Tag Archives: Encouragement

A Pastor’s Worst Day

Every once in a while I try to share some down-to-earth insight into the pastorate, or ministry in general. Granted, my perspective is limited, being I have only pastored smaller, bi-vocational churches; therefore, I can’t speak for all my brothers who lead larger congregations (200+).

However, some things are pretty consistent with those who regularly stand behind the pulpit (or beside a table, if that’s your thing). Many of the stresses are similar, as well as the spiritual battles we must fight. Whether the battlefield be small or large, our weaponry and armor are the same (Ephesians 6:10-18), and so is our adversary (1 Peter 5:8).

Therefore, all things being equal as possible, I believe Sunday nights – not Saturday nights or Mondays – are the worst times of the week for a pastor. The following are two excellent reasons why I feel this way.

First, the pastor is his own worst critic, especially right after the sermon. After a long Sunday, he may find himself looking back and wondering things like… “Did I give it my best?” “Was I used by God?” “Did I preach in my own strength?” “Did I pray enough?” “Why did God call me?” or, “How much does a truck driver make?” 

Any pastor who cares about his preaching ministry will concern himself, to one degree or another, with the proper exposition and delivery of his sermon. But if he gets no “amen’s,” sees no conversions, rededications, or even a few approving nods, it’s not going to be long before the poor man will question his abilities, maybe even his calling. A lack of visible response can take the wind right out of a preacher’s sails.

Seriously, stop and think about it. If you were to build a small, wooden toy, you could hold it in your hands when finished, admire it, nod with approval, and say to yourself, “Good job! Well done!” Clean a dirty kitchen and how do you feel? A sense of satisfaction, correct? But when a pastor is done preaching, more often than not there is nothing tangible to show for it, especially if there is little feedback; the “well done” will have to wait till later.

So, since the “job” is never done, and much of the fruit of a man’s labor won’t be recognized until eternity, it’s easy to be critical of one’s self. Sunday nights are when we can be the most critical.

Secondly, a pastor expends a lot of mental and spiritual energy over the weekend, especially if he works another job during the week and preaches more than one sermon on Sunday. Believe it or not, some pastors (especially bi-vocational ones like myself) never – yes, I said “never” – get a day off. By the time Sunday night rolls around, you’re looking at a physically and spiritually drained individual, and Satan knows it.

Therefore, because our enemy is not stupid, he knows the best time to attack us, and that’s when we are tired and vulnerable. He is far less likely to defeat a man of God while he’s charging into battle or waging a righteous war against the forces of darkness; it’s when he’s coming down from a spiritual high, or when he’s depressed and down over a perceived failure behind the pulpit, that the preacher’s at risk. No, our Enemy is sneaky and stealthy; he lurks in the shadows, waiting for just the right moment when our guard is down and our frailties are exposed.

So why do I share this? Not for your sympathy or pity, that’s for sure. As the lyrics of a song go, “It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room…It’s a fight and not a game,” so I am well aware of what I’ve gotten myself into (or, rather, what I’ve been called to do). The reason I share this is to encourage you to pray for your pastor…especially when the church services are over…when he’s tired…when the Enemy is most lethal.

Don’t wait until Sunday morning to pray for your pastor and his family.

Don’t wait until Saturday night to say a quick prayer that he’ll do “a good job” the next morning.

Start right now! Pray! Interceed for your spiritual leaders, for they watch for your souls and must give an account (Hebrews 13:17). Their challenges are unique, and the consequences of failure can be far-reaching and eternally catastrophic.

Brethren, pray for us. – 1 Thessalonians 5:25 

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Filed under Church, Depression, General Observations, ministry, Preaching

The Day After Father’s Day

Please forgive me if there are any grammatical or spelling errors in this post, but I am talking into my iPhone as I’m walking around in the rain (The seven can handle that kind of stuff, thankfully), waiting while a bus driver trainee is taking his test at the DMV. I had to bring a school bus down for him to test own, so I’m on the clock and writing a post at the same time. What do you think about that?

Anyway, today is the day after Father’s Day, and I wanted to share with you a thought or two that I had as I was standing in the rain.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, and I enjoyed preaching a great message that was very convicting for all men present, including myself. And I also enjoyed spending time with my daughters who I love very much. 

