Stewarding The Easter “Anointing”

April 1, 2010

Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.” And Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.” “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah replied. “If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.”

2 Kings 2:9-10

The heart cry of every Pastor, that God would give us at least as much, if not more, anointing than those who have gone before us.

Interesting that Elijah tells the young prophet that what he is asking for is hard. I think most of us ignore that part. I did! I still do!!

Anointing_of_fresh_oil
The “anointing” seems to be on others around me, and amazing things are happening through them. It doesn’t look that hard from the outside.

Better yet, I think it not really ours to get the anointing. We ask and Jesus gives.

Some hard lessons of pastoral and public ministry have honed in me the belief that what is ours is to steward the anointing.

Some seem good at seeking and getting, but not so good at stewarding it once received. Think of any outwardly successful pastor who eventually flames out in one way, shape or form.

Earlier in Elijah’s life, he learned the hard way too that what Elisha was asking for was not easy!

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.

1 Kings 19:1-9

The lessons Elijah learned about stewarding the anointing were far more simple than we imagine, mostly. Check your own anointing stewardship against them in this way-too-busy-Easter season:

  • What’s your internal thought life like right now?
  • How much sleep have you given yourself this week?
  • How much time have you invested away from the church or your office?
  • Do your spouse, kids, family, friends, know where you are and when and what you’re doing other than “working” or “at the church”?
  • What has your diet been like this week?

All just part of stewarding the anointing friends! What would you add?

Study & Planning Break

February 4, 2009

One of the practices I learned about through my burnout experience several years ago is the importance of getting away regularly for the purpose of clearing my head and heart, being with God, and hearing His voice. It’s not as intense as it may sound by the title I give it, but I call it a Study & Planning Break.

I try to do at least two of them each year, though the one I write from now is long overdue. It’s been about a year and a half since my last one. Sometimes, the personal pace of life, family, both spouses working, kids school schedules, let alone church life and schedules, just get in the way.

Matter of fact, doing these is like leaving home for vacation ONLY in the sense that trying to get out of town and away from home can be a big hassle. All kids of things to arrange, tasks you want completed before you leave so your mind can be free, and the like. This one was certainly that way when I left on Monday (today is Wednesday).

You can do these almost anywhere that they work for you. This one happens to be at a friends place in at Lake Tahoe, about 400 miles north of my home. Since I love to drive,and that’s one way that really helps me clear my head, the drive is part of what I need and enjoy very much. It may not be that way for you, so maybe that wouldn’t work.

I try to schedule them so that I can have AT LEAST 3-4 days of time. So, for this one, I drove on Monday and will drive home on Saturday. That gives me four full days, Tuesday – Friday.

I always plan for the first day (yesterday, Tuesday) to be a day of decompression:

  • Lots of sleep
  • Lots of quiet (I read this week that it’s good for preachers to remember that God’s first language is silence! It takes time to get acquainted with it. You have to do it on purpose.)
  • Moving slowly
  • “Mind Dump” (writing down tasks coming to mind that haven’t made it to my to-do list yet)
  • Light reading (usually something NON-ministry related – you can see a review of the book I just finished here)
  • Taking a long walk
  • Seeing a movie

Then, on the 2nd – 4th days, I’ll focus on mapping out my message direction for the next few months. This week, I am preaching Sunday, so I’ll use some time to write this weekend’s message. I’ll calendar, read (usually something related to an upcoming series or two, as well as reading larger chunks of Scripture than I normally do when  at home), write, take walks.

On these breaks, I follow my body clock. I’m a night owl, so I enjoy working late and sleeping in, which doesn’t happen at home very naturally. That means I’ll take naps when I feel them coming on.

I use Time and Newsweek magazines for some research, so I’ll let them collect for weeks and then fly through them, tearing out what I want to use and file. I’ve got a box of them to go through while I am here.

I do a lot of relfection on these breaks, and enjoy long periods of time just talking to the Lord and listening for what He wants to say as well. Sometimes I go home with a strong word and other times not. Either way, He and I have had some good, long periods of time just being together.

That’s kind of what the Study & Planning Break looks like. I’ve done them alone, but they’re always safer and more fun to do with a friend. On this one, a friend who I haven’t connected with in a long time was able to come with me.

