Pastors Can Make the Worst Friends

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Most pastors are nice people, they just don’t make good friends.

That may seem harsh to say, but as a pastor, I think it is true.

Hear me out.

Pastoral ministry is an all encompassing job. It is highly relational, emotional, mental and spiritual. It can be draining physically and overwhelming. It isn’t harder than other jobs, it is just different.

Because you can get a call at any moment with something that needs attention, many pastors burnout and struggle to have boundaries so they can rest and recharge.

Pastors spend so much time counseling people, helping people work through issues or sitting in meetings that when they meet someone, they often see them as a project instead of a person. They see them as someone who will need something, someone who will need advice or need to be fixed instead of a person to simply spend time with.

For most pastors, church is something they are always thinking about. The next capital campaign, new ministry year, next sermon series, next issue, hiring a new person. It never stops. They spend all their time with people talking about church. They sit with their wife on date night and talk about church. It is not just a job, it is their life. It is who they are and this becomes unhealthy.

Then, they meet someone new and they can’t stop talking about church. They can’t shut it off.

What do you do then? How can you become a better friend if you are a pastor? Here are 5 ideas:

  1. Have friends who don’t attend church (or your church). This is crucial. If you don’t have any friends who don’t attend church, that’s a great clue that you aren’t good at friendships. Churched people will tolerate a pastor who don’t stop talking about church or is a poor friend because they want to be close to a pastor. An unchurched person won’t take that.
  2. Have a no church talk zone. There should be a time of day, a day each week where you stop talking about church stuff. Stop thinking about, stop checking your email. Don’t talk about it at least once a week. For many pastors this will be so hard to do, but incredibly healthy.
  3. Take a day off. If you aren’t taking your day off as a pastor, you are sinning. I’m blown away by how many pastors are killing themselves working 6 or 7 days a week. Stop it. Rest, recharge, take some down time.
  4. Get in a small group. I’m blown away by how many pastors are not in a small group or missional community at their church. They’ll often say that the elders are their small group. This line of thinking attempts to make a pastor untouchable and that’s a sin. In a small group, people see who you are, you can’t hide any longer. You start to see how people see you and if you are any good at community. This might feel like it goes against #1 but it doesn’t because many pastors don’t have friends in their church. Now, you need to be careful here. You don’t just share everything with someone in your church, you must show discretion on the information and with the person. There have been times Katie and I have shared everything about a situation with our MC, and sometimes not. Each situation is different, but you should be in community with some people in your church who are not in leadership.
  5. Get a hobby. I was talking with some pastors the other day I am coaching out of burnout and I asked them, “What do you do for fun? What recharges you? What is fun?” Blank stares. Many pastors do not have a hobby. Things like fixing a car, working with wood, hiking, playing sports, knitting or cooking. Nothing. If that’s you, sit down and answer that question, what do I find fun? If you don’t have a hobby, you won’t have anything that lets off steam, anything that is fun, anything to do with others.

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Things I’m Thankful For

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Tomorrow is thanksgiving and then Black Friday and then Christmas will be here. In the midst of the holidays, it is easy to fly through them and miss what matters most. I thought I’d take a minute to share some things I am thankful for this year.