One of our daughters lives in Charleston South Carolina, so she’s not able to be here. But the other two were in church with me yesterday, and then later for a lunch which a church member graciously provided the money for. 

Last night we ate dinner at home, late, and that is when my two younger girls gave me the presents that they purchased (with their own money!). I have included a picture below.


My youngest daughter, Haley, procured for me the complete box sets of the first two seasons of the television program called “The Unit.” And by the way, that was a fantastic series of which I think they should have never canceled.

The other daughter, Katie, brought back something very unique from Norway. She found a wallet made from the skin of the Nordic moose! I don’t know how much she paid for it, but I know it had to cost more than something I would’ve gotten at Walmart.

After both presents had been opened, Haley asked a question which was very difficult, if not impossible to answer. She asked, “Which one is your favorite?” Now, I don’t know if she was being facetious, or if she was being serious, but my wife quickly answered for me: “That’s like asking which one of you he loves the most; he loves you the same, just differently.” 

This morning as I was thinking about the gifts my daughters got me, and the question Haley asked, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Cain and Abel. I couldn’t help but think of Sunday morning and our worship. I couldn’t help but think of how so often we wonder if God loves us more or less than someone else, simply because of what we have to offer. I thought about what it must be like to be God the Father – our Abba – after a Sunday has passed. 

One of those gifts cost a lot of money (relatively speaking), while the others probably cost a lot less. However, based on the means of each daughter, both were a sacrifice. In the same way, when we go to church to worship God, the gifts and offerings we bring may cost one person a lot more than it cost another. But who are we to judge whether or not those gifts that were given were sacrificial? We don’t know the heart of the child, nor do we know the heart of the Father. All we can surely know is that if the gifts were given out of love, then they are of equal value. More so, if the Father truly loves his children, which He does, there’s nothing that can compare to those gifts given by the children who love Him.

So, in conclusion, this is not only the day after Father’s Day, this is the day after Sunday. What gifts of love did you give your Father in heaven yesterday? I have no doubt they are giving him a smile today.

Happy day after Father’s Day!

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Filed under Church, God, Life Lessons, Love of God, Relationships and Family, worship

Flawed and Loved

Here’s another insightful guest post. I’m so glad God loves me, flaws and all!


Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover

“Duh!” “How Stupid!” “Dummy!” These words are the words that fly through my head when I’ve made a silly mistake.

I would never, ever talk to anyone else that way, but, for whatever reason, I feel quite free to berate myself soundly at any time or at any place. I simply cannot cut myself any slack – especially when I goof.

I would really like to blame my upbringing. Maybe my parents are the ones who turned this horrible voice on inside my head. No, it wasn’t them. They tried their very best to make me feel good about myself. This voice is one I developed all by myself!

“She’s just being kind.”  These are the words in my head when someone pays me a compliment. If someone says my hair looks nice, I run to the bathroom mirror to try to figure out what my hair has done with itself since I sprayed it this morning – didn’t look so hot to me then.  I love compliments, don’t get me wrong―it’s just that even if I was tempted to believe them, I probably couldn’t see what was worth complimenting. I mean really, my hair looks nice – um – must be something wrong with her eyesight! 

We’ve all probably heard that it takes 10 positives to outweigh one negative. I believe it.  If ten people complimented me on my appearance and one person looked straight into my eyes and said, “You look tired. Are you feeling okay?”,  I would run to the mirror to check out the tired eyes.

I don’t think I’m the only person in the world who looks for the flaws instead of the attributes when I’m evaluating myself. I’m trying to figure out how to stop it before it gets way too far out of hand.

The first step for me is to remember, “God didn’t make any junk.”  I’ve always known that’s true, especially when I look at my husband or my sons and their families. They are absolutely wonderful people and I’m so very proud of them. I need to remind myself that God created me, too. He loves me, even though I’m flawed.

The next step for me is to be as kind and gentle with my words to myself as I am to others. Have you ever tried to list five good qualities about yourself? I could list many more than that for the other people in my life, but to find five really good qualities about myself is a bit of a stretch. I’ll need to work on that.

The best step I can take is to trust that God has a plan for my life. He put me here for a reason or reasons that I may, or may not, get to know. If I stay focused on Him and His goodness, I won’t have too much time to worry about myself and my flaws.

