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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Links for Your Weekend Reading

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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Thom Rainer on 4 times when you should not respond to a critic.

As a general rule, leaders should respond to criticism. I do my best to do so, or at that very least, ask someone in my organization to respond. Critics, more often than not, deserve a response. They need to hear from the leader who can give them his or her perspective. They need to hear from a leader in the event the response can be an opportunity for reconciliation. But there are times when leaders should not respond to critics.

Cristina Fox on When distractions keep us from our kids.

One of the biggest drains of our time is technology because of the access it gives us to a virtual life. Our lives revolve around this access and its pull on us is strong. There’s always email to check, texts to respond to, statuses to update, images and videos to see or post. And they must be done right away (or so we think) — putting everything else on pause.

Ed Stetzer on Whether you should stay or go at church.

I, too, found I don’t get much out of sermons, even the good ones. Honestly, there is not much new content I learn at church. Finally, I am easily distracted and the slow pace of sermons let’s my mind wander, so I’d rather read a good sermon than listen to one. So, I could’ve just stayed home. But, I didn’t. And neither should you because our church involvement is not just anticipated (1 Corinthians 12:27), but commanded (Hebrews 10:25).

Donna Jones on 15 things you did when you were dating that you should not stop doing when you get married.

What what if celebrating Valentine’s Day didn’t cost you a dime and could actually re-kindle the flames of romance?  What if you could re-ignite the sparks in your marriage and make them last?  It might be as easy as taking a trip down memory lane and doing what you should have never stopped.

Mike Cosper on Giving up on church and the culture of contemporary worship.

I wonder, though, if Miller’s thoughts don’t say as much about our contemporary worship culture as they do about Miller himself. His description of a church gathering is two-dimensional: we listen to a lecture and sing songs that connect us to God. Miller says he stopped attending because he doesn’t learn from lectures and doesn’t feel like he connects to God through singing. This description of the gathered church is anemic and shabby, but it’s also the description that many American evangelicals would use to describe Sunday mornings. Rather than a robust engagement with God’s people, God’s word, and God’s Spirit through interactions with one another, songs, prayers, scripture readings, and the Lord’s Supper, we think of Sundays as merely preaching and music.

Love this song

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

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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Fast Company on The secrets of the best public speakers.

Why atheists lose debates with William Lane Craig.

Andrew at Evaluating Christianity has put up some excellent posts of advice on how to debate William Lane Craig (onetwothreefourfive). The reason Craig wins all his debates with atheists is not because his arguments are sound, but because he is a masterful debater. Craig has been honing his debate skills literally since high school. Not only that, but he is a Ph.D. philosopher and encyclopedic historian: an expert on the two subjects he debates, the existence of God and the resurrection of Jesus. Let me repeat. Craig has done 20+ years of Ph.D+ level research in the two fields he debates, has published hundreds of academic books and papers on both subjects, and has been debating since high school.

Justin Lanthrop on I’m a pastor. So, who are my real friends?

One of the most difficult parts of being a pastor, or working in church ministry, isn’t talked about much—and that is the difficulty of making close friends.

Sam Rainer on The biggest leadership distraction.

A lot gets said about followers that create distractions. Those distractions exist. And they can be great time wasters. The greater distraction, however, is the one created by the leader.

Why do so many pastors leave the ministry, the answers might shock you. So sad, but so true for many pastors.

It’s true that some pastors fall into temptation and yet others simply feel it’s their time to call it quits. But often it goes much deeper than that. And the stats reveal much.

Bill Tenny-Brittian on Preaching to a new target.

Most of us pastor-types were taught to preach primarily to a Modern, well-churched or well-church-experienced audience. The target of our preaching was essentially “one of us.”

Passionate Seattle Seahawks fans watch the NFC championship game in complete silence

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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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Michael Hyatt on Business mastery.

Your business will not grow unless you grow as a person. If you want to lead others, you have to lead yourself first.

Rich Birch on 7 tensions of growing churches.

Leadership is about living in the middle of a number of tensions that won’t ever be resolved … in fact if you resolve the tension you end up creating a whole bunch of other problems for your church.

Andrew O’Connell on Upward mobility can be hazardous to your health.

A study of hundreds of low-income American youths shows that at age 19, those who had been rated as diligent and academically successful were less healthy than peers who had been labeled aggressive, difficult, and isolated, a team led by Gregory E. Miller of Northwestern University writes in The New York Times. Highly motivated people from low-income backgrounds often feel tremendous internal pressure to succeed, but behaving diligently all the time may leave them feeling exhausted and sapped of willpower, and they may let their health fall by the wayside, the researchers say.

Casey Graham on Anxiety attacks, depression, addictions & business.

If you have it all together, you might not want to read this post because I don’t. Hi, my name is Casey and I’m a mess sometimes.  As I’ve shared before, I have a completely addictive personality.  I’ve always been extreme.

Bill Donahue on How to help people connect to your church.

Don’t let your church miss the opportunity to connect with people who are already sitting there.