  1. My wife. It is hard to believe that Katie and I have celebrated 18 thanksgivings together from marriage and dating. It never gets old. Everyday I am blown away by her patience with me and our kids, the determination she shows in teaching them and her growth in godliness. She wakes up while it is dark out just to read her bible and pray for me and our kids and other needs. Her generosity challenges me everyday. She opens our home up to people, makes them feel welcomed and loved whenever they are here. I love being with her, watching her grow and do things and seeing how God uses her.
  2. My kids. It is hard to believe that I have 5 kids. While transitioning 2 new kids in the last 2 years into our family via adoption has had its challenges, the joys have far outweighed those challenges. Each night as we sit around the table as a family I’m blown away the noise our family can make. I’m also wondering what impact our kids will make in the world. God brought each child into our family for a reason, given us 18 years to train them and disciple them into adults who love Jesus and I can’t wait to see what they do with that. It is humbling and an overwhelming task.
  3. My church. Revolution Church celebrated 5 years this past September. Many churches don’t make it past year one. The things God has brought us through have prepared us for what is ahead. Today, we are stronger than ever before. Our staff and leaders are more talented, gifted and passionate than ever before. Our staff and elders are stronger as a team than we’ve ever been. We are healthier, financially stronger than ever and on track to plant Revolution Church Midtown next year.
  4. God’s protection in our lives and church. While difficulties come every year and I’ve grown to expect them in life, it is amazing to see how God protected us as well. Friends have moved out of our lives, people have left Revolution and those always hurt, no matter what. They are also reminders of God’s protection and his perfect timing. Looking back, I’m able to see how God moved in the perfect way. He brought Judah into our family at the right time.
  5. The Steelers play on Thanksgiving night. While I’m not sure they’ll win, the fact that they will play is a great way to end the day.
  6. My parents living close. My dad is one of my best friends and I love my mom. It was hard living apart from them for so many years and it is awesome having them less than a mile from our house. I love watching the relationship they have with our kids.
  7. Time off. Many pastors either don’t take time off because of ego or because their church won’t let them. I love that I have some down time this weekend and have a great friend preaching for me (seriously, he is really good and you don’t want to miss it). Thanksgiving also means it’s almost Christmas which is a little bit more time to catch my breath and enjoy my family.
  8. Homeschooling. This has become a serious blessing to our family. I don’t talk about it that much because what we do for our family works for our family and I don’t believe homeschooling is the only way to educate your kids. It works for us, our rhythm, allows to be together more and be on mission more strategically as a family. This past year has been a real blessing for that.
  9. Life changing books. Every year I read a ton of books and I’m on pace to reach my goal of 75 this year. I read 3 life changing books this year: Start with Why (the best leadership book I’ve ever read), A Praying Lifeand In Search of Deep FaithIf you want a book to read this month, pick one of those.
  10. A full house. Tomorrow, we will have a full house of family and friends. It never gets old having people into our house to enjoy a good meal. One of the things we want is to use our house to be open to people, to be hospitable. I love how our kids get this vision and ask who is coming over and how excited they get when people are here. A house is a gift from God and is meant to show people his love and grace. I’m hopeful that will happen tomorrow.

What are you thankful for this year?

Social Media & Birthdays

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I had my birthday recently and it got me to thinking about birthday’s and social media. Facebook has proven to be nice for a few things when it comes to birthday’s or anniversaries. Facebook tells us when these things happen. I don’t have to remember, write them down or keep track. It will just show up on my page. I can then write a quick, “Happy birthday” and be done.

This is nice and somewhat lazy.

If we’re honest, it makes us feel like we are checking something off and being a good friend. But it is missing something.

If you have ever bought a card for something, you maybe wrote something in it. If anything, you at least took 5 seconds to pick out a card that fit that person. It caused you to have some thought about what you gave them or said to them. Social media has taken that away.

One of the things I’ve started to do and here’s my challenge to you: when you write happy birthday to someone on Facebook, write a message to them on their wall. Tell them why you appreciate them or why they are special to you. If you don’t know them well enough to do that, skip the greeting all together. They won’t know you didn’t write them a message.

My Weight Loss “Secret”

Over the last several weeks I’ve been asked by numerous people about what my secret has been to losing weight. Since I’m not expert (you should read Men’s health for that), but I can share what I’ve done.

You need to understand something about my secret, it takes awhile.

Let me explain.

In 2002 when Katie and I got married I was a nice 283 and a waise 42. This was my heaviest. Here’s a pic.

fat me 2

As always, Katie looks hot. Not sure how I conned her into marrying me.

One thing you need to understand is that I have a deep love for food and it loves me. I’m not much of a snacker, I’m an eater. So when I would eat, I would eat. A lot.

We never really did any diets because I had seen countless people lose 100 in 6 months and then put 120 back on in 3, so I wanted something that was sustainable.

In talking with my doctor, he mentioned that being healthy was the goal. That you could be skinny and be unhealthy, so the goal was health.

We started cutting out chips, soda (this is one of the best thing you stop doing and start drinking more water), cutting back on Starbucks (this has hurt the most). We do dessert once a week (at least we try to stick to that, Katie has a sweet tooth). The biggest thing we did was portion control. When we would go out to eat, I would eat my meal and half of Katie’s. Now, we share. It is healthy and economical. There are also websites that show you how many calories are in each meal at each restaurant, so when you go out to eat you are able to eat smarter.

Speaking of eating out, we do that less. Cooking at home is cheaper and a lot healthier.

What do I normally eat?

For breakfast, 2 eggs and some fruit. Lunch is a salad and dinner is something good. We still grill burgers, brats and steak. I love meat too much to not eat that, but we make vegetables the main part instead of the meat. No bread (even though I personally love carbs), it is just lighter. There are a lot of calories in bread.

Speaking of calories, I don’t count them. I actually have no idea how many I have in a day. They are too good to discriminate against. But they say that if you are an active male you should target 1800 – 2100 a day. We end each dinner with a salad. This helps with digestion. Ironically, this is how Europeans end meals and they are skinnier. Mmmm. We also eat slower. With eating more at home, we are able to enjoy our kids, company and each other.

