What Has Pushed You to the Edge?

pushed over the edgeLots of people are discouraged.

Have you noticed?

Lots of church leaders are discouraged.

Regardless of the ministry in which you are engaged, there is a likelihood that sooner or later you will become discouraged.  The following are some reasons that may sound familiar.  I have experienced a few of these.  I have seen the others in church leaders I have known.

Some people experience discouragement and some even feel like they have been pushed to the edge.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start_button_large.pngThis is funny

See this “Tonight Show” gas station prank!  (I would have loved to have seen this live.)


10 Videos that Inspired Us in 2012”  With so much negative, discouraging news, I appreciate any kind of inspiration like this.


David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw in a very brief video talk about the books they read.  See also Joe Lalonde’s piece “6 Books Leaders Should Read By the End Of The Year.”


Thom Rainer consistently offers good content on his blog.  “Five Reasons Your Pastor Won’t Ask For a Raise.”


You might enjoy a guest post that I wrote for Dan Bouchelle.  “Why I Still Preach.”

Brain Pickings

I love a series like this.  “The Daily Routines of Famous Writers.”





Ministry Inside.117

take five design5 Suggestions for Keeping Your Sanity in a Busy Ministry

There are seasons when a ministry feels very intense.  Quite often that intensity may be related to particular problems or issues that have surfaced in the church or in the community.

Sometimes that intensity is due to unforeseen situations.  Perhaps you have recently presided over several funerals or weddings within a period of a few weeks.  If you are a minister, you know that these can often take a lot of time.

For example, the average person sees you speak at a funeral and in that person’s mind there may not be that much time or work involved.  However, the challenge of a funeral for a minister is not just the remarks expressed.  A minister is often doing this work within the context of his own grief and sadness.  After all, the deceased may have been a friend, a confidant, an encourager or more.

A minister may spend hours at the hospital leading up to a death.  Then, that minister might spend time with the family discussing plans for the funeral and memories of the deceased.  This minister may work late into the night preparing remarks for the funeral. If the funeral is in the morning, that minister will spend most of the morning (if not all of it) doing something related to the funeral.  Not only will this minister speak at the funeral but then also at the graveside. After this funeral, this minister may eat with the family at the church building.

When I first began my ministry, I was shocked as to how much time could actually be spent when presiding at either a funeral or a wedding.

Sometimes, there will be several of these within a week.  I remember a few weeks when I had several funerals or a funeral and a wedding and came away feeling exhausted.

Finally, there are times when ministry feels intense when I have said “yes” to too many opportunities.  Maybe I am seeing too many people in my office for counseling.  Perhaps I have scheduled too many meetings.  I may have said yes to many speaking appointments.

The following are a few suggestions that you might find helpful when your ministry has become very busy.  I have found these helpful; it did, however, take me some time to learn them.

What Has Fear Done To You?

img-book-start-smallJon Acuff has written a fine book entitled Start.  At one point in the book as he discusses fear he writes, “Stories without dragons are boring” (p. 64).  He says that in every story there is typically a villain of some sort. 

For many of us the villain in our lives is the voice that often puts fear in our hearts.

Fear can be paralyzing.  It can keep you from starting.

Fear can be deadly.  It can destroy your confidence.

Fear can be self-defeating.  It can cause you to severely limit yourself.

As a result,  you don’t take the initiative.  You don’t take risks.  You don’t start.  Instead, you talk about “someday.”

Someday is the day that never comes.

The internal voice of fear will stop you in your tracks and keep you from doing the very thing you know you need to do.

  • Fear will cause you to accept a status quo life instead of what God wants you to have.
  • Fear will keep you from pursuing your dream, and stepping out on faith.
  • Fear will keep you from addressing an obvious problem for fear you might fail.
  • Fear will keep you from starting.
  • Fear allows you to think that one day you are going to do this or that but to never make any attempt.
  • Fear causes us to be afraid as a congregation living in a world that is changing rapidly.
  • Fear will keep you from obeying Jesus.

Think about what we fear.


pepperdine-universityThe Pepperdine Lectures is an event that I’ve enjoyed for many years.  As a result, there will not be another post until Monday.

I am very grateful for all of you who read this blog regularly.  Some have been regular readers for several years.  More than anything, I hope this is a place that is helpful and encouraging.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week


Copyblogger interviews Jeff Goins regarding writing.  Such a good interview!

Mike Cope interviews Josh Ross regarding his new book Scarred Faith.  I look forward to reading this book.

20 – Somethings

Jeanna Goudreau has written interesting piece entitled “Why We Need to Take 20 – Somethings Seriously” in Forbes.


See the outstanding guest post on preaching that Grady King has written for Dan Bouchelle’s blog.


Check out this video.  “Why Porn is Addicting: The Science of Pornography Addiction.”


Kate Figes has written an interesting post regarding the impact of an affair on children.  See also her book Our Cheating Hearts.


Ministry Inside.116

hard-lifeMesses are a part of life and ministry.

When my daughter Jamie was seven years old, she decided that she wanted to go fishing with me.  The next day we got up at 5:30 a.m., grabbed our fishing gear, and went to the water.  Her favorite part of fishing, besides catching a fish, was casting. When I say cast, I mean rare back and let it fly!  That is exactly what she did this time. She came back over her head very near where I was kneeling behind her.  I could feel her lure brush the top of my head.  Off came my cap.  The hook was struck to the top of the cap with the minnow flailing about to get free. I took her rod and reel and began to work with it to get the hook loose from the cap.  Meanwhile, I let her use my rod and reel.  A few minutes later I looked at her and saw that fishing line was everywhere.  Finally, in utter disgust, she said, “This thing is a mess.”

