Tag Archives: Ministry

So, you want to be a pastor?

With so much being posted on social media these days, even those in ministry have available to them a plethora of helps, lists, and general advice from experienced clergy folk.

Much of what is shared on Facebook and Twitter are written by the “pro’s” in ministry research like Thom S. Rainer, or long-time veterans of ministry like Joe McKeever. What rarely gets shared are articles and posts written by ordinary guys like me – probably because we aren’t professional authors or researchers.

Well, I want to share some helpful hints from an old-school, bi-vocational, small-church, in-the-trenches pastor with no access to research teams, only personal experience, and some common sense (but Logos software doesn’t hurt).

Hopefully, you will find the following 10 points helpful.

10 Words of Wisdom for Those Entering the Pastorate

  1. Get a biblical education. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if the school is only a rag-tag, non-accredited hole in the ground, get an education from someplace that will teach you how to study the Bible by making you study the Bible. Those who call a seminary a “cemetery” are nothing more than illiterate bigots who should be avoided – unless you want to show them how to get saved.
  2. Listen to your wife. I know, sometimes wives have actually been the reason men have left the ministry. However, a good, godly wife will offer you insight that no one else can. She really does have an intuition that sees what our eyes can’t. She is also going to be the only one in the church you can trust 100%
  3. Don’t think every sermon needs to be alliterated. Guys, not every sermon is best delivered with four points, all alliterated with a certain letter or phonetic sound. Sometimes the best way to outline your sermon is just go with the way the Scripture leads.
  4. Be a sheepdog. Do whatever it takes to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to protect not only those in your church but your own family. Be prepared to fight – literally – for those you love. Always be on the lookout for wolves in sheep’s clothing, especially sexual predators. Believe me, I wish I’d prepared better.
  5. Draw your lines in the sand early on – the earlier the better. Don’t wait for church trouble to draw your lines in the sand. Don’t wait until you are in a struggle with disagreeing leadership before you say, “This is the way it’s going to be.” Start early by saying that…be the thermostat, not the thermometer.
  6. Learn to preach without notes. There’s going to come a time when you need to preach and you won’t have time to prepare an outline. There is going to come a time when you are asked to preach a funeral or a revival service, and all you will have is your Bible. Read it…learn it…know it…and be able to preach from it without a man-made crutch.
  7. Check your pride. The day you go up to the pulpit all cocky, that’s the day you will be an utter failure. Ascend to the “sacred desk” with your knees shaking under the weight of the seriousness of what you’re doing and you will come down humble, but confident God’s Word will not return void. As long as you are humble and dependent on God, that’s when even the most basic of sermons can shake the foundations of hell itself.
  8. Don’t grow too dependent on technology. Men, there may come a day when we don’t have the internet, iPads, microphones, and projection screens. At any moment you could lose one or all of those things, so learn to prepare and to preach like the great warriors of the past – because history has a tendency to repeat itself.
  9. Love your family more than your ministry. You’ve probably heard it said before, but it’s true; your family is your first and most important ministry, not the congregation you serve. Don’t lose your wife or kids for the sake of any church.
  10. Never stop studying and learning. Even if you go to Bible school and seminary, never think you’ve learned enough. Always be learning, reading, researching, and studying. If George Washington Carver could squeeze all he did out of the lowly peanut (to the glory of God), imagine how much you will be able to find if you keep digging deeper into the Holy Writ!

So, there you have it. Do you have some words of wisdom you’d like to share? Why not write them in the comment section below? I’m sure we all could benefit from our collective experiences.

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Filed under ministry, Preaching

A Heart Update (May 5, 2019)

I just wanted to share an update about my heart and other medical issues. 

As most of you who read this blog know, I had a heart attack a little over a month ago. That resulted in me receiving 2 stents and having to take a lot of medication – ugh!

Yesterday, I finished my first round of cardiac therapy – it wasn’t that bad, just a little trip to a nice gym where nice nurses and technicians treated me like an invalid and made me wear a heart monitor while I worked up a sweat.

I am scheduled to do therapy for two days a week, then up it to three. I may even get into shape when it’s all over!

