• Do You Have Unhelpful Assumptions About Your Pastor?

    Pastors carry a huge weight. It is a weight that sometimes is unbearable. A lot of this weight is felt by pastors because they or their congregations assume the wrong things about them and what their life is meant to look like. Paul Tripp in his great book Dangerous Calling points out some of the most dangerous assumptions that congregations make of pastors and pastors make of themselves:

    It should be obvious that the unhelpful assumptions made as the pastor is coming to lead the church would be fruit in a whole set of unrealistic expectations. The biggest is that many churches simply don’t expect their pastor to struggle with sin. But he is not sin-free! Since he is still being sanctified, sin still remains and is being progressively eradicated. They don’t expect him to get discouraged in the middle of the war for the gospel. They don’t expect him to be tempted toward bitterness or envy. They expect him to be a model husband and father. They don’t expect him to be lazy or to settle for mediocrity. They don’t expect that in moments of self-protection he will be tempted to be antisocial and controlling. They expect that he will be able to joyfully carry an unrealistic job description that would overwhelm anyone this side of Jesus’s return. They expect that he will be content with significantly less pay than most people with his level of education. They expect that his wife is so fully committed to ministry herself that his coming to the church is actually a two-for-one deal. They don’t expect that there will be moments when he is tempted to doubt the goodness of God. They don’t expect that in a meeting or in the pulpit, fear of man will keep him from doing or saying the things that God calls him to do and say. They don’t expect to hire a flawed man who is still desperately in need of the very grace that he is called to offer and exegete for others.

     

    If you are a church member what are you assuming about your pastor from this list?

    If you are a pastor what are assuming about yourself from this list?

    How will you change your assumptions to be more in line with what the Bible says about pastoral ministry?

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  • Pastors who do you perform for?

    As pastors we have so many people looking at what we do and making judgments about it. What many people don’t realize is that we are our worst critics and so when we get an outside critique it can hurt and wound. But the other side is when we get praised. Getting praised feels so good, maybe a little too good. With all this in mind I read this quote this morning in a book called Replenish by Lance Witt:

    “A reporter once asked an insightful question when interviewing a woman from the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra: “How does it feel to get a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of your performance and then wake up in the morning to a negative review from the newspaper?: He response was even more insightful. She said over time she has learned not to pay attention to the applause of the crowd or the disapproval of the critics. She was only after the approval of her conductor. After all, he was the only person who really knew how she was supposed to perform.”

    I wonder what would happen to our inner voices if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    How would we preach if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    How would we lead if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    What conversations would we have if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    It is my prayer that we would perform for one and one only!

  • 7 Resources you can use to Fight Pornography

    Pornography is one of the biggest issues facing many Christians, male and female, today. Over the past few weeks the issue of pornography has come up over and over again in pastoral conversations that I have had. I also have had different friends in ministry asking me about dealing with this dreaded issue in the lives of their people.

    How do you deal with pornography if you are addicted to it?

    How do you help someone else in their addiction to pornography?

    The following are some resources that you might use in your fight:

    Here are some videos about dealing with porn addiction that you should watch:

    In this one Don Carson talks about temptation but the example he uses is pornography

    John Piper has a few clips about dealing with pornography. One about unbelief and porn addiction. In this one John Piper is talking to a bunch of youth about pornography. Both are fantastic!

    In this one John Piper, Tim Keller and Don Carson talks about how the gospel and accountability conquers the sin of Pornography.

    If you struggle with pornography you need to get some kind of monitoring software. I use Xwatch Pro which costs 7 dollars a month. You can get the free version here

    Mark Driscoll has written a book called Porn again Christian. It is very blunt and very frank but very good.

    Pornography looks so good and yet it never delivers what it advertises it will. It promises gratification but that gratification is quick and shallow and ultimately it leaves people empty. But more than that, when we look at porn, even free porn, we are playing our part in the victimization of the women and men who do porn. These men and women are created in the image of God and therefore should be loved and respected.  And because porn distorts our self image as well as our view of sex and other people we are alspo destroying our lives. But most of all God hates porn and we should too.

    The answer, as the guys say in the various videos, is not to give yourself a list of rules. If you are trapped in this sin you don’t need another list of do’s and don’ts, you need to realise that your greatest joy will not be found in sex but in Jesus.

    When realize that, and this truth becomes central to your being, you will have overcome pornography.

     

  • Pastors, bad priorities and wasted time

    Last week I was very privileged to sit down and ask Ed Stetzer and Tim Sims a bunch of questions. Ed and Tim have both done extensive study on many aspects of the church. One of the things I asked them both was about how pastors use their time.

    Ed said that the average Pastor doesn’t spend enough time with two groups: the leaders of the church and the lost. He said that most pastors spend too much time in their desk on things like admin and sermon preparation and little to no time in people work. Tim said he basically agreed with this statement but he would add that a lot of pastors don’t devote enough time to care for themselves spiritually either.

    With this problem in mind I asked Ed how should pastors use their time? He said that he would advise pastors to spend 15 hours a week in each of these areas:

    • Training their leaders
    • With the lost
    • Doing admin
    • Preparing sermons

    I was thinking about this and thought what would happen in my church if I gave 15 hours a week in meeting with people who didn’t know Jesus? What would happen if I spent 15 hours a week training the leaders of Resolved? I can only imagine the benefits Resolved would reap if I spent 30 hours a week with these two groups of people.

