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.


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.


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


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?


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

Ministry Inside.133

coffee-cupFocus on your future and not your age.

Some people are obsessed with their age. They seem to focus on the idea that they are not as young as they were.  Others go even further and make regular comments about being old.

Of course we are all getting older.  Each year we experience another birthday and a one-year increase in our age.

Yet, we live in a youth obsessed culture. Some people believe that one is at a disadvantage to look his age.

Some people do move from decade to decade gracefully.  Others do so under whining and protest.  Many live with the denial of aging.

Church leaders can model something powerful before the church in such a culture.

Embrace life fully.

Stop talking about your age and start talking more about newness in Christ.  We really can be full of life when we focus on the one who gives us life (John 10:10).

Consider the message that you are sending the church through your teaching/preaching.

Do I speak of age as if getting older is downhill?  Are the examples, stories, and illustrations I use in messages typically from the pop culture of 20 or 30 years ago?  Do I regularly bemoan the fact that I am getting old?

Affirm in messages examples of people of various ages who are alive and engaged in life and ministry.

In a youth obsessed culture, it may be particularly helpful for people to hear stories of ministry being done by people who are older.

Cling to the Cross when life is difficult for you as a church leader.

Discipleship, after all, is a ministry of suffering (John 16:33, Luke 9:23).    When life is difficult, we are forced to admit we are dependent on God and others. This is exactly what we are called to be as Christians.  We are stripped away of what we have depended on and are called to rely on Christ.

Continue to grow.

I remain an eternal student, incomplete and unfulfilled, gazing at a full range of Mount Everests of the mind that remain unclaimed.  ….  Faith is the ground I stand on, the air I breathe, the thread of life that connects me to continuing life with God in eternity.   — Malcolm Boyd, age 78

Ministry Inside.132

marriageministry-1024x359The following are ten possible marriage pitfalls.  Ignore these and put your marriage at risk.

1.  Beware of ignoring your wife’s spiritual development while you focus on feeding yourself and the congregation.  A ministry couple can easily drift apart spiritually.

2.  Beware of assuming that because you read and talk theology that your work with Jesus is more authentic than that of your spouse.

3.  Beware of dabbling in discipleship while you major in public events.  The first step in ministry is following Jesus.

4.  Beware of demanding that your spouse make you look good even when you behave immaturely or like a jerk at home.

5.  Beware of discouraging your spouse from seeing a counselor or therapist because you are concerned that you might look bad.

6.  Beware of thinking that your role or hard work gives you permission to slack off when you are home.

7.  Beware of expecting your spouse will deal with the kids, bills, the maintenance of the house, and your social life so that you can focus on more “important” matters.

8.  Beware of supposedly innocent flirting with a certain person in your church arrogantly thinking that you are way too smart or moral to do something stupid.

9.  Beware of using your mind as a playground where you can run wild with fantasies and various temptations.  Our thinking really does shape who we are.

10. Beware of speaking to your spouse in ways that are demeaning, childish, and disrespectful.  This does nothing for your marriage but reveals your immaturity.


What would you add to this list?

Monday Start: Resources for the Week


See the piece on Kevin Allocca from Life HackerHow I Work.”


See J.R. Daniel KirkMe and Jesus Too Much of a Good Thing?

The Merchants of Average.

Seth Godin has a written a very good post.  “The Merchants of Average.”


How to Find Time for That Important Project” (Michael Hyatt)


Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results.” (Joanne Lipman)


Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start (1)Personal Organization

You might enjoy “12 Habits of Perfectly Organized People.”  By no means am I “perfectly organized.”  However, I did find this article thought provoking as I thought about my own productivity.


From Harvard Business School, “Why Leaders Need Great Books.”  Also see “Truth in Fiction” regarding the usefulness of fiction for leaders.

Spiritual Formation

See Pete Scazzero’s post “Leading Out of Learned Silence.”  Helpful.  This means a lot as the author is engaged in congregational ministry.


See “20% of Non-Christians Do Not Know a Christian!”  by Mark Woodward.

Great Story

This a great story that went viral recently:  “Dairy Queen worker’s good deed goes viral.”  This is refreshing.


Two weeks ago, I went to Croatia for the funeral of Mladen Jovanovic.  Croatian state television did this story on his funeral.

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Carolina Panthers v San Diego ChargersThe other day I watched a program, from the fall series A Football Life, featuring Waco’s own LaDainian Tomlinson.

