Ministry

Here you will find articles and posts helpful to those in the ministry.

 

Without Him

Without Him

 
Just a quick thought for the day.
 
I remember not so long ago (actually it was now about 20 years ago, where does time fly to?) I was a young Worship Leader in my church. I had taken a choir ministry that had formerly been vibrant and growing but had been broken and wounded and driven down to only 9 members. They were left confused and discouraged. Over the next 9 years we saw this 9 person choir blossom into a 57 person choir, performing every week, with two concerts a year and singing 5 part harmony. It was such a blessed time.
 
without himThe clear factor of this story of success was my prayer to the Lord, as I faced dilemmas and needs, He was present. We needed a tenor, I prayed, then looked and found tenors. We needed a bass, I prayed then went looking and found basses. Our sound was off. We weren’t blending well. I looked, researched, studied… and failed. Then I prayed and bam! God led me to a way to communicate the need to the choir. Through this process of praying, trusting and acting, God led us to become an amazing choir that was not a good “church choir”, but was actually an amazing choir.  The struggle I then developed was, as I became proficient and my talent manifested itself, I started to do it on my own. Prayer played less of an important role than it had. It is a constant struggle to remain “in the vine” when there are so many other voices and pressures vying for your attention. When you experience some success, it’s awfully easy to begin to rely on the wrong things, in the wrong ways. The Lord moved me out of that position, calling me to youth ministry. I spent 5 years working with the teens of our church. These 5 years were and still are 5 of the best years of my life.

I was back to relying of God. I was back to praying and trusting and acting. Our nickname was a popular acronym at the time, F.R.O.G. Fully Rely On God. I have now been a Lead Pastor for 10 years, 7 at my current church.  Just the other day, I realized that I was in a very real danger of it happening again. I was convicted by the Holy Spirit, as I was considering the various needs that we have in our ministry… I’ve been doing too much of it on my own. 

askThe point of this post, is that we all have talent. We all have gifts. Many of us have drive and discipline. As leaders, we often shoulder the burdens others wouldn’t want and couldn’t bear if they had them. We thrive on this stuff. Because of this, every so often, we need to be reminded that without Jesus, we can do NOTHING. We may accomplish things, we may seem successful, we may, we may, we may… but in the end, we are doing nothing. Jesus said it “without me, you can do nothing”. So my dear brothers and sisters, whatever it is that God has called you to, or wherever it is that God has placed you… don’t ‘do’ it on your own. PRAY. Trust. Then seek. Then work. Then practice and rehearse. But PRAY and TRUST in God’s provision for your ministry, He won’t let you down.

Bless God!

Eric P Davis sig

Eric P Davis



The Isolated Pastor

I recently read an article about a pastor who took his own life. He suffered from depression, and sadly separation from the body of Christ… his own church. The article reflected on this separation, this heartache. The loneliness of being a pastor. The isolation.

I have been there, I recall looking at my computer screen, with tears in my eyes, as the pressure of ministry, major illness in a loved one, and the failure to meet personal expectations mounted. Simply wanting it to all end. Knowing or feeling there was no way out.

Fortunately for me, I am blessed with a church that understands. It wasn’t always this way at Emmanuel where I serve as lead pastor. It has taken time to lead her to a place where the pastor is a person too. Where we are a place of grace and mercy, not only for the person coming in off the street who needs Jesus; but also for the pastor and leader and member who is struggling.

I do believe that there is a necessary distinction between a pastor and the congregation.  This distinction is there because God has called him to lead. The problem has arisen that in too many minds, distinction necessitates separation

Sadly it may be that this separation is intentional on the part of the pastor. There seems to have been a generation that built a wall between themselves and the congregation. They have been taught or have seen the example of the need to require a respect that looks a lot like fear. Having spoken to pastors of this persuasion, I have found that it comes from the feeling of the need to be something more, that every leader needs to be feared, at least a little, in order to lead the church.

