Archive for Ministry Issues


3 Myths About Contentment

“Everything in our society is geared to make you unhappy with your current circumstances: your job, your wardrobe, your car, your house, your wife, the place you live, whatever it might be. Everything in the advertising world is designed to breed discontent. To make you unhappy with what you have.” (John Maxwell)

3 Myths About Contentment

Myth #1 – Contentment Is Earned

There is lie that we believe, that we can earn our contentment.  Continue reading…


The Power Of A Simple Note

“A text message just doesn’t cut it, for the simple reason that conveying emotion in digital formats is a lost cause. Somehow thickets of exclamation points, ALL CAPS shouts, loaded acronyms and chirpy emoticons cannot approach the freight of feeling conveyed on a scrap of paper with words scratched on it by hand.” (Paula Madden) Continue reading…

The Power of a










Burnout – The Challenge – The Climate – The Comeback

We hear the term “burnout” used in conversation almost everyday.  “I have a stressful  job.” is a phrase used almost as much as “Good morning.”

  • Burnout: “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration”


Pastoral ministry is certainly not exempt from the strains and stresses of being in the “people business”.  With each passing year the challenge to minister effectively grows at a much faster rate than many ministers feel they are equipped to handle.

The Challenge

“But there’s the flip side: I waited too long. I’ve seen other pastors make this mistake too. By the time they take a sabbatical, it’s too late. I’d much rather see pastors take sabbaticals when they can devote them to growth and recovery rather than recovery only.” (Darryl Dash)

Consider these stats:

  • 66% of pastors reported that their congregation experienced a conflict during the past two years; more than 20% of those were significant enough that members left the congregation.
  • 56% of pastors regularly take off one day each week; 21% say that they do not get any days off.
  • The typical pastor has his/her greatest ministry impact at a church in years 5 through 14 of his pastorate; unfortunately, the average pastor lasts only five years at a church.
  • 50% of pastors feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
  • 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • 40% of pastors say they have considered leaving their pastorates in the last three months.
  • 64% of adults say that truth is relative to the person and their circumstances.

The Climate of Burnout

“Our problem is that we hate rest. We fill every nook of our lives with things to do, skimp on our vacations, and refuse to take days for rest.” (Darryl Dash)

8 Symptoms You Might Be burning out

  1. I want people who have hurt me to suffer.
  2. I self-medicate in ways that nobody else knows.
  3. I don’t sleep well because I’m overwhelmed by anxiety.
  4. I struggle to care about anyone or anything.
  5. I’m ready to flip tables when people around me aren’t perfect.
  6. I act like I care about people, but I’m just using them.
  7. I have no one who I can talk to honestly without fear of losing my job.
  8. I avoid God.

Here’s more from Matt Adir

The Comeback

“We’re often tempted to see rest as a curse.” (Darryl Dash)

10 Ways To Avoid Burnout

  1. Know when to say “no.”
  2. Take time for you.
  3. Don’t own things you can’t control.
  4. Give yourself grace.
  5. Spend time with peers.
  6. Cling to compliments and dismiss criticism.
  7. Focus on the important more than the urgent.
  8. Set realistic expectations for yourself.
  9. Reward yourself often.
  10. Use all of your vacation time.

Here’s more from Tim Parsons.

Cure For Pastor Burnout

  1. Find a small group you don’t have to lead.
  2. Create healthy boundaries.
  3. Seek counsel regularly.
  4. Celebrate with your church.
  5. Build a Volunteer Program.

Here more from Ryan Nelson

So there you have it, the challenge, the climate and the comeback of burnout.

The stats above are not going to change very soon:) So we have to learn to live within the tension of ministry life.

Do you see yourself anywhere in the 8 symptoms?

Of the 15 suggestions in the Comeback which ones do you have in place and which ones do you stink at?

Taking care of our bodies is a spiritual issue and no one is going to do it for us.  What’s your first step?








Leadership Lesson at 30,000

We were getting ready to take off from Monterrey International Airport in Mexico. We had just spent a wonderful week at Possibilities House For Children. After walking down the narrow aisle, contorting to put my luggage in the overhead compartment, doing a twist and a side move, I ended up sitting next to a fellow Canadian.

Leadership Lesson at 30,000 Feet

After exchanging pleasantries we moved to the “tell me about yourself” part of the conversation. She was in Mexico on business, a mom of two and was looking forward to going home. As we talked about travel, she mentioned her husband flies each week. The territory for his work is literally the Nation of Canada. Some weeks take him from the East Coast to the West Coast (5000 Miles). Needless to say, his frequent flyer miles and perks must be through the roof. Continue reading…


The 4 B’s Of Your Next Missions Trip

This past November, I had the privilege of visiting, Possibilities House For Children, which our church sponsors.   I had been in Mexico in 2008 and from the night our plane landed when we returned home I had been looking forward to going back. I will never be known as a “Preparation Genesis” but I thought I would put together some thoughts to help you get ready for your next missions trip.

