New life is for real… and it really matters!
I just finished up the first session of a 10-session video curriculum that I’m putting together. It’s got a workbook to go along with it, or you could use the workbook by itself.
Think Beth Moore.
Think “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby
It’s called, “New Life Is No Joke” – and it covers the wonderful biblical truths regarding our new life in Christ.
Here are the session titles:
- SESSION 1: New Life Starts with Jesus (free, at the top of this page)
- SESSION 2: What Happened to You – pt. 1
- SESSION 3: What Happened to You – pt. 2
- SESSION 4: Identity Crisis
- SESSION 5: If I Have New Life, Why Do I Still Struggle So Much?
- SESSION 6: Where Did You Get That Flesh?
- SESSION 7: Breaking Mental and Emotional Bondage
- SESSION 8: Putting It To Work In Real Life
- SESSION 9: New Habits of A New Life
- SESSION 10: When Life Is Hard
It’s a great study of the topic and truth of new life in Christ that can be used individually, or in small groups, Sunday schools, home church groups, etc.
The first session is online as a “sampler” – absolutely FREE!
Pastor appreciation month… from a Pastor’s perspective
It may sound kind of obvious or even weird for me to say, but I appreciate Pastor/Clergy appreciation month.
The fact that somebody, somewhere took the initiative to highlight and promote the value and importance of what I have done for the past 20 years is truly meaningful to me.
Why do Pastors or clergy need your appreciation?
While it’s true that most jobs have their vital contributions to make, there are certain vocations that have a deeper or larger impact on individuals and groups simply because of the nature of what they do (assuming they do it right and well). The pastorate is one of those vocations.
Reasons to appreciate your Pastor
I write this hesitantly, because I know that members of my own congregation read this blog, and I don’t want to seem like I’m fishing for something personally. So please know, that’s not my motive.. honest.
I’m taking that risk because too many Christians actually DON’T GET why their Pastor’s job is so vital, or what they actually do. So, in that sense I’m wanting to “go to bat” for my fellow Pastors out there. With that in mind, let me give you some food for thought…
What other professional is EXPECTED to do the following as part of his normal duties each week?:
- Present a well-prepared, heart-stirring, biblically faithful, public “speech” between 30 minutes to an hour in length, every week – 1 Timothy 5:17. (How long would it take YOU to adequately prepare?) Some Pastors do this more than once each week.
- Ensure that his own heart is adequately prepared to humbly but boldly instruct others (think, “take the log out of your own eye” on this one – Matthew 7:5).
- Do this when their own life is going well… and do it when their own life is heavy or full of pain – 2 Timothy 4:2.
- NEVER have the option to “not go to church.” Even when they’ve had a rough week, are tired, stressed, coming down with a cold, just had an argument with their spouse, are struggling with their children, or just don’t feel like it.
- Be available for anyone (church member or person off the street) who comes in the door… or at least be able to make time to meet with them in the near future.
- Know how to wisely and sensitively juggle those kinds of sometimes-conflicting priorities.
- Give wise and timely counsel in every one of those situations… counsel that is truly helpful (Colossians 1:28-29).
- Know the names and life situation of anywhere from 40 to 150 people or more. (I think I’m on the “low end” here…), and actually CARE about them.
- Wisely oversee various administrative functions, or the people who do. Consider the variety and weight this: buildings, schedules, curriculum, consumable supplies, equipment, assets, funds, property, fund-raising, recruitment, community outreach, publicity, inner-organization relationships, volunteers, etc.
- Effectively and continually recruit and equip an ENTIRELY volunteer pool of people to serve the needs of the church and community.
- Keep tabs on how those volunteers are doing week to week, both in their service and in their morale.
- Doing what is necessary to keep those volunteers excited/motivated about what they are doing… and why.
- Effectively hold those volunteers accountable without the “leverage” of salary or other types of tangible motivation (it’s almost an art-form to do this well… and I personally have to work very hard at it, and still don’t do it well.)
- Effectively have and communicate a gripping vision to those he leads.
- Motivate the individuals in his congregation toward continual growth/change, on a heart level.
- Counsel, guide, teach, and equip individuals and families who are experiencing situations he’s never encountered personally.
- In some cases, oversee, encourage, and hold accountable paid staff (from custodians to other ministerial staff).
- Faithfully and consistently pray for those under his care regarding their needs and concerns.