The difficulty doesn’t lay with the pastor alone. There are church members who simply seem to have forgotten that the man is just that, a man. I see none of this teaching in the Scriptures. It is my conviction that we must teach both churches and pastors the desperate need for openness and grace toward one another. I have personally witnessed pastors that have forgotten their place as the under-shepherds of Christ, who have become judge, jury, and executioner of the membership. As pastors, we need to extend mercy and grace to our congregations as they grow into the fullness of Christ instead of deriding them. We need to consider how Jesus led his disciples. Think about the Garden of Gethsemane, of Jesus’ openness with His inner circle. We need to learn from Paul as well. He was gentle but firm. Paul wrote Romans 7 where we see an amazing dissertation of transparency. He wrote Titus where he admitted to being the chief of sinners, redeemed by the Lord, as an example to all, that if God could save him, he could save anyone. In 1 & 2 Corinthians he spoke of the inner battle with fear and discouragement. I have heard so many pastors, and have read so many articles, where the pastor could not, or would not be transparent with his church. So, why are these pastors isolated? For the reasons above; self-inflicted loneliness, the insecurity that seems to be inherent in preaching a perfect word, knowing your own imperfection, unable to share that truth with the congregation. The perceived need to set oneself up as the perfect example of what a perfect Christian should be. While we do this we forget that the perfect example of what a Christian should be doesn’t lie in our own righteousness, but in our reliance upon HIS righteousness.

There are other reasons as well. Reasons that do not lie exclusively with the pastor, but with the churches themselves. Just as pastors need to extend grace and mercy to their churches, the church needs to return the sentiment. As I mentioned above pastors are often placed unwisely on pedestals… this can be the natural result of teaching and preaching a book that is alive, powerful, and life giving or changing. It may be the result of western Christianity’s insane need for celebrity. Either way it needs to stop. The church must learn to have respect and an abundance of love for its ruling elder (1 Thes. 5) without idolizing him. The stories of pastor’s kids that walk away from the faith seem innumerable. Why? Inconsistency between home and church? Sure. Unreasonable expectations on the pastor and his family? Most likely. There are standards written in 1 Timothy and Titus as well as 1 Peter that outline for us what we should be looking for in a pastor. NONE of them say that he must be PERFECT. Mature? Yes. Perfect? No.

Finally what shall we do? We need to study how Jesus led. How Paul led. How Peter led. We need to adopt a humility and sincerity and preach with grace and mercy. We need to teach the church grace and mercy first. Our churches should be taught healthy, Biblical expectations for their leaders. Pastors, we need to pull back the veil a little at a time and risk losing respect or admiration. Without this transparency, the isolation will continue. We need to do this without sounding like whiners, and without leading from a place of sympathy. I firmly believe that a pastor SHOULD be a member of a small group, one where he isn’t the leader of it, where he can let his hair down and just be himself. In his church. Among his family.

To the church, I would like to encourage you to avoid comparing your pastor to the cult of celebrity. Our western form of Christianity is insanely obsessed with celebrity preachers. Every week a pastor faces a review. He stands up to accomplish part of his life’s calling and knows or feels that there are some and maybe many, seated in the sanctuary, who will not listen, who will be comparing him to those celebrities, who will have little mercy for his errant comments, who expect him and his family to live up to impossible standards that even the Bible doesn’t expect…. and he will keep doing it. For he has been called. Pastor, learn to lean on the one who called you. He is faithful who called you, who will also do it. Ignore the comparisons. Trust the Lord and His Word.

The conclusion? Grace. Love. Transparency. To and for both church and pastor. I lead such a church. We aren’t prefect. I thank God for Emmanuel Baptist Church, though we still have wrinkles. I thank God that when my family and I faced a terrible crisis that those in lay-leadership acknowledged its severity and offered me a sabbatical. I hope for every church to be this way.

Bless God, Bless Others, Be the Blessing



The Long View

2 Corinthians 6:11–12 (NKJV)
O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.  

In this post, I would like to open up and share the inner workings of my heart and mind and soul. You see before I returned to Emmanuel, I had an epiphany regarding what we had historically considered our church. I had seen ministries that were so mean and divisive seeming to live out Galatians 5’s list of the works of the flesh. The majority of these ministries I had observed were Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches. These churches were always traditional, King James Only, and carried extrabiblical standards.  They were the epitome of arrogance, looking with condemnation at the world and other ministries around them. The Lord had begun a work in my heart toward grace that would take the better part of nearly a decade to accomplish the change of heart needed to lead Emmanuel to the next phase of her ministry.

