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.

hurtingpastor blog

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.  РGalatians 6:9

Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Proximity Can Affect Your Perspective

“I can see it’s not level from here!”

I didn’t actually say that out loud. ¬†But it’s what came to mind as I was watching a a hired worker on a scissor lift hang crosses from our Sanctuary ceiling in preparation for our Easter services.

He was roughly 25 feet off the ground as I witnessed him pull out a leveling tool to see if the cross was level.

level

I almost laughed.  It was so obvious from where I was positioned on the ground and about 30 feet from him.  The cross was very crooked.  But his proximity to the work being done was so close that the degree of inaccuracy was not clear to him.  He needed a resource, a level, to bring it into perspective.

This is often the case with leaders when they find themselves in particular seasons in their company or church. ¬†Sometimes we end up so close and focused on a problem or need for change that we simply cannot see the obvious. ¬†In these times it’s often a good idea to consider involving the perspective of someone not as close to the situation as we are. ¬†Someone whose proximity is more distant. ¬†This ‘level’ can either be someone on another team within your organization or a hired consultant.

So many times, these people will step into our situation and almost immediately take notice of something that was staring you and I right in the face the entire time.

Where are you looking for that ‘A-Ha’ moment? ¬†Do you have others helping you who don’t have a direct connection to your present situation?

Join the discussion. ¬†I’d love for you to leave a comment below.

Why You Should Receive Correction Well

photo by: www.lethbridgecollege.ca
photo by: http://www.lethbridgecollege.ca

Has anyone ever spoken these words to you?

“You really need to work on ___________.”

“The way that you ______________ really isn’t the best approach.”

“Have you ever thought about a different line of work?”

Well, I have. ¬†I’ve had all of these said to me at some point in my ministry….and probably more than once. ¬†The reason? ¬†More often than not, I wasn’t open to learning. ¬†Why should I have been? ¬†I was the ‘paid’ professional…right? ¬†I’m on staff because I know everything. ¬†I’m the leader and they are the followers. ¬†(insert extreme sarcasm)

Now, this is pretty normal for most young leaders to experience.  The hope, however, is that we grow and mature out of this stage of knowing EVERYTHING and into the stage of realizing that we really KNOW VERY LITTLE!

How do we make that move?

By simply practicing how to receive constructive criticism with humility and a heart for learning.

Look at what Ecclesiastes 7:5 tells us.

Better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool.

Let me offer my translation as this passage relates to leadership.

Learn from those who notice your weaknesses when you don’t, and minimize your exposure to leaders who value flattery over health.

Don’t get me wrong. ¬†We all love words of encouragement and praise for a job well done. ¬†But all of that is useless if it ¬†leads ¬†to stagnant growth.
Key point:  All criticism, both positive and negative, should have only the best intentions in mind for the individual and the organization.
Leave me a comment below or a voicemail with your thoughts.

Ministry Leadership, part 3

photo by: usfbap.org

(Reflecting on chapter 3 of Jim Wideman’s book on leadership)

Jim writes about ten fundamentals of authentic leadership in this chapter.  Here are the top three that most resonated with me.  Get the book and read about the other seven for yourself.

Leaders set an example Jim says to give others something worth following. ¬†This is so true…and not just regarding ministry work. ¬†The way you and I tangibly live out our personal lives will greatly impact the trust level people have in us. ¬†The people we lead need to observe zero difference in our personality and character inside and out of the office.

Leaders grow spiritually This is a topic I’ve personally come to understand & respect more in the past year than in my prior 20 years of ministry. ¬†Ministry doesn’t just begin with the Spirit moving us toward Kingdom work. ¬†The Holy Spirit lives in us as believers. ¬†If our lives are spiritual, then shouldn’t our work and leadership be reflective of how close we are growing toward our Father? ¬†It is absolutely critical that church leaders constantly revisit the spiritual disciplines to keep themselves sharp and useful.

Leaders are lifelong learners This is as valuable to the young seminary grad as it is the 70 year old pastor who has been leading the same church body for 50 years. ¬†Read books on leadership (even some from secular authors). ¬†Study examples of Jesus and how he led the disciples. ¬†Attend a conference once a year. ¬†And finally, find yourself a life coach (mentor, or accountability partner). ¬†You and I don’t know everything, and the things we lack will limit the effectiveness of our leadership.

Which one of these have you struggled with or had success?