put good money on the line that you’ll never say any of these things. And if you find yourself saying them, stop it.

10 things you’ll never say

I wish I hadn’t been so generous.

Nobody regrets being generous. Even when your generosity isn’t well received, isn’t thanked, or isn’t noticed, the act of generosity changes you as much as it changes others.

Truth: You’ll never regret generosity.

Life would’ve been better if I hadn’t joined that small group.

You will have less “free” time in your life, more heartache, more burdens to bear, more mess to wade through, and more people to pray for. Life will be tougher. But you won’t regret joining a small group, because you’ll have people to journey through life with.

Truth: You’ll never regret investing in people’s lives.

My best friends? They’re the ones I never laugh with.

Get off the boring train, and start recognizing that laughter is a gift from God. You’ll grow more spiritually with a group of people that you enjoy being around than ones you dread meeting with.

Truth: If you don’t enjoy being around you, neither will others.

I wish I had spent less time with my kids.

And your kids will never say they wish that you’d spent less time with them, either.

Truth: Time with your kids is not time wasted.

I love to drink mediocre coffee.

No you don’t. Nobody does. Which is why when I have people over to my house, I serve the best stuff that I’ve got. Or I go get my hands on the best stuff I can find. All coffee is not created equal.

Truth: 1 cup of my coffee just might change your life. 🙂

I wish I had been less regular at church.

Your church isn’t perfect. Neither is mine. But being where God’s people gather to worship and celebrate the work of God is healing and life-giving.

Truth: Getting plugged into a local church will change the trajectory of your life.

“Leadership” doesn’t really have any relevance in my life.

No matter where you find yourself, leadership is playing a significant role. Sometimes it’s affecting you positively. Other times, negatively. Sometimes by its presence. Other times by its absence.

Truth: Focusing on your own leadership development isn’t a waste of time.

My life is much more lovely because of my cat.

Nope. It’s not.

Truth: I hate cats. So do you.

I wish I had not gone on that mission trip.

I wrote about it here, but my life was shifted when I traveled to Costa Rica. Others’ lives were shifted because I was sick for part of the week, too. Whether you go on a trip out of your country or across state lines, you won’t regret the time away from work or the money it cost you to get there.

Truth: Going on a mission trip will mess you up in the best way possible.

Children’s ministry? That’s a waste of time.

If you say this, expect to not be a pastor very long. Or expect your church numbers to dwindle quickly.

Truth: When you invest in children, you are investing in the life of the Church. For today and tomorrow.

Anything you’d add? 

 

11 Encouragements Young Pastors Need to Hear

I’ve been a pastor on staff at a local church now for over 7 years. In that time, I’ve been the new guy. I’ve been the young guy. I’ve been the guy with dumb ideas. I’ve been the idea killer. I’ve been the guy that made stupid mistakes.

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image credit: TheBibleQuotes.org

And I’ve learned a couple of things. Not everything. Not even close to everything. Every day I feel like I’m being bombarded with new ways of thinking, new ways of operating, and new ways of leading here at Long Hollow.

Along the way, I’ve had to remind myself of some truths. And I’ve had to hear words of correction from others. Neither of which is immediately joy-inducing, but each of which has propelled me forward in ministry.

11 Encouragements Young Pastors Need to Hear

1. You don’t know it all.

You’re not the savior of our church staff. You’re not “all we hoped for.” You don’t have all of the answers to all of the questions we’ve been wrestling with. And the answers we’ve landed on have been wrought with prayers, tears, and sweat.

Encouragement: Bring your ideas with humility.

2. Not every hill is worth dying on.

This is a hard one for me, because I can easily find myself making mountains out of molehills. There are ideas, principles, and dare I say…*theological stances* that are better left untouched and buried for the time being. Triage the most important aspects of your ministry, and fight for those. If you go to battle for every one of the ideas you birthed in the seminary classroom, you’ll breed a staff of people who can’t stand to be around you.

Encouragement: Let someone else die on the molehills. Don’t cash in your relational chips on things that don’t matter.

