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.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Keep It Stupid Simple

You and I tend to overcomplicate our purpose…calling…life mission…and our OneWord365 of focus for the year.  Do you agree?

I blogged about my OneWord for 2016 back at the end of December.  Here it is:

CALLED…

That’s my OneWord.  And for me it’s a reminder of the specific journey God has planned for me to embark on.  I said ‘YES’ to him years ago, but recently I have found myself having to recommit.  Having to make a cognitive choice to speak the word ‘YES’ yet again to him.  Why?

I have been in vocational ministry and leadership for the past 15 years.  Though I am 100% confident I am still in his will, I have recently transitioned to working as a Barista and rebranding myself as a life coach and social media manager.  Folks, that a big change!  And if I’m going to be gut-level authentic with you, December and January were dark months containing very little joy and hope.  Thankfully, I realized that I had lost sight of my calling and taken my attention off of my OneWord.

“Self-awareness is a gift of wisdom”

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Here are 3 tips for keeping YOUR OneWord ‘stupid simple’ in 2016:

  1. Stay active in the OneWord365 Facebook community | I’ve dropped the ball here too.  Set daily or weekly reminders on your mobile device if you have to.  But visit the group regularly.  Leave comments.  Read about the journeys of others.  The successes and rough spots of others can offer powerful encouragement and even new ideas.
  2. Keep your OneWord in front of you | Create a word picture or graphic of your OneWord.  Make it a screen saver on your laptop, phone, and tablet.  Write it on your vanity mirror with a dry erase marker or wet chalk pen.
  3. Record your journey | Writing down our thoughts and emotions can be so empowering.  Personally, writing on my blog is my canvas.  Buy a physical journal or diary, use Evernote.  Here’s an idea for you creatives who don’t like writing.  Start a podcast!  Or how about broadcasting on Periscope?

Whatever you do, set yourself up for success and keep it simple.  Start small.

How about you?  Have you overcomplicated your OneWord?  Leave a comment below.  In what ways can you take steps to overSIMPLIFY it this week.  Seriously, let’s do this together.

Has Busyness Intruded On Your Life?

I am sick and tired!

Literally, as I write this I have been knocked down for the last 5 days.  I’ve missed work, gotten behind in my studies, and whined a lot to my family about how miserable I feel.

Truth | You and I are not super-human, and we’re definitely not God!  We were not created to be invincible (I know, hard to believe).

Confession | I haven’t taken time to rest like I should.  This is a huge reason I got sick.  I have not had my quiet time with Jesus in the last week.  I have not been proactive about taking a real Sabbath once a week.

So how did this happen to me?  How do we allow our days to spin out of control?

EASY!

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We let our priorities and healthy habits fall out of sight.  When we don’t plan ahead…when intentionality becomes scarce…those things get replaced.  So what takes their place?   Busyness! 

I don’t know about you, but I plan to be more intentional with my time.  That’s simply going to mean looking ahead at my week and planning accordingly.

How about you?  How do you successfully keep busyness from leading the way?

Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.
You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

The 4 Dimensions Of Extraordinary Leadership

“Extraordinary leaders call others to their extraordinary best.”

This is simply one of dozens of insightful quotes by Jenni Catron in her latest book, The 4 Dimensions Of Extraordinary Leadership.

One of the leading voices in Christian leadership today, Jenni exposes readers to four dimensions of leadership through the lens of the Great Commandment.  She takes how we are to love God (with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength) and challenges us to lead others through the same dimensions.  Not only is it Biblical, it makes sense.  Think about it.  By focusing our leadership efforts in this way we are honoring, thus loving, our Heavenly Father.

  “When I consider my life as a leader, it means leading with all of who I am                    for the benefit of God and others.”

I don’t know about you, but I really like tools.  Well, Jenni Catron offers a free online assessment tool that will help you discover which dimension(s) you naturally lead from.  I suggest taking this assessment before reading the book.  If you’re like me, this can be beneficial in focusing additional attention on the chapters which relate specifically to you.

