How to Survive Monday as a Pastor

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It’s Monday.

Which for most pastors, worship leaders, kids and student pastors, means the hardest and worst day of the week. Pastors even call it bread truck Monday because of a desire to go and drive a break truck or because they feel like they got hit by a bread truck. For a few reasons:

  1. What we do is war. In the spiritual sense. You may have had to deal with a relational battle yesterday. You prayed with people, counseled people and are carrying their burdens and weight. You have shepherded them through difficulties, wept with them, challenged them to walk away from sin and watched people destroy their lives one step at a time.
  2. You problem slept terribly on Saturday night as you thought about the day, got up early and then slept poorly on Sunday night as you were simply too tired to sleep.
  3. Leading worship, preaching, talking with people is incredible, awesome, the highlight of my week and incredibly exhausting all at the same time. You physically have nothing left after a Sunday. You probably have nothing left spiritually, emotionally or relationally to give as well.
  4. There is a good chance you woke up on Monday to a pile of emails from angry people, people leaving your church or thinking about leaving your church. You may have some fires brewing that you are wondering if you can handle. An elder that is a thorn in your side. And you are tired.

So what do you do? This happens almost every Monday. Because of this, many pastors take Monday off. If you do, that’s fine. But I feel like that is making a hard day worse. Your family doesn’t want you around if you are going to be angry, grumpy and have a short temper.

Here are few things that have helped me and my family survive Mondays:

  1. Get out of bed. Some Monday’s are great to sleep in, but I often find that getting out of bed and getting rolling is a better idea. If I stay in bed too long I feel sluggish, no matter what day it is.
  2. Know that Tuesday is coming. Most of the things that seem insurmountable on Monday look easy on Tuesday. I’m amazed at how often I get stressed about things and in 3 weeks time I have forgotten about them.
  3. Get a workout, bike ride, hike or run in. I know, you are tired and can barely move. The adrenaline from preaching is hard to deal with the older I get. I actually do yoga every Sunday morning before preaching just so I can move on Monday because the adrenaline kills me. But get going, do something active. It gets your blood moving and you are in a better mood afterwards.
  4. Take a nap. You should take a nap on Monday. You will probably have very little steam by the end of the day, so lay down.
  5. Work on your soul. Read something that speak to your soul. You preached your heart out, gave everything you had to students and kids, led worship with everything you had, now you need to feed yourself. Monday is a great time to listen to a sermon by someone else to be challenged.
  6. Don’t be around anyone that makes you angry. On Monday, you have a short fuse so do yourself and others a favor and only be around people you like. The fallout from not following this can be bad for everyone involved.
  7. Do administrative stuff. Don’t have a meeting on Monday, don’t counsel anyone. I know lots of leaders like to evaluate on Monday because it is fresh, write it down and talk about it on Tuesday. Return some emails, blog, following up with guests, new believers, those are fun and invigorating for a pastor.
  8. Serve your wife. You were probably a bear to hear at some point on Saturday or Sunday. She was a single mom on Sunday with your kids while you worked and she is just as tired as you are. I know you don’t believe me and think your job is harder, let’s say it is even. Ask how you can serve her.
  9. You have the privilege to do it again in 6 days. That may not seem like a privilege on Monday, but believe me, it is. God has chosen you to preach, lead worship, teach, counsel, shepherd, set up, greet, help kids follow Jesus, talk with students through hard situations. He chose you and uses you. So, when Monday is hard, remember, God could’ve picked someone else. And you could’ve said no. Since God called and you said yes, get back up on the horse and get ready!

And if none of those help, just watch this and remember, your life isn’t this bad. Probably.

What ideas do you use to survive Monday?

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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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Bryan Loritts on Stop sharing and preach.

There’s just something in us that stiffens its back when it comes to authority, and this is a problem of biblical proportions. If you have a problem with authoritative preaching you would not have liked Jesus as a preacher.

Tiffany Cooper on What your pastor’s wife would like you to know.

