I’ll Be Toast on Thursday! You?

December 22, 2008

Thursday is Christmas Day, and I am as excited about it as anyone gets. I remind our church all through the year how many days are left till Christmas.

One thing I’ve learned over the years though. When we do our Christmas Eve Celebrations on the actual night of Christmas Eve, I am almost worthless on Christmas Day.

You can deny it if you want, but it’s true for most of us in ministry leadership. It’s called Adrenal Letdown, and you can read a little more about it here. I’ve found it very freeing to be honest with myself and others about it. I fought it for too many years and wasted too much energy trying to figure out why I felt so funky the day after intense ministry and people time.

How do you deal with your adrenal letdown? What will you do with it on Christmas Day?

Congregational Grief at Crossroads Cincinnati

December 18, 2008

The topic of how a church body handles grief and loss is HUGE for a Pastor. How a Pastor and his/her leadership handle it makes all the difference in the world.

News comes from Cincinnati this morning about a tragic accident that occurred during a Christmas presentation at Crossroads Church. You can read their statement here.

What is of particular interest and, I believe speaks VOLUMES about how they are handling the circumstance is the connection they are helping their church family make to something called, “Critical Incident Stress Management” (CISM for short). As a Police Chaplain, I’ve received training in CISM, which is an intentional process to help people (in my Chaplain field, it would primarily be first responders, though the process is also extremely helpful to witnesses, such as in this case) work through their shock and grief.

As a pastor having led through tragic events that deeply impact a church family, it’s so critical not only that the Pastor care for the church family and community, but that the Pastor also practice adequate self-care. To lead through times like this is deeply draining!

Read what they placed on their website about CISM here.

You can look further into CISM here.

I commend Crossroads Cincinnati for taking BOLD steps toward helping their community recover from this event! They will go far in seeing healing and recovery take place with their proactivity

Strange Things We Do When God Moves

December 16, 2008

I was initially going to title this post “Lakeland Revival Learnings”, based on the recent revival/renewal/spiritual stirring that took place earlier this year in Lakeland, Florida. The meetings took place under the leadership of evangelist Todd Bentley. They ended when Bentley (who was the primary speaker at the revival meetings) left back in August and the meetings have since fizzled.

Just this week comes further revelation about why the revival meetings ended and what was happening behind the scenes. You can read the story here.

Sadly, stories like this are not limited to Lakeland’s Outpouring. All too often, sticky issues such as pride, arrogance, and self-aggrandization come into play for those leading such a move of God.

I write about this not for sensational purposes, but for educational reasons. As Pastors and Church Leaders, we have got to figure out how to set ourselves up for long term effectiveness even when the Spirit of God is moving in His power and force.

For some reason, when the supernatural occurs, we think it makes US supernatural too. In truth, the supernatural is ALWAYS about Jesus, not us. We do not all of a sudden have a life that is without its limits.

Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, had a famous phrase that as he traveled the world while his family was at home, he believed God would answer his prayer. That prayer was, “God, I’ll take care of your little ones around the world if You’ll take care of my little ones at home.”  Somewhere, Bob got his roles mixed up. He wasn’t God, and his kids needed him at home.

You can say all you want about the massive and great work that World Vision does today and I wouldn’t slight you one bit. But Bob’s kids missed their father, and one of his daughters ended up committing suicide.

If God used you for such a move of the supernatural, what would you do to make sure that self-care was a high standard for your life?

Leadership In Its Right Place

December 13, 2008

With this post, I want to introduce you to Dr. Russ Veenker and his wife, Kandy. You can read more below the article on the stuff they do. Essentially, this is one of the the guys that God used to save my hide when I was in the depths of burnout and depression. We will feature one of his articles here on a regular basis. I think you’ll get as much out of Russ’ wisdom as I do.