The 4 B's Of Your Next Missions Trip




Be Prepared

  • Look up the ministry and familiarize yourself with their mission.
  • Look up the town and country and learn about the history.
  • Use an app like duolingo to learn the basics of the language.
  • Arrive at the Airport early.
  • There may be long waits at check in, security and customs.
  • Take the packing list seriously. (Bring your own toilet paper)


Be Adjustable

  • Weather can play havoc with your plans. (They were 3 days behind before we landed)
  • Timing of events can change on a dime depending on circumstances.
  • Food may be a stretch for your palate.
  • Don’t expect North American standards in a developing country. (If you can’t handle this stay home. – I’m serious)
  • Adjust to the fact that when you come home people may not be as interested in your trip as you will be in telling them about it.


Be Thankful

  • For the opportunity to serve (You’re not on vacation)
  • For you hosts who give up much to serve.
  • Every morning tell you hosts one thing you enjoyed from the previous day.
  • Show thankfulness by bringing a small gift for your host, leaving a thank you card, writing an email or adding them to facebook.


Be A Promoter

  • Journal your trip on twitter, Facebook or your blog. (Remember pictures are worth a thousand words)
  • Sponsor their ministry.
  • Talk it up to whoever will listen.

As a promoter let me encourage you to check out Possibilities House For Children they are doing a great job of rescuing, restoring and redeeming kids in Mexico.  They get 2 thumbs up from me.








Top 5 Tips For Visiting Seniors

I love older people because they have wisdom of which I am always in need of and they tell stories which I love to hear.  So please take this tongue and cheek post in the spirit in which it’s presented.

Tip #1

As you ring the door bell or get off the elevator erase all former conversations from past visits, this will help because you will  hear the same stories again.

Tip #2

Establish common ground by learning to love puzzles and the more pieces the better.

Tip #3

In order to achieve the proper speaking volume start soft and when they stop leaning in, cupping their ears, giving nonsensical answers you have hit the proper level.

Tip #4

Do not eat a big lunch before going out for a visit.  Senior’s like it hot and the combination of the heat and less blood in your brain because of digestion is not a good situation.

Tip #5

Watch out for this subtle Senior’s trick.  From the very beginning they will time your visit. If your visit is not long enough for their liking they will begin to offer you a snack 5-7 minutes before your regular leaving time which will actually add an extra 20-25 minutes to you stay.

D you have a tip for us?  Please leave a comment and share it.



How To Change A Board Members Perspective


Once a month I post for Rookie Preacher here’s my latest post, “How To Change A Board Members Perspective”.

“Send each board member a note saying, “At our next meeting I need you to please bring a roll of paper towel and cleaning spray.” When everyone shows up take them to the nursery and clean the toys in the room as you have your meeting. Can you imagine them sitting around on the nursery floor, legs crossed surrounded by Lego? Great sight isn’t it?”  How To Change A Board Members Perspective


What Not To Say When…

What Not To Say When…

Life is full of difficult situations where our  words just fail us and our effort to say something, say anything falls way short of our intention.  Here are some suggestions from a variety of writers in sensitively handling difficult situations.



According to this article” 7 Things Not To Say To Someone With Anxiety” 40 million Americans suffer from this debilitating issue and things like, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” will not help the situation.


It affects us all and it will be the fight of our generation and generations to come.  CANCER!!

I was 22 years old when my mom died of cancer she was only 54.   My dad died of a brain tumor a couple of years ago at age 69.  They both died too early and I miss them greatly.

What do you say to someone who has cancer?  Even as a minister the words do not come easy.  We all want to say something comforting and encouraging but often we struggle to find the right words.

Tracey Solomon  is a blogger who says phrases like “You’ve got to stay positive.” won’t cut it.  What Not To Say When Someone Has Cancer


Do you know a couple who are trying to have children but are having trouble?  Have you ever said, “Just adopt and you’ll get pregnant”?   While I have seen that happen many times this is one of 5 statements Matt Appling  says never to say to a childless couple.  Are you guilty of any of the other 4?

5 Things Not To Say To Your Childless Friends


If you have stocks in anti-depression drugs then you are laughing all the way to the bank.  Like anxiety and cancer it either affects us or someone we know.   The response of Christians to depression ranges from great care to “Where’s the joy of the Lord in your life?”  Want to help and not hinder someone suffering from depression?  C. S. Heinz has some great suggestions from personal experience.