- Maintain his own spiritual walk with integrity and diligence.
- Do all of this while maintaining a healthy, exemplary family life at home (which is a qualification for his position) – 1 Timothy 3:4-5.
And I don’t even think this list is complete.
Seriously, do you know any other profession that is EXPECTED to do all this, every week without fail?
Do you know of any other position EXPECTED to fulfill such a variety of responsibilities with excellence?
Ideas for appreciating your Pastor
I love it when my wife tells me how I can love her better. That way I know, without any doubt whatsoever, that I’m doing something she values, something that speaks love to her.
In that spirit, I want to give you some ideas of what a person in the position of a Pastor would likely appreciate as a meaningful gesture of appreciation.
- SAY “thank you” to his face, and be specific. Your Pastor needs to HEAR it.
- WRITE him a note of appreciation. Don’t just buy the card and sign it. Make it PERSONAL.
- Write out a LIST of specific ways he’s personally positively impacted YOU and your family, and give it to him. Sometimes we Pastors can’t see the trees because of the forest.
- Say you are SORRY if there are past issues relating to you or the church where he or his family may have been hurt. Sheep-bites often get infected if not addressed and dealt with.
- Take up a monetary COLLECTION for him and his family. Pastors struggle financially just like you. Sometimes the best gift is one that relieves the stresses brought on by financial difficulties. (A side note… don’t tell him what to do with it, i.e. “This is for you to do something fun….”)
- GIFTS are always nice… the thoughts really do count.
- PLAN for him and his wife/family to have some time away from the responsibilities of ministry. A weekend getaway, a dinner out, a surprise week off… be creative.
- ORGANIZE a group of people to send a card/letter/note to him every day of the month. The slow trickle of appreciation can erode a great deal of pain, disillusionment, hurt, etc. that he may be feeling.
- ESTABLISH a “Pastor/Elder Encouragement Team” that takes this issue seriously year-round. Taking this kind of initiative will speak volumes of appreciation and care to your leaders – and it serves you best in the end (Hebrews 13:17).
- RECRUIT people to join you in showing appreciation for him. The more the merrier, and the more effective.
- DON’T FORGET his family. They pay a price to enable him to be in ministry. You truly don’t know how high a price. Make sure you don’t neglect them.
Lately my book, The Elder Training Handbook has been evoking a lot of interest…
The Elder Training Handbook is a hands-on, practical guide to identifying and assessing a man’s qualifications for church leadership. It’s designed as a one-on-one type mentoring tool, for an existing church leader (Pastor or Elder) to walk through the handbook WITH the candidate over a 1 year period (approximately).
As I have used it with up and coming leaders, it has proved helpful in processing the curriculum alongside them… so that I can see how the information is hitting their hearts and minds. That allows me to see their motivations, degree of maturity (to a point), and how discerning and wise they are in the scriptures and in life.
Here’s some “stats” on the book:
- Includes biblical instruction, examples, life application questions and “homework” assignments so that mentors can interact with the candidates about what they are learning, and the impact it is having on their heart.
- A self-paced study… suggested to be done over at least a 1 year time-frame.
- Complementarian in nature (see my beliefs page for a definition) – so men are the focus of this book’s training.
- This is a serious study, designed to challenge men to search their own heart and calling. The church is precious, and deserves the best leaders possible.
- The book is available in paperback, print edition AND pdf e-book formats.
- 170 pages (8.5 x 11).
Go see a “preview” copy of the book.
Our church is beginning the process of developing a mission statement… and there’s no shortage of stuff to read on the subject. As I’ve read and considered what is being said, I’ve come to some fairly simple conclusions.
- Every believer in Christ is called to be and make disciples. That is a non-negotiable calling for the church of Jesus Christ.
- But it’s important to recognize that every group of believers is placed into its own unique time and place by the LORD.
- As well, that group is also made up of a unique mix of individuals, each one having particular gifts, experiences, and talents.
- Wisdom demands that we recognize and accept these realities as we consider God’s specific calling on a gathered group of believers.
Here’s how I’d say it in a more succinct way:
- What God intends for us to do as a church family naturally flows out 3 things:
- the time in history in which our LORD has placed us
- the location in which He’s placed us, and
- the gifts with which He’s equipped us.
This has not only been helpful for me as I endeavor to lead the church family, but also as I prayerfully develop the web ministry the LORD has recently called me into (but on more of an individual level, since it’s only me and the family right now).