So review, eat smaller portions, better choices of the food you eat, stop eating before you get full.

Now the exercise side.

I do something 6 days a week. Whether that is running or lifting. On the days I walk or don’t do any of the 2, I do yoga. This has been huge for my joints and helping me to recover but also to feel younger. The important thing is to do something. I’ve read that if you can do something active for 60 minutes a day several times a week you will see a difference. This is true.

This will not get you dramatic results. I’ve lost 130 pounds in 7 years, but I’ve about 100 in the last 2 years (that’s when I got hardcore about it). I went from a waist 42 to a 30 and my shirt size has gone from an XXL to a S. It is still crazy to me to write those stats.

One of the things I had to get to the heart of was why I ate, why I was overweight. The psychological part is a huge part of weight gain/loss. I remember a conversation with one of my brother-in-laws (who happens to be skinny, I married into a skinny genes family) and he made the comment, “I don’t understand how all of these overweight pastors can stand up and talk about self control when it is obvious they don’t have any.” Now, every overweight person does not have self control issues, but I did. I had to learn that I used food for stress relief and also to comfort me. Things that God, exercise and relationships could and should do.

Anyway, I could go on, but I’m running low on words.

This is what I look like now.

 

For some more great thoughts on this, check out Ed Stetzers blog, he lost a lot more weight than I did. Here’s part 1 and part 2 (the pictures are crazy).

The Journey of our Adoption

Many of you have asked what is going on with our adoption and we appreciate the questions and the support we have received so far. In a way to keep everyone up to speed, we created an adoption blog. You can find it here:  http://reichadoption.wordpress.com/. There is also a place at the top to subscribe to receive all of the latest updates.

Invite Cards

For many people at Revolution, the way they found their way to Revolution was through an invite. While people find their way through signs, the web or other adertising, the best way is an invite. Almost 80% of our church has come because of an invite from a friend.

This is why we are big fans of invite cards.

This past Saturday, we spent several minutes in our service praying for the names on our invest and invite cards and for our next big day on April 3rd. It was really a holy moment in the service.

If you have not grabbed some invite cards for April 3rd, make sure you do so this Saturday night.

Here is a list of what to do with invite cards and how to use them (courtesy of Here to Lead):

  1. Hand them to people you meet and say “I’d love to invite you to my church.”
  2. Give them out in drive thru lanes.
  3. Put a stack at your office, store or place of work.
  4. Ask if you can set a stack out in a business that you frequent.
  5. Give them to neighbors, friends and co-workers.
  6. Leave them on tables at restaurants to invite your server.
  7. Make a list of five people and go seek them out.
  8. Ask God to give you an opportunity to give them out.
  9. Give them out in the lunchroom or before class begins.
  10. Keep a few in your wallet, purse or car.

This Weekend: The Sword & the Trowel

This Saturday is part 6 of our series on Nehemiah. It has been an unbelievable series so far and God has done so much at Revolution since starting 2010.

This week we will be looking at when we have adversity, pain and opposition or criticism whether it is from family, friends, ourselves or from Satan, how do we handle that.

Here are some things we’ll cover:

  • When am I most likely to feel depressed or attacked? There are specific times that this happens in your life and it is important to know when it is.
  • Is there something I can do to keep from being depressed or attacked?
  • When I feel attacked, feel opposition or experience adversity, what can I do?
  • If I’m married, how can I partner with my spouse to protect our marriage and family from attacks that are spiritual and relational?
  • Plus, a lot of other things (I don’t want to ruin the surprise)!

So, do whatever you have to do to get to Revolution this Saturday night (and don’t forget to bring a friend with you)!

Remember, we meet at 5pm at 410 S. Pantano Rd.

See you then.

Heading West to Radicalis

This morning, Katie, Paul, Jennifer and myself are getting in the car and trekking to California. We’re going to the Radicalis Conference at Saddleback Church. I am really, really excited about this week and what it holds.

One of the things I am really excited about are the individual tracks they have. Katie is doing the Pastor’s wife track with Kay Warren and Chris Shook, and I am doing the preaching track with Rick Warren and Tom Holladay.

In addition to all of this, some of the main session speakers are Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Andy Stanley, Kerry Shook, Dino Rizzo, and Ed Stetzer.

Watch the blog throughout the week as I will be live blogging my notes for all of the sessions. You can also follow all of the action for the week either through twitter or facebook.

We’d appreciate your prayers as we travel, being away from our kids (we have never left all three kids before), that it would be a great time of learning, community, growing and refreshing. We’ll be back Friday and ready to rock and roll this Saturday night at Revolution (You don’t want to miss this week at Revolution, we have some awesome things planned).