How To Show Love To Someone With Depression


One of the toughest situations you can face is a stillbirth.  Questions like “Why would God let us come this far and then not allow our baby to live?”  When parents are looking for words of comfort how do you respond?  Mark Chanski has advice on what to say and what not to say How To Comfort Parents After A Stillbirth

As ministers, family or friends trying to minister and help in any of these situations is never easy.  The situations are so varied and the personalities so different that there will never be just one approach.   In times when you walk away feeling less an adequate in your desire to help remember that sometimes showing up is half the battle as Michael Kelly says.

Photo credit: dhammza / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND






Book Notes – Four Faces Of A Leader




Bob Rhoden grew up without much leadership in his life.  His parents were killed by a drunk driver when he was two and he was raised by his widowed grandmother in her house alongside a railroad track in North Florida.  Yet, he became a Pastor of a congregation which he led for 22 years.  His next 15 years, saw him lead over 300 churches as District Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Potomac District.

Rhoden asks the question all of us leaders ask, “How do you know if you’re an effective Christian leader?”  What is the standard to which we should hold ourselves?
  • Large Sunday attendance?
  • Balanced budgets?
  • Community reputation?

Rhoden calls Jesus the “most riveting leader of all time” and in his book considers the 4 faces of Jesus’ leadership as he asks, “What does a great leader look like?”
He sees Jesus as a Shepherd, Servant, Steward and Seer.
Jesus as a Shepherd
“The real shepherd loves the sheep even when they are ugly, when the bite and when they disobey”
  • A Calling is different from a Career
  • Shepherds sacrifice for the sake of the sheep
What do shepherds do?
  • They feed the Word of God
  • Equip and add value
  • Bond
  • Protect
Jesus as Servant
“Jesus saw people as individuals, not categories”
  • Confident leaders do not worry about their status or image
  • Churches should showcase servant leaders in their congregations
What are the traits of a servant leader?
  • You’re ok with others going first
  • You don’t care who gets the credit
  • You are recognized for more than your title
Jesus as Steward
 “Stewards or managers understand that the operation is not actually theirs.”
  • Competence does matter
What does Pastors manage?
  • Speaking on God’s behalf
  • Serving as God’s Diplomat
  • Personal walk with God
Jesus as Seer
 “God’s work always stands in need of those who can see what others miss…”
  • Living in what was will not move you towards what could be
  • A Seer must understand that the winds of culture keep changing
What must a Seer see?
  • New ministry opportunities
  • Potential for conflict
  • Rising new leader
The conclusion of the book has a test to help the reader determine their strengths and weaknesses when it come to these 4 faces of leadership, with the encouragement to bring up your weak areas.
An easy read, you could use 4 Faces with your church board, staff or in a mentoring relationship.
Quotes Worth Quoting
“Success in a career is defined by how much you earn and how many people you control.  Success in a kingdom calling is defined by how much you give away and how many people you serve.”
“What is maturity?  My definition is when people produce more than they consume.  If sheep are healthy, they will reproduce.”
“What any of us is predisposed to think is not as important as what Jesus taught and modeled.”
“The very factors that produced today’s success often produce tomorrows failures.”
“Leadership is not so much about what we set in motion.  Its about planting the right seeds in people.”

Photo Credit



When The “Church Greeter” Is Not Good At Their Job



For those of us who have grown up in church it’s hard for us to imagine how difficult it is for first time guests to walk through our doors.  The first couple of minutes of a guests visit can make or break the whole experience.

In visiting churches on vacation over the years I have experienced some great greeters.  They greet you with a nice smile, firm handshake and genuinely seem to be excited about your visit.

Then I have also been greeted by those who do not have a gift or even half a gift for hospitality:)  They greet you with a question mark as to why are you here, they give you a fish handshake and are more interested in checking out the girl behind you than exchanging pleasantries.

However, I think Tim Hawkins describes the all-time worst greeter there is…

How do you deal with a less than adequate church greeter?

You can pray, “”Lord, can you make Sister Jones just a little  sick this week? It’s Baby Dedication Sunday and we are going to have a lot of guests”

Or you can take a look at this article by  Hal Seed and put this very sensible advice into practice.

We should never underestimate the importance of a welcoming smile on the way into a church service.  It might just save someone’s life.

Check out this story from Outreach Magazine

Related Posts:

Is Your Announcement Time As Bad As This?

When The Preacher Puts Their Foot In Their Mouth

Photo credit: Scooter Flix / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND