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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Most Common Excuses Men Use For Not Leading Their Families

(Disclaimer) I have personally failed at this one more than I have done well.

The list below came from meeting with families in the church for over 20 years.  And if I’m honest, many of these have been my own excuses as well.  Do some self-evaluation with these.  Can you relate to any of them?

  1.  I do!  I lead my family by working hard and providing for them financially.
  2.  That’s my wife’s job.  She’s home with the kids more than I am anyway.
  3.  What if I fail?  Things are OK now…why risk messing it up?
  4.  I’m afraid that if I begin praying with my family and leading spiritual discussions it will be viewed as insincere.
  5.  I wouldn’t even know where to start.
  6.  I’m not spiritually mature enough to lead them.
  7.  It was not modeled for me as a child.  My father didn’t lead us spiritually, so I don’t even know what this looks like.

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Now, experience tells me that if you are a husband or father reading this at least one of the above excuses describes where you’re at on the topic of leading your family spiritually.  Am I right?  Numbers 4 through 7 were mine for many years, and I still wrestle with them now and then.

The good news!!!  

You can begin leading your family today as their spiritual guide…and you don’t have to get it perfect right from the start.  Ha…those perfect moments are far and few between.  But I’ll tell you this, its more about effort, heart, and obedience to our calling than perfection.  If you can be OK with that mindset you can do this.  Trust me!

Note: If you are interested in receiving personal coaching on this topic, feel free to contact me at BrentDumler@icloud.com.  I’ll custom taylor something to fit you and your family.

 

7 Ideas For Creating Staff Connections

Church staff must learn to do life outside of ministry work together if they hope to lead as a family.

After giving a breakout talk at CMConnect recently, I was asked about practical ideas for things staff can do to create healthy, meaningful relationships with one another.  The purpose is to build family-type relationships.

Why?

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So, here are some fun possibilities to consider: 

  • Skeet shooting (yup, but not when your Lead Pastor is angry with you).
  • Have a staff member (and spouse) over for dinner just to get to know them better.  Be sure to enquire about food allergies 🙂
  • Bowling (bonding with fun competition).
  • Have a regular staff meeting with zero ministry work on the agenda.
  • Pray for each other’s marriages, kids, finances, health, and ministry concerns.  Don’t skimp on time with this!
  • Experience a personality assessment together and discuss the results openly.  Talk through what you learn about leading together that you didn’t know before.
  • Volunteer in someone else’s ministry area!  This expresses love & appreciation for that leader, and models ‘Kingdom Work’ to the rest of the church.

Would you add anything to this list?

Please leave a comment below.  I love hearing from my readers 🙂

Note: If you are interested in receiving coaching on this topic or other ministry areas, feel free to contact me at BrentDumler@icloud.com.  I’ll custom taylor something to fit your specific needs.

 

 

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.

3 Keys To Effectively Discovering Your Next Calling

Do you find yourself lost, confused, or even frustrated with your current season of life?  Be honest with yourself.

It wasn’t until recently that I became vividly aware that this was true of me right now.  But I also realized that this felt negative.  Why?  Since when did being honest with ourselves become a bad thing?

I’m reading an insightful book right now by Gary Barkalow.  The title: “It’s Your Call: What Are You Doing Here?”  A perfect read for this confusing season I’m in.   Here’s a quote I read that got me thinking.

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Since moving from GA to CO and from being a campus pastor to a barista, the word ‘transition‘ has been quite the buzz word in our home.  This quote made me realize that I have been viewing this transition in my life as temporary…..a buffer if you will.  But here’s what I’m slowing discovering (with the insightful help of my amazing wife).

Could it be that God isn’t planning to allow me to move into the next ‘official’ ministry position until I fully accept and own what he has me doing at the coffee house and in my family?  Could it also be that there is an ‘unpolished mineral’ right under my nose today?  My sense is that I’ve been straining and peering so hard into the future that I’m missing the gold mine of opportunity for ministry he already has placed me in.

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I absolutely love how Barkalow penned this.  It has definitely been true in my life.  How about yours?  Let me try to wrap this all up and offer you what I promised in the title.

Here we go!

1.  Your next calling is now | God wants you and I to give our all to his Kingdom work today.  Don’t merely get by until the next door of opportunity appears, glowing in gold neon and surrounded with smoke screen.  That’s not always how he presents his calling to us (insert mild sarcasm).

2.  Enjoy the journey | Sure, there are times of sharpening and molding of our character.  But I firmly believe that when we are fully owning his call on our lives today…in this precise moment…he desires for you and I to encounter joy in it.  Happiness that only the Holy Spirit can give.  Pray for that.  Ask him today!

3.  Continue the search | This is so important.  Most of us look forward to Spring while we’re in the Winter.  And once we’ve tasted Spring, we can’t wait for Fall.  Finally, it comes full circle when we are yearning for Winter.  But wait, it wasn’t long ago that we were wishing for Winter to be behind us.  It’s simple (I think).  God longs for us to fully enjoy the ‘season’ we are currently in, while joyfully seeking him and his Word on the doorsteps of the season that is still to come.

He really is a good, good Father.  How do I know?  Because as I was writing this post in a Starbucks that song started playing overhead.  I know, in Starbucks!  Take a moment to quietly listen to the words of this beautiful song.  And may the Lord speak joy and affirmation into your heart directly from his.  “…and I’m loved by you…it’s who I am…”

It is the glory of God to conceal things,
    but the glory of kings is to search things out.” – Proverbs 25:2

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.”