The History of Rap w/ Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake

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Act Your Size

One of the things many pastors struggle with is how to lead the church depending on the size they are. There’s a leadership adage pastors talk about that if you want to grow your church, you must act larger than what you are. There is a lot of truth in this. But how much larger?

I talked to a guy the other day who leads a church of 100 who has someone answer his email because he heard a larger church pastor say his assistant checks his email. I heard a guy who leads a church of 200 say he doesn’t meet with people in his church because he wouldn’t do that when they were 1,000.

While these may sound ridiculous, they are both true.

At Revolution Church, we’ve always sought to lead the church based on what we would do if we were twice our size.

A few things I think leaders should keep in mind as they lead their churches or teams:

  1. Know what size you are right now. While leaders are to live in the future and be able to cast vision, your church lives in the present. The guy in your pew doesn’t care if you want your church to be large, he wants your attention and has a need he wants addressed.
  2. Be as available/accessible as possible. This is different for each leader depending on their personality and gift set. While you can’t counsel everyone, visit everyone, know everyone, you should do it for some. Andy Stanley said, “Do for one what you’d like to do for everyone.” Your church is never too big, your schedule is never too packed to be a pastor to someone.
  3. Do what you call others to do. If you call your leaders and people in your church to spend time with those who don’t know Jesus, to be a missional community or small group, then you do the same. You are not above this. I see a lot of pastors though who say, “My community is the staff or elders.” There’s some truth to that, but you call others to do it, you need to model it. If you are too busy or too important for community at your church, don’t be surprised when others tell you the same thing.
  4. Think twice your size. As I said before, a healthy way to lead is to lead and think twice your size. It keeps you close enough to where you are and far enough into the future to lead your church well.

Question: How far into the future should a leader think? What ways can you act your size while leading into the future well?

Why a Pastor Should be in a Missional Community or Small Group

Recently, I’ve talked with a growing number of pastors who tell me, “I’m not in a missional community or small group because my staff or my elders are my community and accountability.”

I understand the reasoning. For a pastor, this is a lot more comfortable. This is also a huge problem for pastors, at the end of the day, it is unhealthy. Here’s why:

  1. You aren’t modeling community. What keeps a businessman in your church from saying, “My community is with some Christian guys I work with” that has no connection or accountability to the local church.
  2. What about your family? This may help the pastor, but does nothing for his wife and kids. Where does their community come from? The pastor’s wife is often one of the loneliest people in the church. The pastor’s kids need to be around other Christians and see community lived out and be a part of it.
  3. Missing a crucial discipleship component. Having people into my home weekly is a great discipleship tool. One of the best ways to counsel people is to simply be around them. Instead of doing life counseling or marriage counseling, hang out with them. Let real life rub off on them.

I understand where pastor’s are coming. You work on the church all week, you want a break from people in your church, but you need the people in your church. Scripture calls them to minister to you as well as you ministering to them.

I’m also an introvert and being around people can be tiring as it is for everyone introvert and when you are done working in the evening, you just want to relax in quiet. Introvert or not, Scripture calls us to be in community and around other people. That doesn’t mean you kill yourself to do it or that you go overboard and spend all your time with people. But if our communities only have extroverts, we will not be the full church that Jesus envisioned.

Pastor’s also don’t want to open up to an MC or small group. You have to have wisdom here. I can’t share as much as everyone else can. I can’t say, “Today was a really bad day at work, I’m really frustrated with a staff member.” Pastor’s often tell me, “If I can’t be totally honest, then why join a group?” Again, I understand, but we are still to be in community. Not being in an MC sends the message that what you call people to is not for everybody.

Lastly, there is a direct correlation between the number of adults in community at a church and whether or not a pastor is in one.

Question: Do you agree? Should pastors always be in a missional community or small group at their church?

4 Ways to Maintain Community

Yesterday, we continued our series in the book of Ephesians at Revolution Church called Image is EverythingI preached from Ephesians 4:1 – 6 on the 4 things needed to maintain unity in relationships and community. If you missed it, you can listen here.

There is no doubt that our culture desires community. This is why Facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest and other social media sites are so popular. We even put social in the name to emphasize how much we want community from them. The problem is that these sites bring connectivity to our lives, but not community. Those aren’t always equal. It is deceptive to the point that people think because they are connected and have 1,000 facebook friends, lots of twitter followers or instagram likes, they have community. They have connection, not necessarily community.

In Ephesians, Paul lays out what the church in Ephesus knew in their heads, but struggled to know and live out in their hearts. We easily do this with community. We know what it takes to have community, know we should have community, yet we struggle to live that out. Paul gives us 4 ways to maintain unity in relationships, whether that is a church, a missional community, a marriage or family. The interesting thing he says is not to create unity, simply maintain it (Eph. 4:3). It is given to us by Jesus through our relationship in him.

