The Myth Of Balance (Book Review)

Until we take responsibility, we will continue to pursue balance and blame others when we can’t find it.  – Frank Bealer

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I’ve been in church leadership for over 20 years, and I’ve experienced A LOT of dysfunction in the church.  The size of the church doesn’t decrease or increase the severity of the dysfunction either.  But I will say this.  The last 3 churches I’ve had the honor of serving on staff at were roughly 750, 1000, and currently 2000 in weekend attendance.  The dysfunction is the same.  It’s the QUANTITY that gets you!

But let’s not blame the church.  The church is made up of people (you and I), and it’s no different than a marriage relationship.  Problems are almost always connected to both sides.  That’s what I appreciate about this book.  It addresses the side leaders can have direct influence on.  OURSELVES!

I have been following Frank Bealer for the past few years and have enjoyed listening to his interviews on Carey Nieuwhof’s Leadership Podcast.  The Myth of Balance, however, elaborates on an entirely deeper level of Frank the leader, and Frank the husband/father.  He is authentic with certain ministry challenges, and if you’ve been in ministry longer than 6 months you will likely relate.  In fact, there were two points in the book which caused a knot in my throat (Don’t judge.  I’m more sensitive than the average guy).

Disclaimer:  This book is NOT for leaders who are hung up on ego and need to be NEEDED by the church.  It is, however, for those who are clearly called to making a difference in God’s Kingdom work while SIMULTANEOUSLY leading a healthy family.

Let’s get to the book.  Below is a short list of my favorite quotes from The Myth of Balance.

“Balance. It lives somewhere between unemployment and renowned success.”

“God never intended for us to sacrifice the family He blessed us with on the altar of the ministry He called us to.”  (read that one a couple more times)

“We often excuse our mismanagement of time, energy, and effort as just being busy.”

“Just because you FEEL overwhelmed doesn’t mean your work schedule is paralyzing you.”

WHEN THIS, THEN THAT… it’s coming to realize that exceptions in ministry are going to happen.  They always do.  So Frank offers a practical approach to planning for these exceptions.  Get a copy for you and your team HERE and discover your WHEN THIS, THEN THAT.  I promise…..this will create real growth conversations in your staff.

 

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2 Benefits of Keeping our Blessings in Mind

I’m creating a Praise Challenge for the entire month of December.  Follow me on Instagram and Twitter to stay in the know each week.

I don’t know about you, but I have a TON to be thankful for.  The majority of 2016 has been extremely challenging for me.  The Lord, however, has his hands in all of our ‘challenges,’ usually in ways we are not immediately aware of.

Take a quick look at these two scripture passages:

My soul, praise the Lord,
and do not forget all His benefits. – Psalm 103:2
and
Rejoice always!
Pray constantly.
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The issue of Praising Him in everything has been on my mind lately.  It’s been in my devotion time, and it was the topic of our Chapel time at work this past Friday.

Here are just 2 benefits to keeping our blessings in mind every day.

  1. Our challenges and needs become less pronounced as we go about our day when we intentionally try to identify all the different blessings that we do have.
  2. It can change our attitudes.  Our entire outlook on life can do a 180 turnaround when we realize that we really do have many more blessings in our life than we do hardships.

So, do you want to experience less anxiety caused by the things that worry you?  Would you like to have more of an optimistic outlook on life?  If so, start counting your blessings and praise the one who is the true source of all that you and I have to be thankful for.

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If you are interested, here’s the Praise Challenge for all of December.  Every Monday identify 5 blessings in your life.  Then, simply pray over them and praise Jesus for them each day of the week.  If you want, you can even post them on social media to encourage others to jump in too.  If you do, please remember to use #PraiseChallenge on each post.  Each Monday we will identify and share 5 new blessings to praise Him for.

How does that sound?

This December, may you be blessed in your search for all the ways Jesus really is actively taking care of you.