Life, Work & God

Had a fascinating discussion with some Revolutionaries after Saturday night. I preached on Nehemiah 3 and we looked at what it took the rebuild the city wall of Jerusalem and compared it to what it takes to build a church in our culture.

One of the misconceptions that is incredibly dangerous for many Christians is that they are not doing ministry or working for God if it doesn’t involve building a church or using their spiritual gift at church. This is dangerous because it leads to a place where we see our work and how we live our lives the other 6 days of the week as not holy and therefore, not as important.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Think about Nehemiah 3. They were rebuilding a wall. Now, one can make the case (and I am trying to in this series) that they were not just building a wall, but they were attempting to place God in his rightful place of honor. The city of Jerusalem and its existence was connected with God because it is where His people dwelled. Nehemiah raises up this team of people because God is being defamed because the city is broken down.

But, they were still building a wall. A wall that would glorify God.

When people leave church, pastors do them a disservice if they leave with the idea that what they do throughout the week is not ministry. It is just as important as ministry in the church, because both glorify and honor God when we do them. Don’t miss this, we need to do both. Not just one, but both, every follower of Jesus.

Here is what it does. It makes you think about your job, your time (how you spend it and waste it), your parenting, your marriage, how you treat your neighbor and boss. It makes you think about those things and more differently. If you view your life through the lens of “I am reflecting God in every part of my life (good and bad), I need to watch what I do.”

Why does this matter? Because we are called by God to reflect Him and in everything we do to honor and glorify Him (Colossians 3:17) and because it leads people to Jesus.

The Future of Revolution

For the last two weeks in our Nehemiah series, I have been laying out who we are as a church, where we have come from, where we are going and how we plan to get there.

In the last year, we have gone from 30 – 100. We are praying, dreaming and moving towards going from 100 – 300 in this next year.

Before diving into how we will get there, let me recap how we got here:

  • In December 2008, we were a church of 30 people. Paul and Jennifer raised half of their salary in 6 weeks and moved out here to be a part of this adventure of reaching the city of Tucson. Our weekly giving at that time averaged $800/week. With them coming on and our plans for 2009, our weekly budgeted need went to $3,118.
  • In the last quarter of 2008, we averaged 97 people and our weekly giving average was $3,118.

So how do we get to 300? Here are some ideas we have and we’d love to hear yours:

  • Invest and invite. As followers of Jesus we are called to invest in relationships and invite people to church. This way, we partner together in the process and it is not just up to one person. It is up to us with the help of the Holy Spirit.
  • We are doing more for families and kids. We will be kicking off Revolution VBS this summer. More details will follow soon.
  • We are doing more for students. Rev Up will kick off this year. Rev Up is being headed up by Cody and Hannah Brasher. This is a bright young couple that has been attending Revolution since August. So excited about the leadership, passion and energy they bring to reaching students and their families. This is huge for Revolution. It enables us to reach an entire demographic that previously we could not reach.
  • We are becoming more intentional about helping people discover their gifts, how they are wired and how they can better help build the city (Revolution) to reach the city of Tucson. More on this January 30th.
  • Small groups. This is the next step from Saturday night. If you want to get better connected at Revolution, grow in your relationship with God and have opportunities to serve in our city, this is the place. We are doing sign ups for our spring semester right now. You can learn more about that here. We are launching 5 small groups this spring, which is largest number yet, with plans to launch more small groups in the summer and fall semesters to accomodate the growth we are hoping to have.
  • Servant evangelism. Being missional an in our city has always been the heartbeat of Revolution. We are stepping that up this year. Each small group will do at least one servant evangelism outing (which we will open up to the whole church to participate in) and then an outing during the 4 weeks off from small groups.
  • Being expectant. As we have prepared for this series on Nehemiah, myself and the other leaders have been challenged by Nehemiah’s prayer life. He prayed specifically and intentionally for God to move. When we pray generally, it doesn’t take any faith. So we are praying specific prayers. This has raised our awareness and antennas to be a part of what God is up to in our world. It has also made us more expectant not only as we walk through our days that God will use us, but showing up on Saturday night expecting God to move and do big things.

Here is what I’m asking us to do as a church:

  • Pray specific prayers. Ask God to give you opportunities to talk with your friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors who don’t know Jesus. Ask God to give you an opportunity to invite them to Revolution.
  • Then invite them.
  • Jump in. If you are not in a small group, get in one. If you are not serving on a team, get on one.
  • If you are not giving back to God, start. Honor God not only with your talents and time, but also the resources that He has blessed you with.
  • Show up on Saturday expecting God to move, expecting people to begin a relationship with Jesus, marriages saved, hurts healed.

2010 is going to be our best year as a church. Get ready Revolutionaries for God to some HUGE things in and through us.