scaleYou probably got into ministry for all the right reasons.

I may not know you, but I do know myself. If we’re at all alike, there’s a good chance something else is true of you.

Some days you’re in ministry for all the wrong reasons.

Maybe it’s not as obvious as you’d think.

  • You serve God.
  • You rearrange your schedule for students.
  • You bend over backward for parents.
  • You lobby before your church leadership in all the right ways.
  • You’re not trying to trick people out of their money.
  • You don’t attempt to be the “sexier” youth group in town.

It’s as if every time people see what you’re doing, you’re caught living out the best template for ministry you can think of.

The problem is you can be doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons.

There’s a situation in my life right now with a disgruntled group of people who have found joy in being disgruntled together. They’re people I’ve loved and invested some of my best energy into, from teens I mentored and took on mission trips to adults I scrambled to serve. One of the louder households left our church and began complaining “sideways” – subtle enough to go unnoticed by most, but potent enough to create a funk that I’m still not sure what to do with. It’s as if no matter how hard I try to live out some of the most basic principles in Matthew 18 on reconciliation I’m met with misunderstanding, evasiveness and slander.

I’m doing all the right things.

At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

What I eventually realized is that some days it’s for all the wrong reasons.

There are moments that I want to be vindicated.

I want to work out the misunderstanding, because I hate having people say things about me that aren’t true- especially when I have put so much energy into doing the right things. If I dove into the reason why I do so, it is my human pride wanting to assert itself. I have to make clear that the door to reconciliation is open, but if they never walk through it or continue to group up on this then a part of me needs to turn this over to God.

Check out what the Bible reveals on this:

  • God has a pattern of vindicating His people as a whole.(Deuteronomy 32:36)
  • Humans have a desire to be vindicated individually by their behavior. (Job 13:18)
  • People who watch us will notice our desire to be vindicated and may assume the worst. (Job 11:1-2)
  • Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit – not other people. (1 Timothy 3:16)
  • We will only experience real vindication when we spend time face to face with God. (Psalm 17:15)

If you don’t get this right, then all of the serving you do will come across as ministry perfume and not the genuine scent of Jesus Christ.

Wrestle with this. Consider what you’re doing to get people to think or say better things about you. Give someone else permission to point out when you build a case against a case someone has built against you.

Otherwise, it will leak out. To quote William Ury, “When you are angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

Thank you for loving students!

On the heels of my Christian Pick-Up Lines post on Tuesday, here are some fun thoughts on how to tell someone you’re not interested:

christianpickuplinesYou’ve probably seen or heard a few of your own. After all, there’s only so much you can say when a person says, “You must be a Christian. I’ve ‘Adonai’ on you all night.”

Feel free to share some of your best “moves” to counter a “move” below.



goodpastorskidLaura Ortberg Turner, daughter of John and Nancy Ortberg, has some great thoughts on what it means to be (but not really be) known as a “Pastor’s Kid.” One takeaway is the framework she felt her parents placed her and her siblings into. Turner writes:

“Had we not gotten freedom from our parents to be the people we were—to grow and learn for ourselves and even occasionally embarrass our parents, as good children do (a famed family incident at a church in Southern California that involves my then-5-year-old brother lying on his back, thrusting his pelvis to a children’s worship song called ‘Jumping Bean,’ comes to mind)—we would likely have ended up feeling like our only two possibilities in life were becoming the mantle-bearer or the rebel.”

I’ve spent a lot of energy making sure people know the first names of my family members aren’t “The Pastor’s wife” or “The Pastor’s kids.” So much of that can be overturned by a well-meaning youth leader who isn’t conscious about unconscious behavior.

Consider how we help or hinder this in youth group circles:

  • Do you unconsciously think it means more if a senior/staff pastor’s kids do/don’t attend the youth group?
  • When a “PK” acts up, are you quick to share about it with volunteers, in staff meetings or at home?
  • Are you eyeballing such students for the moment when they either declare their own calling to ministry or rebel like a pop star?
  • How often do you make sure we mention them as the “pastor’s kid” to new youth workers who jump in?

The list of negatives can go on, so let’s brainstorm some positives:

  • Let them be known for who they are versus who their parents are.
  • Allow them the chance to share their own stories and journey versus assuming things from illustrations shared from the pulpit.
  • Try not to put them in positions where they’re a secretary for you or one of their parents. (i.e. “Can you pass this key along to your dad?”)
  • Give them a safe ear to share their questions (or even disinterest) in spiritual things, even if it means moving your schedule around to meet with them in private.

(Maybe we should apply each of these to every other kid in the youth group, too.)

Got any more tips?

Share yours below.

