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. Yancey Arrington on The grace of repenting to your kids. We do confession each night together as a family and it is becoming an important practice in our family when we reconcile with each other.
  2. Removing the lid of your organization.
  3. Tony Morgan on 10 things people want before they start to give at your church.
  4. Ron Edmondson on 7 ways to protect a pastor’s kid.
  5. The leader who can’t let go.
  6. Mike Leake on 5 reasons why our small groups stopped doing book studies and why I’m glad about it. We do sermon based discussions in our missional communities and it is the healthiest thing our church does.
  7. Jonathan Dodson on Sermon prep.
  8. One reason why parents (especially men) church attendance is declining.

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. Duane Smets on The pruned planter.
  2. 5 questions every sermon must answer.
  3. Rich Birch on 7 signs your church is struggling.
  4. 10 things that should be on your to-do list today.
  5. Cheryl Edmondson on How to handle it when people talk about your husband, the pastor.
  6. How to write the bottom line in your next sermon.
  7. Dan Black on Benefits to breaking your normal routine.
  8. Tony McCullom on Your first 500 sermons will suck.
  9. What keeps leaders up at nights.
  10. J.D. Greear on What’s the deal with the ‘T’ in LGBT?
  11. Luke Simmons on What I admire about Mormon missions.
  12. An unknown pastor is not the same thing as an ordinary pastor.
  13. Aimee Byrd on Women preaching and blogging. Great insights here.

Top Posts of July

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In case you missed them, here are the top posts of July 2013:

  1. The Five Stages of Discipleship
  2. Why Pastor’s Should Take a Summer Preaching Break
  3. The Sins of a Pastor || The Pastor’s Family
  4. The Sins of a Pastor || Giving Away too Much at Home
  5. Adoption and the Desire to Control
  6. Finding an Accountability Partner as a Pastor
  7. 21 Skills of Great Preachers
  8. Interacting with the Opposite Sex as a Pastor
  9. The Things Pastors Know and See
  10. The Sins of a Pastor || Untouchable

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The Sins of a Pastor || The Pastor’s Family

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Pastors, like any person sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wife on a pedestal, it is true. Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage. These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in.

So far we’ve covered:

  1. Your Bible is for more than just sermon prep.
  2. A pastor being untouchable.

The third sin that many pastors deal with is the sin of the pastor’s family and the view they give.

The blame for this sin sits with the pastor, his wife and the church. Often equally.

First, many pastors and their wife feels the need to be perfect. They feel that they are on this pedestal and must always appear happy, put together, growing in their relationship with Jesus. No flaws can ever be seen in their marriage, parenting or life. Often, church members want this. They want their pastor and his wife to appear above the struggles they have. Consequently, a pastor and his wife always feel like they are putting on a show, unsure of who they can be real with, unsure of who they can let their guard down around. What quickly happens is anger, frustration, sadness stay pent up until it becomes bitterness and rage that is let out at the worst possible moment.

This gets past on to the kids of a pastor. They feel that they have to behave perfectly, almost like little adults. I remember when we first started Revolution and after a service all the kids, read that again, all the kids in our small church plant were dancing on the stage and jumping off. A woman came up to me and said, “Is it a good idea for your kids to be on stage dancing and jumping off the stage? I’m not sure a pastor’s kid should behave like that?” Notice, there were 12-15 kids doing this. My kids at the time were a little over 1 and 3 and a half. I looked at her and said, “I can’t think of a better thing for my kids to do be doing right now than acting like little kids and having fun.”

This one is difficult because when expectations don’t match up, fights and division occur.

As the pastor, you have to lead on this one. In your home and in your church. You set the tone.

For me, I have friends I can vent to. Friends I can be myself around. Friends I can blow off steam with. Friends that when I get angry at someone, am hurt or frustrated will listen and then challenge me with the gospel. Friends who don’t expect me to be perfect.

Your wife also needs to have friends like this.

As a pastor, you must give your wife permission to be your wife and a church member. We tell the wives of our pastors, we expect you to act and serve like any other mature church member at our church. We think mature Christians will serve and use their gifts, have a quiet time, raise their kids if they have them. This changes with life stage. There was a time when my wife did nothing but help to lead a missional community with me. I had some people ask why she didn’t do other things and I explained our philosophy, Katie’s gift mix and the age of our kids. They were unhappy and left our church.

Your reaction to that last line pastor will determine if you will find a healthy balance in this.

If you are a church member, expect your pastor to live out the qualifications of an elder, but don’t expect him to be Jesus. Your pastor did and will not die on the cross for you and rise from the dead. He cannot be Jesus. He doesn’t need to be Jesus, we already have a Jesus and he is perfect and amazing and worthy of our worship. Not your pastor.

Here are a few more things to do:

  1. Ask your pastor and his wife how you can pray for them. Don’t look for gossip, just to pray for them.
  2. Give them a gift card to a restaurant for a date night as a way to bless them. Don’t expect anything in return, you are blessing them.
  3. Expect their kids to be kids and act their age. If they have teenagers, expect them to make boneheaded teenager moves like every other teenager. If they have little kids, expect them to tear things up like other little kids.
  4. When you hear someone say, “My old pastor did this or my old pastor’s wife did this, why doesn’t this pastor or his wife do that?” Gently but firmly explain this and then tell them, “If you liked it so much, maybe you should go back to your old church and your old pastor.”