Tomlinson was a student at University High (Waco) before he went on to TCU.  He played pro-football for 11 years – nine of those with the San Diego Chargers.  He turned out to be an extraordinary player – a finalist for the Heisman in college and the NFL’s MVP in 2007.
This program was about his life – where he grew up, his parents, his high school games.  At one point, there was a brief clip of Tomlinson playing against Midway High School at Midway.

I can remember sitting in the stands at Midway (1995/1996) watching him.  At the time, I remember that he had an incredible game.  What I didn’t realize is that that night would one day be televised throughout the nation as a part of a much larger story – a biography of one of the greatest running backs ever.

Years ago, when we sat in the stands at Midway High School, we had no idea that we were watching a future Hall of Fame athlete.  Instead, we just knew that Midway was playing University High School and that they had a running back that was very fast.  Other than that, it seemed like an ordinary Central Texas night in a football stadium.

While one doesn’t usually get the opportunity to get a front row seat to watch an exceptional athlete, we do have the opportunity to watch an extraordinary God at work.

1.  Consider your everyday ministry.  You never, ever know the good that you are doing by the grace of God in what might seem to be an ordinary congregation in an ordinary town.

2.  Know that the story of what God is doing on this earth through the lives of his people is much larger than the way things seem to be at the moment.  Who knows what God will make of your service during one hour, one day or one week of your life?  Never take these moments for granted.

3.  The extent to which God may use someone is not always obvious.  Sometimes the people that we least suspect are used by God in mighty ways. With others we are not surprised that God used them, we are surprised at the way God used them.  Sometimes it may be obvious but not always. Make the most of your opportunities to do good regardless of how old or how young you may be.

Question: What is it that may be happening right in front of you that is obviously a work of God?


What We Learn From Diana Nyad


On Monday, 64-year-old Diana Nyad became the first person to swim the 110-mile route from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. She swam for 53 hours with 35 people accompanying her in boats.

Nyad first attempted this feat in 1978.  She then attempted it again three times in 2011 and 2012.  Each time she was unsuccessful in completing the swim.  On Monday, she finished and was greeted by numerous well-wishers on shore.

As she stood on dry land, she spoke to reporters saying:
“I have three messages. One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team.”

I love what she said.

Never, ever give up.

So many people live in resignation.  They consider going back to school, changing jobs, moving to a new place, or learning a new skill.  They step out and find that taking that next step is hard.  In fact, they might experience failure in their first attempt.  I am impressed that Diana Nyad failed to finish four times and then tried one more time.

Life often requires resilience, tenacity and grit.  Taking the next step will often be “easier said than done.”  OK.  Most things worth doing are difficult.  Yes, I pray and I prepare.  However, there are times when you attempt to take on a task and it just doesn’t go well.  Do I have the resilience to push through even when I want to quit?

You never are too old to chase your dreams.

Think about this one.  We hear so many negative messages regarding age.  Some people go on and on about being old.  No, I am not talking about people in their 90s but people who are decades younger.  Yes, I realize that some people have physical limitations related to aging that might prevent them from certain sports or other activities.  However, some people talk about age as if there was little to look forward to.  Yet, I think we were meant for more than to sit in a recliner for the remainder of our lives.

Nyad is right.  One never is too old to chase one’s dreams.  Far too many people shut down way too early.

It looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team.

She is speaking about swimming, but this is also true about life in general.  We need others!  We need the prayers of one another.  We need the input and counsel of others.  We need to learn from others.

Far too many of us get to a point in life where we think we have got it down.  We stop growing, learning, and developing.  We become stuck in what we have learned in the past and stop stretching.

We need others!  We need others who will come alongside us, as well as people who are somewhat ahead of us.  Of course, we also need those who may find their encouragement through us.

I don’t plan to swim great lengths.  However, I do plan to think more about these three statements.  Right now, I find them very encouraging.


Which one of Diana Nyad’s three statements means the most to you?

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

startnow8norAre you part of a difficult church?

How Pastors Survive a Difficult Church.”  Thom Rainer interviews Chris Bonts.  This is an insightful interview that many people who have served in congregational ministry will identify with.


Suggestions for long-term travel” from Lonely Planet.  I found several of these suggestions particularly helpful.


Very interesting piece by Malcolm Gladwell.  “Complexity and the Ten-Thousand-Hour Rule.”


Scot McKnight posted this fine article on my former professor, Dr. Everett Ferguson.  Ferguson is an outstanding scholar and a fine man.


Anderson Cooper’s outstanding interview with Antoinette Tuff concerning her interaction with a shooter in an elementary school.