The final step is to realize that the Bible is very plain about loving others as we love ourselves. Well, guess what? If I don’t have a healthy self-esteem, if I don’t value myself, how will I be able to value others? If I’m always looking inward at myself, how will I be able to hold my head high, look into the faces of the people God sends my way, and share with them all the love God has shared with me?

So, for today, my plan is to prayerfully focus on God and His mercy, treating each of His children, even myself, with the love He expects us to show.

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Filed under abuse, Depression, Guest Posts, Love of God, self-worth

Made Perfect in Weakness

A Note

A few years ago (2013) I received a note in the mail from one of my congregation. It was such an encouragement that I wanted to share it with all of you.

Dear Anthony,

You and our family are such a blessing to me.

Wednesday p.m. service was a comfort to me and I know from what three other people shared it was a comforting message they needed to hear, too.

I seems when you are most broken, weary, discouraged, Jesus and the Word pour through you in a powerful way, and we are touched.

Your prayer was like a shepherd interceding for his sheep. 

Thank you for always being so sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

I am blessed to sit under a man of God who teaches and preaches the true Word of God.

You are continually in my prayers…

You see, there are times when we find ourselves wondering if we are even making a difference. But even though we may feel like we are useless at times, the truth of Scripture rings true…

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Send your pastor a note of encouragement. I know he will appreciate it. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, General Observations, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, self-worth, Struggles and Trials

You Can Do What Through Christ?

Warming Up & Weather

It is a wonderfully blustery Wednesday afternoon as I write this on my own computer. However, because I do not have Wi-Fi or a wireless card on this computer, and the nearest place to plug in is too far away for the Ethernet cable to reach, I’m sitting here enjoying my own keyboard and creating a Word document to save on a flash drive, and then take to my wife’s computer which is connected to the world.

I know you didn’t need to know all of that, but I needed to warm up my fingers – I’ve been too long at the iPhone and iPad.

Storms are about to sweep through our area again, much worse than the lightening that came through yesterday. As of the moment of this writing, we are under a tornado watch and expecting straight-line winds of up to 60 mph, along with hail. That’s not good, but I guess it could be worse – Hillary Clinton could be coming to dinner.

So, before the power ends up going out, or at least before I end up having to shut everything down again, I am now going to share with you some thoughts I had yesterday, before my flash of brilliance (that’s call humor)was interrupted by a flash of lightening.

“I can do it!”

tim-tebow-si-coverHow often have you heard it proclaimed, especially by athletes and motivational speakers, “I can do all things through Christ”?  I’m sure you’ve probably seen Philippians 4:13 written on the sleeves and foreheads of runners; tacked on the end of messages to struggling college students; or heard from friends before you accepted that challenging new position.  For the most part, Philippians 4:13 has been used as a tool to soothe our fears of failure and encourage us to greatness, because, after all, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”

The only problem with using Philippians 4:13 is that the context has nothing to do with what most people want to accomplish. It has nothing to do with running races, lifting weights, saving relationships, getting promotions, or making money; it does, however, have everything to do with enduring hardship, pain, and unfair loss with growing faith.

In verses 11 and 12 the Apostle Paul stated that he had learned how to be content in all circumstances, whether poor or rich, hungry or well-fed, comfortable or uncomfortable. The “things” to which he was referring in verse 13 are anything but contests, races, jobs, relationships, etc.

So often we forget the struggles and trials our forefathers in the faith have endured. In chapter 4 in his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul was attempting to encourage a poor congregation, not a rich one. He was thanking God for their renewed financial support (v.10), while at the same time encouraging them not to feel guilty for their previous lack of support, because they had “lacked opportunity.” He was saying to them, “Hey, it’s OK! Really! God has taken care of me and met my needs. And even when I was in need, or pain, or suffering, the miraculous power of Jesus Christ has proved real in giving me the ability to be content, whatever the situation.”

But I need Jesus

I don’t know where you are in life, but I am trying to learn, as Paul did (v.11), how to be content, even when I don’t know where I’m going to be living in a month, how I’m going to see the little church I now pastor survive and grow, or whether or not we will be able to pay our basic bills, much less keep the cell phones going. The temptation is to fall prey to fear and doubt, to envy and lust, and to struggle against the current of His will, like a butterfly against a hurricane.