    Because of Tim’s statement that Pastors don’t spend enough time with working on their own spiritual condition I changed Eds breakdown. I am trying to divide up each week into the following categories:

    12.5 hours with the Lost. This can mean anything from doing a bible study to just playing guitar/basketball and hanging out with them

    12.5 hours on leadership development. This is active discipling and the intentional training of the leaders at Resolved

    10 hours on self. This is reading the bible and praying, reading books, listening to sermons and meeting with mentors or others who can help me and my ministry

    10 hours on Admin. This is emailing, calls, social media, blogs anything I have to write for Resolved

    15 hours on Sermon preparation.

    5 Guitar – This is something I do for fun but I also use this time to hang with non Christians and so kill two birds with one stone.

    5 Exercise – This is crucial because I don’t want to be a fat pastor/dad but I also will be using this time to hang with non Christians thus once again killing two birds with one stone.

    This last week I have been very challenged in how I use my time.

    How are you using your time?

    Are you using your time as effectively as you can?

     

  • Tough questions from a girl who was hurt by adultery

    Last year I sat down with a friend of mine who was at Bible College. A few years ago a mutual friend of ours had committed adultery and was disqualified from ministry. It hit us both very hard but I think it hit her harder because he was her youth minister who led her to Jesus and the girl he cheated on his wife with was her best friend.

    I found myself asking a question that I am not sure I wanted to know the answer to. I asked:

    “What do you think I can learn from this situation?”

    She said I should ask myself these questions:

    Do I think I am above it? She said that no one is above it and to think otherwise shows we are arrogant. But if we think we aren’t above being committing a sin that disqualifies us from ministry we will make every effort to guard against it.

    Do you admit that you are wrong? Her youth Pastor was challenged about the relationship he had with this girl before the scandal came out and yet he never admitted that it was wrong. In fact, he never he admitted he was wrong about anything. Pride does come before the fall.

    What’s in your closet and who knows about it? She said everyone has junk in their closet but what kind of junk is it? A porn addiction? Do you lust after girls/guys in your church or youth group? Who knows about the junk in your closet? If no one knows then no one can hold you accountable and if no one can hold you accountable the sin will overcome you.

    Is your wife involved in your ministry? She said that our friends wife didn’t know what he was doing in his ministry, she didn’t know the relationships that he was forming or where he was most of the time. She said partnering with your wife in ministry is not only helpful to you in ministry but is an added level of accountability.

    If God took away your title as pastor would you still be a Christian? Her ex youth pastor and my friend since the indiscretion has since walked away from Jesus and yet she told me a touching story about seeing him and how he said he still has sermons to preach and  how he loved being a youth pastor. He said that he wished he could all take it back. She reminded him of the gospel and how Jesus loves him and died from him. But he hasn’t come back to church. Maybe it is because of the shame of his sin but she thinks he was more in love with the title of Pastor than Jesus. This is a question of identity. Where do we find our identity? Is it in our Job/title/role or in Jesus? If it is in our job we will want to be needed/wanted by our people if it is in Jesus we will create proper boundaries in our ministry and pastor those people by pointing away from us as their functional saviour to their real saviour Jesus.

    These are very tough and yet timely questions.

     

  • Five questions every pastor should be asked

    Pastors need to be accountable. If they aren’t bad things happen. Here are five questions I am getting my elders to ask me when I am hanging with them.

    1. Is your wife happy?

    Ministry creates an enormous amount of stress on your family and your marriage. This is an issue because we want the people in our families and especially our wives to love ministry.  This is a good question to be asked because it pushes us to prioritize our family. If you are in ministry when was the last time you asked your spouse (if you are married) are they happy? If they are not happy what will you change so that they are happy that you are in ministry?

    2. Are you using your time well?

    There are a lot of ways pastors can waste time. You can read the endless number of blogs, keep up with the latest books that are ever coming out, catch up with every pastor you can or just fart around because, quite frankly, you are not entering a time sheet and you are your own boss. But we have only a short amount of time on this earth and every moment is precious and so we must use our time well. This question helps us analyse how we use our time and make adjustments where we need to.

    3. What’s your plan for fun and rest?

    Ministry is never ending. There is always another sermon to write, another person to shepherd and another thing to organise and plan. One of the first things that gets chopped out of a schedule is the pastors time for rest and recreation. But rest and recreation are essential if we want to perform at our peak. This question makes us plan out times for fun and rest.  This week I have 3 talks to prepare, one bible study to prepare, a preaching schedule to organise, a number of other things to plan for and 10 meetings to prepare for. But I am making sure that I have a few hours this week to go and play basketball with some mates as well as date night with my wife and a day off.

    4. How are you doing spiritually, emotionally and Physically?

    Ministry is tough work and Satan does a great job of making it hard. It is very easy in ministry to eat crap and not exercise and forget about bible reading, praying and reading theology. Ministry is also a job where we can get very down emotionally. I am an upbeat guy but even I find ministry to be depressing sometimes. It is good to have other people encouraging, coaching and pastoring us as we want to be in this game we call ministry for the long term.

    5. Are you emotionally or physically attracted to anyone other than your wife in an unhelpful way?

    Attraction happens in the blink of an eye. You see or interact with someone, they are good looking/ have a winsome personality and you think that they are hot or whatever. That is natural but the problem is when this attraction becomes more than that, it is an issue when your thoughts are lingering on that person. It is even worse when you start thinking about how much better they are than your spouse. If you are in this place you are in trouble and things need to change. Having someone ask you this question helps keep adultery whether emotional or physical at bay.

    It goes without saying that these questions will only be helpful if you are completely honest with the person who is asking them.