I want you to know that, in some ways, being a pastor’s wife is no different than being a doctor’s wife or a teacher’s wife. There are sacrifices that must be made and challenges that accompany every job. Just like you, I love my kids, I like spending time with my husband, I feel lonely and overwhelmed sometimes, I need encouragement, I doubt myself, I try my best, I want to enjoy God and know His pleasure, I struggle, I desire relationships with other women, and I don’t always know the answers. I want you to know that I need and desire everything that you do. I want you to know that I am often leading, planning, administrating, or hosting. Most women look to me to carry the conversation, initiate a relationship, answer questions, or create solutions. I want you to know this, not so you’ll think I’m something special, but so that you’ll know that I appreciate when other women allow me to not lead. When others show interest in me or take initiative in ministry, it is refreshing to my soul.

Thom Rainer on 8 of the most significant struggles of pastors.

Many pastors struggle with expectations by church members of their spouses or children. Others struggle with finding time for their families. Many pastors’ families struggle with the “glass house” syndrome.

Kevin DeYoung on The red letter nonsense.

The unity of Scripture also means we should be rid, once and for all, of this “red letter” nonsense, as if the words of Jesus are the really important verses in Scripture and carry more authority and are somehow more directly divine than other verses. An evangelical understanding of inspiration does not allow us to prize instructions in the gospel more than instructions elsewhere in Scripture. If we read about homosexuality from the pen of Paul in Romans, it has no less weight or relevance than if we read it from the lips of Jesus in Matthew. All Scripture is breathed out by God, not just the parts spoken by Jesus.

Why you should give guests a gift on their first sunday with your church.

First impressions are important as a church and this is strategic resources for you to invest. Your guests deserve it … they risked a lot to come to your church and you should reward them.

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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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Dave Kraft on 3 ways to have longevity as a leader.

Bobby Clinton has come to the conclusion that only 30% of leaders finish well. That is very disconcerting, to say the least!

Joe Carter on Is sexual orientation analogous to race?

The argument to make this comparison takes the following form:

Major Premise: A sexual orientation is analogous to the category of race.

Minor Premise: Race is a category protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Conclusion: Therefore, sexual orientation should have the same civil-rights protections as those afforded to race.

The question we will examine is whether the major premise is true. Is sexual orientation analogous to race?

Eddie Becker on 5 things you should never say to your spouse.

Christine Hoover on What to not say (and what to say) to a pastor’s wife.

Don’t say: Oh, I didn’t ask/invite you/initiate with you because I know you’re so busy/have tons of friends/know everyone. One of the most frustrating things about being pastor’s wives is that very few people initiate friendship or include us in social activities, because they make assumptions about our schedule or our relationships. This is why many pastor’s wives are extremely lonely; they initiate constantly and receive little in return.

Jon Negroni on How all the Pixar movies exist in the same universe.

Tim Elmore on 5 signs your kids are entitled.

Why work when it can be given to you? It fosters a cycle of laziness and poor work ethic when we constantly give to our children without requiring any work. We need to create entry points starting at a young age for our children to contribute to household chores and jobs.

Owl City – “In Christ Alone”

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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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Lara Croft on Depression and the Pastor’s Wife.

My struggle with depression is not the result of being a pastor’s wife. If my husband was in another vocation I believe I would still struggle. However, being a pastor’s wife intensifies this struggle. The exhausting nature of caring for the church, the temptation to carry the burdens of those who are struggling in our midst, the demands on our time and on our family, and the spiritual battle that we daily face all contribute to exhaustion and vulnerability. This exhaustion is especially intensified as we try to do all of these things in our own strength, apart from God. Therefore, finding pastors and their wives struggling with depression is not uncommon.

Kayla North on May have a compromise? Great parenting advice that we use.

When people hear our kids ask, “May I have a compromise?” they tend to look at us a bit funny. They seem completely confused when we respond to our kids as if their request for a compromise is normal. But at our house it is normal. In fact, it’s a request we hear no less than a dozen times each day.