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Why Churches Should Be In The Habit Of Spilling The Beans

I spilled the beans the other day at work.  No, I ‘literally’ blew coffee beans all over the place while trying to suck them out of the espresso hopper.  What I didn’t realize is that someone had left the vacuum hose attached to the wrong end, blowing beans into the air and all over the floor and counter.  It was quite a scene.

Where certain sayings come from is fascinating to me.  So, I looked up Don’t Spill The Beans and found this popular source of origin.

A popular folk etymology for “to spill the beans” claims that in ancient Greece, applicants for membership in secret societies were voted upon by having the existing members drop beans into a pottery jar. Those who approved of the potential new member would signal an affirmative vote by adding a white bean to the jar. A black bean indicated a negative vote. The story goes that on occasion, when the jar was accidentally knocked over, the beans poured out and the vote was revealed prematurely. Somebody had “spilled the beans“.

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This got me thinking about leadership in our churches.  In almost all situations, we know that God works in the Light and the enemy does his thing in darkness.  Way too often, churches choose to lead and do business in the dark.  This comes in the form of secrete ballots for voting, allowing anonymous notes and emails to affect the staff, holding ‘unofficial’ side discussions outside of official meetings, and ignoring valid concerns of unhealthy trends within the congregation hoping they will eventually go away.

At a very basic level, these things create distrust, worry, and skepticism of the leadership and among the people in the church.

“The more a church can truly be open about everything, the fewer dark places there are for the enemy to succeed in dividing the Church”

Leaders, are there issues that you’ve been keeping from your church people under the excuse of protecting them?  Imagine the new credibility you could gain from them if you were to allow them into the leadership struggles you are facing.  Imagine what might happen if you allowed them to partner with you and the leadership of your church in prayer…together as a real family.

Don’t underestimate the strength and maturity of your congregation.  Their purpose extends far beyond making coffee, paying a tithe, and listening to a sermon.

Open up to your people, spill the beans and watch God do his best work in the light.

 

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Pause, Priorities, & Purpose

Do you ever feel like the picture below?  Too many things (projects, ideas, tasks, relationships) going on at once?

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Me too!  There are seasons in all of our lives when we need to work really hard and multitask through it all to accomplish something.  But, there are also other seasons in which we need to PAUSE enough to evaluate our current PRIORITIES to make sure we are still on course with our PURPOSE in life.

Sometimes this means temporarily giving up things we enjoy to put more focus on the most important things.  For most of us, this moment becomes pretty obvious once we take on one more thing that threatens the balance of all of it.

Recently, my wife and I decided to take a huge step of faith and co-write our first book!  It will be about living a life of faith and healthy service in the Church while continuing to nourish a thriving marriage and home life.   Personally, I am also working, finishing up my Sociology degree online, and starting a church leadership consulting ministry.

Unfortunately, this means I need to take a break from blogging for a while.  This blog is more for me than anyone else.  It’s been like a journal.  But for those who read it, I do encourage you to stay connected with me on social media.  I’m much more active in these places anyway.   The book is scheduled to be complete by the first part of 2017.

Follow me at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Enough about me.  What about you?  Is your current balancing act going well, or are there ‘plates‘ as risk of crashing to the ground?

Please comment below or interact where you saw it posted.

 

photo credit: http://www.lcius.com 

 

 

Dear Hurting Pastor

This letter is dedicated to every church pastor who has ever felt burned out, been in a ‘funk’ and could not get out, lost the respect of your staff or board, or simply had the passion of your calling to ministry fade away.  

Dear Lead Pastor,

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for all the 1:00 a.m. phone calls that took you away from you family too often.  I’m sorry about all the ridiculous expectations the church placed on you for so many years. Having to appear at every single event throughout the year.  Making yourself available 24/7 to EVERYONE for absolutely ANYTHING.  I’m sorry for all those anonymous I’m displeased with your leadership notes you found under your office door on Mondays.  I’m sorry you didn’t receive THANK YOUs and HUGS more often for the compassion you poured into people.  I’m so very sorry that your kids witnessed an unpleasant, un-Christlike side of church and ministry while they were growing up.  You probably did not get to witness first hand much of the fruit resulting from your ministry either…I’m sorry for that too.  I’m sorry that no one in your church really knows what it is like being in your shoes.