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Being a Pastors Wife

Last week, I did a series of posts on being a pastors wife. I got a lot of great feedback on the posts. In case you missed them, you can check them out below:

  1. Pastor Your Wife as Much as You Pastor Your Church
  2. Without Her, You Fall Apart
  3. What Role a Pastors Wife Plays in the Church
  4. Spiritual Warfare in the Home
  5. “Just” a Wife & a Mom
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Being a Pastors Wife Part 4

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Below is part 4 in a series of 5 posts (Go here to see part 1, part 2 and part 3)

Spiritual warfare always gets mixed reactions when you bring it up. In the church I grew up in, spiritual warfare was something we believed in, but didn’t believe actually happened. We had angels in the Christmas pageant. The pastor preached on the unseen world of angels and demons, but no one actually believe it happened. I have a friend who sees spiritual warfare everywhere. There are angels and demons behind every door waiting to pounce on you. If you get sick, that is Satan.

While I am no expert on spiritual warfare, and admittedly, I’m scared to become an expert on it because I don’t want to have to use my knowledge. But since starting Revolution, I have begun to see spiritual warfare differently than I used to. I believe that both Satan and God are active in our world. I believe they move around, can take up resident in our lives, homes, work places and churches (if you don’t believe that last one, just go to a congregational business meeting).

I also believe, from my own experience, that spiritual warfare comes into your home and family. If there is a night of the week that Katie and I are going to have a fight, it is going to be Friday night. If there is a night that our kids will decide not to sleep, it is going to be Friday night. Now, that isn’t necessarily Satan working in our home, but our own sin nature can very easily give him a foothold into our lives.

A pastor’s wife is most likely to feel the brunt of this. I remember Mark Driscoll once saying that he sees Satan going to Eve first was a testament of how important the role of women are because Satan will go to them first. It is the same for a pastor’s wife. For this reason, while both spouses must be called to full-time ministry (if they aren’t, he shouldn’t be a pastor, but that is a post for another day), he is doing most of the work, seeing the excitement, the life change, hearing the stories. She (in our case anyway) is at home with 3 kids, changing diapers, trying to get kids to eat, take naps, not kill each other and for her to not kill them.

It is easy for Satan to whisper into her ear, “This isn’t worth it.” She has to fight feelings of missing out on something, on a “normal” life, of not being appreciated by her kids, husband or her husband not being appreciated for all that he does. It is easy for her to rationalize why this is not worth their lives.

If you don’t believe me, ask a pastor’s wife. You must be aware of this as a pastor and put some things in place to fight against it. As a couple and as a family, we pray for protection over our marriage, our kids and our house. We pray for the same protection for the other elders and staff at Revolution on a daily basis. We have people praying for us.

We have friends who check in with us on Friday and Saturday night to ask how we are doing and to let us know they are praying for us. I have friends who live on the east coast who pray for us when they wake up and we are still asleep on the west coast.

Pastor’s, ask your wife how she is doing. Does she feel vulnerable? Does she need to be encouraged? Be her first line of defense. Churches, lift up your leaders on a regular basis, but especially on the weekend as they prepare for what lies ahead. I had a mentor tell me that preaching was like “reaching down onto the road into hell and pulling people back.”

So yes, Satan has a lot to say about that.

Being a Pastors Wife Part 3

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Below is part 3 in a series of 5 posts (Go here to see part 1 and part 2)

The other thing that too many churches do with pastor’s wives is not being sure what to do with them or how they should serve or be involved. Many churches see them as free labor. He’s here, she came with him, why not put her to work, for free. She leads the music, plays the piano, leads the kids ministry and the women’s ministry. Why? Why not.

What makes being a pastor’s wife difficult is that nowhere in scripture is there a job description. The only job description people know of for a pastors’ wife is what they saw their last pastor’s wife do. If she did it, they assume every pastor’s wife does that. The problem is that every pastor’s wife is not musical, many of them do not have upfront personalities, or have a teaching gift or have a passion for children or a women’s ministry.

A pastor’s wife needs to be treated like the rest of the women in the church. She needs to be encouraged to find her spiritual gift and use them. Whatever that may be. And, like every other woman in the church, her first responsibility it to care for her husband and children. That is her first ministry according to Titus 2. This is something churches can get better at as well. We need to encourage and hold up the important role women play when it comes to their role as a wife and a mom. Yes, women are not just that, but we have lowered those roles so much in our culture that it is seen as a step down if that is your role. By fulfilling this role, a woman is making the biggest impact on the world because of the impact she is making on her family (particularly, her kids).

Sorry, that was a tangent.

Once, I had a conversation with a woman at Revolution and she told me all the things her pastor’s wife had done. She had recently moved to Tucson. Her problem was that Katie didn’t do these things. What she failed to recognize was that Katie was 28 and her previous pastor’s wife was 44, with only a high school senior still at home. Katie had 3 kids under 4 at home.