Today I went to my cardiologist, endured a painful echo cardiogram, and, to be brief, got a good report. My heart is functioning just wonderful and there is no damage as a result of my heart incident. Hallelujah!

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, here’s the REST of the story…

I have a mass in my chest, just above my heart, close to the aorta. I will be having a PET scan sometime soon to find out if it is malignant. Regardless, because of the size and where it is, I am told it must be removed. If it is cancerous, it must be addressed sooner than later.

The only problem is that having any kind of surgery any time sooner than at least six months after a heart attack (and being on blood thinners) is a risky procedure and ill-advised. If I do have to have surgery soon, then it will require me having to be admitted to the hospital at least 5 days prior in order to be put on a drip to take me off of the Brilinta.

Nothing is easy anymore, is it?

But here’s the good news – yes, there is good news. The constant pain in my chest may be related to the mass in my chest, not my heart. Well, fact is, it’s NOT my heart! So, whatever the other thing is, once it’s removed, I will not keep having these pains that make me think my heart is hurting. That’s awesome!

Funny thing, though… the pain of the mass in my chest may have actually saved my life by getting me into the hospital to find out I was having a heart attack that I DIDN’T feel. On top of that, the heart attack may have opened the door to the early discovery of what could be cancer (hope not).

While I was in the waiting area waiting for the echo cardiogram to be done, I met an 85-year-old man named Hyman. To make a long story short, with the sweetest and calmest of temperament, he began to talk to me about life, his lack of worry, his marriage to his bride Rachael, and his life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. We had a wonderful discussion, which leads me to my final thought.

As I told the elderly saint in the waiting room, my wish is that people not necessarily pray for my healing, but for me to be a faithful witness of the love and grace of Jesus Christ while God allows me to endure whatever He has planned for me. Sure, I want to be healed, but I’d much prefer to be able to point people to Jesus.

As I told Hyman, sometimes, when the people in the hospital won’t go to church or seek after God, God sends the church to the hospital to be a witness for Him. When the hospital won’t go to church, He sends the Church to the hospital.

I appreciate your continued prayers… and pray for Rachael, Hyman’s wife. He really loves her. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Church, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Struggles and Trials

“I Ain’t Got No Man In My Life”

Context is everything

Just suppose you heard a beautiful and talented 27-year-old female bemoan, “I ain’t got no man in my life.” Now, consider that the woman saying these words was a bride-to-be on the television show Married at First Sight.

Would you feel sorry for her? Or, would you do as I have done and raise your voice to the screen of your television and say, “You’re only 27!”

For the record, my wife (and a couple of men I know) watch Married at First Sight, but I can’t stand that show.

But what if it were little boys who said, “I ain’t got no man in my life”?

Friday Conversation

On Friday, as I was transporting a bus load of children to their homes, I happened to ask the kids behind me, “Do you know what today is?”

“It’s Friday!” answered a young boy to my right.

“And what does that mean?” I asked.

“That means you ain’t got a job tomorrow, or the next day. . . You don’t get to work till Monday.”

“Well,” I responded, “that’s not exactly true. I have weddings to do tomorrow, and then on Sunday I preach at church, so I will be working every day.”

“Preaching ain’t work!” one boy replied. “Yeah,” said another, “preaching ain’t a job!”

“Well, they pay me to be their pastor at the church where I preach,” I said.

“Then if you get paid, I guess it’s a job,” replied one of the boys.

It is illegal for me to take pictures of children on the school bus, but there’s nothing illegal about me submitting an accurate and detailed artistic rendering, is there?

Who’s Your Daddy?

One of the boys behind me then said, “My pastor is my daddy,” to which I replied, “That’s cool!”

“Well, I mean, he ain’t really my daddy,” the 3rd grader said, “but my mamma told me I could call him Daddy.”

I nodded my head, looked in the student mirror above me, and replied, “OK, I guess that’s a good thing.”

That’s when this young boy said, “I ain’t got no man in my life.”

