5 Ways to Live When You’re Tired

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It’s the week after Easter. As a pastor, you are tired. Mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally and relationally.

There’s a good chance that you have been preaching almost every week since January 1st. The summer isn’t here yet, so you know it will be a little bit longer before you get a week off of preaching.

The problem is this: you have very little left to give mentally, physically, emotionally, relationally, but most of all, spiritually. 

In light of this reality, let me give you ___ ideas to finish the ministry year strong.

  1. Take care of your soul. Pastors spend so much time helping others that we often fail to help ourselves and care for ourselves. Read something soul stirring, something that challenges you and has nothing to do with leadership or your upcoming sermons. Read something just for you. Over the Easter weekend, I read John Ortberg’s new book Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You. Sometimes I read something from John Piper or  Charles Spurgeon. One of my favorite’s for this is Mondays with My Old Pastor: Sometimes All We Need Is a Reminder from Someone Who Has Walked Before Us.
  2. Take your day off. This can be hard to do after Easter. There are people to follow up with, new believers to disciple, people who need to get connected on a serving team or in community. There is a lot to do. You also have volunteers who are tired and sometimes, because you are so tired (and your spouse is tired) you are both on edge and not being at home helps to keep the peace and is easier on things. Don’t fall for that trap. Deal with the issues that come up at home, deal with the heart issues of delegating things. Know that you have all the time you need to accomplish all you want to accomplish. Notice I didn’t say, “all you need to accomplish.” You have time for your day off and accomplishing everything else, you just need to plan better.
  3. Plan your vacation well. You should be taking some time off this summer and when you do, don’t make the mistake of just showing up for vacation and hoping you relax. You need to plan it. How much relaxing are you going to do? I would challenge you to not take phone calls, look at emails, twitter, instagram or facebook. When we go on vacation I hand my phone to Katie, she changes all my passwords for email and social media and then we leave. It is great. I am able to engage with my family fully. Also, what are you going to read on vacation? I’ve said before that pastors need to read more fiction to let their brains take a break. Last year I read all of Daniel Silva’s books and this year I’m working through a series by Vince Flynn.
  4. Be prepared for your vacation. I usually try to take a retreat overnight before vacation. For this reason, I find that the first 2-3 days of vacation and my summer preaching break I am on edge, I have a hard time letting go of ministry, what has happened and engaging with my family. I try to get away for a night, spend time in silence, reading my bible, journaling through the past year, confessing sin, listening to the Holy Spirit about my heart. This is a time that is not sermon or vision focused, it is about my heart. By doing this, I am able to let go of many things that have weighed me down so I can engage with my family and truly rest in the summer.
  5. Spend time with friends or doing something you enjoy. Because of how busy the spring is for ministry, activities, and dealing with sickness, you have probably not spent a lot of time with friends or done the activities you enjoy. Maybe it has been too cold to get outside where you live and you feel it. Take some time for this. Call up those friends and make dinner plans. Set time aside for a hike, gardening, a bike ride or whatever you love that you haven’t been doing.

One of the reasons many people burn out is we don’t think through or work hard at rest and recharging. I think it takes more work to rest than it does to do anything else. We have to focus on it, engage it and let go of other things for it to happen. Rest, recharging, will not just happen. We will not just stumble into it. If you are a pastor, the fall that is coming up is too important for you to limp into it because you failed to make the most of your summer. Don’t make that mistake.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Ron Edmondson on 7 suggestions for an effective Easter.

This is an “all hands on deck” Sunday. Plan every detail you possibly can. Plan for and expect excellence. It’s that important. Hopefully by now you have already started talking about it, but people need to know the importance you are placing on the day. Make it a big deal, because it is a big deal.

Forbes ranks the 9 toughest leadership roles. Interesting where pastor and stay-at-home mom landed.

Tim Elmore on The different types of parents and how they affect their kids.

Tragically, this is often the case for many of us.  Instead of learning from our parent’s shortcomings, we echo them in our parenting. The opposite can also be true–in an effort to learn from our parent’s mistakes, we can swing the pendulum too far and commit the opposite error.  Instead of being passive, we smother (or vice versa).

7 reasons preachers should read fiction.