It’s important in selecting your “break-mate” that you both understand and are not awkward about the need to give each other a lot of silence and solitude. I always look for someone who I know I won’t be a distraction to and he won’t be to me either.

I also purposely look for someone who I know I’m going to have fun with. I am too reflective and not very funny naturally, so it helps me to have someone who I know is going to get me laughing!

Any habits you’ve developed along these lines that you can share? I’ve had a number of Pastor-friends who have made mention that they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves on a retreat like this. Maybe sometime, if enough interest is generated, we’ll do a small group “Pastor For Life” Study & Planning Break. Would you be interested?

Pastor Wayne Cordeiro Returns To New Hope

October 29, 2008

This past weekend, Pastor Wayne Cordeiro returned to the pulpit for the first time since his recent heart surgery. You can read about that here.

This is a great opportunity to observe how a leader returns to ministry after a life-threatening crisis at the same time as determining how he will (or for some, IF he will) do life and ministry differently. For starters in this particular situation, it seems that at the very least, Wayne is coming back slowly.

You can watch the message he preached here called “Things We Must Do For Ourselves” in a very innovative manner. In the beginning, he mentions that the church will hear the message in this way over the next 4 weeks.

While New Hope has many campuses and they do much by satellite and live video feeds, whoever brings the message (primarily Wayne) almost always does so live at their main campus with FIVE services every weekend.

Wayne has already mentioned that his heart condition was somewhat the result of pushing too hard by preaching five services every weekend for many years. So …. what’s a mega-church (giga-church is a growing new term for churches of New Hope’s size) Pastor to do?

Well, Wayne’s first message back was a mixture of video and live speaking. The bulk of the message he actually preached on video, which was done very creatively.

It was well-mixed with Wayne speaking the message and some illustrative dramatic and musical elements. Wayne introduced the video live, segued with some live comments in the middle, went back to the video, finished the teaching with a live special song with the New Hope Worship Team and then Wayne brought the conclusion of the service live.

This, in my opinion, is a great example of what I call “Finding Your Personal Pace“. It will be interesting to see how Wayne and New Hope will progress from here. I have a hunch we will see some incredibly innovative and well-led ways for a Pastor to recover from a crisis in his life such as this.

Folks, you can be the most positive minded person in the world, but you can’t escape the reality of personal crisis happening even in the Pastor’s life. How we handle that crisis can mean everything for ourselves and our leadership.

Do you know of another Pastor who has had to handle personal crisis from the pulpit? If it’s OK to share it publically, feel free to do so in the comments. Let’s learn how to do this together, so we can do it better in the future!

Connect To Pastor For Life Regularly!

October 11, 2008

Want to save a lot of time on your computer every day? Let me introduce you to Google Reader. I use it to track updates on a number of websites each day. I get to choose what sites I subscribe to, and Google Reader lets me know whenever any of those sites has new content. No more surfing from site to site. All the content comes automatically to me.

Ever wondered what this orange icon with the white radio wave-like symbol was all about? That’s an indication that the site you are visiting has an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed available. If you have signed up to use Google Reader, you can just click on that button anywhere on the Web and you’ll have the opportunity to subscribe to the content. It’s simple…really simple.

Now, are you ready to give it a test-drive? Let me give you two easy steps to get started.

1. Register for a Google Reader account.

2. Come back to my site and click the “subscribe to RSS” icon.

That’s it. Now you know why they call it “really simple syndication.” Here’s the best part, you can also subscribe to other websites using your same Google Reader account. Let me recommend these RSS feeds (clicking on them here will subscribe you if you have your Google Reader account set up already):

Well, you get the picture. You can subscribe to just about anything you’d like to know about using Google Reader and RSS feeds. The best part? It’s all FREE! I just saved you time and money.

There are other tools that do the same thing; however, Google Reader is a great place to start. Let me know how it works.

Another easy way to connect regularly is to subscribe by email. When you do that, every time Pastor For Life has a new post, you get it delivered in your email inbox. While I personally use Google Reader to follow my feeds, if you’re only following a few, this might be your preferred method of staying connected with us.