When I came to be the lead pastor of Emmanuel, what many didn’t understand, and what I am still learning, is just how much we all needed revival. Many of us had lost the hope of our salvation. We were caught up in legalism and the fear and approval of men more than a fear and approval of God.

Upon returning to Emmanuel, the Lord laid on my heart what I have come to see and refer to as The Long View. We were at one place, and we needed to be somewhere else, and it was going to take time to get us there. This is not unusual when a new pastor arrives at a church. Five things the Lord pressed into my heart. Five objectives. Wrapped up in these things were others that would help flesh them out and breathe life into them. The Long View is that we will become a refuge of Grace and Truth, and that we will be known for it. Even the enemies of the gospel will have to stop and admit that we are different, that we care, and that we are genuine. Here are the five things…

  • Grace and Love – we needed to discover it and live it.
  • Love the Children – we needed to love them like Jesus and provide top notch ministry to them.
  • Intentional Discipleship – we needed to become intentional and relational in our method of discipleship.
  • Make much of Jesus – we needed to elevate Him and give Him first place in our church and in our lives. We needed to worship the Son and love Him and live out His words and His life here on earth.
  • Bible Truth – on my journey out of legalism and judgmentalism (and I say journey because I am still on one and haven’t arrived), the Book of Books became my guide and sole authority. It may sound cliché but when it comes down to it, if you aren’t at the top of the pyramid of leadership, you ultimately follow some man or woman. As I abandoned long held standards and even some minor beliefs (though in cultural fundamentalism they are major), my adherence to this supernatural book kept me going.

That’s it. Those five things were and still are the driving force behind my ministry. Evangelism, worship style, changing standards, they all fall into line when we get these few things right.

Now, as I began to lead Emmanuel, I also began to investigate in earnest this Independent Fundamental Baptist movement to which I had belonged (loosely thanks in great measure to Pastor Clow) for over 20 years. What I found only served to confirm for me that we were not where we should be. Sadly however, even though we were only loosely aligned with these types of ministries, we were adversely affected by them. Whether through reading their books, or by associations with certain churches and pastors that had an undue and bad influence on our own leadership, we had lost our first love. Jesus. We had lost the vision for our church, the church of the can and the do. The church that cares, that left condemnation to the other churches. We became known as controlling and legalistic, and judgmental and isolationist.

the_road_not_taken

So in came The Long View. Why do I call this The Long View? Because it is shift of the mind of a church that is 34 years old. Have you ever tried to teach an old dog new tricks? Ever heard the expression “push a boulder uphill”? These are apt descriptors for the last nearly five years. I’m pulling back the curtain here for you. We were short on grace, our love for children was real but poorly expressed and discipleship needed to become intentional. Jesus needed to come front and center, His words and His actions needed to guide our own. The Bible needed to become more understandable and accessible to more people and it needed to be more clearly taught and closely adhered to. I was so very convicted that we needed to be careful in our preaching and teaching that we stayed true to the Book. These were things the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. These are the things that will lead to evangelism, every member becoming a minister to those around them. These five things will lead to health and will see us become indispensable and compelling to our community. In some ways those around us may hate us, but they will not be able to deny our good works and the Father that has led us to do them.

The Long View. This means that step by step, month by month we will see changes in the heart of the church. It doesn’t happen overnight. I firmly believe that one of the greatest problems with churches today is that they have left their first love. The early church didn’t have a whole lot of programming and special days (these may be good tools, and I think we should use them) but what they had turned the world upside down… what was it? They made much of Jesus. They believed and lived by His words. They believed He had risen from the dead and this life was just temporary. They came together to serve one another and worship Christ. They came together because they needed to, they needed the support and encouragement of each other. Church was more than an activity or an event. It was a way of life, it was following THE WAY. THE TRUTH. THE LIFE. This is The Long View. A view that sees our church becoming an eternal influence on our culture one by one.



God’s Will?

time with GodGod’s will is sometimes as simple as ‘go’ or even keep going. ‘Left’ or ‘right’ doesn’t matter as long as you hold to His principles.

In Joshua chapter 1, Joshua was told by God that whether he went left or right he would prosper. The catch? The guidance was that he had to keep the words God had given to Moses. The general direction had been laid out, the day to day choices were not. As believers in Jesus our destination is secure, there is no other course. However the day to day decisions can be difficult.