Imagination is a muscle. It needs to be exercised. Unlike movies, books make you use that imagination. When I think of Charles Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards – what strikes me about their preaching is their vivid imagination.

Sutton Turner on How an executive pastor frees up a lead pastor.

One of the easiest ways an executive pastor can complement the lead pastor is by doing the things the lead pastor isn’t gifted to do. The lead pastor needs to do the things that only he can do, and the executive pastor needs to do the things that he and the lead pastor can both do.

5 reasons why one Christian teen didn’t rebel. Super helpful for parents.

My parents never encouraged any idea of teenage-hood rebellion. They never joked about us rolling our eyes, acting exasperated, or having attitude at all. Rather, they actually made us think that teenagers and the whole rebellion process was stupid and unnecessary. I always figured that I would grow up straight from child to adult, with no “silly teenage stage” in-between. You may think that this is no fun, or that kids need their time to be silly and make mistakes.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Matt Walsh on Abstinence is unrealistic and old fashioned.

You could ask any married person who slept with other people before meeting their spouse (I wouldn’t recommend actually asking this, I’m just trying to illustrate a point here): are you happy about it? Are you glad that you gave yourself to someone other than the person you now love eternally? If you could go back to those times, would you stop yourself? Was it worth it? Really, was it worth it? Do you wish you could say that your spouse is the only person who has experienced these intimate, sacred moments with you? Are you proud that there are other men or women in the world who have seen this side of you? Are you satisfied that what you give to your spouse is now secondhand?

Don Carson on 6 reasons not to abandon expository preaching.

I distinguish expository preaching from topical preaching, textual preaching, and others, for the expository sermon must be controlled by a Scripture text or texts. Expository preaching emerges directly and demonstrably from a passage or passages of Scripture.

Men, how being fat can destroy your family.

Those knees sound like broken glass yet? How about the constant back pain? No energy, you say? Out of breath? Does any of this surprise you? It shouldn’t! You probably could have prevented all of these things by shedding some of that extra tonnage you’re carrying around.

Scott Williams on Learn to expect great things.

Success and great things come to those who expect it and those who step out and make it happen. The key to success is living from the spirit of expectancy.

So, “Atheist Mega-Churches” are a thing.

To have a service when there’s no One you’re serving…well, that would be like inviting friends over for a movie night, but staring at a blank wall. The concept is good, but the execution is empty.

Addie Zierman on 5 church phrases that are scaring off Millenials.

Here is what I can tell you about millennials: We grew up on easy answers, catchphrases and cliché, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things are almost always more complicated than that.

Thom Rainer on Thank you pastor’s wife. This is so true. You should thank your pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most thankless roles in the world. You receive no compensation, but there are many expectations of you. At times you are expected to be omnipresent; and other times you are expected to be invisible. Rarely at any of those times does anyone express gratitude to you. Thank you pastor’s wife.

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • Yesterday was a bittersweet day at Revolution Church
  • We announced that Jared Carter will be leaving our staff team to explore planting his own church
  • While this the nature of being a church that wants to plant churches, it is still sad when it happens
  • I’m excited though to see how God moves in his life
  • It was hard yesterday to because I woke up and completely scrapped my sermon
  • Definitely went a direction I did not expect but it was totally God on that
  • I have gotten so many texts, tweets and messages since yesterday about how the Holy Spirit was working during the service
  • Love when that happens
  • AJ did a killer job leading worship while Paul was away
  • Love the new worship leaders being developed and can’t wait to see Jeremy lead soon
  • If you missed yesterday, you can listen to it here
  • It was incredible to as this was our 7th week of having over 200 adults
  • Blown away by the way God continues to grow our church
  • One thing I mentioned in my sermon that I’ve gotten a lot of questions about is the catechism we use with our kids that I talked about
  • It’s called New City Catechism and you can get it free here
  • Pretty excited for this week as I have a week of downtime with Katie and the kids
  • While we’d hoped to have Judah home by this time, we are definitely seeing God’s hand in delaying it
  • Really looking forward to doing a lot of nothing and relaxing over fall break
  • You do NOT want to miss Revolution Church next week
  • We have a special guest preacher that is going to rock
  • Seriously, you don’t want to miss it
  • Looking forward to reading a bunch of novels this week and things not associated with upcoming sermons
  • Hoping to crack open this new biography about Spurgeon though
  • Yesterday, my latest post on the resurgence went up about the things I’ve learned about leadership, your energy as a leader, family and other things since planting Revolution Church
  • I’d love for you to check it out
  • Not even sure what to say about my Steelers outside of, maybe we can get Jadeveon Clowney
  • We are on our way to having a shot at the #1 pick next year
  • While I’m out this week, I have a bunch of posts and things scheduled to go but I will be dark on social media
  • Really looking forward to unplugging

