Ministry Inside.137

(Each Thursday, I write particularly for church leaders.  If you are a church leader, hopefully this post will connect with you.  However, the post may be relevant regardless of ministry role.)

I knew a man who was a good preacher and overall minister.  He was well-read and had a good seminary education. He continued to grow in his ministry skills and in his knowledge.  Various congregations perceived him to be a valuable resource in their region.

There was one problem.

He didn’t always tell the truth.

I don’t think he perceived himself as one who lied or was untruthful.  Yet, I remember the evening, years ago, when he and his wife had dinner with us.  We ate and had an enjoyable meal together.  After dinner, we went to an ice cream place for dessert.

He told a story about a sermon that he had preached one Sunday.  As a part of the message, he used an illustration that seemed fitting.  After sharing that illustration with us, he said, “Of course this is one of those stories that you tell as if it really happened to you.”

I was a young minister and shocked by what he admitted to practicing.  Surely he did not say what I think he just said. Did he really say that he told the story as if it happened to him but it didn’t?  Yes, I had heard him correctly.

This was sad.

It was also unethical and even unnecessary.  Not only was this wrong but he could have easily used the story ethically by saying:

“I heard the story about a couple who one day . . .”

“I have a friend who tells the story about a couple who one day. . .”

“William Willimon tells the story of a couple who one day . . .”

Truth telling includes paying attention to the little things.  Accuracy and speaking truth really do matter.

 

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start (1)We have moved to Memphis.   As of January 2, I work at Harding School of Theology.  This week I resume writing this blog.  Each Monday I will post a feature entitled “Monday Start: Resources for the Week.”  This post will consist of links to articles, books, etc. that might be of interest to you.

Mental illness

Don’t miss this post by Karen Spears Zacharias.  The post “Mothers and Mental Illness” is a good reminder of what some mothers struggle with.

Free

You might be interested in “Plan Your Free Online Education at Lifehacker U: Spring Semester 2014.”

Writing

From The Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael C. Munger writes “10 Tips on How to Write Less Badly.”

Asking in faith

John T. Willis has written a brief but encouraging post entitled “Ask in Faith – James 1:5-8.”

“No”

Some people believe that one overcomes another’s objections by presenting arguments and answers.  However, the “no” one receives may be rooted in something deeper.   See Seth Godin’s post “Coming from ‘no’.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update

I guess you’ve noticed

I haven’t posted on the blog during December.  We are in the middle of the move to Memphis, Tn.  I will be working with Harding School of Theology.  In January, I will begin to post regularly again.  Thanks for your patience.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start (1)Writing

The Letter is Dead, Long Live the Letter” by Maria Popova in Brain Pickings.

Criticism

Thom Rainer has an excellent podcast “How to Respond to Criticism – Rainer on Leadership #031.”

Creativity

40 Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative” by Summer Anne Burton.

Presentations

Always helpful.  See Victoria Labalme’sPresentation Skills – Animating Experiences, Adjectives and Emotions.”

Advice

Bill Mounce’s advice on what to remember regarding seminary or graduate studies.

 

Ministry Inside.136

ImageAfter 20 years of ministry in one congregation, I am about to leave.  (My last Sunday here is November 24.)  Charlotte and I will move to Memphis, Tennessee, to begin working with Harding School of Theology.

Twenty years is a long time.  That is 20 years of sermons, conversations, and cups of coffee. That is 20 years of waiting in emergency rooms with families and well as celebrating with families.

Leaving and transition bring grief.  Charlotte and I certainly feel it.  I know many in our congregation feel this as well.  It is simply a part of transition.

I have been thinking about these 20 years.

I am so thankful …

… for the trust of this church.

Preaching to the same group of people week after week requires trust.  They must recognize that you are attempting to live out the Gospel in your daily life.  Trust either emerges or it remains a questionable issue in a congregation.

As I look back upon these years, I think of the many conversations with people — deeply personal conversations — about life, sin, failure, and grace.  I don’t take this for granted.  After all, a person believes their minister will handle this conversation with maturity and respect.  I am moved as I think about conversations in my office, in living rooms, and over cups of coffee about life.

… for the love of this church.

The people in our congregation have communicated to me how much they love Charlotte, me, and our two daughters, Christine and Jamie.  I am so grateful for this.

At the same time, I love our congregation.  Recently, our children’s ministry reserved the local skating rink for our church.  I was there for about 45 minutes and enjoyed watching the children of our congregation (and some of their parents) have so much fun.  I want to see them do well and grow up loving Jesus.  Because I love our congregation, it is very important how I leave.  When a minister abruptly leaves a church and gives the church little or no time to process what is happening, damage can be done that can have ramifications for the future.  It is very important to me to leave well.

… for the faithfulness of God.

Life as a congregation is something we do together.  That means that we experience not only joy but also pain.  Yes, pain takes place in every congregation.  Most of the time, ministry involves some sort of pain.  Divorce.  Death.  Sickness.  Unfaithfulness.  Sin.  These all take place in the life of a congregation.  Yet, as I look back, I see how the faithfulness of God gave us, as a congregation, the power to persevere even in difficult times.

More later.

Are These Enemies of Marriage in Your House?

apathyThe following are enemies of marriage.  They have a way of chipping away and even poisoning a marriage.  Run from these enemies.

Bitterness

Bitterness has a way of souring most any situation and most any day.  A bitter person can take seemingly innocent remarks and find something devious and sinister.  Bitterness is a poison that can be fatal to a marriage.