When faced with a difficult choice to make, observe all that is involved and then ask yourself if either in action or consequence you would compromise God’s principles, moral law, or greatest two commands- love and worship Him alone, love others equal to self. These observations and questions will turn many difficult decisions into easily understood one’s, if not easy to apply. I think that often we do know which way to go, but we lack the will to suffer for our faithfulness to our loving savior.

This isn’t the end all in discerning God’s will, but it will eliminate a lot of unnecessary hand wringing concerning things that with a bit of work and thought ought to be easily discerned as His will or not.
God bless!



The Great Symphony of Salvation

Have you come to Jesus?

If you have come to know Jesus as your personal savior, how did you come to Jesus? A recent survey of pastors, done by Lifeway Research, found that 29% percent of pastors came to Christ through a family member and 11% through a pastor’s ministry.

My thoughts on the matter differ a bit. Not because the research is faulty, rather that it only tells the end of the story and leaves out the depth that God goes to in order to reach His rebellious creation.

Consider this passage of Scripture…

1 Corinthians 3:5–8 (NKJV) “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.  Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”

The Bible says that Paul planted the seed of faith, Apollos watered that seed, but God gave the increase, or brought to life that planting and watering of the gospel in the hearts of men, women, and children. We are all links in the chain of salvation for those that are around us.

My own testimony… I was raised in a Christian home and I learned about Jesus from my mom and dad. I also learned about Jesus from my Sunday School teachers and pastors. I learned about Jesus from the Christian music that my mom played in the house as I was growing up. I can still hear the Gaither Trio in my mind singing The King is Coming. After watching a Christian film with my family I made a profession of faith at just 5 years old.

Sadly, as is often the case, when I was 16 years old I was done with religion. I had begun to equate Jesus with legalism and religion. To be completely forthcoming, I really don’t know if I was saved when I was 5 years old, what I do remember is a constant conversation with Jesus from that point forward, but also great doubt concerning my salvation due to some poor theology. It was into this adolescent tumult that God brought Trisha Bournival into my life. She was just a girl (albeit an adorable one) that I worked with at Kmart, in Manchester. It took us about six months before we went out on a date. Not long after that first date, she invited me to church.  I had stopped attending my church, and as I was fed up with religion, I ragged on her… but went anyway because hey, she was adorable and I was just a guy after all. Shout-p1The reality is that God the Spirit was continuing to orchestrate the great symphony of my salvation and had added a critical piece to that score. Through Trisha, I met her father Ken, Pastor Z, Pastor Clow, and Brother Rick Morin.

Over the next year, the proper theology, the testimony and witness of my childhood, the seed of the gospel, was watered by Trisha and her church, Emmanuel. Looking back, I smile as I recall all of my questioning of Trisha as we dated, concerning Biblical things. (She had a ChristianSchool education and even knew who Absalom was!) I remember with great fondness, sitting around the table at her parents’ house peppering her dad with my questions (his patience was monumental). Rick Morin, Pastor Clow and Pastor Z didn’t stand a chance either, and all took part in this great Song of Salvation.

Then it happened… the last person in that great score came to our church. Traveling Evangelist, Tommy Stone, a longtime friend of Emmanuel arrived prepared to share the Word with us for an entire week of services. He preached on a night in October. All of the planting and watering all of this great song bore fruit as the Lord quickened my dead spirit that night!

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As I struggled at the altar praying and striving once again for security in my salvation Rick Morin came and knelt with me to pray. I was ashamed of my doubt, so told him that I was fine. As I continued to struggle in prayer, an unknown lady pointed out my continued striving to Ken, my future father in law. As he came to speak with me and directed my faith to Jesus, pointing out that it was better to turn and trust Jesus once and for all, than to continue with this agony of not knowing. The time had come, and after a short conversation with Jesus I was born again!