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Kevin DeYoung on Common fault lines in the homosexuality conversation.
  2. Philip Holmes on How we make marriage the ultimate and worship it. Good slant on this topic.
  3. Bold, daring preachers vs. Pretty boy preachers. This is a great line, “The problem with preachers today is no one wants to kill them.”
  4. Gloria Furman on How much God rules and cares about the mundane in our lives.
  5. 5 people we should pray for but don’t want to. This is a challenging post.

Pretty excited for this movie

The Origin of Salvation

Salvation is entirely of God. It is God-sourced in its planning, in its execution, and in its application; it’s also from God in how it’s sustained in the human heart, and in how it’s ultimately perfected in our eternal state. Salvation belongs to the Lord. -Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Manage Yourself First

Right now, I’m working through Charles Spurgeon’s book, Lectures to my Students. In the first chapter he said something that got me thinking about preaching as a pastor and how we (even if you aren’t a preacher) manage your life:

The worst temptation for a preacher is “ministerialism” – the tendency to read our Bible as ministers, to pray as ministers, to get into doing the whole of our religion as not ourselves personally, but only relatively, concerned in it. To lose the personality of repentance and faith is a loss indeed. “No man,” says John Owen, “preaches his sermon well to others if he doth not first preach it to his own heart.””

Pastors and Christians do this. We read something in the Bible and think, “So and so needs to hear this, needs to read this.” We hear a sermon and think, “I wish so and so was here, they could really use this.”

But guess what? They aren’t, so maybe you need to hear this.

Pastors, when you stand up to preach, are you thinking about a certain person who is there or will listen online that you are preaching to, or are you standing up saying, “This is what the Bible says and here is how this has made a difference in my life.” It is a huge difference. Too many pastors use their sermons as an opportunity to preach at people and make a point to them. Instead of just saying what the Bible says.

It is easy to do sermon prep from the perspective of, “I need to get this done so I can preach this weekend” instead of taking the time to let the Bible speak to you personally so that when you open your mouth and preach, it comes from a place of conviction. I know I can tell the difference when I preach a sermon I’ve studied for and a sermon I’ve let simmer in my soul.

Take the time, set it aside so that you can let that text simmer in your heart and soul. Preach it from there instead of from your head that is filled with knowledge about that passage.