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Where do I lead from?  SOUL!  Some leaders determine a mixed percentage between a couple of the dimensions.  Mine, however, came up 100%.

Let me share just a couple highlights with you from chapter 5.  This is where she writes about leading from the Soul.  Following Christ is who we are, and it should overflow to our leadership.”  Yes…yes…yes!  Preach it, Jenni.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve witnessed church leaders make major decisions entirely from a worldly corporate mindset.  Prayer and spiritual discernment must always guide those of us who lead in the Church.  When these are absent we are essentially communicating to God that we don’t require his input and assistance.

Great leaders serve. They recognize everything they do isn’t for them.”  This is so true.  Self-serving leaders never breed health in a corporation.  Leaders who intentionally build accountability into their network of mentors are a step ahead of the rest.

Grab a copy of this book for yourself, or take your teams through it together.  I promise it will create some powerful conversations.  Here’s one final quote:

“Extraordinary leaders lead through the tension.  Then don’t get lost in it.”

 

 

 

 

My One Word For 2016 Is…

…CALLED…

As I was praying and thinking about this next year, words like accomplish, persist, achieve, optimism, and consistency made their way to my notepad.  Then, ‘Purpose’ popped up.  Next, a very familiar piece of scripture came through my quiet time.  Maybe you’re familiar with it as well?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are CALLED according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

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That word, CALLED, seemed to jump right out and hit me between the eyes.  And that’s exactly what our One Word should do.

Let me flesh this out a bit (more for me than anyone else).

Romans 8 reminds me that I am CALLED according to His purpose.  I am CALLED by God, and His purposes are my calling.  As I meditated through this today the Lord lovingly reminded me that my present situation is indeed still within His calling for me.

I am CALLED… to constantly abide in him.

I am CALLED…to reflect the love and character of God at all times.

I am CALLED…to be the spiritual leader of my wife and kids.

I am CALLED…to teach, equip, and encourage church leadership (whatever that might look like).

I am CALLED…to obedience.

Now it’s your turn.  What’s your One Word for the coming year?  How do you plan to focus your efforts for maximum growth?

Visit my previous post for help/tips on isolating your One Word.  I’d love for you to subscribe to my blog.  We can stay connected through the year regarding our commitment to our One Word, and I’ll send you my first eBook on accomplishing your goals!

Comments are always welcome.  God bless and have an incredible 2016.

What Are Your Expectations For 2016?

Are they the same as last year?  Do you have a list of New Year’s resolutions that only have a 60 day shelf life?

I’ve been there.  And 2016 will definitely be new year of adventure and discovery for me.

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Something I have been practicing for the past four years is choosing a single word to focus on for the coming year.  A theme word if you will. My words for the past two years, for example, have been ‘Strive‘ and ‘Intentional.’  I make screen savers and lock-screen graphics for my mobile devices to keep my word in front of me at all times.  This week I am taking time to pray and meditate about what my One Word for 2016 will be.

So I ask you again…….what are your expectations (hopes) for 2016?

Check out OneWord365 for inspiration and community support in choosing your one word and sticking with it through the entire year.

Here are some things I do to discover my One Word:

  • Read scripture
  • Journal
  • Jot down a list of possible words
  • List things you hope will become reality in 2016
  • Use a thesaurus

Stay in touch as I will be posting on my One Word very soon.  I’m excited for 2016 and all it holds for YOU.

Have a very Happy New Year!

3 Things To Always And Never Do In Leadership

“I will NEVER be that kind of leader.”

“I will ALWAYS lead with the utmost integrity in my church.”

We’ve all heard it said, “Never say ALWAYS or NEVER.”  And I think there is some wisdom in that.  These words can easily set us up for major failure.

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In the right context, however, ALWAYS and NEVER can be incredibly useful for staying focused and intentional with who we desire to become and what we hope to accomplish in the future.