To which the two boys to my right and behind me said with a matter-of-fact tone, “I ain’t got no man in my life, either,” and “I ain’t got no daddy.”

My heart broke.

I held up my right hand and put my thumb and forefinger almost together and said, “Well, then, maybe I can be your ‘mini’ daddy on the bus.”

The little boy behind me then exclaimed, “Yeah! You could be my bus driver daddy!”

Making Application

As soon as the boy behind me told me I could be his “bus driver daddy,” the following words immediately – I mean immediately – came to mind . . . “A father to the fatherless.”

Now, when I began to think of the verse from which those words came, I had in my mind James 1:27, which described what “true religion” is:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.

“To visit the fatherless” wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it was close. I took the extra step to dig into the word “visit” and there I found that it means (my paraphrase): “to look at something with the intention of doing something.”

But then I found the source verse which takes the whole thought to a higher level. There, in Psalm 68:5, the Psalmist refers to God as . . . you guessed it . . . a “father to the fatherless.”

Therefore, when we allow God to use us, He can place us where our faith – our religion – can be “worked out” for the benefit of those in need. Pure religion, the real thing, is not simply a formulaic system of do’s and don’t’s that make us look holy; it’s an outworking of the character of God through us to those who need to know the love of God, their Abba Father.

HE’s the man they really need in their lives!

Remember this: For the Christian, there are are no “secular” jobs; every job is holy . . . every job is an opportunity for ministry. 

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6 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor When He’s Preaching

Other Guys

I know I’m not the only blogger in the world. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of great blogs out there, some of which I read on a regular basis – and others I avoid.

Two very popular blogs in Christian circles are those of Thom S. Rainer and Chuck Lawless. Both are famous for lists like Eight Characteristics of the New Bivocational Pastor” and “Things I’ve Learned about Corporate Worship.”

This Guy

Well, I’m not the “other guys.” My blog is not as professional; I’m not a seminary professor (only minorly adjunct) or a contributor to denominational publications; and I don’t do enough research to come up with new lists every day.

However, today this guy is in total “list” mode! The following is a list from which ALL of us can benefit.

Are you ready?

6 Ways You Can Encourage Your Pastor When He’s Preaching

  1. Feedback. Don’t just sit there like a knot on a log when your pastor is preaching; give him some feedback! Say, “Amen!” Wave your hand. Throw a hymnal at the pulpit. DO SOMETHING! How is he supposed to know he’s getting through to you if you just sit there silently with a blank look on your face? At least nod your head in agreement once in a while.
  2. Sit closer to the front. Look, if you were going to a concert where someone was singing that you wanted to hear, where would you sit – if you could afford it? The front row! What does it convey to the minister when you sit all the way in the back? Especially when you’ve already admitted you’re hard of hearing?
  3. Actually show up to church! Let me tell you, it really does encourage a pastor to have his congregation actually show up on Sunday morning. Sunday evening is even better!
  4. Get Your Sleep – At Home. Please, make sure that you go to bed on Saturday night at least by midnight. When a pastor sees you nodding off all he can think is, “I’m boring the snot out of that person,” and that is NOT encouraging.
  5. Pray. Try not to do it with your eyes closed (see the previous point), but pray for your pastor when he’s preaching. Let him know beforehand and afterward that you lift him up before God while he’s slugging away from the pulpit. Courage builds when one knows someone’s got his back.
  6. Put a $100 bill in his hand when you shake it. OK, that’s a stretch, I know. But hey, I won’t stop you if you feel the urge 😉

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OH! Do you know what would REALLY be encouraging? Leave a comment below! What would you add to this list?

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Perfection Not Required

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13

Looking for Perfection?

God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Yet sadly, within the church, there are many men and women who have felt inferior and useless because of sinful and broken pasts.

They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church.  

They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed before, but want to be forgiven and start new.  They are not the ones that look down on others for mistakes they’ve made. 

Genesis of Dysfunction

A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings.  Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective.  This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were!  There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame!

Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems.  At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes.  Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field.  When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But Leah replied to her, Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?”

“Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

Check this out…

  • Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
  • Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
  • Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
  • Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.