Why tell my story? Why consider this symphony with its vast score and many pieces? Why this language of planting and watering? Because it’s Biblical. As believers every single one of us are called to join this great chorus of salvation. We are given the privilege to participate with our Father and the Holy Spirit and the Son in the greatest work of redemption.  We are responsible. It’s not the last person that joins the song that makes the song, we are all a part of the whole. If you have the opportunity to lead someone to Jesus remember this… you are simply allowed to attend the birth of a child of the King as the Holy Spirit brings him or her to life. The seed of the gospel had been planted and watered in their hearts by many, many before you. Sure I have guided the child with words from the Sacred Text as he or she was being born again. But this was simply the act of harvesting fruit that had been planted and watered in most cases long before I arrived on the scene. So what’s the big deal about understanding this? It places the glory where it belongs, on God. It also underscores our responsibility to participate in the tapestry of salvation. We all need to play our part.

Are you planting? Are you watering? Church, this is what we were called to do, and to do faithfully, consistently, regularly! Be a part of the song of someone’s salvation! Take up that responsibility the Lord has laid upon you today!



Someone Else III

I have a few more thoughts on someone else that I thought I should share with whomever may be reading.  In my last post I mentioned being a blessing to someone else in your church.  That church shouldn’t be all about what you receive but also what you give.

four guysThat said there is someone else that needs, desperately needs your attention.  He or she isn’t in your church, meeting under your steeple.  He is someone else.  HE OR SHE IS THE WAITRESS AT THE RESTAURANT, THE CO-WORKER OR CLASSMATE, GUY AT THE MALL WAITING FOR HIS WIFE.  Someone else needs you because they need HIM.  Like it or not, folks, if you name Jesus as your savior, you are responsible to Him to witness of Him to someone else.  Someone else may be your enemy or they may be your friend. They may be that friend that you are afraid will ditch you if you tell them about Jesus.  Someone else may be someone that is at the end of their rope and they are barely hanging on.  SOMEONE ELSE IS DIVORCED, IS A SINGLE PARENT, HAS NEVER BEEN TO CHURCH OR WAS HURT BY A CHURCH, SOMEONE ELSE MAY BE ADDICTED TO DRUGS ALCOHOL OR SEX.  Someone else is harsh and hard, or soft and kind.  Someone else without Christ is someone else that will spend eternity in hell.  I’ve never read “Just Walk Across the Room” by Bill Hybles, but the phrase seems to be just about right to me.  There is someone else that needs Jesus and Jesus has given us the charge to be as He is in this world, so as the Spirit leads, we should just walk across the room and speak of Jesus to someone else.  Oh yeah and when you have done this for a while and you have seen people come to Christ and follow Him… don’t ever stop.

This leads me to one last thing, it really is someone else that this is all about.  It’s all about HIM.  It isn’t about me being a successful pastor or even a successful Christian, it’s about Jesus.  He directs, and empowers and brings circumstances about to challenge us to lean into HIM.  Our church is about Jesus.  Evangelism is about Jesus.  Caring for someone else does two things, it displays Jesus to those looking on or being cared for and as Christ said; when you care for one of the least of these… you care for ME.  For all of us that find that first step of witnessing of Jesus difficult; remember this, you have someone else in you that will do it through you.  It might be time to read up on the “fear nots” of Jesus.

We live in a “what about me” culture.  We live in a consumer culture.  What if we all started to think of someone else?  What if we invited THE “someone else” to LIVE and LOVE through US?  In studying Colossians it seems to me that Jesus is just waiting for us to let Him in and He will change you and then… you will look like someone else:-)



Someone Else III

I have a few more thoughts on someone else that I thought I should share with whomever may be reading.  In my last post I mentioned being a blessing to someone else in your church.  That church shouldn’t be all about what you receive but also what you give.

