5 Ways to Live When You’re Tired

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cheap Kindle Books [4.22.14]

Kindle-DX

Here are some great leadership books:

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Fixing What’s Wrong with Your Church

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I remember when I was in my 20′s looking for a new church job after seminary and one of my professors told me, “Find a church that you would attend if you didn’t get paid to be there.” Let me ask it another way for pastors, “Would you attend your church if you didn’t get paid to be there?

The answer for many pastors is a resounding, “No.”

You cannot fix anything at your church, you can’t make lasting change until it is clear you want to be there. 

Here’s why it matters:

  1. You aren’t bought in. If you don’t want to be there, you aren’t bought in. You may tell me you were called there or at least take a paycheck from that church, but you aren’t bought in. You will take the next higher paying job as soon as it comes along. As soon as life with the elders or staff member gets difficult, you will update the resume. If you are not bought in, the first sign of a difficult season will send you packing. I know a guy who simply quits his job whenever it gets hard or he doesn’t like someone he works with. Pastors can be the same. This environment creates little buy in from your church and team.
  2. Others know you aren’t bought in. Your church and your leaders know you aren’t bought in. It is obvious. You have no vision, no excitement for the future, you don’t invite anyone to church, you don’t talk about any conversations you have with non-Christians. You are simply showing up and people know it. Pastors think they hide it but your church is as perceptive as kids are with their parents, they don’t miss anything when they are looking. When it comes to vision and excitement, your church is looking to see what you have.
  3. Without being bought in, you will change the wrong things. If you aren’t bought in and aren’t excited, if you don’t want to be there, you will have no vision. When this happens, you will change what you just learned at a conference. You will come back and start a drama team, start using candles, do dialogue in preaching, have more songs or less songs, preach expository sermons or topical ones depending on what the latest trendy pastors said he is doing. This creates a roller coaster ride for your church. They don’t know what the win is and they get nervous when you go to a conference because of what will change afterwards.

I would say, if you wouldn’t attend the church you work at, find a new church to attend. Notice I didn’t say work at. Be bought in somewhere before working there. This is why, when someone emails Revolution about a job, we tell them to move to Tucson, start attending Revolution and we’ll see what happens. We want people who are bought into our vision and excited about where we are going, not people who want a paycheck.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • Having a hard time getting going this morning.
  • Most Monday’s feel like that, but Easter has a way of taking it out of you.
  • If you’re a pastor and struggling today, here are some ideas to help you.
  • Blown away by God’s grace to Revolution Church this weekend.
  • The Stations of the Cross on Friday were incredible.
  • Love exposing our church to a practice they haven’t done before.
  • I loved hearing from people who have done the stations with us before talk about how powerful they are doing them again.
  • Yesterday was incredible at Revolution.
  • We had 2 baptisms and 7 people take the step of beginning a relationship with Jesus.
  • That never gets old.
  • We had over 100 kids yesterday in Planet Rev.
  • Praying God’s timing speeds up so we can find a full-time kids director.
  • If you know of someone who would be a good fit or is interested in the position, let me know.
  • Loved hearing Davin and Derrell’s story as they got baptized.
  • Humbled by how God uses our church in the lives of people.
  • We kicked off our series on the book of Galatians yesterday.
  • I think the timing of this book will be incredibly helpful for our church as we continue to live in God’s grace.
  • It feels good to be back preaching through a book of the Bible.
  • That is definitely my favorite way of preaching.
  • If you missed yesterday, you can listen to it here.
  • Over the weekend, I started to read John Ortberg’s new book Soul Keeping
  • So good.
  • It reminds me of this fantastic book.
  • Both are much needed reading for pastors.
  • We have our kids homeschooling end of year celebration tonight.
  • Should be fun.
  • I told someone I met over the weekend that we homeschool and he asked, “You can have tattoos and do that?”
  • So funny.
  • One of the things that was cool to see yesterday was to see some people we had invited to church come.
  • Such a cool feeling.
  • You hope, you pray and then when they are there, you pray really hard that something hits them.
  • And that the preacher doesn’t say anything stupid.
  • I’ve been working through my book and I am about 50% done.
  • Excited to keep working on it and see what God has in store for it.
  • Last night Katie and I sat on the back porch talking about it and reminiscing of where we came from in the past 5 years.
  • Crazy to think where we are as a church now.
  • I have my next coaching appt. with Brian Howard today.
  • I can’t begin to describe how helpful this has been.
  • Time to get back to it…
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Culture Trumps Strategy

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One of the reasons that churches fail to change or be effective is the leaders change the wrong things.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. -Peter Drucker

In their book Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and ChurchesPeter Greer and Chris Horst point out corporate culture is tough to pin down. It’s difficult to define. But it sure is easy to feel. Culture is just “what happens.”

