Getting Our Arms Around Rick Warren’s Story

April 11, 2013

I am daily amazed and inspired at how Rick Warren is being real and yet still faith-full amidst his grief over the suicide of his 27 year old son, Matthew Warren. He could run and hide, but that’s not Rick. He could shut the world off and remain private. Nobody would blame him.

Instead, he’s chosen to remain vulnerable and honest about the back story of Matthew’s lifelong struggle with mental illness. I can appreciate his recent tweet and Facebook post that said:

Pastor Rick Warren FB comment

It was Matthew’s story to tell. For me, as my own son has battled mental illness, I’ve been public about it. Many have questioned and criticized. I’ve never published anything without my son’s permission. I would never criticize anyone who has taken the direction the Warren’s took with Matthew’s story.

I’ve gone public because I believe that of all places that should be safe for us to talk about anything, it should be the Church. The unfortunate truth is that we are NOT a safe place to talk about anything, mental illness being one of them.

For some reason, we shun them. We call them crazy, wacko, nuts, weak, off their rocker, _____________, …..

Because we don’t know what to do with them. We don’t take the time to understand. We’ve been taught to believe that it’s all a spiritual issue, not a physical one. Maybe all of the above.

There are a few things any Pastor or church leader can do to help the cause:

1. Be open to learn.

If you’re unfamiliar with the reality of mental illness, admit it. Then educate yourself. More and more, there are some excellent ways to easily learn some basic issues that surround those who struggle with mental illness.

One of the best that I’ve found is a 12 hour class that certifies people who take it in Mental Health First Aid. You can peruse the website for more information and find out about classes in your area.

2. Be open to share.

Many of us actually struggle with mental illness ourselves, but the vast majority of us haven’t told anyone. We’re afraid of the very stigma that we contribute too. We don’t want to be seen as weak or vulnerable or less than.

What would happen if we as leaders began to actually be real about our struggle? You don’t have to broadcast it to the world. Maybe you can start slow. Find a safe place outside the church, maybe with some others pastors you trust, or a counselor you have confidence in. Maybe there’s a support group nearby you.

If you feel that it’s possible for you to do so, share your struggle with your leaders, maybe even your congregation. I know from experience that it’s a huge step. Over time, I’ve found more understanding and appreciation for sharing my struggle. To be clear, there has been some condemnation, rejection and loss of some relationships, but the healing I’ve found, been able to lead in and lead others to, has far outweighed the negative that I’ve waded through.

3. Be open to stand.

Join the conversation. Too many have been critical of the Warren’s for too many reasons. One person and one reason are one too many. People in the Warren’s shoes don’t need pointy fingers. They need loving arms, support, people who will stand with them.

Those who are suffering with mental illness themselves or in their families need people to stand WITH them instead of against them. One way you can stand up is to speak out. I addressed a piece of that in the above Point 2. However, another way you can stand with them is to be a proponent of those who struggle.

The Washington Post published an article highlighting how Matthew’s suicide is raising awareness of the need of the mentally ill in the Church. The Newtown shootings and other mass shootings have raised awareness, but not in the Church. Matthew’s story will bring further redemption to this cause in the Church. But how many people have to die in order for issues like these to get the attention they need?

Ultimately, the Church is the hope of the world. But this can only be true as we minister in wholeness, integrity, honesty, compassion and mission. May we be found embracing the Warren’s and all who represent them in greater ways than we ever have.

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!!

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?

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Pastors & Leaders Conference Day 2

May 2, 2009

To join us for the live blog of today’s sessions, click here.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Conference is THIS week!

April 28, 2009

I just arrived in New York City, Queens as a matter of fact. I am excited for this year’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Conference. I plan on live blogging and Twittering highlights, so follow along!

On the blog, I’m using CoverItLive and as for Twitter, follow me at here.

You have to set up a Twitter account and them “follow” me, but it’s worth it. Give it a try!

A Video Tell-All On Us Pastors?

November 29, 2008

ht: Anne Jackson

Your Personal Pace, Part 1

July 16, 2008

I recently started driving a new car. It’s a 2001 black Ford Crown Victoria with the Police Interceptor package. It started its life as a Detective car with the Beverly Hills Police Department. Especially as a Chaplain, it’s a really fun car to drive!

The story of how I got it is fun in and of itself, but it’s not the point here. The Crown Vic replaces a 1989 Honda Prelude I had been driving for the last two years. It too was a really fun car. Sunroof and four-wheel steering. Forget the dime, this thing turned on a pinhead!

There are practical reasons for the change. Primarily, the Prelude was a two-door with not much of a back seat. Just not a family car. My 13 and 12 year old sons could no longer fit in the back seat. The Crown Vic is much more spacious and four doors work well for the family.

The biggest downside is the gas mileage, particularly in this economy! The Prelude was a sipper, where the Crown Vic is a guzzler.

Why upsize from a sipper to a guzzler? Well, bottom line is that the Crown Vic was given to me. So was the Prelude, but when the Crown Vic was offered, I knew I had to receive it. The fact that it’s a guzzler is a limit that I trade off for the family space.

It’s an analogy to me of how God gives each of us not just our spiritual gifts and abilities, but our personalities and physical bodies. When you mix all those things together, they come out with a design that includes your own personal pace of life.

I am a believer in Pastors discovering what their pace of life is and then living in that. The fact that most of us Pastors look at the pace of life of other Pastors and believe we must live at their pace rather than our own is a real problem. Too often, it leads to burnout, dissatisfaction, disillusionment and sometimes even more deeply staggering consequences.

What would happen if someone REALLY freed you to discover the pace that God has given you and then freed you to live by it? I want to round table that with you this week. Let’s talk some about what elements of life impact or help define what your pace of life is. Any initial thoughts?

I Might As Well Admit It ….

July 8, 2008

I am not nearly as put together as I may seem. My penchant for being articulate in my speech often covers over my insecurity about being thought of as slow or stupid.

Whenever someone asks me if we can get together sometime soon to talk about “something”, I struggle with wonder about if “something” is me. Or something I did. Or something I said. Or didn’t say.

I want everyone to like me …. no, if I am going to demand honesty here, I want everyone to love me. Accept me. Approve of me. I am not always convinced that happens on the basis of who I AM instead of what I DO.

It’s true. I am a broken, messed up person. At the bottom of my heart is a real desire to serve Jesus with all I am, but too often, the crud above what’s at the bottom of my heart gets in the way. I have to work to push past all that so I can focus on Jesus and what He really wanst to do in and through me.

I love the way my wife succinctly states this truth …. “We’re all so twisted, it’s a wonder any of us can get out of bed in the morning!”

Anyone else? How do you state it?

Time For A Break?

April 22, 2008

When was the last time you got away for at least a couple days? Away from the demands and calls and emails and websurfing? Away from the emergencies and urgencies of your life and ministry?

I am right now enjoying a gift from our District Supervisor of a two day Pastor’s Getaway with our District. It’s located at a very nice resort in Pismo Beach. The meetings have been light, informal, fellowship-oriented and ministry minded. Their has also been plenty of time for relaxation and rest.

I am convinced that Pastors must do this intentionally in order to survive in the long run. So I pose the question to you?

When was the last time you did it? AND….when is your next time scheduled?

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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