For you RSS veterans, what’s your favorite feed aggregator? And, more importantly, what’s your favorite feed?

HT: Tony Morgan

Distractions Extraordinaire

October 1, 2008

You don’t have to be in ministry to know both the rush and frustration of distractions. We want to know how we can avoid them, when the truth is that we can’t. Tasks we haven’t thought of, crises that we didn’t anticipate and disasters that no one could ever predict come upon us. They just do. Let alone the distractions we allow for one reason or another.

I am an email fiend if there ever was one, love Twitter, and think you should follow me for the fun of it. At the same time, I try to have some semblance of availability as a Pastor that doesn’t border on or cross the line of neuroticism. There are some distractions that are controllable, if we so choose. I know I must work at limiting them for the good of my own soul.

Thanks to my friend, Bob Hyatt, I quote Ruth Haley Barton, from her book, Sacred Rhythms, as follows:

“It’s not that I am averse to technology; I too have a cell phone, an office phone, a home phone and an email address, and they are much needed. However, I am aware of longings that run much deeper than what technology can address. I am noticing that the more I fill my life with the convenience of technology, the emptier I become in the places of my deepest longing. I long for the beauty and substance of being in the presence of those I love, even though it is less convenient. I long for spacious, thoughtful conversation even though it is less efficient. I long to be connected with my authentic self, even though it means being inaccessible to others at time. I long to be one who waits and listens deeply for the still, small voice of God, even if it means I must unplug from technology in order to become quiet enough to hear.

Constant noise, interruption and drivenness to be more productive cut us off from or at least interrupt the direct experience of God and other human beings, and this is more isolating than we realize. Because we are experiencing less meaningful and divine connection, we are emptier relationally, and we try harder and harder to fill that loneliness with even more noise and stimulation. In so doing we lose touch with the quieter and more subtler experiences of God within.

This is a vicious cycle indeed.”

Well said, don’t you think? If you’re NOT thinking about it or can’t grasp it, therein may lie the problem of which we speak. Just a thought!

Loose Ends

July 9, 2008

Tonight, I am working on my notes for a memorial service I will officiate in the morning for a man I have never had the pleasure to meet. Maybe you feel like I do about what we Pastors get to do: it is a deep and awesome privilege to be invited into some of life’s most sacred moments because of Who and what we represent.

I’ll talk about that more here someday …. but for now, ….

You’ve met with families like this. They’re one of those that I rarely come by, in terms of this man (again, I never knew him) and his legacy truly oozing out of his wife and daughter.

While I am putting my notes together, a friend (who is also a Pastor) calls me. He says, “I couldn’t sleep tonight until I called to say I’ve been thinking about you all day. I couldn’t live with myself until you knew that not only was I thinking about you, but that God’s heart smiles when He thinks of you, and you are a real asset to the Kingdom of God.”

I was blown away! The man whose memorial service I will lead …. he died on the 4th of July of a sudden heart attack, leaving too many things undone and unspoken. A good man with too many loose ends.

My friend didn’t want to leave any loose ends, and reminded me that neither do I. What are the loose ends for you?

Bad end to a difficult conversation with a loved one? Unfinished business between you and a friend? Unresolved conflict between you and a neighbor? Words you know ought to be spoken or written before it’s too late?

I got ’em, you got ’em, we all got ’em. Dare to say what some of yours are?

Spice It Up!

July 1, 2008

One of the things we’d like to do at Pastor For Life is provide some ways that make the tasks of Pastoring a bit easier. There are a lot of organizations and ministries out there that do this in various ways and means.

I don’t know about you, but one of the most laborious tasks for me as a Pastor is putting message together. I love to teach, but over the last couple decades, we all know that grasping the listener’s attention has become a much more monumental task than it once was.

We all admire the likes of LifeChurch.tv, Saddleback, Willow Creek and more, who have taken communication of the gospel to new heights with drama and video. Unfortunately, not every church has the know how, budget or talent to produce that level of excellence.

Well, one of the companies out there doing a stellar job of making high quality video sermon content is SermonSpice.com. Their incredible work makes me look like a video phenom! Their database is searchable by topic and scripture, and the content includes illustrations, countdowns and backgrounds. I highly recommend their work!

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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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