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Not even sure where to begin when it comes to this past weekend and tonight at Revolution
  • Last night we did the stations of the cross
  • Such a powerful spiritual practice
  • Really brought this weekend into focus
  • I loved the part where I wrote down what Jesus’ death and resurrection freed me from and nailing it to the cross
  • Love the feeling of freedom I have because of grace
  • Tonight was by far, the greatest night in the history of Revolution
  • Even as I sit here writing, I’m not sure how to put into words what God did tonight
  • We had our highest attendance ever at Revolution
  • And we had 6 people accept Jesus tonight
  • That never gets old
  • Got to explain the Feast of Booths tonight, definitely an interesting way to come at the question, “How do you handle life when it seems out of control?”
  • Paul nailed the Lifehouse song “Storm
  • Totally pulled the service together
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • After the service, we had a huge BBQ
  • There were 4 grills going and so much food
  • I was blown away by how great everything ran and how cool everything looked
  • Christe LePeau, Amy Putnam and Sarah LaBelle did an amazing job pulling everything off
  • Every week, I am amazed at our volunteers and team at Revolution
  • Everyone works so hard, doesn’t complain in making Revolution happen
  • As a pastor, I am so grateful for the team we have as it allows me to do what I do
  • Reading two fascinating books right now:  Linchpin and Lectures to my Students
  • We finalized the preaching calendar through the end of the summer
  • So excited about the topics we’ll be covering at Revolution this summer
  • This week I discovered Iron & Wine
  • So, so good
  • Everything that could seem to go wrong leading up to tonight did
  • On Friday, my computer died. Wouldn’t turn back on.
  • One of our elders went and got me a new one, loaded everything on it that I needed and I’m typing it on it now
  • Like I said, the team at Revolution is top notch
  • When I told him he didn’t need to do that, his response was, “You have enough to worry about this weekend, I’ll do that, you do what you do”
  • Unbelievable
  • This morning, our website went down
  • Not cool
  • But we were able to get it worked out and back up in record time
  • Grateful for the tech guys in our church
  • Just got a text from another elder from Revolution who checks up on me on Saturdays to see how I’m doing
  • Love hearing that people are praying for me after pouring out through preaching
  • I can’t say this enough to church planters, who you put around you makes all the difference
  • This week we officially registered Ava for kindergarten
  • Hard to believe she is old enough for that
  • Paul taught “Rain it down” tonight
  • Love that song
  • That and Tomlin’s song “Our God” are getting a lot of play at our house (and at Revolution)
  • If you missed them, here are the top posts from the month of March
  • This week, Katie and I will celebrate 8 years of marriage
  • I still can’t believe she said yes
  • Not sure what she was thinking
  • But I’m grateful she said yes
  • I am more in love with her today than ever
  • And she continues to get more and more beautiful
  • Next week I get to talk about one of my favorite topics:  whether or not prayer works
  • You don’t want to miss it
  • If you brought someone tonight, be sure to personally invite them back
  • It will make a huge difference to them
  • I’m out

Chosen

“I believe in the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.” Charles Spurgeon (quoted in Humility by C.J. Mahaney)

Two Things You Must Know as a Church Planter

I was asked by a friend the other day about church planting. He’s been thinking about it and he asked, how do you know if you should plant a church.

There are two things every church planter HAS to know before they plant a church.

First, are you called to plant a church. This seems obvious, but it is amazing how many people plant a church or do anything in ministry without a clear sense of call. Charles Spurgeon said, “If you can see yourself do anything besides being a pastor, then go and do that.” If you don’t plant a church, will it matter? Will you regret it?

It is the same with church planting.

I don’t know of anything else in the world that will beat you emotionally, relationally, spiritually, mentally and physically more than church planting. And not just you, but also your spouse. Which brings up another aspect of calling, if your spouse is not on board, you are not called to plant a church. That is controversial, but if God is calling you to plant a church and you are married, then God needs to call both of you. Otherwise, I would bet that your marriage or church will not last.

Another reason this matters is why you want to plant a church. Too many church planters want to plant a church because they want to be the lead pastor, because they don’t like their lead pastor, they want more power, more money, they want to “do it their way” instead of feeling called. Save yourself the pain, other leaders and people who will attend your church the pain, don’t plant if this is why you want to plant a church.

The reason calling is so important is there will come a time when you want to throw in the towel. It will be one of the hardest things you will do with your life and the only thing that will get you through those moments is the sense of call you had to start in the first place.

Second, what will your church be about. The longer you are a pastor at a church, the more your church begins to look like you. A church takes on the personality and passions of the lead pastor. What do you want your church to be about? Who do you want to reach? Most churches think they can reach everyone, but you can’t, you have to be specific about who you are best positioned to reach and most passionate about reaching. Your music, dress, preaching, etc. will decide who you are best able to reach.

There will come a time that someone who helps you to plant your church will come to you and tell you that they think you need to change the vision. They will not come out and say it, but they will subtlely ask you to throw in the towel on the vision. You need to have a clear idea of what your church will be about, who it will reach and which hills you will die on.

The mission must win. You need to know what the mission is so that you know what the win is and what you are dying for.

A church without a clear picture is not worth your life and your time. It is not worth the time, effort and money of those in the church. A clear picture will bring leaders, will bring people and people will want to support something that is clear.

What would you say is essential for church planting? Only pick two because this list could be longer, but what are the top two things a church planter needs to know?