four guysThat said there is someone else that needs, desperately needs your attention.  He or she isn’t in your church, meeting under your steeple.  He is someone else.  HE OR SHE IS THE WAITRESS AT THE RESTAURANT, THE CO-WORKER OR CLASSMATE, GUY AT THE MALL WAITING FOR HIS WIFE.  Someone else needs you because they need HIM.  Like it or not, folks, if you name Jesus as your savior, you are responsible to Him to witness of Him to someone else.  Someone else may be your enemy or they may be your friend. They may be that friend that you are afraid will ditch you if you tell them about Jesus.  Someone else may be someone that is at the end of their rope and they are barely hanging on.  SOMEONE ELSE IS DIVORCED, IS A SINGLE PARENT, HAS NEVER BEEN TO CHURCH OR WAS HURT BY A CHURCH, SOMEONE ELSE MAY BE ADDICTED TO DRUGS ALCOHOL OR SEX.  Someone else is harsh and hard, or soft and kind.  Someone else without Christ is someone else that will spend eternity in hell.  I’ve never read “Just Walk Across the Room” by Bill Hybles, but the phrase seems to be just about right to me.  There is someone else that needs Jesus and Jesus has given us the charge to be as He is in this world, so as the Spirit leads, we should just walk across the room and speak of Jesus to someone else.  Oh yeah and when you have done this for a while and you have seen people come to Christ and follow Him… don’t ever stop.

This leads me to one last thing, it really is someone else that this is all about.  It’s all about HIM.  It isn’t about me being a successful pastor or even a successful Christian, it’s about Jesus.  He directs, and empowers and brings circumstances about to challenge us to lean into HIM.  Our church is about Jesus.  Evangelism is about Jesus.  Caring for someone else does two things, it displays Jesus to those looking on or being cared for and as Christ said; when you care for one of the least of these… you care for ME.  For all of us that find that first step of witnessing of Jesus difficult; remember this, you have someone else in you that will do it through you.  It might be time to read up on the “fear nots” of Jesus.

We live in a “what about me” culture.  We live in a consumer culture.  What if we all started to think of someone else?  What if we invited THE “someone else” to LIVE and LOVE through US?  In studying Colossians it seems to me that Jesus is just waiting for us to let Him in and He will change you and then… you will look like someone else:-)



Someone Else II

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Thinking about someone else… We have many in churches that are focused on themselves and not on someone else.  The other day I was speaking with someone else about ministry and relationships and in our conversation I was reminded of my time as a teen in our church. I had been in teens for almost 2 years, Trisha had moved on from our Youth Group and I was bored.  I didn’t like the way the group was being run and being all of 17 or so, I knew better how  to run it.  That was when Ken Bournival my future father-in-law made an observation that maybe I shouldn’t be going to Youth Group for what I could get out of it but for what I could give into it.  I then began to look at my teen leader in a different light.  I saw a man and his wife that were sacrificing their time every Saturday to minister to a bunch of cranky and crabby teenagers.  I determined that night that this ministry would no longer be about me; it would be about someone else.  Even though Rick was my leader, and I was his responsibility, I determined through God’s help that I would be a blessing to him and that when he looked back on his time with me he would have no regrets.

 

Churches today (even in my church:-0) have developed a me first and consumer mentality.  There are business models for churches and management models for churches and programs for churches and you name it for churches, that leave out the fact that we are here for someone else.  A church isn’t a business.  It has business aspects, but it isn’t a business.  Church isn’t the military.  It has aspects of the military, we are a war against the devil and his agenda, but we aren’t the military.  A church is a sheepfold.  A church is a body.  A church is a family.  If you are a Christian, you should be a part of a local church.  You can toss your excuse as to why you aren’t, God established the local church for you and for His glory.  Usually when I have spoken with a person out of church they blame someone else.  The pastor changed the dress standard, the children’s ministry isn’t being run effectively or someone else hurt their feelings.

It’s time for church to be about blessing someone else.  It’s time to look out at the congregation and ministry that God has called you to, and be a blessing to someone else.  Find that frazzled leader and be a blessing to him.  When I determined to bless Rick, I didn’t ask his permission, I didn’t even tell him I was doing anything (I might have been afraid of his mustache at that point) I just did things to ease his burden.  I showed up, was friendly to new kids, helped clean up and set up and above all I tried to follow Jesus.  Jesus said that we should do the things that he said.  The fact is that we need to be here to bless someone else and that we ought to bear someone else’s burdens, that we that are spiritual ought to restore those that have fallen, in meekness and care and gentleness (not seeing a lot of that these days in churches).



