When Crisis Comes Home

September 22, 2008

It’s good to be writing again. This is my first post since our city experienced the tragic Metrolink Train Crash back on Friday, September 12. While the crash itself happened right outside our city limits, of the 25 people killed in the wreck, 10 were residents of Simi Valley.

I honestly have mixed feelings about the fact that none of those killed or injured were a part of the congregation I serve as Pastor. I am so grateful that our Church Family can share stories of God’s hand being upon circumstances that would have had a number of them on that very train. For various reasons, they weren’t.

The mixed feelings come in for those that were not spared somehow. I don’t come anywhere near trying to have answers anymore. I used to. At one time, I felt the pressure of having to produce some kind of answer that would somehow save someone from the grief ahead of them in their uncertainty.

Somewhere along the way, I got honest. I started to finally just say, “I am so sorry for your loss. I wish I could take your pain for you. I have no answers.”

I do, however, point people to God. He may not give us our answer today, but someday, we will get it. I believe that beyond cliche or form answer. I believe it to the depths of my very soul. And that’s where I point people.

He’s the Savior, I am not. When I rest my heart in that truth, I am able to navigate crisis becomes a lot differently.

That doesn’t mean that crisis is any easier. When it comes home, everything else adjusts. (Thus, my absence from posting here for a number of days.)

Where the crisis did come home for me was as a friend to Pastors in town and as a Police Chaplain.

As a friend to Pastors, I have a couple of friends who DID lose people in their church and whose congregants were badly injured. I have offered a shoulder and an ear.

As a Police Chaplain, I was not at the scene of the accident, but did get called upon to represent our City in two public gatherings held to memorialize and offer opportunities for people to grieve and mourn. That is a true honor to me.

Being a Chaplain puts me in places behind the scenes that others rarely get to see and experience. Watching City officials grapple with the demands and responsibilities of their leadership while still allowing for their own grief is an interesting place. (Just a quick plug … I am very proud of how our City has responded to and handled this incident.)

Bottom line as it pertains to Pastor For Life …. when crisis comes home, everything else must adjust. You can’t give what you don’t have. Crisis situations demand a lot more giving than everyday life.

If you’re facing tragedy and crisis in your life, be sure to find the people God has placed in your path that YOU can lean on. Give yourself extra time and grace to allow your own mind and soul to wrap itself around what just happened and what continues to unravel over the next days and weeks. It is a process that takes time.

Pastor For Life Makes The Alltop List!

September 11, 2008

We are proud to have been noticed by Guy Kawasaki‘s recent creation, Alltop.com, which is VERY cool. Were listed both here and here. For a new blog, I think this is an especially unique boost for what we’re wanting to do … resource Pastors for a lifetime of life-giving!

Check out the other blogs listed on these pages and give them a good read!

Featured in Alltop

Do You Need A Nap?

September 9, 2008

Think what you will, but everyBODY needs a nap, at least once in a while, if not almost every day. In reality, this post should probably stand on its own in the “Your Personal Pace” series. The topic is sleep, and you may think it a luxury. It may be a necessity.

Justify it to your heart’s delight. Actually, it’s probably to your heart’s terror and dread. I went for years bragging on how I could live on 4-5 hours of sleep a night. Until my body said, “No more!”

Read about any sleep study you can get your hands on. You need AT LEAST 6-8 hours of sleep every night. We all have to go without some of what we need, but we want that to be the exception, not the norm. If you lose some of it tonight, studies will also tell you that we can’t “catch up” on it.

However, we CAN follow our bodies. They’re usually smarter than we are and tell us what we need when we need it. The problem is we think we are smarter than the body God created us in. He uses MANY avenues to speak to us … how about our body? When we need rest/sleep, it is sure to tell us.

So, if you’re reading this with toothpicks in your eyes to keep them open, go take a nap. You want to find out how it feels to “Pastor FOR Life” and “Pastor WITH Life”, go take yourself a nap!

When I encountered burnout several years ago, one of the symptoms was insomnia. My adrenal glands, according to my doctor, were exhausted. They no longer knew when to spurt adrenaline into my system and when not to. So they did whenever they felt like it, and sometimes wouldn’t when I really needed it.

Over the years, I’ve used a number of sleep aids. Even to this day, I currently use Lunesta on a regular basis. (NOTE: Only use sleep medications with a doctor’s prescription. That’s not legalese, it’s common sense!) I also use an eye cover, as I’ve discovered that even a little light can wake me or keep me awake. When I travel, I use ear plugs.

If you’re looking for some good napping help, here’s a little primer from the Boston Globe:

Your Personal Pace, Part 5

September 3, 2008

I want to keep moving in this series of posts on your personal pace. Click on these link to get to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

We all have job descriptions. Pastors do too. We also all have expectations. Some of those are contained in our job descriptions, but I venture to say that MOST of the things we are expected to do are NOT in the job description.