Christian Pick-Up Lines

 —  August 5, 2013 — 17 Comments

Back in my single days, I certainly had my share of cheesy pick-up lines. They ranged from flattering things I heard in songs (“Heaven must be missing an angel  ’cause you’re here with me right now.”) to quick blurbs inspired by the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (“Girl, if you was gravy I would sop you up with a biscuit!”)

(I didn’t say they actually worked.)

christianpickuplinesI’m sure you’ve noticed that being a Christian creates its own subculture of references and “isms.” I wonder if you’ve ever heard or said something as ridiculous as this when hormones meet the holy:

    • “I read the Bible daily. My favorite book is Numbers. Speaking of numbers, can I have yours?”
    • “My spiritual gifts are prophecy and discernment, which means I have a double-revelation that God wants us together.”
    • “Would you like to get into the Word with me? Great. This is my car, and I call it ‘Word’ Where to?”
    • “My multiple e-Bibles take up 85% of my iPod memory. I’ll let some love songs about you have the other 15%.”
    • “Girl/Boy, you are so unblemished that I would sacrifice you.”
    • “You make me want to be a better tither.”
    • “I’m here on a mission trip. But if we can’t be together, I’ll be mission you.”
    • “I’m praying for you. Not just for you, but ***FOR*** you.”
    • “As Christians, shouldn’t we honor all Scripture? Let’s start with 2 Corinthians 13:12
    • “You must be a Bible verse, because I can’t stop memorizing you.”
    • “You… complete me. That is, after Jesus completes me. You’re like the gluten in my communion bread.”
    • “How about we go back to my place? My accountability partner is there.”
    • I’d marry Leah if it meant I’d also get to marry you.”
    • “God told me I can break my fast for you.”
    • “For you, I’d start saying ‘Oh My Gosh’.”
    • “What do you say you and I take up a love offering?”
    • “I’m just curious… what’s your Promise Ring size?”
    • “Wouldn’t it be sad if our clothes weren’t next to each other’s in the rapture?”
    • “Your name must be Milk or Honey… ‘cuz you feel like something I was promised.”
    • “You and I are loaves and fish. Just imagine if we came together and gave ourselves to Jesus.”
    • “Hey, look! Matching Bible covers!”
    • “How about you and I go light a candle together?”
    • “What God thinks about me is infinitely more important than what others think about me. So, what do you think of me?”
    • “Don’t walk away, babe. You may not think I’m perfect but Jesus thinks I’m to die for.”


    Got any to add?

    Share yours below.

    UPDATE: Read Part 2 here



This is just pure fun, from beginning to end.

Then again, maybe this represents relationships, church life and more?

Your pick.

Watch it a few times and picture yourself as each of the three characters. Show it to students and ask them to do the same thing.

Perhaps we say we’re always being kicked, not realizing we also do our fair share of kicking or setting it up to happen.

Enjoy!

 

mcdonalds

The Scene: Working on the laptop at McDonald’s. A table full of pre-teen guys are trying to eat. The oldest (perhaps a freshman among them) is acting like a social rooster, pecking down the awkwardness of the younger guys, strutting for the girls sitting nearby, nudging the smallest one of out of the booth with his rear end… over and over.

I’ve been praying for several minutes about the best way to respond.

And then…

the others all suddenly had to leave. They hopped on bikes and peddled out. He looked like he was waiting for a ride – it was just him and I. I didn’t move toward him, but stood up while holding my drink and spoke.

Me: (slurp) “So, are you the oldest?”

Him: (a bit startled that I’m talking to him) “Huh? Oh, yeah.” (he smiles… like a security blanket… I’m “bigger than he is.”)

Me: “They look up to you, you know.”

Him: (he pauses, as if to realize it) “Oh, yeah. I guess.”

Me: (a half-step slower this time) “They look up to you.”

Him: (he catches my eye) “Yeah.”

Me: “Use that wisely.”

Him: (another pause) “Yeah…” (another pause) “…yeah.”

I go to get a refill, and return. A couple minutes later he heads out to catch his ride.

As he passes, he says, “Hey, see ya!”

—-

Changing the world? Speaking Life into life? Serving students?

Maybe it happens just like this.

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5)



I’ve been feeling something for a while now.

Maybe you have, too.

It’s something I’ve even “prayed” about… like how Christians say they pray about things, but really just conclude something they hope God’s okay with.

closedpulpitI plan to leave my church.

I’ll stand in front of my congregation and say,

“I’m going to attend elsewhere. Things don’t feel like they used to. There’s another congregation that seems more put-together and exciting. They even somehow seem more ‘biblical’ over there, too. You guys just aren’t feeding me anymore.”