I’m sorry the church placed you so high up on a pedestal that it seemed impossible to ever step down.  You should have never been put there.  That position is reserved for Jesus.  He’s the only one who deserves to be there…who can withstand the pressures that exist there…and the only one the church needs to see up there.

In those empty, dry, and lonely seasons…I’m sorry no one in the church offered loving accountability to you.  They should have given you a paid and structured Sabbatical.  Offering to provide you with the right counseling, or even find you a mentor.  Now that would have been helpful.  I’m sorry that did not happen.

Pastor, mostly I am sorry that ministry work has put a bad taste in your mouth for the church.  As someone who has experienced this with a handful of friends who were pastors, allow me to encourage you.  The church is made up of flawed people, therefore, it is flawed.  That’s just the way it is going to be until Christ returns.  Pastors do not have direct control over the health of their church congregations, staff, and boards.  But WE DO have 100% control of our own personal health and leadership.

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Have you left the ministry?  Or, have you been thinking about stepping out but haven’t quite taken the plunge yet?

Please hear me on this.  If there is ANY amount of calling left on your life, stick with it…BUT make some changes.  Take charge of leading by example.  Be intentional about resting and recharging once a week.  Empower others (staff and volunteers) to share the burden of hospital visits, speaking/teaching at small group gatherings and Bible studies, and even leading some team meetings.  And for the love of all that is good and meaningful in the world, please find a mentor!  Someone OUTSIDE of your church who is spiritually mature and will speak truth into you as a leader, husband, and father.

If the Lord has truly called you to ministry and others around you affirm that calling, then be obedient.  The church desperately needs healthy pastors.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  – Galatians 6:9

Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leadership Burnout: 4 Signs To Watch For

“Leadership is a marathon, NOT a sprint.”

You’ve heard this before.  Church leadership requires a healthy pace.  You and I;  we’re not Superman.  We’re definitely not God.  So we need to stop living our lives like we are.

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As leaders in the Church, you and I have a huge responsibility.  This is all the more reason we must be attentive to our spiritual, physical, and emotional health regularly.

Here are 4 signs to beware of:

Short temper | Anyone ever accused you of being snappy?  Maybe your spouse or a co-worker?  And when they address it doesn’t it make us even SNAPPIER?  When we have been going full throttle for too long, anything (anyone) that appears to be a speed bump in our way ends up really irritating us.  Watch out for this.

Fatigue | Staying up too late and getting up too early.  Have you ever said to yourself, “People survive on 3-4 hours of sleep a night all the time.  I just need to push through this busy season.”  Two thoughts here.  1. That is simply justifying an unhealthy lifestyle.  2. If you’re in church leadership, guess what?  It’s always a busy season!

Told by others | This one usually stings a bit.  And the reason is usually because the person holding us accountable is someone we have a close relationship with.  A spouse, close mentor, or good friend.  That’s why it stings…because you and I know they’re right!  Here are a few things I’ve personally been told: “Hey man, what’s up? You’ve been a bit distant lately.”   “You have not checked in on me and how my family has been doing in quite a while.  I miss that.”   Are you O.K? You haven’t been yourself lately.”

Isolation | This one is huge!  Beware when you reach the point of dreading being around anyone.  You stop going to Small Group with your spouse during the week.  You tend to be the last one in at staff meetings and the first one to leave.  Your list of friends you can confide in has diminished to zero.

If you can relate to any of these today, please….talk to someone.  Modify your schedule.  Take a true Sabbath rest.  Ask your spouse to pray for/with you.

If this isn’t you but you know someone who is in this place, do them a favor.  Offer some loving accountability.  Share this post with them.  Offer to pray over them.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore your gut on this.  Leave a comment below.

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