10 possible reasons your church isn’t growing.

In the end, healthy things grow. The mission of the church at its best throughout the centuries has been an outward mission focused on sharing the love Jesus has for the world with the world.

Chad Pierce on The Religion of Crossfit.

CrossFit is demanding. It can be expensive. It takes time, commitment and a willingness to be pushed beyond your comfort zone. It does not make things easier to get more to sign up. The opposite is true. People are flocking to it because it demands much.

Trevin Wax on Why pastors should engage in social media and what they should know.

Here’s the truth: people are communicating through Tweets, Facebook, and blogs. I recommend pastors join Facebook and Twitter in order to be involved in the conversations of their people.

Brandon Hilgeman on 5 common preaching mistakes.

Being a pastor is hard work. This is especially true for those of us who carry the heavy expectation of preaching a mind-blowing, original sermon every seven days. Because of this difficulty, many pastors make simple preaching mistakes that can be easily corrected. These common mistakes can often be the difference between a memorable message and a forgettable one.

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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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Tim Challies on 6 deadly enemies of marriage.

Marriage is under attack. Marriage has always been under attack. The world, the flesh and the devil are all adamantly opposed to marriage, and especially to marriages that are distinctly Christian. Marriage, after all, is given by God to strengthen his people and to glorify himself; little wonder, then, that it is constantly a great battleground.

Thom Rainer on 11 things I learned from pastor’s wives.

The number one challenge for pastors’ wives is loneliness. That issue arose again and again. Many of these ladies have no true confidants. Some have scars from bad relationships. More than a few have experienced depression. Some still are.

Ann Voskamp on The cure for burnout.

The only way to lead a symphony is to turn your back to the crowd, the critics, the court.

Busy all the time: over-scheduled kids and the freedom of the gospel.

As a suburban youth pastor in a context where nearly all of my students attend college, I witness every day the madness and fallout from the frenetic, overloaded schedules of these children. Parents feel helpless and trapped in this lifestyle, while kids are flat-out exhausted and overwhelmed. Three terms capture the tone of statements I hear from parents when they lament over the busyness of their family: robbery, obligation, and inadequacy.

Kevin DeYoung on Yes, we are judgmental, but not in the way you think.

Evangelical Christians are often told not to judge. If there is one verse non-Christians know (after, perhaps, some reference to the “least of these”) is that’s Jesus taught people, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). Of course, what the casual Christian critic misses is that Jesus was not calling for a moratorium on moral discernment or spiritual evaluation. After all, he assumes five verses later that his followers will have the wherewithal to tell what sort of people in the world are dogs and pigs (Matt. 7:6). Believing in the sinfulness of sin, the exclusivity of Christ, and moral absolutes does not make one judgmental. Just look at Jesus.

Jim Gaffigan on Parenting 4 kids

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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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  1. 13 tips for giving a killer presentation.
  2. Thom Rainer on The #1 reason for church decline and what to do about it.
  3. A warning to wandering Christians.
  4. Matthew Barrett on Pastor, bring your bible to church. I agree with this and bring my iPad and my Bible when I preach.
  5. Kevin DeYoung on 5 commitments to those struggling with same sex attraction.
  6. Why everyone should see The ButlerI’m definitely intrigued by this film.
  7. Russell Moore on The moral majority to the prophetic minority.
  8. Confessions of a broken pastor’s wife. This is heartbreaking to read.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || The Pastor’s Family

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is The Pastor’s Family: Shepherding Your Family through the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (kindle version) by Brian & Cara Croft.

This is a topic close to my heart as a pastor. I’ve blogged before about the joys of being a pastor, the weight of pastoring and being a pastor’s wife.

This book is really helpful. While Brian writes most of the content, Cara interjects points throughout the book. She even writes a chapter about being a pastor’s wife and a chapter on her struggle with depression and discouragement.

