Pastoral Ministry

How to Insult Your Pastor Creatively

I have concluded that most church people are positive, encouraging, and supportive. Nonetheless, it generally takes at least ten encouraging things to offset one discouraging thing (this varies a lot with intensity).

The greatest discouragement most pastors face is from within the Kingdom. Jesus warned his disciples that they would have to bear insult because they belong to him (Matthew 5:11). What Jesus did not warn his disciples about is that Christians would insult fellow Christians, and particularly that Christians would insult or demoralize their leaders. I call these offenders the “ungracious ten per cent.”

Most insults are passive-aggressive—insinuation and inference. Here are some common insults—coupled with my subjective rating scale rating intent to insult.

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7 Concerning Findings About Benefits for Pastors and Church Staff

1. Fewer than half of solo pastors receive any health insurance ... 2. Almost three-fourths of full-time worship/music leaders receive health insurance... 3. Many full-time church staff receive no retirement benefits.... 5. Only six in ten full-time pastors and staff get any type of automobile reimbursement.... CPost

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What A Discouraged Pastor Should Do (Part 3)

(Read the series so far.)

Here I continue sharing my reflections on how Paul guided Timothy when he was facing discouragement, from the book of 2 Timothy. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already. I address these to others, but first to myself.

9. Remind and challenge people not to “strive about words to no profit.” (2 Tim. 2:14)

Sometimes a pastor’s discouragement comes because there is disunity in the church, or a lack of commitment to the core truths that we all hold in common. People can become divided over secondary or even relatively minor issues. This may be a signal to the pastor that he should speak to the church family about focusing on the fundamental truths of Scripture and on the person and work of Christ.

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Pastoral Transplant Criteria

What a Discouraged Pastor Should Do (Part 2)

I recently read through 2 Timothy several times and journaled the specific ways Paul instructed Timothy to overcome his discouragement. Last week I shared the first four. Here are some more.

5. Be Strong in the Grace That Is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1).

Man up! That’s probably how we would say it today. But Paul wasn’t urging Timothy to be self-confident, relying on his own strength of character, skills, or resolve. He reminded Timothy there is a source of strength available to every Christian—“the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Generally, grace is God’s favor that we don’t deserve. Specifically as it is used here, it is God’s personal help for challenging responsibilities. We have access to this help in Jesus because He is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

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What a Discouraged Pastor Should Do (Part 1)

Pastors experience discouragement. It goes with the territory. Paul wrote his protégé, Timothy, to encourage him at a time when he was down. Paul’s letter is what we call 2 Timothy.

How do we know Timothy was discouraged? Here are some clues. Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:4 that he was aware of Timothy’s tears. He addressed in 2 Timothy 1:7 the fear Timothy was experiencing. In 1:8ff, Paul challenged Timothy to not let suffering for Christ get him down. In 1:13 he tells Timothy to “hold fast,” in 2:1 to “be strong,” in 2:3 to “endure hardship,” in 3:14 to “continue,” and in 4:5 to “fulfill your ministry.” I infer from all this that Timothy was hurting and discouraged. Timothy seems to be a reluctant leader, one who is somewhat timid, subjective, and sensitive to opposition. Paul wanted to encourage him.

I need this kind of encouragement at times, and I’m sure other pastors do too. I read through 2 Timothy several times recently and made a list of “things to do” for a discouraged pastor. I’ll share several of them today and more in future posts.

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What I've Learned As a Pastor (Part 3)

From Voice magazine, Nov/Dec 2015. Used by permission. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

We Pastors Need to Learn to Forgive.

Local church ministry often involves seeing people at their worst and unfortunately all of us pastors experience times when rocks and arrows are directed at us. We need to forgive others when we’ve been wronged because it’s commanded in the New Testament and because it honors the Lord when we “take the high road.” And we need to acknowledge there are times in ministry when we pastors do or say the wrong thing and we need to admit “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” All of us need to forgive those who have hurt us in church squabbles and get along with them so the gospel won’t be negatively affected. Unsaved people are watching and need to see how the Gospel has changed us by helping us to truly love and forgive others. Forgiveness is simply the active part of love.

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What I've Learned As a Pastor (Part 2)

(From Voice magazine, Nov/Dec 2015. Used by permission.)

People Will Fail. God Never Will.

As I said in Part 1, over the years I’ve deliberately surrounded myself with some of the finest people imaginable. Those great folks have given me so much that I’ve often felt overwhelmed with gratitude reflecting on the countless ways I’ve been blessed by others in my life. Yet I also know that people fail (including, and most especially, me). We are all fallen, feeble, frail and broken instruments—but God is great! This truth has helped temper my perfectionistic, unreal, idealistic expectations when I’ve directed them at myself and those around me. I’ve learned to be more patient and forbearing over the years knowing all of us need to receive grace and extend forgiveness each and every day. People are great; people are frustrating. People help us up; people push us down. My actions are good; my actions are bad. In all the variations of our humanity, this one thing is certain: God never changes and He’s always dependable. He will never fail and so we should keep our eyes on Him.

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