I Lost My Job Today

Yesterday was Monday, but it was my Friday. I lost a job yesterday. The wave of emotions was mixed. In the 30+ years that I’ve been in the workforce this is the first time I’ve actually been ‘let go.’ It was also the main (largest) source of income for our family. Pride and providence are key themes here. God would rather I not be prideful in a job or position. And providing for our family’s needs is ultimately his job, not mine. Yes, I must work. But I shouldn’t worry about if our needs will be met according to my efforts.

Now, I also co-pastor a Missional Community (a faith family) with my amazing wife in Yakima, WA. And I work very part-time at a local grocery store. So, it’s not like I’m unemployed. But it was a pretty significant loss.

This morning I didn’t need to get up at 4:30am for work. I awoke at 9:39am, focusing on my health as I head into this new season. And in my coffee time with Jesus he led me to the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. Between this and other readings my wife shared with me came this encouragement and direction.

Jesus reminded me that I’m to practice all of these, not only focus on just one. Praying all the time isn’t very effective if I’m not going to listen. And spending all my time searching only goes so far if I’m not spending time with God and in his written word.

I’m in a new season. And God has blessed me with incredible peace that he is here with me and his plan will be revealed soon.

What is God reassuring you in this season?

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.

 

 

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!

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.

God says, “Quit!”

macIn Mac language we could even say, ‘Force Quit.’  Why?  Because this subject is not easy.  It takes determination and a thought out plan.
Here are some practical reasons for having a day of rest (a Sabbath).

1.  God did it.

His example should be good enough for us.  Period!

2.  God asks tells us to.

Its a simple question of obedience.  As followers, we don’t get to pick and choose when we listen to Him.  God’s not an egotistical power-monger.  He always has reasons behind what He tells us…and we need to be OK with not always understanding those reasons.

3.  We are not God…we need the rest.

Whether you work the ticket booth at the local cinema or you’re the CEO of a major corporation…you CAN take one day a week to NOT work.  Screen your calls, mute your smart phone, don’t check emails, stay away from the office.  Failure to do this WILL cause problems for you down the road.

4.  It says a lot about our priorities when we observe a real day of rest.

 Taking a weekly Sabbath day demonstrates commitment to God, our family, and our own spiritual health.  And if you’re a pastor, it models a good example to your staff and church body.
Now, make a list of all the reasons that are keeping you from having a day of rest, rejuvenation, and awareness of God’s blessings  in your life.  Take that list to God in prayer and devise a plan to work past them.
What could you benefit from setting aside one complete day for this kind of rest?
Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

Sabbatical | Day 3

This is technically Day 4, but I still want to share from yesterday.

(Be sure to check out my Day 1 and Day 2 posts)

The key moments for me were continuing my reading in ‘No Other Gods’ and having some sweet time of personal worship.  I find it cool how the Lord can enter into fellowship with me while simply lying on my back in my hotel room with my earbuds in.

When we take the time for Him, He takes the time for us.

And as it is with most of my Sabbaticals, I have not done all that I originally intended to at the beginning of the week.  And today reminded me that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

You see, I came upon a Tweet today asking for church leaders to share their story…particularly about their current ‘Phase’ of life and ministry.  I could not resist. I love sharing my story, both the good and the less pleasant sides.  If it hadn’t been for others telling their personal stories I may not be where I am today.  So I share to encourage others.

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Anyway, in doing this I want to share with you a personal quote I included when I emailed them.  Here you go.

“Our partnership with God in His Kingdom work is never contingent upon our comfort, happiness, or confidence.”

 

While I was thinking back over the past 6 months it dawned on me.  God doesn’t wait until we are living on the mountaintop, free of pain and 100% sure of Him being right there with us, to ask us to do something HUGE for Him.  Nothing happens to us that does not pass through His hands.  This doesn’t mean that God necessarily  ’causes’ all things to happen to us.  It does mean, however, that when we’ve given God a definitive ‘yes’ He will be active, aware, and verbal in our relationship with Him regardless of what is going on around us.  The critical thing here is to maintain healthy personal soul care.  If we aren’t doing this it can become nearly impossible to hear His guiding voice or feel His involvement in our daily lives.

What about you?  How have you been hearing from God recently?  Leave a comment below.

Sabbatical | Day 2

Reflections

I just love it when The Lord speaks to us outside of the ordinary.  Don’t you?  In the first day of my Sabbatical it took basically the entire day to simply unplug and transition.  I began reading a book titled ‘No Other Gods’ which paved the way for me to really begin hearing His voice a lot today.

So here’s the gist of what I’ve been hearing Him speak into my life so far.

I am the Lord your God…  (Exodus 20:2)

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It’s personal… incredibly direct.  He’s lovingly reminding me of who He is.  He is MY GOD!  Mine.  His ear is all mine day or night.  BUT He’s also reminding me that this is a two-way relationship.  He needs access to my ear day and night as well.

“Brent, I want you to be available to hear me when I need to share the deepest things in my heart with you.  I need to know that you care as much about yourself and my Church as I do.” – God

MY GOD is so full of grace and patience.  Can you relate?
I’m loving this sweet time with Him.  My wife has many friends and church family praying for me this week.  It’s working!  Thank you, I can feel the effects of your prayers.
What has The Lord been speaking to you ABOUT YOU recently?  Leave a comment below. 
 

Sabbatical | Day 1

A Sabbath, in it’s simplest terms, is a time of rest.  I am fortunate to be on staff at a church that puts a high value on personal health.  We are encouraged to take an additional day each month (or 3 days per quarter) for personal Spiritual rest and rejuvenation.  This is the first church in 23 years of ministry where I’ve experienced anything like this.

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Every time I am on a Sabbatical experience I like to journal my thoughts.  It keeps me focused.  It’s a form of meditation for me.

So, I’m out of town for 3 days.  Mostly, I try to catch up on sleep and enjoy some much needed solitude.  But I do have a few areas of focus for those 3 days.

Reading | A significant part of my reading plan does include the Bible and a couple different devotional resources.  Additionally, I am reading ‘No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols‘ by Kelly Minter.

Prayer | I am very intentional to pray over my family.  This is always first.  I am also praying for the next 6 months of our new multisite church campus.  Prayer for specific families, continued healthy growth, and renewed vision are key focal points this week.

Entertainment | I like to eat at places I usually don’t get a chance to eat at where I live.  I will also try to watch 1 or 2 movies on Netflix, since I don’t normally have time to watch many movies during a regular work week.  And adult coloring (a form of art therapy) is something new I’m trying this week in an effort to clear my thoughts.  Looking forward to this.

Planning | This will include looking ahead at the next few months.  Strategically making initial plans and doing a little self-evaluation as well.  I will normally try to schedule my next 3-day Sabbatical during this time.  If I don’t it will likely not happen when it should.

Have you had any kind of a Sabbatical experience before?  What did you do?  And if not, what part of this post sounds intriguing to you personally?

Join the discussion, leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit:  pixshark.com