Every church says their strategy is to welcome new people, help people meet Jesus, grow in their relationship with Jesus, develop leaders and plant churches. Yet, for a very few churches is this reality.

Most churches do not see guests, new believers, baptism’s or disciples.

Why?

Their culture fights it.

So what do you do? How does a pastor change a church?

Go for the culture. Define the culture you want. Then go for that.

Don’t tell me that your strategy is the great commission if you aren’t seeing anyone start following Jesus.

Peter Greer said, “Leaders cultivate corporate culture within faith-based organizations just like they cultivate their own spiritual lives.”

You must create boundaries, policies, rules (whatever you want to call them) to keep the culture you are going for clear and on track.

You must celebrate the things that matter most, that help you accomplish your culture.

If your culture that you are going for has new Christians in it, celebrate when that happens. If it is baptism’s, celebrate when they happen. Tell stories. Show videos. Preach sermons.

Don’t leave it to chance. Too many pastors seem content to leave their desired culture to chance and hope that a strategy will enable to accomplish their vision.

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5 Things a Pastor MUST Do on Easter

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Sunday is the super bowl of the church year. We love Easter. It is the hope of our salvation and our world. In most churches, attendance will be higher than any other time of the year. Most unchurched people will be there than any other week of the year.

Here are 5 things a pastor MUST do on Easter:

  1. Check your heart. Confess your sins, keep yourself pure going into Easter. Make sure your heart is ready for what is ahead.
  2. Talk about the resurrection. You will be tempted to be cute and talk about something else for fear everyone knows about the resurrection. Don’t. The resurrection is our only hope. Without, Jesus is still in the grave. Sin and death can defeat us. The world will not be made right without the resurrection. Marriages cannot be saved, addictions cannot be defeated, identities cannot be changed.
  3. Challenge them. Don’t be afraid. Take your skirt off, step up to the plate and tell them, “Today is the day.” For some, they need to be challenged to come back. For others, they need to be challenged to follow Jesus. Men love a challenge. Don’t miss this. Don’t be cute and miss the men.
  4. Invite them back. I’m amazed at how many church services I’ve been to an no one invited me back next week. Tell them, “I look forward to seeing you back next week.” Be friendly, walk around and say hi to people. Lead the way in how your church should be welcoming.
  5. Put as much effort into next week as you did this week. Easter was great and you will be tired, but people will be back at your church on April 27th. Put as much effort into that. Hopefully you started a new series on Easter that they want to hear part 2 of. Be ready.

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Why You Aren’t a Leader

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I meet a lot of people in their 20′s and 30′s who are really smart. The reason I know they are smart is because they tell me. Typically, in your 20′s, you are always the smartest person in the room, especially as it relates to churches. I get it. I was the same way. I’ve had to since apologize to some people I worked under for my arrogance.

If you are in your 20′s and 30′s, there is also a sense of people should just hand things to you.

I remember a couple of years ago being asked by some people at Revolution why we weren’t supporting a church plant in Tucson (sadly, this church plant no longer exists). My response was, “they never asked.” Now, the people asking knew the planter and asked why we didn’t just give money to them without them asking.

Answer: leaders cast a vision. Leaders make the ask. Leaders make it known what is needed. Leaders sit across the table from influencers, givers, and others leaders, cast a vision and say, “I want you to be involved and here’s how _____.”

Leaders do not wait for someone to give them something.

If you are a church planter or pastor and don’t have the volunteers you need, the money you need, the people you need. You have either not asked or you are not casting a compelling vision for people to join.

Don’t miss this: people are not looking for something else to give to or something else to do. 

They are looking for something worth their time, money and effort.

This is hard to do and this one reason is why so few dreamers ever reach their full potential. Here are 3 ways to ask:

  1. Don’t say no for someone. You have a need and you know the perfect person to fill that need, except they are really busy. Many pastors will not ask that person, they will ask someone less qualified. Don’t. Don’t say no for someone. Let them say no for themselves. They might be too busy. They might cut something out of their life to do what you ask them to do.
  2. Know what you are asking for. If you are asking them to give to something, know how much you are asking for. If it is serving, know for how long and how much time it will take. The more specific you are in what you are asking for, the higher the chance they will say yes.
  3. Know why you are asking. This is where many leaders miss the boat. They know “what” and “how” for their church plant, team, ministry, etc. but they don’t know why. Why should this person do this? What will it gain? Why is it worth their time or money? I once talked to a campus minister and all he told me in our hour meeting was what he would do on campus. I already knew that. I wanted to know why, I wanted to hear his heart, I wanted to hear his passion and why it drove him to give his life to it.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump… [Afternoon Edition]

