What Do You Think?

coffee.jpgI am considering adding a page to this blog that will especially focus on some special needs for ministers/pastors/church leaders, etc.  What I have in mind is sort of a "First Aid" page.  (Such a page is not going to be "heart surgery" or a transplant.  I’m just not sure that a radical overhaul can be expected on a page of a blog.  Such a page will have limitations.  However, I really think that most ministers just need a nudge or two in the right direction.)  

Many people in these roles get into trouble and often need some direction or encouragement.  I do not think that a blog can replace real flesh-on-flesh relationship.  Many times we would like to talk with and just be with real people.  (I suppose you could take the expression "real people" in several different ways.)

I do think that a page might be useful by providing resources, offering a perspective, and planting a seed thought or two that might help someone get unstuck.

A few questions:  What do you think might be particularly beneficial to ministers who need help?   As you think about the trouble that pastors can get into (i.e., about to be fired over performance issues, immorality, dishonesty, laziness, family troubles, etc.), what especially concerns you?  What do you think might be of particular help to those in various church leadership roles?   

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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33 thoughts on “What Do You Think?

  1. You have a great idea in the works here, brother. I believe my life would be blessed by it.
    Your recent "If I Could Start Over" series is a great start. It would probably be valuable to  explore and expand each topic in this series. I’d like to read what you write about "The Seven (or Seventy-seven) Deadly Sins of Ministers."
    You will be in my prayers.

  2. Pornography, Lust, Balance, Marriage, Accountability, Health…..Is is just me (I’m fat by the way), doesn’t it seem a bit out of place for there to be fat preachers? Just a thot.

  3. I would recommend two things initially.  First, I believe every minister needs to have a mentoring relationship with another minister.  I meet with a fellow minister every Thursday for lunch and we tend to keep each other on track.  There is nothing off limits to our discussion and that keeps me in focus in my work, my walk, and my relationships.  Secondly, I am convinced that every minister or leader needs to take a regular sabbatical.  Nothing more than a few days, but regular none the less.  It is not to be considered a vacation, but a time for re-focusing, re-thinking, and re-tuning.  If we ran our cars like we do our leaders none of us would make "100,000 miles". Unfortunately our own Fellowship has never thought too highly of this process but it needs to be done.

  4. Jim,
    Great idea and very much needed. What i have found useful is things like:
    .How to deal with confrontational issues
    .Where to turn when you need a friend that understands your role as Pastor/leader
    .Web links to resources
    .Ministry and marriage
    .Teaching on vison, purpose, and plan to move your ministry forward or in a different direction from where the ministry’s been
    .Personal accountability in  ministry- the do’s and don’ts of ministry
    .Realistic expectations in ministry-how do I know if the expectation I have for my people or their expectations for me are realistic?
    That should keep you busy for a while man! If you need some more down the road, let me know-I have plenty!! LOL!

  5. Jim, My observations are just that… They may not match anyone else’s observation. I am concerned that "confession" is a seldom experienced reality for many "pastor" types. It just seems too dangerous! I’m blessed to have been taken there by some men who have woven me into their "confession" lives. I’m also concerned that "prayer" other than meals, formal occasion and "grass-fire" praying (someone catches you with a need) is pretty limited among many of our people. We were taught how to "stand", "start", "stop", etc., but few were mentored in a life of prayer. Do you suppose the God of Israel would respond to us (2 Chronicles 7:13-14) as he promised to respond to them? I suspect that serious life-changing involvement in these two areas would revolutionize the world… much less the lives of our servants. Perhaps some focus here…

  6. I think a common issue for many pastors is a sense of entitlement.  This shows up in various ways… from "I’ll take this ream of paper home for my kids project (since I’ve spent so much time away from home and the church owes me)" to "I’ll steal an extra hug from this attractive woman (since I’ve been ministering to her and can get away with it)." 
    I wonder if this is where King David went wrong… and then Nathan slapped him on the hands in loving rebuke.

  7. Jim,
    I really like your idea. Perhaps you could invite ministers to propose topics of discussion for this blog. When you and I met a couple of weeks ago, you let me ask pretty much whatever I wanted to ask. That was helpful to me.
    Another idea…guest bloggers. You’ve got connections. You could ask Lynn Anderson, or Grady King, or Randy Harris…to address certain topics.
    I appreciate you for thinking about the needs of other ministers. Thanks.

  8. Jim, I think the kinds of topics already shared in other comments are the ones I have been thinking of. 
    I am wondering if there is a way to provide some "how to" resources for ministers. Drawing from your experience and contacts could you assemble some names of people or places who specialize in specific areas.  Perhaps a person or facility to point someone to if they are struggling with intense sexual addictions; a group if they are struggling with internet pornography; a monastery or hermitage for developing the practice of silence and solitude; names of spiritual directors to walk alongside us in our faith journey etc etc…
    I think one of the dirtiest little secrets in ministry is how many of its practioners have such weak and struggling inner lives. But, who do you confess that to?
    I would love to see some concrete, go to people or places listed.

  9. Hi Jim,  You’ve been doing this all along, just mixing it in with everything else, which I think is good because for some strange reason a lot of our lives and ministries seem separated and distanced from "the real world."  (Is this a misperception?)  Some of the best feedback you’ve had on this blog about preaching has come from those in the pews who listen to us, put up with us, encourage us, etc.  I hope they will read this extra page and continue to comment.  Thank you for continuing to put so much time, thought and effort into this blog. 

