Archive for June, 2014

Sabbatical

Posted: June 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

Sabbatical – from the Greek (sabbatikos), Hebrew (Sabbat) = basically a rest.  God told the children of Israel to let the land rest every seven years for one year.  The Sabbath, is to rest.  In the educational world a professor can take a year sabbatical every seven years for further study in their field.  So a sabbatical is a rest, but not just a rest for rests sake.  It is a rest from normal daily activity to focus on further study to be better prepared to teach and lead in the future.

A pastoral Sabbatical is for rest from daily activities creating time to draw aside for study, prayer, get clear vision and be better prepared for the next phase of ministry.  Some may not understand a pastor taking a sabbatical, probably because they think a pastors job is to preach on Sunday and be at the hospital when babies are born and do funerals.  Honestly, the larger the church the more complex a pastors responsibilities become.  Pastoral duties reach and scope go far beyond Sundays.  They are on call 24/7, give leadership to every phase of ministry, have many administrative responsibilities and then be ready to counsel when someone needs help.  Some of these task are very emotional and draining.  A pastor has to take on the roles of Prophet, Priest and King to lead a congregation, which translates into the roles of teacher, leader and caregiver.  Few jobs require the many roles a pastor must perform, therefore the stress can be enormous on these servants.  All of this plus living in a fish bowl carries a heavy toll for ministers and their families.

At riverwoods we are writing into our policies a mandatory yearly sabbatical for our pastors and assistants with length based upon time served and experience.  They will start with two weeks and increase an additional week each year until they reach 5 weeks (preferably taken during the summer).  We feel this is healthy for the leaders and the church.  So, pray for our leaders when they are on sabbatical that God will renew, strengthen, increase vision and speak to them, so, that when they return God will speak a fresh message through his servants.  My next post will be on how a church should respond while a pastor is on sabbatical.

Fickleness

Posted: June 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

A recent situation reminded me of how fickle people (Christians) can be, and maybe not even know it. A person was publicly praising their pastor (for which they should) but the strange thing, this person had a couple other pastors over the last several years; and of course, they were praised as well. People rise up and down like a cork on the sea, and tossed about by every wind (Eph 4:14). People are not only fickle about leadership but also about their relationship between them, the Lord, and the church. If the church provides for every need, or doesn’t offend them, they are happy. Let the first thing come up and they walk away from the Lord and His church, staying away for months, years, if not forever.

People treat church like a date, rather than marriage. Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Eph 5:25). People can be crazy about a church in a fleshly way, like the latest restaurant, new place in town, newest song, or some other fad. Charles Spurgeon said “The first to greet you when you get on the train, are the first to wave goodbye when you get off”. God is not looking for daters he wants people to commit. An old judge I knew, who hung out around the funeral home I worked and lived at while attending mortuary college, asked me while on a return visit, ‘Did, I hear about Bruce?’ I said, ‘No, what?’ he replied ‘He committed marriage!’ As if he had committed murder. What he meant, was that Bruce had gone all in. God is looking for some people to go all in, even if it means our life. Fickleness has no place in the walk of a Christ follower. That’s the problem we have created believers and not followers. Yes, you have to believe to become a follower, but you don’t have to be a follower to become a believer (according to today’s theology). Jesus said if anyone wants to become his follower they must pick up their cross daily.

Fickleness leads to instability in all areas of our life. We need wisdom because a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is tossed and blown by the wind, and such people should not expect to receive anything of the Lord, their loyalty is divided between God and this world, and they are unstable in everything they do (James 1:6-8). Have you committed? Christ gave His all!

Establish a Base

Posted: June 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

As a pastor of thirty years and dealing with people with various struggles and backgrounds it has become clear that most people do not have a solid base.  People often respond to life’s situations from emotions, personal thoughts, own desires and skewed perspectives from others.  The scripture should be a Christ follower’s starting point.  Often times, when people are in a difficult place they contact and talk with friends or anyone for that matter, looking for help.  I think they are hurting and just wanting to share their story, and that is ok if they just need someone to listen.  If they are wanting counsel some discretion must be used, because counsel is only as good as the counselor.

When looking for help start with the scripture.  Most issues can be solved by simply doing what the bible says.  We get into trouble when we want to live our life apart from God’s word.  The base for Christ follower’s is the WORD, accept it, believe it, put it into practice.  God wants us to have a fruitful, joyful life and He has instructed us in the word how to find that peace.  When we try to live our life as we please, it leads to difficulty, depression and destruction.  Decide today that God’s word trumps everything and no matter what comes, or the flesh wants, you will be a Christ follower.  A Christ follower is someone who with a solid base of following God’s word, 24/7, 365, not just on Sunday.  We cannot separate our secular and spiritual life!  Does this mean we will be perfect, absolutely not, but it does mean the direction of our life is in accordance with the written word of God.

My coaching tip for today is establish a base of God’s word at your core and then live life from that base.

Honest Need for Renewal

Posted: June 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

As I start my Sabbatical renewal is my goal.  I have not blogged in a long time, primarily due to lack of time and energy.  Late 2013 and 2014 have brought on challenges that have proven to be tools for growth in my life.   I hope during this period of rest and reflection I can internalize what God has been trying to create in my life.  Submission is my goal once I clearly understand His plan.  I have two verses on my heart as I enter this time of rest;  (Psalm 51:10) “Create a clean heart in me, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.”, (Psalm 46:10) “Be still and know that I am God.”

The urgent has taken over the best in my life.  I haven’t set personal goals for 2014, which is catching up with me.  I find myself struggling for direction and having a plan.  Being a visionary and forward focused person, not having a clear understanding of my next move creates angst internally.  During this time of rest I plan on getting alone with God and renewing my heart and spirit.  I need renewal and revival!  Hopefully God will speak clearly granting new direction and vision for the next phase of my life and ministry.

Glad to be blogging again. Hope my honesty helps you.