While, this does not give a pastor’s wife an excuse to be lazy and say, “I have 2 young kids at home so I can’t volunteer anywhere in the church.” If someone else said that in a church, we would give pushback because we are all called to serve somewhere in some capacity in the body of Christ. She does need to be selective with her time.

Every family finds themselves in different seasons. Some are busier than others. A pastor’s wife needs to be aware of the season she is in, the season her family is in and the church needs to be okay with that and respect that. As they do with the other women in the church.

Pastors, does your church see your wife as free labor, or do they treat her like other women in the church and encourage her to find a spot to serve? You need to not treat her as an employee, she is a member of your church, just like everybody else who is a member. Have you helped her discover her gifts and what she is passionate about? In case you haven’t figured it out, this might change as she grows older, which makes it fun. You get to discover something new with her, and then discover something else with her as her season in life changes.

Churches, do you treat your pastors wife with respect, but also like other women in the church? She is going through the same things all the women in the church are going through, she just gets to go through it in a more public way.

Being a Pastors Wife Part 2

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Below is part 2 in a series of 5 posts (Go here to see part 1).

It can also be difficult because no one knows what a pastor’s wife does. Everyone sees him preaching, leading worship, talking with people. They are touched by what he does. Words speak to them. He led them to Christ, baptized them, did their wedding, and was there for them when they lost a parent or a child.

What makes a pastor’s wife the most important person to the pastor is what you don’t see her do. For me, I am able to do all that I do only because of what Katie does in the background. The night before preaching is especially stressful for every pastor. They are thinking about their sermon, the people who will be there, the details, the people who are mad at them, any problems that are coming up, the list goes on and on what runs through a pastor’s mind the night before preaching. On Friday, Katie makes sure that our house is as relaxing as possible. We play with our kids, watch a movie, sit on the back porch listening to music and talking together. We do as little as possible. We don’t have any major discussions, we don’t talk money or problems we have (we do that on date night, which is Thursday night). The next difficult night is after preaching. A pastor thinks about the conversations, what went right, what went wrong. It is either an incredible high or a low. But the night after preaching is usually the most dramatic mood swing of the week for a pastor. They have poured everything out to help those in their church. Without Katie, I would not make it through a month’s worth of these nights.

Pastors, make sure your wife knows how important she is. It is easy for her to forget because she doesn’t see or hear everything. She just hears the bad stuff. Tell her about how what she does enables you to do what you do. How by creating a relaxing home, you are prepared to do what you do and because you do what you do and God worked someone’s life has been changed. That does not happen without her.

When was the last time you said, “Without you, I would not be able to do ________________?” Do you have a night (a weekly date night) set aside that honors your wife and give your undivided attention to her on this night? That means no phone, email, internet, TV. A night of relating.

What Story is Your Family Writing

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In his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller talks about the idea that all of us are writing a story with our lives and that families write a story as a family. It got me to think about the story I am writing with Katie and the kids.

How do you know what story you are writing? Look at your bank account and calendar. What you spend your time doing is what you find important and what you find important is the story you are writing with your life. We can say that we find something valuable and important, but the truth, if we don’t put our time and money into that, it isn’t important.

I will hear people say, “I wanted to be at church” or “I want to give back to God” or “I wanted to go and serve” but and then they lay out why it didn’t happen. Here is what I know about our schedules. We all put into our schedules what is important. Whether that is work, our kids games, watching our favorite football team, date night with our spouse. We all do what matters to us. The question we have to ask is, “Am I spending my time doing the right stuff? Am I spending my money on what matters?”

As a dad, I’m starting to think about the story my family is writing. What will my kids look back on and remember? 20 years from now, what will Ava, Gavin and Ashton say was important to me, to us as a family? Will they say they were important? Will they say my job was more important than they were?

What about our money? Will they say we were generous or were we a greedy family? Did we have the attitude of servants or did we look for ways to take advantage of people?

What happens as kids grow, they know what story we are living (usually before we do) and they write that story with us. The story we write as a family, affects the story they write as kids and into adulthood.

So right now, what story are you writing? What story are you writing as a family?

I hope that when I’m gone my kids say the story I wrote said this:

  • Serving God as a family, not my job
  • Katie was more important than everything but God
  • I was passionate about being a follower of Jesus
  • That they mattered more than everything (3rd to Katie and God)
  • My job came 4th
  • That they would love God and his bride and still serve Him
  • They would be more generous than I ever was

Links of the Week

  1. Perry Noble nailed it on The spiritual warfare that pastors/leaders and their families often experience. This is right on.
  2. Tim Stevens on how to handle when you grow and when you don’t grow as a church. Interestingly, both can be dangerous in their own ways.
  3. Dan & Chip Heath on Why your gut is more ethical than your brain.
  4. Rick White on Addressing questions regarding gender roles. This is a great article that articulates clearly the complementarian view that I hold to.
  5. Ed Stetzer & George Barna on A church’s size and its theology. Fascinating that the larger the church, the more conservative they tend to be.