And there’s more!

  • Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
  • The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.

It just goes on and on.  Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!

Nevertheless,

God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  How is this even possible?  

If God can use Abraham and his family with all their problems to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!

 

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Filed under Abortion, abuse, Christian Living, Do not judge, Faith, General Observations, legalism, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, World View

Objectives for My Life

If a fruit fly was asked to submit a list of things he’d want to accomplish in life, it would probably be pretty short and sweet.

If he could write, it would go something like, “Eat, procreate, and die.”

I am not a fruit fly. Yet, back in 2012 while in seminary I was asked to provide a list of my personal ministry objectives. Wasting no opportunity, I wrote a blog post about them and even incorporated them into my resume (where they remain to this day).

But as I was reviewing them this morning, I realized they were points that defined something more than just ministry: they are my life!

Ministry (including preaching, teaching, counseling, etc.) is more than just a job, a career, or a chosen field of service; it is my calling, my personality, my way of life. It’s who I am.

The following “objectives” shouldn’t only describe the things I want to accomplish; they should be a description of the man God has molded me to be.

The only question, then, is how well am I being ME in the context in which I’ve been given?

When people say “Just be yourself,” it’s good to know who yourself is.

My ministry objectives:

  1. To bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ in all that I do,[1] and all I go through.[2]
  2. To “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine,”[3] and “to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”[4]
  3. To affect future generations yet to come as children are grounded, parents become responsible, singles are emboldened, and the aged get a second wind.[5] [6]
  4. To be known as a humble and consistent husband and father whose household serves the Lord;[7] [8] a forgiven sinner who understands grace;[9] and a fearless soldier of the Cross[10] who never compromises the truth.[11]
  5. To promote the preaching and teaching of the Gospel in every part of the world.[12]

Update: Literally, just minutes after I posted this, a friend sent out a group text (which I received) that included the following sermon by Tony Evans. Awesome.

http://subspla.sh/x7f9wq9

Confirmation 🙂


[1] Psa 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

[2] 1Pe 1:7 – That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

[3] 1Ti 4:13 – Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

[4] Act 6:4 – But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

[5] Jos 4:21-24 – And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What [mean] these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it [is] mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.

[6] Pro 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

[7] Jos 24:15 – And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

[8] 1Cr 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

[9] 1Ti 1:15 – This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

[10] Mar 8:34 – And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

[11] 1Ti 4:16 – Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

[12] Act 1:8 – But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

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It’s Time for Backbone (An Open Letter to Preachers)

This morning I watched a YouTube video in which Todd Friel (Wretched Radio) declared: “The problem with today’s preachers; nobody wants to kill them.” His point was that the reason preachers from centuries ago were imprisonned or killed was their determination to preach truth regardless the culture’s feelings. Too often our modern preachers and pastors are afraid of offending.

It is with that sentiment that I penned the following open letter. We need to love desperately, but without compromising our message.


Dear Fellow Preachers,

Now’s the time – it’s actually past time – for some honest-to-goodness, strong-as-steel, George S. Patton and John Wayne-like BACKBONE!

I don’t care if you’re Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Methodist, or whatever…MAN UP!! Stand in the gap! Quit being a politically motivated, crowd-pleasing, purse string-tying wimp and PREACH THE WORD!

Seriously, check out what’s going on in the world and what’s coming to America. Gentlemen, more than ever what we need now are some Elijahs, some John the Baptists, some more John Knoxs, some old-school Billy Grahams, some D. L. Moodys, etc. We need more men of God who know the difference between the Word of God and a motivational speech!

Don’t try to be popular. Don’t try to be “cool” and “hip” with the younger generations. Quit fighting over the styles of worship if your congregation doesn’t even know HOW to worship! Forget trying to become more “seeker-friendly,” and just SEEK THE LOST! The world is going to Hell and we are greasing the skids.

Be real. Be humble. Be yourself. Love your enemies. But for the love of God, pastors and preachers, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). In other words, take off the liberal mom jeans and put on some prophet-worthy overalls and get to work!

You’ve got the pulpit, so use it! PREACH!

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