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MY SIMPLISTIC FORMULA?
You may have heard the “joke” that people say… most of the time directly to the Pastor. And believe it or not, I’ve actually had people who don’t know much about ministry say it to me seriously.
So what DO you do all week?
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the question. I know that it’s a legitimate question when asked by some people, and I want to help them understand.
But I also know it can sometimes be a mocking or sarcastic question when it comes from the lips of others.
Either way, I’m writing this post to honestly answer the question, and help you understand what your Pastor has on his plate week after week. I’m listing basic “categories” that a typical Pastor may serve within, and keeping a running total of the hours as we go… Then, at the end, I’ll give some points of application. HERE WE GO!
Doesn’t sound like much to many people… but that just shows they’ve not done much public speaking, and even less sermon preparation. Depending on the gifting and experience of the Pastor, a good, biblically faithful sermon can take upwards of 20 hours per week! That’s HALF of a normal person’s work week! I’ve honestly done it in less than 10 hours many times, but that’s not the norm. For me it usually takes AT LEAST 15 hours each week to adequately study, pray over my preparation, prepare my own heart, and put together any illustrations, media, etc. that I may be using.
RUNNING TOTAL: 15 hours (average)
This might be one on one meetings with people, or with groups in some kind of training or study time. Every Pastor is gifted differently and uses his time differently in this area. On a larger church staff, the Pastor’s time devoted to this category is probably used more toward his staff or volunteer staff than with lay-people in the church. In a smaller church, it’s usually done with up-and-coming leaders, or training of ministry leaders, as well as lay-people. For me, this comprises anywhere from 6 to 12 hours in a given week. To be safe, I’ll say 6 hours per week.
RUNNING TOTAL: 21 hours (average)
In my view, counseling is part of discipleship, but I’ve listed it separately because it does have a different “flavor” than typical discipleship. Also, not all Pastors do counseling. Some refer these things out to an experienced Christian counselor with whom they have a relationship. But if a Pastor does do counseling (family, marriage, pre-marital, individual), the norm is probably 2 to 3, 1 hour appointments a week. For the sake of our total, I’ll say 2 hours.
RUNNING TOTAL: 23 hours (average)
Elder meetings, Deacon meetings, various committee meetings, etc. fall into this category. In my experience there is usually at least one of these a week, and they typically last for about 2 hours each on average.
RUNNING TOTAL: 25 hours (average)
This is the basic organization that goes into the smooth operation of a Pastor’s life and ministry. It takes more time than you might think. For me, I spend most of Mondays doing administration, which will include returning or making phone calls, dealing with email or projects that need attention, doing follow-up from Sunday morning responses, connecting with leaders within the church for the sake of accountability or equipping, planning how to best use my time, etc. Total time for me, 8 hours weekly.
RUNNING TOTAL: 33 hours (average)
This category is pretty broad. It could include anything from hospital visitation to writing notes of encouragement. Every Pastor will do these things to differing degrees based on calling and giftedness. I’d say the average is probably 4 to 6 hours a week. We’ll use 4 as a baseline for the sake of our total.
RUNNING TOTAL: 37 hours (average)
Weekly worship leadership
Unlike the rest of the church family who comes to worship services on an “off” day from work, the Pastor is actually doing his vocational tasks during the weekly worship. I show up early to get final things checked off and ready, as well as preach the morning sermon and in some circumstances, perform other aspects of the worship leadership. For me, this is 4 hours each week. If the Pastor serves at a church where there are multiple services, the time goes up.
RUNNING TOTAL: 41 hours (average)
All that work done during worship requires preparation. This will include preparation of prayers, communication with team members and those included in pulling off the service, possible preparation for the Lord’s Supper or baptisms, etc. The degree to which a Pastor actually “prepares” depends again on his giftedness and his ministry team. For me, this takes roughly an hour each week.
RUNNING TOTAL: 42 hours (average)
The typical Pastor, in order to be a good shepherd, is in a constant state of learning – about the culture, the role of Pastor, the ministry of the church, the Bible, etc. Most Pastors are studying something OUTSIDE their normal sermon preparation for future use or development of training classes, etc. This could be anywhere from 1 hour to 5 hours per week. For me, it’s typically 3 to 4.