3. The way you love your family now is the way you’ll love them in 5 years.

If you struggle with spending too much time at work now…you will in 5 years, too. If you tend to bring your job your best…and your family your leftovers…that won’t change. You’re dredging out a trench that will grow more and more comfortable to plow through as the years go on. If you don’t like the way you’re loving your family, change now.

Encouragement: Problems, solutions, and emails can wait until tomorrow. Your wife and children can’t.

4. Not everything is urgent.

This is a mashup of #2 and #3, but it stands on its own feet. Email seems urgent. Phone calls seem urgent. Sunday morning seems urgent. But if you don’t carve out time to dream and plan for the future, you’ll look up and 3 years will have passed you by.

Encouragement: Make sure you’re thinking forward for your ministry. Don’t let the urgency of today drown out your dreams for tomorrow.

5. Not everyone will love your ideas.

Whether you’re a small groups pastor or not, all of your ideas won’t be instantly loved and adopted. That shouldn’t persuade you from remaining silent, though. Learn how to lead up, down, and across. Learn how to innovate and build a team. Learn how to lead people well and integrate your ideas into the life of your church’s culture.

Encouragement: Get a thicker skin, take criticism seriously, and lead people well.

6. You’re not God.

God doesn’t sleep. You need to.

God changes hearts. You don’t.

“There is a God, and it is not you.” – John Ortberg

Encouragement: “Reminding ourselves of the gospel is the most important daily habit we can establish.” – CJ Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life

7. Time with God isn’t easier because you’re a pastor.

Many people naively assume that pastors just sit around, read our Bibles all day, and sing Kumbaya. Let the record show: I’ve never sang Kumbaya in my office. Just because you’re a pastor doesn’t mean that carving out personal time with God happens easily. Emails, meetings, phone calls, tragedies, meetings, videos, and meetings happen naturally.

Encouragement: Don’t neglect personal worship.

8. Leadership will be more important than theology on a day-to-day basis.

Before you hang me out to dry, know that I’m a theologian. I love to dig in and wrestle through theology. I love a good theology book and a good lecture. But nobody cares what you believe about your thoughts on the authorship of the book of Hebrews when their marriage is falling apart. When life doesn’t make sense, nobody leads with, “Who are the Nephilim, really?” Are there potentially important things about the authorship of Hebrews that come to bear? Yep. But the way you lead your staff and congregation will be more important than what you believe about the Nephilim. Or about Calvinism.*

Encouragement: Get your hands on some good leadership books. Maxwell, Osborne, and Godin are all pretty good places to begin.

9. Seminary is good. But it won’t prepare you for much of ministry.

It’s easy to get comfortable in the ivory tower. But real ministry rarely happens there. It happens on the street-level. I learned lots there…but not everything.

Encouragement: Don’t let your seminary education get in the way of you loving people.

10. Investing in the next generation doesn’t come naturally.

Look at your role as preparing the next generation of leaders. Even if you’re 22 year old. Or 32. Or 62. The next generation needs you! Spend time investing in people by bringing them along with you when you are doing the work on ministry. Help them to know what you know, see what you see, lead how you lead, and love how you love. Then turn them loose to use their gifts and passions!

Encouragement: Bring people with you when you do ministry.

11. Build in individual accountability, because nobody will do that for you.

Spoiler alert: you’re going to be tempted to sin. Maybe even more so as a pastor. Satan would love nothing more than to destroy your marriage, your local church, and your ministry. Asking other people to speak in to your life on a consistent basis will help guard against this.

Encouragement: Surround yourself with people whom you can be open, honest, and transparent with.

 

*I think that these things are incredibly important. Especially Reformed theology. What you believe informs how you live, how you preach, and how you counsel. But it’s easy to become a “Calvin-ite,” a “John-Piper-ite,” or a “Mark Driscoll-ite,” making a bigger deal out of them (what they believe and how they operate in ministry) than out of the way you are to contextualize the Gospel for the people you are called to lead. Be careful in how you wield your theology.

 

 
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