How are you Feeling?

 —  September 3, 2014 — Leave a comment

7812924Some days, I could care less.

Other days, I couldn’t care more.

It doesn’t matter what the topic is… there are days when my feelings get bullied by my logic, and other days when my emotions want to rule my life.

How are you feeling?

It’s the question that you are either ask too much or ask too little. Why is that?

In his book “The Emotionally Healthy Church Planter,” Pete Scazzero masterfully points out that ministry can overload our emotions, between the harsh realities we walk through to the celebrations we’d never have imagined we’d be a part of. The challenge is that spiritual health and emotional health are different, even though they overlap.

Emotional health concerns itself with:

  • naming/recognizing/managing our own feelings
  • identifying and having active compassion for others
  • initiating and maintaining close and meaningful relationships
  • breaking free from self-destructive patterns
  • being aware of how our past impacts our present
  • developing the capacity to clearly express our thoughts and feelings
  • respecting and loving others without having to change them
  • clearly, directly, and respectfully asking for what we need, want, or prefer
  • accurately assessing our own strengths, limits, and weaknesses, and freely sharing them with others
  • developing the capacity to maturely resolve conflicts • distinguishing and appropriately expressing our sexuality and sensuality
  • grieving well

Focusing on spiritual health tends to take a different approach:

  • awakening and surrendering to God’s love in every situation
  • positioning ourselves to hear God and remember His presence in all we do
  • communing with God, allowing Him to fully dwell in the depth of our being
  • practicing silence, solitude, and a life of unceasing prayer
  • attentively resting in the presence of God
  • understanding that the goal of life is a loving union with Jesus
  • finding the true essence of who we are in God
  • loving others out of a life of love for God
  • developing a rhythm of life that enables us to remember God
  • adapting and using historic practices of spirituality that are applicable today
  • living in a committed community that passionately loves Jesus

(Thanks again to Pete Scazzero for that compilation)

identify feelingsI was reading this and wondering how well I do at integrating the two versus focusing on one more than the other. I’m not sure I have a magic formula to offer you, as much as I wanted to raise the question with you. I get the sense I’m not the only one out there who feels up and down, sometimes without knowing why.

What if that’s why Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God…

with all your heart…
AND, with all your soul…
AND, with all your mind…
AND, with all your strength?

Not doing this creates the tension that Eric Samuel Timm addresses in “Static Jedi”Life feels like a dangerous place when we are stripped of our ability to hear God clearly.

How are you feeling?

Thoughts?

tonyI’m excited to interview Tony Morgan, church strategist and author of the new book, Stuck in a Funk. Here is 5 questions with Tony, and you can get a copy of his new book on Amazon right now for $5. He’s helped lead several churches I follow closely and have been inspired by him (and his incredible blog) regularly. I respect this guy a lot, and am thankful for all of the great things God is doing through him. Enjoy our discussion!

1. Excited to read your new book, Stuck in a Funk, have you ever found yourself in one? You better believe it. It’s part of life. We face being stuck in our organizations, but we also face it in our personal lives. In both instances, I’ve personally found that sense of stuckness happening when the future vision is unclear or there isn’t a plan to see the vision accomplished. Then once I determine the next steps, I need the discipline and perseverance to work my plan. All of that gets easier when you’re doing life with people who embrace the same vision.

2. Are there specific signs you’re stuck in a funk? Sometimes I find myself there but unable to explain it or how I got there to others? I think being too comfortable is a sign. The funny thing is everyone else around us is pursuing comfort and happiness. Wouldn’t it be nice if a warning light popped on in our lives when we’re getting too comfortable? It’s those seasons when we began to trust too much in our own experiences and capacities. The ironic thing is that I typically experience the most joy when I take risks where I genuinely have to trust God for wisdom and strength.

51kWfnfFAzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-49,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_3. This book is about churches who are stuck, but it seems like at it’s core it is about leaders that are that way. Yes? Ah… I tend to agree. I think leaders getting stuck is certainly one of the key reasons that organizations get stuck. Leaders need to go back to whatever it is was prompted them to become a leader in the church. They need to recapture that passion and purpose from God. But, just to be honest, it’s going to take a different vision, strategy and systems to get different results. Hope is not a strategy. And, that’s the challenge — leaders actually have to lead at some point.

4. What is the biggest obstacle to getting out of a ministry funk? Every church is unique. Because of that, the combination of contributing factors that lead to a church getting into a ministry funk are going to look different from church to church. That said, one common challenge is being inward-focused. Another is holding onto leadership approaches or structures that may have worked in the past, but don’t now. Another common issue is gaining a clear vision, but, more important, being intentional about the strategies and systems to see that vision become reality. To get to where you want to go tomorrow, you have to know what’s important right now. Just to be honest, sometimes we need an outside set of eyes to facilitate us through that process.

5. Many youth workers have big vision and have a harder time with systems can you explain an easy way to keep these connected to move forward? Yes, vision is important. You certainly need that. The big mistake pastors (including youth workers) make is that they just need to teach people the vision, and everything will take care of itself. Well I can have a vision for being a physically fit, but hearing someone teach about it isn’t going to cut it. It may change my thinking, but systems help shift behaviors. I need new disciplines. I need an exercise system. I need an eating healthy system. I need a buddy system to stay motivated. You get the point. There are many systems in any body, and, unless the systems are healthy, the body won’t be healthy whether we embrace the a vision for health or not.

Thanks so much, Tony!

JG



Just Believe

 —  April 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

article.2013.04.02This is the time of year many youth workers get disillusioned with their ministry. Another job opportunity piques interest or the thought of working a simple 9-5 becomes a little intoxicating to think about. The fun of the fall kickoff is in the rear view mirror; the big events have died down while students hunker down for the last couple months of the school year. The grass looks greener everywhere else, and you start to get down on yourself or look for a way out.

Feel familiar? If it does, read on and find some hope to fight the Spring-time itch:

Believe in your calling.
You are called to do ministry you are made for this! You stand shoulder to shoulder in the long line of incredible men and women God has used to further his kingdom. Satan is an expert at kicking us while we’re down, and he will also try to kick us during the down times of the ministry season.

I (Kurt) have found that the early spring is often the time of the year that I find myself a little frustrated in ministry; and it’s in these times Satan likes to kick me. Reminding myself of my calling and thanking God for allowing me to play a role in his kingdom is the best way to kick back.

Believe in your church.
You are called to your church maybe not for the rest of your life, but don’t let anyone else know that. Serve like you will be there for the rest of your life. When something happens to make you question that calling (maybe an unsupportive leader or discouraged pastor) make sure you get it all out on the table so it doesn’t fester inside and eventually cause damage. Maybe take some time today to reflect on the early days of hope and joy when you first started working with these students and believe again.

Believe in your people.
You have the right people in your church to build a great team of youth workers. Believe in them enough to value their time, encourage them well and train them for the challenges of working with students. Pray for your leadership team before you delete this email, and send them an encouraging note letting them know you did!

Believe in students.
Students are young and immature sometimes they say things quickly that sting or hurt you with their na’ve words, unaware of the verbal damage they have caused. There may need to be a confrontation or a challenge to maturity, but chances are they need a leader who will love them and be long-suffering in his/her guidance over the long haul. Believe God has given you the right students to change your community for him.

I (Josh) started a fantastic spring tradition in our ministry a few years ago: For five weeks in a row our students are in charge of every aspect of our church services. Seeing them rise to the occasion always renews my belief in the teenagers God has called me to serve.

Not sure what you’re facing this Spring or maybe we just needed to say some things to ourselves today. Just believe.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.