This week our area has been dealing with the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.  My office is about a 30-minute drive from West.  We have several families in our church who either live or work, or both, in West.  On Tuesday afternoon, one of our families drove me through much of the area that suffered badly from the explosion.

Ministers and other church leaders deal with messes quite frequently.  Divorce.  Cancer.  Death. Crime.  A member sent to prison.  The child of a church leader on drugs.  The following are five suggestions for church leaders who must navigate through a mess.

1.  Don’t rush to fix the situation.  Quite often ministers will become uneasy with the questions or doubt that may be expressed.  In our uneasiness, we may attempt to rush in with much advice and very little patience.

2.  Don’t pronounce the situation as God showing us this or that or what trying to teach us whatever. The truth is we don’t know why so many things happen.

3.  Do be present.  There is great power in simply showing up and being fully present.  In fact, when words are at a loss and when you don’t know what to do, one’s presence with another or a family can be huge.

4.  Do be a safe place where people can ask the questions that are burning within.  Loss is tough. Sometimes we are in such a rush to move on, we don’t allow others the opportunity to feel loss and its implications.

5.  Don’t be trite.  Some years ago my friend’s wife died of cancer leaving behind this young husband and their young children.  The following Sunday, the minister began the sermon by talking about how he understood the loss that many people felt.  He then proceeded to tell the story of his car being involved in a parking lot fender-bender and how frustrating that was.  Some family members of the woman who died were angry that this minister insinuated that he understood how they felt by comparing their loved one’s death to a fender-bender.



What would you add to this list?


Monday Start: Resources for the Week


Rachelle Gardner has written a good post “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?”  This made me think!


See Lifehacker’s “Five Best Mindmapping Tools.”  The tool I use, Mindmeister, made the honorable mention list.  This is an interesting list. The one that caught my attention in the list is Coogle.  It is free and seems easy to use.


From Copyblogger see “5 Writing Links You’ll Be Glad You Clicked.”

A sad and wasted life

Sobering article about Allen Iverson’s life after basketball.  See “Allen Iverson, NBA Icon, struggles with life after basketball.”

Good reminder for the week

Here is a nice quote on the value of laughter.  “Quote of the Day: How to Have an Instant Vacation.”


This is a fine post by George Ambler, “Busy is Killing Leadership.”

What is busyness? Simply put, busyness is a when we have a lot of work. It’s the drug of the 21st century. Busyness happens when we react to what’s in front of us, without stopping to consider if it matters or not.

Pray for Boston

boston-marathon-explosion-ap-2-041513The day after the Boston Marathon, we wait for more details.

More than 170 are injured and 3 people are dead.  Two bombs exploding changed everything.

I think about the Richard family and how this particular Boston Marathon impacted them. They were all standing near the finish line. As a result of the blast:

Mom had surgery.

Daughter lost a leg.

Son died.  8 years old!

The scene with its blood and carnage must have been horrific.

Meanwhile, this morning, I saw an interesting line in the Washington Post online.  ‘Pray for Boston’: Prayers stream in after Boston Marathon bombing.  From all over the world, social media sites are being bombarded with the plea to Pray for Boston.  (Moments ago, I looked on Twitter at the number of tweets that were using the hashtag #PrayforBoston.  Amazing!)

Maybe there is nothing more important for men and women across the world to do today than to pray for Boston and for these people whose lives have been drastically changed in a moment.


Ministry Inside.115

broken1How do you stay sane when there is so much craziness that surrounds ministry?

Good question.

Craziness is everywhere!  It seems to be a constant in this broken, unredeemed world. Everyone has to deal with the brokenness of the world.  Sometimes others’ brokenness can be sharp and jagged, cutting bystanders like broken glass.  The brokenness of others is not something from which you can stay detached only observing like a visitor at a zoo passing by a cage of wild animals.

There is no safe distance.  The brokenness of others really does affect us.  At times others may lash out in anger.  Sometimes, people betray.

Far too often, others will treat you as if you don’t exist, as if you are without value.

For a minister or other church leader, ministering to broken people can be exhausting, emotionally and spiritually.

Then there are the wounds that occur through the brokenness of others.

  • The betrayal by one of your friends who spoke despairingly of your motives toward a particular project.
  • The absence of any affirmation by those who have a front row seat to your ministry.
  • The silence of key leaders after you’ve poured out your heart in a Sunday morning message.
  • The anger unleashed at you during a meeting by someone you have spent hours with in their grief the year before.

Then of course, a Christian leader must also deal with his/her own brokenness.

  • You can’t believe how immature you’ve behaved at home this week.
  • You’ve allowed your anger at a previous group of elders in a different congregation to shape remarks you recently made to your present elders, a thousand miles away from the other congregation.
  • You have realized that your own self-pity, lust, and jealousy are finding plenty of room in your heart still.

Yes, the craziness of this world, along with your own brokenness, can make your ministry and life very difficult.

I have found it helpful to come before God in prayer and express that I need to let some things go. Recently, I had a nice list!  Usually, in the early morning hours, I will pray with open hands asking God to take the craziness.

“Lord, I want to let go of my desire to fix this family and all the drama swirling around them.  Only you can redeem this mess.  I want to let go of my frustration toward this person.  I want to let go of my resentments toward a certain person.  I want to let go of the pressure I feel regarding a certain project, etc.”

Maybe one way to stay sane when so much craziness surrounds ministry is by releasing this to the father who desires to redeem everything that is unredeemed.


What do you do to stay sane in the middle of so much craziness?