Because of this change in our lives, finding our identity in Jesus alone (Eph. 4:1), we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to maintain unity through:

  1. Humility. This is the basis of the Christian life. To follow Jesus, one must humble themselves and admit they are broken and that without Jesus, they continue this way. Relationships are destroyed because of pride. Pride elevates one person over another, elevates one agenda over another. Keeps people from serving each other. Pride keeps people from receiving help when needed. I can’t tell you how many times people have complained about their struggles and when I ask who they’ve asked for help from, they say “no one.” Pride.
  2. Gentleness. This is being caring in a relationship. Not berating someone, not bringing up history in a relationship, not reminding someone what they’ve done wrong in the past. This is caring for the other person, seeking their best, not yours. This gets into how you speak to someone. If you say something and immediately have to say, “I was just kidding” that’s sin. You weren’t kidding, there’s some truth in that statement.
  3. Patience. Community will require patience. People will let you down, intrude in your life. You can’t have a relationship and always get your way. I meet so many people who are alone and the reason is because they aren’t willing to give up what they want. Patience also requires you to allow people to grow and change. If Jesus is the basis of our relationships, then we believe He is powerful enough to not only save us and those we’re in community with, but also powerful enough to change them. Stop trying to change those around you, let Jesus do that through you.
  4. Love. Biblical love is not an emotion first. In our culture that’s all love is. This is why people tell me right before they sin, “You can’t choose who you love.” Biblically, you can. Love is an act of the will (a choice), followed by an emotion. One author said, “To love means you start loving a person and on the way to loving that person, you begin to feel that love.”

While these 4 things are incredibly basic and all of us know them. They are difficult to live out. If they are lived out, the gospel is seen clearly. Community is one of the most powerful pictures of the gospel because people in our culture do not stay in relationships long. Lasting in relationship, often is one of the best ways to show the gospel has a changed a group of people.

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This Weekend @ Revolution || One

I’m really excited for this week at Revolution Church. For this reason:

  • It was great being able to sit and listen to great preaching from Pastor Mike and Pastor Dave this past week. If you missed their sermons on Ephesians 3, you can listen to them here and here.
  • We’ll be looking at what makes a church different from any other organization or group on the planet. The answer is clearly laid out in Ephesians 4:1 – 6 if you want to read ahead. We’ll look at how community and relationships are to play in a gospel-centered church, why that doesn’t often happen and how community is one of the greatest ways to evidence the power of Jesus in our world.
  • Speaking of community, our missional communities kicked off this past week. If you didn’t get into one, it isn’t too late. Go to this link to get the information you need.
  • If you haven’t “Liked” the Revolution Fan Page on Facebook, do so now. It is one of the ways we communicate and pass on resources for sermons and other ways to help serve you in your spiritual growth.
  • We’re putting the finishing touches on our Christmas offering and what that will be going to. Can’t wait to share the details of the organization in Tucson we are looking to support in their work in our city. Stay tuned.

This is definitely a week you don’t want to miss at Revolution Church. So, bring someone with you (you never know when a simple invite will make an eternal difference)

Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am

See you on Sunday!

Monday Morning (Late Afternoon) Mind Dump…

  • This is the first blog post from our new house
  • Took a few days to get the internet set up, so this will be short and sweet
  • What seemed like a crazy, far off idea 6 weeks ago is now a reality
  • God’s hand has been all over this whole process, it is simply blowing me away
  • Not only were we able to find renters, they are moving in 5 days after we moved out of our house, creating very little space
  • We had so many Revolutionaries helping us over this past week and weekend
  • There’s no way this whole move would’ve happened without our community
  • I’m continually reminded of the question, “How do people survive without community?”
  • It was sad to miss Revolution this past week, but it was great to be unpacking and have a slow morning with our kids after the craziness of moving
  • I heard great things about AJ leading worship and Mike preaching
  • Haven’t listened to the sermon yet, but it is on my list
  • Love the team that we have, that Paul and I can not be there and everything is amazing
  • I’ve gotten more comments about this series through Ephesians than any other series we’ve ever done
  • Love how the Holy Spirit always has us in the right book of the Bible as a church
  • Speaking of community
  • If you haven’t gotten into a missional community yet and you are trying to survie without community at Revolution, get in one
  • They start up next week
  • So excited for ours to get rolling
  • I need to get back to unpacking so that life can return to normal this week

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This Weekend @ Revolution || Freedom through Forgiveness & Community

Really excited for this week at Revolution. Here’s why:

  1. We’re continuing our series in the book of Ephesians and I’ll be looking at the practical implications on our lives of what God’s grace does for us. How we are able to find freedom by forgiving those who hurt us because God has forgiven us. How his grace and forgiveness helps us to get past our hurt and fear and join into community. We’ll be looking at Ephesians 2:11 – 22 if you want to read ahead.
  2. Speaking of community. If you haven’t signed up to join a missional community yet, you need to get a jump on it. Some of them are filled up or filling up and I’d hate to see you miss out on one of the best parts of Revolution Church. We will have sign-ups at the church this week, so I’ll give details on that.
  3. We are having a child dedication this week during the service. I love the steps families in our church take as they seek to honor God through their parenting and raise up their children to know the gospel and to disciple them. Then, for our church family to commit to being a part of that as a church. If you’d like to dedicate your child, email Jared Carter.

This is definitely a week you don’t want to miss at Revolution Church. So, bring someone with you (you never know when a simple invite will make an eternal difference)

Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am

See you on Sunday!