What is the goal of this book? The authors put it like this:

This is a book written for men who have answered the call to serve the church of God as preachers, teachers, leaders, and shepherds. And it’s written to address a unique problem these church leaders face: How do you faithfully serve the church while serving your family? How do you balance the demands of ministry with the demands of being a father and husband? How do you prioritize your time between preaching the word, making disciples, and loving your wife and children?

The role of being a pastor or being a pastor’s wife or a pastor’s kid is not harder than other roles, but it is different. People walk into a church and immediately have expectations of what they want from a pastor. Usually, this is based on the past. It is based on something they liked in a previous pastor or disliked. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “My old pastor used to…” as a way to tell me how I was not measuring up. It is the same for a pastor’s wife. Many people expect her to be at everything, lead everything, sing, teach, disciple every woman, etc.

What most people fail to realize (and I’m grateful that Revolution Church understands) is that each pastor and their wife is unique. They have different gifts and personalities. Every pastor is to lead, teach and shepherd. Every pastor will do that differently. Some are extraverts that fill a room and others are introverts that are more quiet.

The one part of the book that was most helpful to me is the part on loneliness. It is interesting that in a church, everyone knows the pastor and his wife because of the up front nature of the pastor’s job. Yet, few people really know them. The pastor and his wife have a harder time finding community. Now, sometimes this is the fault of the pastor and sometimes the fault of the church. Many people wrongly assume that on Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, etc. that the pastor is invited to 25 different picnics because “they know everybody” when in actuality most pastor’s are not invited to any of the things others in the church are invited to. It can be lonely.

If you attend a church, pull aside your pastor and his wife and ask how you can pray for them. How you can serve them, cheer them on. Ask what they need and then listen. Don’t have an agenda as they’ll sniff that out in a heartbeat.

Here are a few more things that stood out:

  • We end up defining greatness much like the world does – by how grand, glamorous, and broad an impact an individual had in their life and ministry.
  • It’s safe to assume that our process for determining if someone is “great and faithful” in ministry is typically not dependent on whether these men were faithful to love their wives and shepherd their children.
  • The temptations a pastor or church leader faces to neglect his family for the sake of greater and more fruitful ministry are real and nothing new.
  • The most noticeable problems typically get the most attention.
  • There are demands on a pastor’s time, and most of them are legitimate. Yet the real problem of neglect is actually rooted in something deeper than just competing demands for time and attention.
  • Because the family of a pastor is under such close scrutiny from the church, it can be tempting for a pastor to care more about the way his family appears to other people than about actually caring for his family.
  • An unhealthy focus on perception – caring too much for what others think – tempts a pastor to seek a quick fix or to cover up unhealthy patterns and problems instead of honestly dealing with the sins he commits and the challenges he faces in his family life.
  • The wife of a pastor should be seen, but that doesn’t mean we have to “do it all.” In other words, it’s important that the wife of a pastor shares his desire to serve the church, but her service cannot be motivated by a concern for what other people think.
  • If a pastor and his wife sit back and wait for others to take the initiative in building relationships, they will remain quite lonely.
  • Being overlooked and feeling unimportant go hand in hand with the struggle a pastor’s wife has with loneliness. Your role as a wife is lived out in the shadow of your husband. You are seen by many, yet at the same time you are invisible.

While I liked most of the book and Katie and I had some good conversations based on the content, my one annoyance is how so many books excuse the sins of pastors. Here’s what I mean. In this book and another one written to church planting wives, the wife excuses when her husband sins. In this book, Cara talked about the times her husband would answer the phone during dinner, go out when there was a crisis in the church, someone to visit, etc. instead of being at home for the night or instead of delegating that responsibility to another leader. Essentially, how he put the church in front of his family and that was part of the sacrifice of being a pastor’s wife. Now, there are times a job beats a family, every job has that. There are also times a pastor shouldn’t answer his phone, respond to a crisis or delegate something. When someone calls and says, “We have to meet right now.” As long as no bodily harm will come from meeting tomorrow, if you are at home, meet tomorrow. A crisis sometimes needs to be met immediately and sometimes it can be met the next day. Use some wisdom on that, but please stop excusing your husband’s sin.