RUNNING TOTAL: 45 hours (average)
Vision & vision casting
The Lead or Senior Pastor is usually the one who does the majority of the actual up-front “leading” in the church. A HUGE part of that is casting vision. In other words, he keeps the direction and purpose of the church in front of the people of the church all the time. Some Pastors are better at this than others. Others are still learning about it. For me, I have to honestly say I’m still learning how to do this piece well… presently it takes at least an hour a week for me.
RUNNING TOTAL: 46 hours (average)
Prayer for the flock
Most Pastors spend prayer time each week lifting up the needs of their flock. This will vary from Pastor to Pastor, but I’d guess the average is 1.5 hours per week.
RUNNING TOTAL: 47.5 hours (average)
Within the church there are also emergency situations that arise, benevolence cases to be involved with, conflicts, administrative struggles to address, conversations to be had, communication to initiate, fires to put out, etc. This category is hard to define because it could be anything. I’d say the average Pastor spends 2 to 3 hours a week dealing with this kind of stuff, as it comes up.
RUNNING TOTAL: 49.5 hours (average)
As you can see, we’re almost to 50 working hours per week, and I feel I’ve been pretty conservative on most of my estimates. There is a LOT that goes into the Pastoral role. And this is only talking about hours worked, not the true “essence” of what it means to a person to carry this kind of load.
Some of the intangible pieces of his job that can’t be quantified, but should be kept in mind are…
- The emotional nature of the work
- The bearing of others’ burdens
- The constant vigilance it takes to be discerning about people, situations, and possible dangers to the church family
- The genuine spirituality the Pastor must constantly maintain for himself in order to lead well and with integrity
- The pressures that being in ministry brings to his family
- The frequent criticism that flock members seem to think is somehow O.K. to hurl in his direction because he’s the Pastor (I’ve had people actually tell me that it’s O.K. for me to be publically criticized because I’m paid by the church. Somehow biblical teaching about how to approach interpersonal disagreements or offenses go out the window in that case… which I must say is CLEARLY not what scripture teaches).
Add to all this the normal stuff of life that everyone has to keep tabs on… things like:
- The health and needs of his own family
- Financial pressures
- Extended family relationships
- Health, diet, and exercise
- and many more things
Looking through this list, and putting yourself in the shoes it describes, the common-sense person can easily see that the role is anything but a “one day a week” job.
- Pray for your Pastor and his family. They together carry a very heavy but vital role in God’s plans for your church family.
- Consider the value, in your life and the lives of others, of what this servant of God is doing… and thank God (and him).
- Cut him some slack. He’s one man, with his own family and needs. Don’t expect him to do everything the way you think it should be done, in the timing in which you think it should be done. He simply can’t… and a wise Pastor won’t. He’ll follow the Spirit’s leadership as much as he knows how.
- Trust him. Most Pastors are genuinely trustworthy guys who care about the spiritual health and growth of the people under their care. Of course they have their own personal quirks, and there are exceptions who are power-hungry or personally manipulative for the sake of their own left-over emotional needs. But that’s the exception, not the rule.
- Recognize the unique weight of others’ burdens that the Pastor must bear, and that he is to do it joyfully. Make his work a joy, not a burden by cooperating with his efforts in every way you can (Hebrews 13:7).
- Realize that though your Pastor may not have personally entered into your life (yet), he is doing so in the lives of others ,and again, he’s one man. Pray that the Lord will use him in the lives of those to whom he’s ministering.
- Do what you can to regularly encourage him. He needs it.
- Don’t forget his family needs encouragement and appreciation too. They all make MANY sacrifices in order for him to do his job well. Make it a regular part of your ministry in the church to lift up his family.
Come on. Admit it. You’ve wondered this yourself. Unless you are a Pastor, or related to one. Then you roll your eyes at these kinds of comments.
If you think about it, it’s really a natural comment for anyone to ask of any profession that is not their own. For example, I don’t REALLY know what brain surgeons do. Yes, they do surgery on brains, but I’m sure there’s much more to it of which I’m completely unaware. I’m not aware of the strain that the necessarily-flexible schedule can be on his life and family. I’m not aware of the diligence with which he has to maintain his education, learning the newest and best techniques continually. I’m not aware of a ton. I admit it. I’m sure there are brain surgeons all over the world who have just stopped rolling their eyes and are glad to hear that someone understands (tongue firmly in cheek).
