A Video Tell-All On Us Pastors?

November 29, 2008

ht: Anne Jackson

Churched … Matthew Paul Turner

November 28, 2008

I just finished reading Churched by Matthew Paul Turner. The cover was what initially intrigued me. A close-up shot of a kid putting a tie on. The subtitle grabbed me next: “one kid’s journey toward God despite a holy mess”. THAT resonated with me.

Having grown up in a mix of Assembly of God and Baptist churches (don’t ask, I have no idea), thriving in my relationship with God through High School in a Foursquare Youth Group, and attending Bible College right out of High School, I’ve served on staff at a church in one role or another ever since. The last 11 years, I’ve been the Senior Pastor (after serving 8 years as Youth Pastor and 4 as Associate Pastor) of a Foursquare Church that is pushing 60 years old and doing my best to revive it, only to find myself exhausted and literally burned out on 2001.

My journey out of burnout is being chronicled at here. In the meantime, I am always looking for resources to help those like me who have found themselves drowning in the mire of this thing called ministry.

I am finding that way too many of us got into ministry with a good heart, but not necessarily a healthy one. Us Pastors are a funny sort that way.

I found Turner’s story quirky at first, in the sense that he seemed a bit cynical. I’m a little quicker (not much, but some) these days at figuring out that most things I read or hear that seem cynical are because of my own defensiveness, rather than what’s really true about the author or speaker’s point of view.

It actually didn’t take long at all to equate the resonating sound of Turner’s experience of having been “raised in the church” with my own. I try to stay positive about it all, but truth be told, a lot of my own experience as a kid in church seems now to be just plain weird. And that, my friends, is what resonated so deeply within me as I kept reading.

If you can get past what sounds cynical and relegate yourself to identifying with Turner more than defending your own history, this entire book is actually a riot, in hilarious kind of terms. This guy is funny! It kept me going, wondering what was going to crack me up next as I could feel the creaky wooden steps and smell the musty old pews of my childhood Baptist Church.

I could go on, but one of the funniest parts is his story about hearing Phil Donahue host his talk show one day on the topic of narcolepsy. Turner becomes almost convinced that he has narcolepsy, and the only time it shows up for him is when he’s in church. He tries oh-so-hard to stay awake by drawing in the air with his finger until the air is so discombobulated by his writing that he has to stop. It took me back to the night time meetings of my Vacation Bible Schools at the Baptist Church, doing the exact same thing!

Then, I have to share what I think is the most poignant part of his whole story. He freaked out after seeing A Thief In The Night, and wrote about some of the storyline that scared him most. Well, I got saved watching that movie at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting sometime in 1978! The way I tell my story is that the movie “scared the hell out of me”!

The one thing I loved about Churched most was how freeing it can be to actually live in the grace of God. It’s one thing to know that God’s grace is sufficient for you. It is something altogether different to actually believe it and live it.

When you start to actually believe it and live it, you realize how far behind yourself you actually are. When you recognize that, it’s the very grace God gives us all that allows you to accept where you are and grow from there, even when you feel like it’s a rhythm of two steps forward and one step back.

This is a great book! Go get it here.

Dispelling Some Myths About Depression

November 21, 2008

Anne Jackson, author of the soon-to-be-released Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic, and blogger-extraordinaire at Flowerdust.net, wrote about depression in words that are more than adequate.

I REALLY encourage you to go there and read it.

When Courage Falls Short of the Demands of Reality

November 20, 2008

I love “The Purpose-Driven Life”. I dig the “Wagner-Houts Modified Spiritual Gifts Inventory”. There’s not a much more clear tool than the DISC Profile. And when it comes to bare-bones personality information, nothing beats the MMPI for depth of definition.

As good as all of that is, there is no better tool than the Bible to define who we are. I think most reading this blog would agree. When our faith in who we are in God’s eyes meets the reality of daily life, if we’re honest, we know we often fall way short.

Let me drive this painfully home. I want to be the best husband I can be in all practical ways possible. I want to be Colleen’s knight in shining armor who sweeps her off her feet to save the day. She struggles with a 12 year diagnosis of Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. You’d never know it if you met her becasue she does her best (and then some) to not let it stop her.

Last weekend, her shoulder froze for no apparent reason. That’s just life for her. Jump to tonight, when she gets home from her job teaching Certified Nurse’s Assistants at our local Adult School. She has planned a Jafra party for our house tomorrow night. The tile floor (lots of it) needs to be mopped.

Can you see it? The knight in shining armor? Mr. Clean with broom and mop in hand to save the day? Not in the least! In my dreams! Instead, here was my selfishness rearing its ugly head. (Hear the whine….) “I hate mopping this floor!”

What does that have to do with figuring out who you are? Well, beyond all the education and self-discovery comes the hard work of discipleship. And it’s deeper than just applying a few Scripture, although that’s helpful. It is coming to terms with who I really am and having the integrity to have courage that meets the demands of my reality. (That’s classic Henry Cloud & John Towsend, in case you’re wondering.)

The path of discipleship, becoming like Christ, Whose image we were created in from the beginning, is hard work, friends. Inherent in it is getting to know you. The REAL you. That includes your motivations (WHY you do what you do), your intentions (WHERE you desire to go with what you do), and your actions (HOW you do what you do to get where you’re going). And those are deep issues.

For me, tonight, it was “will I steer clear of the thing I don’t want, or even HATE, to do for the sake of my own comfort, or will I serve my wife, my kids, and our family by putting me aside?

When’s the last time you had to face this dilemma? At home OR at work/ministry?

Leading On Empty

November 12, 2008

If you’re following Pastor For Life, you know we’ve been somewhat chronicling the story of Pastor Wayne Cordeiro through his recent heart surgery and his return to the pulpit following this encounter. I am a regular reader of his blog …. MentoringLeaders.com.

I was quite surprised and blessed when my original article here was used in its entirety to report Wayne’s surgery to the MentoringLeaders.com family. In the process, I’ve been able to contact Wayne, and he has agreed to do an interview with PastorForLife.org regarding his recent crisis and return to ministry.

However, I am very excited to also lead you to a couple of recent posts at MentoringLeaders.com that give a sneak peek of his soon-to-be-released book titled, “Leading On Empty”. He writes it out of his personal experience with burnout a few years ago.

Having survived burnout myself as a Pastor, it’s not often that we who go through this crisis end up with the privilege of continuing to serve the same congregation. Often, that’s because the burnout ended up leading to a moral failure of some sort that disqualified a Pastor’s ministry.

I have come to learn that there are MANY of us whose burnout does not lead to any kind of moral failure. Yet still, church leaders often assume that if the Pastor is experiencing burnout, there must be SOMEthing that’s not right that would damage the trust of the leaders or congregation in that Pastor to regain health and lead again. Most often, nothing could be further from the truth.

Wayne is one of the few who is opening his life and his story so that other Pastors might find help and wholeness on the road to healing. I encourage you to check out the Sneak Peek 1 and Sneak Peek 2 of “Leading On Empty”.

AND, stay tuned here at PastorForLife.org for our upcoming interview to learn more from Wayne’s story.

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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