Off my soapbox.

Other than that part, the book was great and incredibly helpful for pastors and their wives about what it is like to be a pastor. It is unique, it is different. It is hard work and it is a joy.

I love the way Cara answers the question if being a pastors wife is harder than she expected. She says, “It is more rewarding than I expected.”

One last thing about being a pastor’s wife that we’ve held since day 1 of Revolution: A pastor’s wife should have the same expectations placed on her as on every other woman in the church. She should use her gifts, serve, give, be in community. The expectation should be the same as every other woman. Our elders do not expect a pastor’s wife to do more than another woman. Can she? Yes. Does she have to? No.

If you are thinking of becoming a pastor or a pastor’s wife, or you are one, this is a book worth picking up. Today.

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

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

So far we’ve covered:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your wife also needs to have friends like this.

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

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

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

Here are a few more things to do:

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

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A Man Feels Called to Plant a Church but His Wife Does Not. Should He Plant?

From time to time I’ll meet a couple. He feels like God has called him to plant a church, but she isn’t so sure. Sometimes, it is just fear on her part.

What will it look like? What will being a pastor’s wife feel like? Will my friendships change? How will this affect my kids? Where will money come from?

Many guys, because they are visionary, excitable, wanting to serve God with their whole lives either ignore these questions or simply give answers akin to, “We’ll figure it out.”

When I meet a couple, if she does not feel called to plant a church, I tell them to wait.

If a couple is truly one and if God is calling one of them to plant a church, he will make it clear to the other one that they are both called to plant. If they plant while one is still on the fence or opposed to it, disaster for them and the church awaits them.

When I say this, I get a stunned look from many guys and they reply with, “If I do that, I won’t plant. What am I supposed to do then? I’m sinning if I don’t do what God has called me to.”

Here are a few thoughts on that question that you may have right now:

  1. If God has called you to plant, you’ll plant. It may not be on your timetable or how you would picture it, but it will happen. Maybe you’ll be part of a church plant, maybe you’ll actually be the planter. You may want to do it at 20, but it will happen at 40. Revolution got planted a full decade after God birthed the vision in my head. Why? I needed to grow up and get beat up in ministry so my pride was sanded down for God to properly use me. 
  2. Just because you feel called to ministry doesn’t mean you are. Lots of guys want to be a pastor. They see what a pastor does on stage. Everyone is looking at them, they are in front of people, they spend time at Starbucks, have lunch meetings, read books and blogs and work one day a week. What they don’t see are the angry emails, the stress that can come from leading volunteers and staff, budget meetings, counseling sessions that go awry, and the stress and spiritual warfare that comes to a pastors’ wife and kids. You may be called to ministry, you may want to be called to ministry. That is why it is important to have a church affirm your calling.
  3. Being called to ministry is something every Christian is called to. Every Christian is in ministry. Some are freed up to be pastors, some are in ministry in government, in companies or other non-profits. All Christians have spiritual gifts that they are to use. Planting and leading a church may be yours, it may not be. If it isn’t, you are not a second rate Christian.
  4. Lead your wife first. If a guy wants to plant but his wife doesn’t he’ll ask me what to do. My response? Lead your wife first. She is your first disciple. If you want to know what kind of followers or disciples a man will develop, look at his wife and kids. If you can’t lead them well, if they don’t feel called to follow you into a church plant, why will others?
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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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  1. Christine Hoover on 25 things a veteran church planter’s wife has learned about church planting. I couldn’t agree more with this list. So much truth here.
  2. What churches can do to prevent sexual abuse in their church.
  3. Darryl Dash on How many hours should a pastor work in a week.
  4. Victoria’s Secret is coming for your middle schooler. A must read for parents of daughters.
  5. Russell Moore on Should Christians boycott Starbucks.
  6. Knowing how much access to give as a pastor and leader. Great insights.
  7. An open letter to the church from a lesbian.