But back to it… what DO Pastors really do? It’s a question asked by those who are curious, at the best end of the scale, or by those who are suspicious and/or pessimistic on the negative end of the same scale. Pastors live interesting lives… as “employees” of the local church (a term I very much dislike… but don’t know of a better alternative), and as “members” of the church family. They have responsibilities and the need to be accountable for those responsibilities, but also need the trust and freedom of a loving church family that enables them to have a flexible schedule in order to make snap decisions with the wisdom that God provides, meet needs that arise instantaneously, and still remain balanced and healthy in their relationship with their families.
What do Pastors really do? Hmmmmm…. what DON’T they do? Well, brain surgery for one…
Here’s an article that I came across that is very helpful in thinking about this issue. I think I’ll probably write more on the issue in the future as well (my wheels are turning as we speak… ouch).
I’m on sabbatical (translation: I’m resting),
so this is a pre-scheduled post for your encouragement, education and enjoyment!
I came across a GREAT post about personal discipline – in particular personal HABITS that I thought was worth passing along. We all have the struggle to keep our good habits going and kill our old ones. This post was all about creating new ones and keeping them alive (particularly scripture reading and prayer). So… here’s the 13 tips it gave… and if you want to read the entire article – you can do that HERE.
- Motivate yourself by preaching to yourself the gospel of grace. Why do you want to develop the habit in the first place? Are you just gritting your teeth and “doing the right thing”? Are you trying to conform to the expectations of others? Are you trying to make yourself closer to God through your efforts? I hope you agree, these are all terrible motivations. Instead, preach the gospel to yourself: remind yourself that you want to develop the habit because the Spirit of God is at work in you; the Spirit who has brought you as close to God as you could possibly be through his son Jesus and who has changed the entire orientation of your life, making you want to serve him and grow in your knowledge and service of him. Keep coming back to God’s grace over and over again.
- The ultimate goal in developing a particular habit is coming to the point where you love to do it. You know you’ve truly got a good, lasting habit when it’s an essential part of your life, and it feels right. In fact, you feel bad not doing it. This is even true of uninspiring things like brushing your teeth. When you don’t brush your teeth, you feel yuck all day. How much more should this be true of daily prayer, the amazing privilege of speaking to the creator of the universe?
- Realise, though, that the goal I mentioned in the previous point (to love what you’re doing) will probably take a very long time to develop. In the case of daily prayer, it will probably take months or years to even get a small way towards that goal, and will continue to be a struggle until Jesus returns.
- Don’t be a hero—you’ll only set yourself up for failure. If you’re not reading the Bible at all, for example, don’t jump in with a plan like, “I will read the Bible for an hour every day”. Sure, it sounds like a noble goal. But then, when you read the Bible for 30 minutes one day, you’ve failed. Instead of rejoicing in God’s word to you, you’ll just give yourself needlessly negative vibes because you don’t measure up to your own arbitrary standard. You won’t love what you’re doing if you feel like you’re failing all the time. It’ll feel like you have to climb a mountain every day. And you’ll end up fearing and hating it. You might recognise this scenario as the ‘New Year’s Resolution’ syndrome. Don’t fall into the trap.
- The flipside of the previous point is to start small. In fact, make deliberately small plans at the start. Set yourself the goal of reading the Bible for 5 minutes each day, for example. And each day, leave yourself wanting more. Leave yourself with the feeling, “I liked that, I want more”. Then, the next day, you’ll be motivated to do it again.
- Start now. Just do it. This is linked to the previous points. If you have a gigantic heroic plan, you won’t be motivated to start until the conditions are perfect. But if you plan to start small, you can start straight away.
- Think creatively about ways to fit your habits into your life circumstances. Think in terms of people, time and space. What are your relationships? What are your commitments? What’s your daily routine? What times of the day do you enjoy the most? Where do you enjoy to be? If you can, try to practice your habits in the times and places that you love to be, rather than in the downtimes or the uncomfortable places. Spiritual warfare is hard enough without making it harder on yourself.
- Learn from the habits of others, but don’t follow them slavishly. I was once inspired by a godly Christian father I knew who often urged us younger dads to lead regular times of family prayer and Bible reading ‘at the breakfast table’. I thought that was a great idea, except for the word ‘breakfast’. The thought of trying to do anything constructive with that bleary-eyed half-conscious Weetbix-encrusted crew that is our family at the breakfast table was not a happy one. There was no point following his advice to the letter (and he wasn’t expecting us to anyway). We had a go at doing it at the dinner table, which works far better for our family.