Such a plan only lasts for a nano-second.

(Translation: I’m not actually planning on leaving my church. I’m confessing a temptation I feel every now and then… maybe you have, too.)

I’m supposed to be mature.

I need to think bigger than that. You need to think bigger than that.

We need to think bigger than that.

As a lead pastor, I do get emails from people who do this almost every season. It’s like the changing weather makes people change their church.

Thankfully, there always seems to be a remnant through God’s grace – a core group who understands things at a healthier level. These are the “for better or for worse” servant-leaders who get it and push through spiritual walls for the sake of what God is doing in them and through them.

The problem is on a general, church-wide scale it feels like when people aren’t “feeling it” they’re eventually gone:

  • “The worship team doesn’t play the songs I like.”
  • “I purposefully didn’t come for weeks as a test. No one from the church called me. Never mind that I’m not in a small group… the point is…”
  • “The building campaign should be run this way…. instead of that way.”
  • “I showed up for an event and it wasn’t what I expected.”
  • “It’s not how it was when I first started attending.”
  • “I’m just not feeling fed.”

It’s the last one that grinds me the most… not because I believe I’m a great preacher, but if God’s Word is the foundation of a message the only reason people couldn’t feel “fed” is if they closed their “mouths.” According to Jesus, God’s seed is good – it’s the soil that has the problem. Maybe it’s just easier to blame a preacher or church than personally own that.

Why am I posting this here?

There’s a reason why your senior pastor seems worn down some daysit’s because your senior pastor is worn down some days.

Senior pastors often feel like plate spinners who are trying to keep things healthy so people stay happy. It’s not our job, but it somehow becomes our job. It ultimately makes us want to work somewhere where people demonstrate long-term commitment and patronage… like their favorite ice cream store. (Sadly, that comparison is truer than we’d like to admit.)

Right now, go reaffirm a “for better or for worse” commitment to your church and its senior leadership. While you’re at it, dare others to do the same.

Feed up… before he or she gets fed up.

What are some of the “reasons” you’ve heard someone left a church? Share a comment. (Maybe by confessing some of the insanity we’ll better recognize it before it comes out of us.)

 

picture courtesy of punditandpundatte.com

picture courtesy of punditandpundatte.com

After reading yesterday’s post your response might have been one of defeat.

The schedule we keep is daunting.  Perhaps you are great at having “boundaries” but your leadership doesn’t have any.  If you are like me the struggle is you can tend to be more driven than called.   Either way it can translate into days off that are actually “on,” living on an IV of caffeine, and racing through life.  One youth pastor friend once told me,  “I never thought that I could get burnt out doing what I love for whom I love.”

You know, but what are some practical steps you can take to get off this lunatic merry-go-round?

Remember How YOU Love Jesus:

I connect with Christ through music. Some days, I put in my headphones, close my eyes and sing along.  It refreshes me. For me being outside in His creation, talking with Him, soaking in His power is vital.  I have to put aside time for this.  Our  love affair with the Savior must last a lifetime.  What do you do that reminds you, you are connected to the Lord? When is the last time you took the time just for HIM?

The Rule Of 3:

Part of our problem becomes isolationism.  Perhaps we told someone our dirty secret and they told us something like a former pastor told me.  If I just understood that the Sabbath wasn’t a day off it was a lifestyle I would be fine.  “Jesus never took a day off,  he simply stole away for a moment,”  was what he said.  So I would take the time and sit with God and my mind was everywhere else.  I didn’t change. I just stopped telling people about it. That was the problem. I needed others to keep me focused on Jesus.

Who are 3 people you can be honest with?   Let them check in with you. I suggest this combo: One person who has known you forever, that you trust, one person who does what you do but in another church or ministry and one person who is NOT in ministry but local. This may take some work but find them.  Then listen to their advice.  If they tell you to take a day off then do it.   Truth only sounds trite because it is simple.  Make the effort.

Do something you like to do- but don’t have to do.

Through a series of events I have taken up running this year.  It has become an outlet for stress release.  Nope I don’t have time to do it, but I need it.   I like it, and the way it makes me feel like I accomplished something on days when everything else feels out of control.  What do you enjoy?  Reading, writing, skeet shooting, watching Duck Dynasty?  This is a vital step to coming out of the spiral. Put aside something for a moment and just do something you LIKE to do.

Scheduling is a post all on it’s own, and that we will tackle tomorrow. This is not an exhaustive list,  it is merely some starting steps to come out of this season of life.  Remember you are NOT ALONE.  Many of us have been there and just might be there at this moment in time.


What are you doing to practically conquer your burn out?