Someone Else

I thought this was worth another read…

Just spitballin’ here, but it’s something that I think may help someone out there today, I know it does me. Someone else can be really, really good. Having someone else to blame for my mistakes, or having someone else take my responsibility makes my life so much easier.  It’s so nice to be able to point my finger at someone else and let go of all of my pent up frustration that is spilling over.  Having someone else to handle the burden of all of my past hurts and mistakes, someone else to take the fall or the pain.  I love to have someone else close by that I can just yell at and abuse with my temper and blow off a little steam on.  It really is quite nice… for me… Then again, maybe that isn’t the right use of someone else. Maybe God put someone else in my life for me to bless, and to help me to see from someone else’s perspective.

Someone else can really help me to see clearly when I am emotionally involved.  Someone else can help me to keep a proper perspective.  True that someone else can help me bear my burdens and responsibilities butthey can’t have them completely.  My experience has taught me that one of our biggest faults is our inability to see or admit to… our faults, weakness, you name it.  Someone else can help us with that.  But we need to let them in and let them speak.  You see we can all become volatile at times, and lose our ability to reason.  This is where we really, truly need someone else.

Who is your someone else?  How have you treated them?  Are they simply the kind of person that will join you in your delusions or do you have someone else to balance your pain filled opinions?  See, who the someone else is really matters.  We need someone else to tell us like it is, where the dog died so to speak.  We all need someone else to listen to our heartaches without judging, but ready to lend a hand.

One last thought… if you continue to treat someone else like excrement, or continue to blame someone else, or load on someone else your responsibilities, don’t be too surprised to find that you have no one else.



Those Crazy Pastors’ Kids

20130629_160253Thom Rainer, the research extraordinaire for Lifeway Research, recently posted an article about pastors’ kids and I thought I would share it here. Before I share the article, I would like to add my thoughts. When I was a youth pastor, we used to go to a summer camp; at that camp was a pastor and wife that every year would lament the life their poor kids had to live. They elevated their children’s suffering as pastors children to an unhealthy level. Much was made about the horror of being a pastors’ kid. I really think that these people added to the burden of their children. That is not my aim. There are many things that this article calls to our attention, and we certainly want to consider whether or not we are being a blessing to our pastors’ kids (and all kids for that matter), or whether or not our behaviors towards them will contribute to their walking away from the church and the Lord.

As dad and a husband, I don’t consider my children to be pastor’s kids or my wife to be a pastor’s wife. I consider them to be Christian kids, and a Christian lady, at least that is my aim for my family.

For me, I have said and will say until I die and will counsel young pastors with this statement… “I will never sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry”. Truth to tell though, it’s a hard lesson to learn when you are in the thick of it and when there are so very many hurting believers and unbelievers that clamor for your attention. My wife knows that should it ever come down to her or the ministry I have already chosen her. With all of this said, hit up the link at the end for the rest of the article…

It was not the response to a blog post I expected. Back in June of 2013, I wrote a post speaking on behalf of pastors for their kids. I summarized seven major things pastors wanted you to know about their children. The article had a big response when it was first posted. But, for reasons I have not completely fathomed, the post went viral a few weeks ago. Now almost 200,000 views and hundreds of comments later, we can see a pretty clear picture.

You see, the majority of those who responded were pastors’ kids. So, instead of hearing from pastors about their children, we heard directly from the children themselves. Some were teenagers still living with their parents. Others were adults who grew up as PKs. All of them had pretty strong opinions.

As I read again through the plethora of comments, I developed seven major themes from these PKs. Not all of their comments were negative, but a majority did communicate some level of pain. Here is what they said:

  1. The glass house is a reality. People are always looking at the PKs. They have trouble saying or doing anything without someone, usually a church member, making a comment. Most of these PKs (and former PKs) felt a great deal of discomfort living in the glass house. Some even expressed bitterness.
  2. Some church members made a positive and lasting impression on PKs. One of the more frequent positive comments we heard were about the church members who loved and cared for the PKs. Many of them took the children under the wings and made a positive difference in their lives.
  3. Some church members were jerks to the PKs. Many of the stories are heartbreaking. It is really hard to imagine some of the awful words that were said to the PKs. Some still feel the sting of those words decades later.
  4. Many PKs resent the interrupted meals and vacations. They felt like their pastor parent put the church before the family. One PK, now an adult, lamented that every vacation his family took was interrupted; and many times the vacation was truncated.
  5. Some of the PKs have very… http://thomrainer.com/2014/01/08/seven-things-we-learned-from-pastors-kids/