- When it comes to habits, simple regularity is much better than sporadic brilliance. Don’t expect your Bible reading to be constantly wonderful and filled with awe-inspiring insights. If you have a spectacular, life-changing quiet time one day and then don’t pick up the Bible for a month, you’re not going to get very far. It’s much better to have simple expectations, and to rejoice each time you open God’s word, even if you learned something that seems small and insignificant at the time.
- Make your habit-developing plans simple (e.g. “I’ll read the Bible for 10 minutes a day”), not complex (e.g. “I have a Microsoft spreadsheet setting out my Bible reading plan every day for the next 10 years”). Simple plans are more flexible than complex plans; they’re easy to adapt to changing circumstances. Life is full of unexpected events: we make plans, but God has his own ideas about how life is going to turn out (Prov 16:9). We have to deal with sickness and emergencies (in fact, when I first sat down to write this article, my wife called to say the car had broken down on the way to school and my plans went out the window!). If you have a complex plan, and then an unexpected interruption comes which throws it all into disarray, you might be tempted to get frustrated or angry or just to give up. If you have a simple plan, you can adapt it.
- Develop the super-habit of regularly reviewing your habits! This is especially important because your circumstances will change over the course of your life. Since habits are integrated with your life circumstances, whenever there’s a change in your life circumstances, your habits will suffer. That’s normal. Sometimes you might have to go back to square one and completely reassess your habits. When we had very young children, we found that our daily ‘routine’ was changing every few weeks, as the kids’ sleeping and feeding patterns changed. When this happens, don’t (as I sometimes did) use it as an excuse to give up on your habits. Rather, adapt your expectations to your circumstances. Then start again. And when you do start again, start small, and don’t be a hero (see above).
- Use the relatively good or easy times in your life to work hard at developing your habits. When the hard times come, and/or when life changes, you’ll have spiritual resources to use.
- I said it at the start of the list, and I’ll say it again at the end: keep coming back to God’s grace.
I told you a bit ago about a new ministry endeavor I’m launching (with the support and encouragement of the Elders of my church). I now have a website up to give details about what I’m doing! If you hear of or know of a Christian group needing to find a Jesus-centric speaker for…
- Men’s retreats
- Couple’s retreats
- Spiritual life conferences
- Revival services
- Or anything in between…
Keep me in mind!
You can find a lot more information about where I’m headed with this endeavor at http://careygreen.wordpress.com
WARNING: This blog post runs the risk of appearing self-serving, when in fact it is meant to address a very real need that goes far beyond my puny life & experience. Reader discernment is advised.
When you’ve served as a soldier in a combat scenario, you have a different view of the words “firefight, crossfire, casualty of war.” They are words full of meaning that you truly understand, because of what you have experienced.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 – We ask you brothers, to respect those who labor among you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly because of their work.
I came across this passage in my morning reading/study time. It strikes close to home… very close. I’m a Pastor. I have been a Pastor in one shape or form for 95% of my adult life. As you might imagine, these verses carry a very particular meaning for me.
I’m writing this post to give a loving admonishment to those of you who are faithful members of your local church. Paul wrote these instructions about how you should think of and respond to your church leaders from his own experience as a church leader. He knew the need (did you hear that… it’s a NEED) that church leaders have to be respected, honored, esteemed very highly in love. He knew something about their struggles and lives that most of the flock didn’t know. I want to clue you in… to give you the inside scoop…
Church leaders, are in a very precarious position. Their calling is not only about leadership, it is also about example. The scriptures call them to be examples. Everyone in the church is watching. Everyone is wanting to see how their leaders “do” life as a Christian. So far so good… but that role carries with it very unique challenges and burdens. The church needs to understand what their leaders contend with so that they can learn to relate to them accordingly. Here we go…
1) Church leaders have needs too. While leaders should be and are appropriately expected to be stronger, more mature, and more capable than the average person in the flock, they are not invincible. Just as you have the challenges, struggles, hurts, setbacks, and losses of your everyday life to deal with, your church leaders have the exact same burdens in their own lives. But ON TOP OF THAT, they must also be concerned about the care, safety, and direction of the flock with which they’ve been entrusted (you). They carry a double-load, if you will. Do you get that? Do you appreciate it? Your church leaders NEED to be encouraged, affirmed, built up, and helped to fight off the weariness that comes from the unrelenting task of living in obedience to the Lord as an example to the flock, and faithfully shepherding His flock at the same time. Don’t misunderstand, they love to do it – but they can’t do it apart from your help! They need you to be concerned about them, interested in their lives, eager to express appreciation, telling them you are praying for them, encouraging them, sharing specific ways that your life has been touched by their ministry. In other words, they need to know that their labor is not in vain and that there are faithful, caring people in their corner.