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  • Just now getting this up.
  • I spent all day working on my computer as it decided to not work this morning.
  • Which now puts me about 7 hours behind schedule on Easter week.
  • Not cool.
  • As Katie and I often say, “I’m practicing sovereignty.”
  • Got to spend some extra time praying today and being reminded that God is in control of all this.
  • I continue to be overwhelmed by God’s grace to Revolution Church.
  • We continue to grow every week.
  • I looked out yesterday and thought, “Where did all these people come from?”
  • This week, we are going to put out every chair we have available.
  • Praying we run out.
  • Wrapped up our All In series yesterday and taught on the great commission and how Revolution does church.
  • I think most people want to know that their church has thought through why they do things.
  • Anyone who told me yesterday they don’t like something about Revolution, they followed by saying, “But it makes sense why we do what we do.”
  • I love talking about the vision of Revolution.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • Blown away by all the people praying for Revolution Church this week and for other churches in our city.
  • Praying that it causes people to see their prayer lives go to new levels.
  • After so many weeks doing topical sermons, I’m so excited to kick off our series on Galatians on Sunday.
  • Expository preaching definitely is our bread and butter.
  • We’re also celebrating baptisms on Sunday.
  • Not to late to sign up if you want to take that step (you can do so here).
  • Spent the weekend reading the new book Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches.
  • So many great things for pastors to think through and how to protect their church from drifting.
  • Yesterday was Judah’s birthday.
  • Hard to believe we only celebrated his first birthday with us.
  • It was super fun and he was totally overwhelmed.
  • Hope he felt our love in it.
  • I’m also going to write his birthday letter this week.
  • Lots of emotions in that.
  • If you haven’t made plans yet, make plans to join us at Revolution on Good Friday for The Stations of the Cross.
  • It is powerful.
  • We’re doing a Seder this Thursday with our MC.
  • Expecting to be stretched as an MC.
  • I haven’t done one since I was in Jerusalem 14 years ago.
  • Also excited to go see Captain America this week with the guys from my MC.
  • Definitely needed this week.
  • I’m behind, so back to it…
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One Thing I’m Excited about this Week

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Last week, I challenged our church to pray for 30 minutes each day this week for Revolution Church, the city of Tucson, those who will be our guests this Sunday and for other churches.

Each day, I am sending out a short email with a verse on prayer, some specific things to pray for, a list of names (we collected the names of people who don’t know Jesus who will be invited this week and are praying for openness to an invitation and the gospel), along with 2-4 prayer requests from other churches that I contacted and asked “how can we pray for you this week.”

Here are some things I learned:

  1. I don’t personally pray enough. 30 minutes a day is a long time, but I spend time in the car, working out, reading Facebook, staring off into space. I have all kinds of time to pray, I just don’t. The same is true for most Christians. We don’t pray enough, we feel guilty about it, but we aren’t sure what to do. One of our hopes with this prayer challenge is that people will begin to see how prayer changes things, how they can make prayer a bigger part of their day and have their faith expanded.
  2. Christians need to pray more specifically than they do. It is almost like we are afraid to ask God for things. We don’t pray big, audacious, impossible, specific prayers. We pray in general terms, hoping God will answer a vague prayer request and when he doesn’t, we get frustrated. We do this to protect our heart and our faith, but we sell God short.
  3. Your church will pray if you give them something to pray about. Many pastors lament that their church doesn’t pray or people don’t step up. Most of that is on the pastor and not challenging his church. We have almost 100 people praying this week, that is incredible.
  4. Pray is how God moves. If you are a pastor, you know this. Prayer is how God moves. God wants us to pray, He wants us to ask. There are verses all over the Bible, calling us to ask and ask big.

If you want to be a part of it, send an email to Ciara Hull and we’ll add you to the list.

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Links I Like

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

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Will Mancini on Why your church is working at only 50% of its effectiveness.

The problem is that most churches have a general sense of their mission rather than clearly defined and contextually crafted mission.

Jon Acuff on 6 tips to get up earlier in the morning.

Daniel Cooly on Pastoral envy.

So, after an average first pastorate, we moved from Canada to a church plant of 120 people in New Mexico. I was ready to become a workaholic, see our church grow, have a meltdown, repent of my selfishness, lead a seminary department, and write a best-seller entitled Dogs Playing Poker. Actually, I’ve never wanted a mega-ministry, but a growing, healthy ministry would be awesome.

Denny Burk on How to spot a false teacher.

The Bible suggests at least six characteristics that commonly identify false teachers. Not every false teachers exhibits all of these characteristics at once, but often times they present some combination of these traits.

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