Here are 3 things I suggest we ALWAYS and NEVER do in leadership:

1. ALWAYS do your best | Our work effort should be high and directed toward God (Col. 3:23).  This also creates solid character.

2. ALWAYS forgive yourself when you fail | You and I are going to fail.  It’s inevitable.  But if we don’t learn from our mistakes, give ourselves grace and move on…we will end up self-destructing.  Give each new day a clean slate (Lam. 3:22-23).

3. ALWAYS look for the good in everyone | Noticing the positive traits in others (and acknowledging them) encourages and builds others up.  Who doesn’t need more of that?  This also changes the way we view people for the better.


1. NEVER Give up | You and I lose sight of our goals, hopes, dreams, and reason for living when we give up (1 Cor. 9:24).  When you feel like giving up, seek a mentor immediately.  Work through it with someone.

2. NEVER neglect your priorities | Relationship with Jesus, family, personal health, rest, and growth.  These are some of examples.  Whatever yours are, keep them in front of you at all times (Luke 12:34).  Examine them to see how you are doing.

3. NEVER lose sight of your calling | This one helps us to avoid giving up.  Whatever God has called you to, do it well (Eph. 4:1).  He believes in you.

What would you add to this list?

Join the discussion and leave a comment below.

Words: Inspire or Damage

“Can’t you do anything right?”

When was the last time someone said something to you that left you feeling worthless or inadequate?

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How’s your intake…and how does it compare to your output?  Every day all of us intake (receive) words spoken into us.  We also output (speak words into those around us).  The negative criticism and judgments that we hear also tend to be the ingredients that feeds what we speak into others.  This can be our spouse, kids, co-workers, or even the innocent grocery store clerk.  It can affect our mood in a noticeable way. I’ve been guilty of this many times!

“Our encouragement to others often goes unappreciated, yet damaging words are often remembered for a lifetime.”

At one time or another, we have all been on both sides of this statement.  And it’s so true!  When we help or encourage someone, don’t we want them to remember it? Don’t we wish our efforts would be a lasting blessing?

It does not matter if we are talking about our place of employment, family, school, or community. Our choice of words will make some kind of an impact. And once they are spoken they cannot be taken back. This holds true of physical conversations as well as over technology.  In many ways, the human mind and the internet are very unforgiving.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”   (Ephesians 4:29)

Today, may we strive to have our words spoken from our hearts…and not from our hurts.  Remember, what we say to a total stranger today just might be the only uplifting thing they will hear at all!

Has someone recently spoken words of encouragement to you?  How did it impact you and your day?

Leave a comment below.

3 Surprising Sabbatical Reflections

All leaders require rest……but all don’t realize it!

Sabbatical:  Similar to the purpose in our weekly Sabbath, a Sabbatical (at least in church terms) is a number of days or weeks set aside for Prayer, Bible intake, reflection, and physical rest.

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Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. – Ezekiel 20:12

I’m fortunate to be serving on staff at a church that sees the benefit in it’s pastoral staff taking regular Sabbaticals.  Recently, I returned from a 3-day Sabbatical.  Here are three reflections I came away with after comparing this one with others I’ve had in past years.

They are always different | These times away are spiritual journeys.  And since the Holy Spirit leads the way, it’s a good idea to not over-plan.  Enter it with a focus, but leave enough margin open for God to reveal his intentions for you.

They always have value | Sometimes we simply need tons of physical rest.  Other times fresh vision and insight is needed from reading the Word and listening to other teachers/preachers.  And then there are those times when we are desperately searching God’s will in a heavy decision.  No matter the ‘why,’ this time alone with God is always valuable.

They are never what you expected | This one was no exception.  As usual, I began this most recent one with a handful of specific expectations.  Things I wanted gain insight on from God.  In keeping with how he usually does things, God provided just what I ‘needed’ and nothing more.  And you know what?  What he spoke was better than what I had asked for.

What have been your experiences with Sabbaticals?  What challenges come to mind for when contemplating experiencing something like this for yourself?

Comments and questions are always appreciated.