When You Feel Insignificant

billboard_DiscouragedFeeling insignificant?

I am writing this to you.

You may be a preacher or a minister in some role in a remote area. Or, you may be in an urban area but you feel alone and isolated. There are days when you ache with loneliness. To make matters worse, some of your minister friends talk about getting together regularly with others with a kindred spirit. You are certain they have no idea what this kind of isolation is like.

Perhaps you are an elder. You had hopes and dreams of making a impact. You thought you might have the opportunity to address matters that might make such a kingdom difference. However, the group continues to gravitate toward the trivial. You come home from meetings tired and worn out. You didn’t agree to endless discussions of things that are small and inconsequential.

“Poppy, Can We do Something Fun?”

Brody:RalphI am on the campus of Harding University (Searcy, Arkansas) this week.  This is their annual Lectureship. Christians from across the country have gathered. There are a variety of classes, keynote presentations, etc. I spoke yesterday and tomorrow will gather with others at the Harding School of Theology luncheon.

Monday morning, Christine (our oldest daughter)and her two sons, Brody (four years old) and Lincoln (four months old) were walking across the campus.  At one point, Brody said to me “Poppy, can we do something fun?”

Just as he said this, four students walked by. They appeared to be on their way to the library. They smiled when they heard his words. I said to them, “That does sound like a good idea doesn’t it?” They were still smiling but said nothing. However I sensed they were thinking, “I too would love to something fun right now!”

Ministry Inside.140

erasing-your-VP-mistakesI’ve made mistakes.

Actually I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I do continue to learn.  Recently I was thinking about some of the mistakes that I’ve made that I’m aware of and have tried to grow from.

I have identified five mistakes that I’ve made through the years.  I have attempted to address each one, though I sometimes still revert back to a few of these.  Perhaps you will identify with one or more of these.

1. Far too often I have focused on what I was unable to do instead of what I was able to do. As a result, at times I think I spent far too much time thinking about my limitations instead of my opportunities. Some of my energy was wasted on what I often had no control over instead of what I did have control over.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start1Inspiring Story

See “Homecoming Queen Shares Her Crown With Her Friend Who Was Victim of Bullying.”  This is really inspiring.

Great Quote

“Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”  (Steven Pressfield)


See “10 Daily Habits that Will Actually Make You Smarter.”  I like to read lists like this one occasionally.  This is a reminder to think about my daily habits.

A Great Series

This is a series that I don’t miss!  “How I Work.”  See the most recent post “I’m Steven van Wel, CEO of Karma, and This Is How I Work.”  I generally discover a new tool in this series.

Questions for Leaders

See Michael Hyatt’s post “20 Questions to Ask Other Leaders.”  Whether you choose to ask these particular questions or not, I found it particularly helpful to see a least of questions that one leader chose to ask another.

Tim Keller

See Tim Keller’s report “Differently the Same: Redeemer’s Next Twenty-Five Years.”  Tim Keller is a thoughtful Christian leader who makes me think.




Ministry Inside.139

funeralOn Thursdays, I generally write a post for church leaders.  Much of the time, however, this is applicable to Christians in general.

I have done many funerals.  These funerals have been for infants, older people, and all ages in between.   I done funerals for those who died after a slow, lingering illness. I have done funerals for those who died suddenly in an automobile crash.

Years ago, I taught an undergraduate class called Christian Ministry.  As a part of the class, students would tour a funeral home.  A funeral home director would explain everything that would happen with a family in the home.  Students would see the casket selection room, the preparation room, and the chapel.  In the chapel the director would give some suggestions regarding funerals.

The following are eight suggestions I want to make regarding funerals.

Maybe you will find one of these helpful.

Don’t Assume Anything

check-your-assumptionsMy friend said many years ago:

Assumptions will kill you!

My friend was right!  Be careful about assumptions.

1.  Don’t assume I understand what you haven’t explained clearly.  So often we assume that someone coming into our system (church, school, university, workplace) knows exactly what to do. So it is Sunday morning and everyone is talking about the great dinner that took place at the church building on Friday evening. You are not sure what they are talking about.  You are puzzled.  After all, no one mentioned this last Sunday morning.  Finally someone says “Oh yes, we do this every year.  This is our annual going back to school dinner.  No one says much about it.  Everyone knows all about it.”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week


See Shane Parish’s review “The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See.”  Find the review here.


Lately I have been listening to an excellent book “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.”  It is excellent!  You can find a summary (pdf) here.

Don’t Miss This

Golf pro Rory McIlroy  hits a shot which then land’s in a fan’s pocket!


See “5 Mistakes to Avoid When Introducing a Speaker.”  Those of us in churches, on Christian College campuses who regularly introduce speakers could learn something from this.  Far too often at lectureships, seminars, etc. we make the setting unnecessarily difficult for a speaker because of the introduction.

Ministry Inside.138

Every Thursday, I write with church leaders in mind.  Yet, this particular post probably speaks to many of us, regardless of how we serve.

Let’s think for a moment about self-consciousness.  

Man-Looking-in-MirrorWhen I was in high school (yes, this was a long time ago) a photographer came to our campus to take picture of our football and basketball teams.

There was a guy who was a receiver on our team who really seemed concerned about how he might look in a picture.  The photographer was going to take action shots. At one point, just before he began taking pictures of the receivers catching footballs, this particular receiver wanted to practice.  The quarterback threw him a pass (which he caught) and he immediately yelled to one of his friends, “How did I look?”

Many of us spend much time and energy preoccupied with ourselves.  We want to look good and can become more preoccupied with our image than the reality of our lives.  This self-consciousness comes out in interesting ways:

1.  A young father may spend much time and energy wanting to appear to be cool.  Consequently, his appearance receives more attention than his character.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start (1)The following are resources which I have read in the past week and found interesting.


Don’t miss this!  Kristi Hedges “Why Leaders are Poor Communicators.”  This is so true. Sometimes the worst communicators are leaders.


In the New York Times Pranay Sinha has written an opinion piece entitled “Why Do Doctors Commit Suicide?”


See Tierney Sneed’s article in US News and World Report “The ‘Leave it to Beaver’ Family Has Been Left Behind.”


See Lolly Daskal’s article “Accomplish Great Things at Any Age.”


Jane Scearce has posted these great tools!  “21 Simple Online Tools for Everyday Needs.”




How You Can Take Pressure Off Your Marriage

imsotiredYou are not responsible another’s behavior.

Yet, far too many Christian men and women believe they are responsible for the behavior of their spouse.

  • A young wife and mother regularly makes hurtful, cutting remarks to her in-laws.  Her husband defends her vigorously by talking on and on about what an amazing person she really is.
  • A man continues to have have problems with his employer.  He has had a variety of jobs in the last fifteen years.  Each one of these have ended in a clash with management. Meanwhile, his spouse tells their friends that he is so talented and smart but just can’t find an employer who will appreciate him.
  • A father repeatedly breaks promises to his children while he pursues his own pleasures and interests.  Meanwhile, his wife defends him to these children, telling them what an awesome father he really is.  Yes, these kids are confused.

Marriage can be difficult.  Yet, what heightens the difficulty for some is the belief that you must constantly defend, excuse, or justify your spouse’s behavior.

Here is the good news.  You are responsible for your own behavior.  Your are not, however, responsible for the behavior of your spouse.  Nor, are you responsible for explaining or justifying his or her behavior to others.