Deception.

Withholding information can become a pattern that ultimately destroys a marriage.  Some people put great energy into withholding information about those they are texting, what they are saying in private messages on Facebook, and whom they are calling on the phone.

Passivity.

Some husbands and wives will not take the initiative in their marriage.  Children cry while he sits in his recliner wondering why she doesn’t deal with them.  Meanwhile, she puts more energy into Facebook and commenting on blogs than she does her marriage.  Passivity breeds neglect.  Consequently, this marriage may suffer from a lack of intention, time, and energy.

Absence of Adoration.

A husband or wife may go to great lengths to do what they want while ignoring their spouse.  For example, a husband makes a lot of effort getting tickets to the big game; however, when his wife says that she would like to see a play or musical, he makes little or no effort to respond to her desire.  These spouses communicate that they do not value one another enough to make the effort to give what the other might enjoy.

Constant Criticism.

There are people who constantly complain, whine, and gripe about their spouse.  They are silent about what their spouse does that is right while they harp on his/her shortcomings.  A critical spirit has a way of emerging no matter what the occasion might be.

Repeating Destructive Patterns.

A husband declares that he doesn’t want to be like his own dad, either in his marriage or as a dad to his own children.  Perhaps a young mother says that she doesn’t want to be like her faultfinding, complaining mother.  Yet, if a person is not intentional about becoming a different kind of spouse or parent, they will often resort to their default in their family of origin.  This person repeats the same immature and obnoxious behaviors disliked in his/her father or mother.

These are six deadly enemies of marriage.  Anyone who is married and follows Jesus has been called to something higher.  Genuine self-giving love will cause us to avoid these enemies and not go near them.

Question:

Is there a particular enemy that you have had to be especially attentive to?

 

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

startMarriage

Listen to these outstanding podcasts by Michael and Gail Hyatt as they reflect on their marriage.  (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)  Very practical and encouraging.

Purpose

See Harold Shank’s fine post “Purpose and Work.”

Middle School Heroics

Jeremy Statton has written a fine piece regarding the recent video that went viral featuring the middle school football team that “took a knee” on behalf of a teammate.  A great video and post.

Creativity

See “Brain Pickings” by Maria Popova.  “The Perils of Plans: Why Creativity Requires Leaping into the Unknown.”

Work

See “Work Smarter Not Harder” by Anthony Dejolde.

 

Soul Starvation

soul_550When Christian leaders are not regularly nourished, burnout can be the result.

Ministry can become something that one gets done by sheer willpower.  There is no longer any sense that one is drinking from strong and deep spiritual wells.

This can become deadly.

The demands of life and ministry become intoxicating.  Our lives are fueled by an adrenaline rush that results from feeling needed and important.

The pressures of life and ministry can become intoxicating.  There is no sense of rest, silence or recreation.  Instead, we find ourselves thriving on the pressure.

The appearance of spirituality can become intoxicating.  We can put tremendous energy into creating the illusion that we are spiritual people.

This intoxication is deadly.

Maybe the place to begin is by praying that God might nourish and water the parched soul and that the demands of life and the church will not be allowed to take precedence over what is essential to the soul.”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start_button_greenThe following are some resources which might interest you.  As usual, they cover a variety of subjects.  For the most part, they are articles or posts that I have read recently and found interesting.

Spiritual Journey

See “Fox News’ Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower” by Kirsten Powers.  A very thoughtful piece about the author’s own spiritual journey.

Missions

Dan Bouchelle has written a good post as a guest writer on Mark Woodward’s blog.  The post “Doing Short-Term Missions Well, Part One” is worth the read.

Marriage

My daughter Jamie Kiburz passed on this excellent piece on marriage.  “Marriage Isn’t For You” by Seth Adam Smith.

Writing

See “Ten Rules for Writing First Drafts” by Demian Farnworth.  Helpful.

Ministry Inside.134

Teens-Penalties-can-deter-texting-at-wheel-OS25GHL6-x-largeWhat do church leaders do with the red flags?

Not long ago I was on the Interstate and glanced at the car on my right.  The driver had an intense look on her face.  She was staring at her phone.

She was texting.

Think about this.  She is driving 75 miles per hour and texting!

Some say that you are 23 times more likely to have a wreck if you are texting and driving.  Yet, 77% of people believe they are good drivers and this practice really isn’t dangerous for them.

Just a few days ago, a New Jersey woman was charged with vehicular homicide after her vehicle hit another car in the opposite lane of traffic.  A 58-year-old man was killed in the fatal crash.  Witnesses said that the young woman was texting while driving.

So who actually does this?  Who would still text and drive in spite of the many warnings Americans have received?

The answer?  Many continue to do this.  Parents with young children in their car seats.  Business people traveling across the city.  College students driving on the Interstate en route to campus.

Some church leaders are much like this.  They ignore the warnings.  They don’t take the precautions.  They don’t listen to wisdom.

*The elder in a church who is giving way too much attention and time to a particular hurting woman in the church.  He tells his wife and friends, “I am the only person she can talk to.”

*The young father who neglects his wife and children while he spends more time with his friends.  “I work hard and need a break.”

*The young couple who spend more money than they are making.  “Oh it will all work out.  We just want to live at the same standard as our friends.”

Are we paying attention to the warnings?  Or, do we think we are the exception?

Question:

In what area of your life are you ignoring red flags?