However, if I could just rest in Jesus, admit my frailties, and lean on Him, His grace is sufficient for me, and His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). It shouldn’t matter to my faith if the money isn’t there like it used to be, for “according to His riches” (Eph. 3:16) I will be “strengthened…unto all patience and longsuffering” (Col. 1:11).

Just remember, context…context…context!! Don’t use Scripture where it was never meant to apply. However, no matter what you do, remember the words of Jesus in John 15:5: “…for without me you can do nothing.”

Christ will strengthen the believer that puts his/her trust in Him, but only for the things He has called you to accomplish for His glory. If winning a gold medal, making your first million, or getting that promotion is part of the plan, then so be it; but don’t count on it.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, Theology

A Helpful Heave for Hump Day

Hump hill

It is Hump Day, i.e. Wednesday.

So, besides using the Paint program on my computer to draw an amateurish illustrative, I have creatively compiled a collection of encouraging encouragers which may help heave your heavy heart over Hump Hill.

10 Reasons to be Glad It’s Wednesday

  1. At least it’s not Tuesday.
  2. Going uphill works muscles you use all the time; going downhill works the other ones.
  3. Oh, Monday is now two days in the past!
  4. Wednesday night is prayer night at many churches. That means tonight you can finally vent and feel spiritual at the same time.
  5. If you’re reading this that means your power hasn’t been shut off. Yay for you!
  6. People don’t like you? That’s OK! The people still liked Jesus on Wednesday, and look what happened to Him by the time Friday rolled around. It’s Wednesday, but it could be worse.
  7. If you like Wednesdays, it’s only 7 days (or 6, depending on your time zone) till the next one! Yippee!
  8. Unless you’re using it as a metaphor for impending doom, or unless you’re brakes have failed, you just fixed your hair, or there’s a swarm of bees ahead, going down hill can be fun!
  9. It’s easier to coast on a bicycle and yell “Look Ma! No hands!” when you’re going down a hill, as opposed to peddling up it. Take advantage of the week winding down to lift your hands in praise!
  10. Sunday is that much closer! Hallelujah! Easter is almost here!

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Filed under current events, Easter, General Observations, Humor

In Every Thing…

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give Thanks

With regards to thanks, you have to give it for it to exist; being thankful is not the same thing as giving thanks. You can be thankful in your heart all day long, but you can easily offend someone by not saying “Thank you” at the appropriate time.

Thanks can be given in many different ways, but the fact is that it must be expressed in some way, not just felt. Say it with words, express it with a card, show it with a gift, or something. The whole concept of “giving” means it leaves you and goes somewhere else.

Every Thing

Note that it’s “every thing,” not everything. It may seem like an insignificant point, but it’s every little thing in particular – every situation, every circumstance, every joy, every pain – not an all-encompassing kind of thing we’re talking about.

You see, it’s easy for us to express a generic “Thank you, Lord, for everything,” but it’s much harder to be specific, especially when things are not going so great. Getting specific with our giving of thanks takes time, points out where we are not so grateful, and forces us to take stock of what we really have.

“In” 

We can focus on being thankful FOR every thing another time, but for now pay attention to that one little word “in.” It’s a simple preposition, nothing more. All it does is point out where you are. And it is “in” every thing that we are told to give thanks.

Are you going through a time of confusion? Give thanks to God for the wisdom and guidance He promises to those who ask!

Are you in pain? No, you don’t have to be thankful for the pain, per se, but certainly give thanks while you are IN pain. Thank God for His mercy and grace. Praise the Lord for His promise to never leave you or forsake you. Thank God for Jesus coming to this earth to suffer so that you could have a High Priest who knows how you feel. Thank Him for the reminder that one day there will be no more pain!

Are in a scary situation? Praise God and thank Jesus for being in your boat! Just think, you could be out on life’s troubled sea all alone, tossed by the waves, but you’re not! If the Master of the wind is the Captain of your vessel, you may get battered by the tempest, but you’ll never sink!  Give thanks for being able to witness the Voice of God speak peace IN your storm.

Remember, giving thanks IN every thing is the will of God IN Christ concerning YOU! Be obedient; give some thanks.

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Filed under Faith, Thanksgiving, worship