For the past 25-30 years our culture has been engaging in a crisis of leadership. Whether in government, business, or church, the topic of leadership has been the mainstay of reading, study, seminars, and academia. It is a multi-billion dollar industry. One doesn’t have to look very far to grasp this: my internet search engine listed over 35 million items/topics/references/books/seminars when I typed “leadership into the little search engine box – lots of good stuff for sale. My library bookshelf is filled with books on the topic of leadership. A recent issue of Leadership Journal had sixteen new books on te topic of leadership advertised; five of the furteen Bible Colleges and Seminaries who advertised had something to say about preparing church leaders. We are consumed and obsessed with leadership theories, models and practices.

In the not-so-distant past when I was an “Operations Leader” in Search and Rescue, I had a baseball cap with two bills sewed on to each side of the hat. For comic relief I would wear the cap to the monthly team meetings that I presided over as president. On the front of the cap it said, “I’m their leader…which way did they go?”

The humor releases a certain underlying anxiety that comes with the role of being a leader. And all the talk about “leadership” does reveal certain anxiety – particularly in the church. Sometimes I get the feeling there’s a mythical ghost in the shadows of our churches whispering weird messages when it comes to all this leadership stuff. It goes something like this: if we get our leadership RIGHT (whatever THAT means), the church will be “right” …. or “OK” …. or “fixed” …. or “on track” …. or __________________ (you fill in the blank). Leadership is often touted (or blamed) as the answer to what lacks in the church today. And yes, leaders have been and are the easy targets – they’re easily spotted on our radars!

I believe the anxiety with regard to leadership issues runs very deep into the fabric of our souls. The church (along with government and family) for many centuries in western civilization was a central pillar to our modern society (1500-2000 A.D.). However, we are leaving modernity and its philosophical presuppositions behind, and as a consequence, the church has been displaced and marginalized. Simply put, for most of the populace in our culture, nobody cares about who the church is and what it does. For those of us in the church, particularly those of us in leadership, that experience of being marginalized by culture at large creates a lot of anxiety. Why? Because we are no longer significant (as a central or important and valued part of culture). So perhaps all the hub-bub about leadership is really about us attempting to move back into the mainstream of culture – to have value and significance, to re-capture our special place we’ve had in the past. And we all know that repeating the past usually doesn’t work too well in living out the future.

Now I realize I’ve made some sweeping generalizations with the above assertions. However, if you are, or have been in a leadership role in the last twenty years of the church, what I’ve written will make a great deal amount of sense. And that prompts an old, modern question: So what do we do now? Well, because I’m a romantic, modern, “old-fashioned” kind of guy, I think the ancient writings of God are a great place for wisdom. And a great verse to deal with anxiety is Philippians 4:6-7:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Maybe leadership in the Church is more about praying for healthy anxiety management than technique. Perhaps it’s more about humility before God than knowing the right direction to take. May prayer be the central hallmark of leadership in Jesus’ Church.

© 2008 Dr. Russ Veenker

Dr. Russ Veenker has over thirty years of formal ministry experience having served as a youth minister, interim pastor, church-planting pastor, chaplain, church and para-church consultant, and conference speaker. Some of these ministry positions have been concurrent with his work at the Mountain Learning Center.

He is a graduate of both Dallas Theological Seminary and Fuller Theological Seminary where the special emphasis of his doctoral studies has been the care of clergy. Russ’s academic and clinical expertise is comprehensive to theological anthropology: balancing the human condition midst the stresses and hazards of vocational ministry is his passon. He is a frequent speaker at clergy gatherings and is known for his competency discussing and equipping ministry leaders in addressing areas of personal health with such topics as stress and burnout; depression; anxiety; sexuality; psycho-social developmental transitions; marriage/family development; and ministering to troubled individuals with personality disorders.

I Am Second, Are You?

December 8, 2008

Have you seen the new website creeping up – iamsecond.com? It’s quite insightful.

Anyway, Pete Briscoe, Pastor of Bent Tree Fellowship in Texas, shares a bit of his testimony that I think is great for Pastors to hear. It’s only a few minutes, but may shake you deep inside.

Click here to see it.

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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