  10. Jim, Lots of good comments! I want to strongly echo what Wayne, Tony, and Arlene said! I’m not a Minister, but I am actively involved as a leader in men’s ministry. As I read the comments my heart goes out to the isolation many ministers feel in their official position. With that in mind I think a strong emphasis on the spiritual disciplines, with links to other sites etc. would be good. Along with that, support outlets for pornography addiction. We all know the reality that this is a huge struggle for men. Ministers are no different. On the contrary, the isolation they feel probably makes it worse, along with the fact that satan will have you in his crosshairs. Hope this helps! Mike, Rowlett, TX

  11. Jim, you have shown a real gift to articulate relevant thoughts in a blog.  I’m underqualified to advise you.  I’d be interested in having a place to read or comment about the times when I feel frustrated with the ‘process’ of ministry.  Things like learning the ‘rules’ of getting things done in local churches can be exhausting.  Equally exhausting are the times when we fall into traps of arguing and wasting time on some issues which aren’t all that important compared to sharing the gospel with those who aren’t saved, helping people get reconnected with the Spirit, or getting members involved in ministry of their own.  It would be good First Aid to read encouraging words that help me refocus on the importance and joy of ministry.  No matter what you decide to do…I’m sure it will be a blessing.

  12. Wayne,Two excellent suggestions!  What a blessing to have this kind of friendship/accountability with your friend—and to do this weekly!Thanks so much.

  13. Joe C.Thanks for your list of suggestions.  Very good.  I think that many ministers can appreciate these possibilities.  Thanks so much for taking the time to write this.

  14. Wayne,Very good.  Two very good suggestions.  You are right–I don’t think most ministers have the opportunity or are in environments conducive to confession/accountabiity, etc.I also like what you say regarding the possibility of being mentored in prayer.  The thought of having a prayer mentor has such rich possibilities.Thanks Wayne.  I have fond memories of having a cup of coffee with you in Waco a few years ago. 

  15. Tony—Good one!  You have touched on something very important.  I am glad you mentioned this.  I think it has been a pull to many ministers. 

  16. Dusty,Good suggestions.  I have given the idea of guest bloggers some thought and I think it has some rich possibilities.  Please pass on suggestions for areas that you would like to see discussed or touched in some way.Sure enjoyed getting together with you a few weeks ago. 

  17. Arlene,I like your emphasis on providing something concrete and practical–resources, etc.Thanks for responding.  I value any suggestions that you have regarding resources. 

  18. Darryl,Thanks for your comment.  You remind me of the importance and value of continuing to "mix it up" on my blog.  I am glad you read this and contribute through you comments. 

  19. Hi Mike (Patterson),Thanks for echoing some of the other comments.  It reinforces what I am sensing (in terms of needs/interests).The isolation issue is a big one.  I’m glad you mentioned it along with porn.Thanks Mike.

  20. Jeff–Underqualified?  No.  You helped me with your comment.  I like the things you mentioned.  The frustration of trying to figure out how to get things done in a church.  Not to mention the exhaustion that goes with ministry when there are those around you who are content to argue about whatever, while the mission is ignored.I appreciate what you said also about finding value in hearing about the joy and delight of ministry.Thanks very much Jeff. 

  21. Jim -I always enjoy your blog posts, but this one is outstanding and you have gotten really great responses from it showing how great a need there is among ministers for help.I pray some of these ideas will come to pass and that many of you will be uplifted and helped to be better servants in the Lord.Much love,Dee

  22. What about the burden of shepherding?  Just as I hold that every Christian counselor should be in counseling as well, since only someone in process and walking with God in the healing of their own heart is able to offer that to others, so too should pastors be pastored by others.  Their hearts matter too, and the spiritual health and direction they offer is proportional to the amount they are receiving from others in fellowship.  Which is why I love your idea for a page to offer encouragement and direction for ministers.  It is needed in a big way.

  23. I think pastors often need help with the basics of understanding and working with people – how to lead people rather than drive them, how to establish trust and credibility as a pastor before pushing a new ministry agenda, how to live out authentic faith alongside our people. These vital issues are not part of the traditional seminary curriculum. I think these skills are best learned in mentoring relationships. Perhaps your page can serve as a surrogate mentor for pastors who are going it alone. Thanks for caring!

  24. Drew,Good suggestion.  What you are saying is very true.  Knowing how to work with people is critical to getting anything done in a church.  Or, maybe another way of coming at this is to think about the importance of authentic relationships between ministers and the rest of the people in the congregation.You’ve been helpful. 

  25. Brian,Very, very true.  I like your comparison between counselors and those who serve in congregational ministry.  Thank you. 

  26. Jim,
    I too think you do a great job on your blog – always thought provoking and encouraging.  Maybe it is just me as a new member of the preaching community, but i would love to dialogue on how to lead a church, how to encourage and challenge our shepherds, and how to connnect and build relationships outside of the brothers and sisters in the church.  I catch myself spending way too much time working on sermons, classes and talks and not enough on modeling the type of ministry that Christ modeled. 

  27. Brad,These are excellent thoughts.  Your observation about time is one that I relate to.  I have struggled with this issue as well.  Your other suggestions are very good as well.  Thanks for this.