2) The leader’s wife bears the weight too. The typical church leader’s wife loves the church and ministry just like he does. She often does much of what helps his ministry to be helpful for the church. She involves herself in counseling, women’s ministry, children’s ministry, music ministry, discipling or mentoring, etc. But she’s not the one getting paid. Let that sink in for a moment. She does everything she does, for all those people, without any compensation. Yet, it’s not uncommon for her to be expected to be the female counterpart to the Pastor or Elder while not being given the same respect, honor, or reward and acknowledgment that he is. Her faithfulness and involvement is assumed much of the time, while as a person she is often unnoticed and underappreciated. Church, if you have a Pastor or Elder’s wife who loves the Lord and loves the church, you have a treasure beyond value! Don’t forget her. Don’t neglect to value her. Don’t be remiss in encouraging her, thanking her, telling her how you pray for her, being her support. She needs it. The typical church leader’s wife gets discouraged more quickly and more easily than the leader himself… perhaps because she’s doing it all with no “payback” (salary, notoriety, etc.). Don’t cause her to languish under the burden of her generous service. Come alongside.
3) Church leaders need consistent care from the church family. Love or appreciation is never able to be stored up to be saved for a rainy day. It’s like the manna God have the Israelites in the wilderness, it has to be provided anew almost daily. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that your leaders are pitifully-needy people, but they are human beings. They need the grace of God’s encouragement that comes through the means He’s appointed, which is you, church. Your leaders need your encouragement and support regularly. That’s how God keeps them afloat. If they don’t get it, weariness WILL set in. Discouragement WILL set in. And neither of those will do any good for any of you.
4) Ask yourself some hard questions.
- Do I seek to be friendly to the leaders in my church?
- Do I seek to show interest in their lives?
- Do I inquire how I can specifically pray for them, and follow up on those requests with care?
- Do I pray for them and with them?
- Do I tell them I am praying for them?
- Do I tell them specifically what I’m praying for them?
- Do I ask about their struggles and/or lives in a compassionate, encouraging way?
- Do I consider how I can spur them on in their work and life?
- Have I ever considered asking my leaders how I can be of encouragement or help to them?
- Do I find practical, loving ways that I can express my appreciation for them?
- Do I see my leaders only as resources for my benefit or as brothers and sisters in Christ who need my encouragement?
- Am I allowing my own social awkwardness or insecurity to keep me from affirming or appreciating my spiritual leaders?
- Am I consistent in my affirmation and encouragement of my leaders? How can I become more consistent?
- Can I find ways to regularly appreciate the wives of my church leaders?
- What am I going to DO about this issue?
Long ago our church family invested in these kinds of chairs… from church chair industries, as many churches have over the years. Our particular model has two metal braces that go horizontally across the back, along with a pocket sewn onto the back for books, Bibles, etc.
HOWEVER – we do NOT have any place for pens or envelopes. So the clever folks at our church figured out a way to use the screws that attach the seat-back to the brackets and some of the geeky-as-you-can-get pocket protectors, to solve that problem. Here goes our quick “tutorial” on how to do this yourself… (photos are from a cell phone, so not the best quality – SORRY)
STEP 1 – REMOVE ONE SCREW
Decide where you want to put your new pen pocket and remove that one screw from the back…
STEP 2 – INSERT POCKET-PROTECTOR
Slide the top of the pocket protector under the bracket, center it, and replace the screw in the hole. Re-tighten the screw through the top flap of the pocket protector (don’t tighten too much or you risk stripping the wood… then you have a minor problem).
STEP 3 – INSERT PENS AND ADMIRE YOUR NEW PEN HOLDER
:) (be sure to give glory to God!)
We did the same basic thing for envelopes using binder clips. Below is a picture of THAT finished product.