I don’t know where it comes from, but I was told by a counselor who counsels Pastors that studies have shown that the average American congregation has 72 different role expectations of their Pastor! WOW! I’m getting tired just thinking about it!

That leaves a ton of stuff to figure out about what we ought to do and we ought not do. Truth is in leadership positions of any kind, it becomes imperative to figure out WHAT KIND of leader you are. You cannot do it all. Contrary to popular belief (maybe even YOUR belief), you are NOT Superman.

Thriving long-term in ministry leadership requires that you check your cape at the door and leave the “S” shirt (and blouses, ladies) in the closet at home.

That said, I grow a little concerned any time I hear someone say, “Pastors should (fill in the blank)….” or “Pastors need to (fill in the blank)….”, as though every Pastor is built in a way that would make him or her an expert in the area the person is talking about.

An example would be an article I read recently where a highly respected church leader said, “I think the role of pastors at this time in history is to be a curator of human talent. They need to learn how to cultivate, how to identify, how to nurture, how to develop and unleash the God-given potential in every person.”

At it’s core, I agree with this leader’s assessment. Part of our job description biblically is to help people develop and mature into all that God has for them. Even still, that is only partly up to us.

My concern is that while every Pastor is called to shepherd people to places of greater growth and maturity, not every Pastor is good at cultivating AND identifying AND nurturing AND developing AND unleashing.

Some are good at identifying, but not very good at nurturing. Some are good at cultivating, but not very good at unleashing. Add to the mix that we ALL do well to commit to a posture of life-long learning. Even still, we cannot be good at everything that is expected of us. We are humans, and built into us are limitations.

Friends, co-workers, part of finding your personal pace is to accept the fact that you are just a human, and therefore limited. Demands all around us and the expectations, whether imposed by others or self-imposed, tempt us to be and do and perform and live up to some things that even Jesus doesn’t expect of us.

First and foremost, we must be followers of His, whatever that may mean. You see, while we all love the same Savior, He has created each of us very differently from one another. You will find no ministry or vocation that has two of the exact same people in them, because we’re all as unique as our fingerprints. Better said, we are all unique because of His fingerprints upon us.

In finding your personal pace, release yourself from the comparisons, the “should’s” and the “ought-to’s”. Find who Jesus is making YOU to be in the context of the role and mantle He has given you, and receive that as part of your personal pace.

What is one thing you are doing right now in your role ONLY because it is expected and NOT because it is part of who God made you to be?

Feast or Famine

September 1, 2008

I’m one of those Pastors who happens to live on “church property”. We live in the parsonage right next door to the church. Fortunately, the front of my house faces AWAY from the church, and my leadership at the church saw the wisdom a few years ago of adding a couple layers of block on top of the back wall. Now, I don’t have to observe and wonder about work every time I’m in my back yard.

For us, it’s been by and large a good experience to live where we do. However, that hasn’t always been true, nor is it always true today.

Reflecting on my calendar this Summer, I realized some circumstances kept me from taking the kind of time away that I am used to. My oldest son, now 13, had some surgery on a leg that was necessary and very successful, but resulted in the need for lots of down time. He’s our :komebody”, so he felt most comfortable just staying home.

My wife, Colleen, begins a new job this week as a Teacher at our local Adult school. She has been feverishly preparing for this new role, and didn’t feel free to take much time away over the last couple months.

We finally got away for almost a week just a couple of weeks ago. It was wonderful, refreshing, and caused me to once again see the need for regular time away. Not just vacation time, but time to get away to be with Jesus, letting Him quiet my soul and lead me to His rest.

The last couple of days, Colleen and I have been working out our Fall calendar. I saw a window of opportunity to get away with her and the boys, but didn’t say anything. However, then I read a friend’s blog post.

I want to share it with you, and by doing so, introduce you to Jan Owens. Read her blog post on getting away here, click here to read her story, and click here to subscribe to her blog in a reader. You will be glad you did! We have not met personally, but I really appreciate her vulnerability and perspective on life in God as a Church Leader.

If it’s been a while since you’ve gotten away to refocus and be refreshed, I know Jan would join me in encouraging you to get your calendar out right now. Look over the next weeks and months. DO NOT CLOSE THAT CALENDAR until you’ve pencilied in at least a time or two away from the grind before the holidays hit!

Help When You Hurt

Who ministers to the Minister when you're hurting? Many do, and they can be found on this listing. Please find a friend in your area and seek the help you need today.
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A Place For You

Many Pastors are not aware that all over the country are a number of places you can retreat to for a number of given reasons or purposes. Find some of them here, get there, and find your pace!
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