A Chuckle Then A Conviction

This morning I came across a scripture that my made chuckle a little. Every so often, God’s word makes you laugh.

The scripture is Hebrews 5:2 and it say’s

For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of people in the things relating to God, in order that he can offer both gifts and sacrifices on behalf of sins, 2 being able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and led astray, since he himself also is surrounded by weakness (LEB)

Even though we don’t have high priests anymore in the Christian Church, we do have pastors that serve the body similar to a high priest.

A pastor isn’t a job you just do. What does that mean? Anyone can fill a job role as a pastor. I know many people who are in pastor positions that are merely working because they were volunteers and they just filled a role that was vacant because the church didn’t want to search for a new candidate. But a pastor isn’t a filling position; a pastor is someone that has a calling from God to serve in the universal church.

As a pastor, I serve the church, whether it be the local church or the universal church. Though I am employed and paid by a church, they are not my employer because my employer is God and God alone.

God is my boss and leads my life. There were times when I thought I was in control, but God has proven time and time again that He orders my day. I must be obedient to that calling and respond accordingly.

What makes me laugh about this passage is that a pastor is called to handle with gentleness the ignorant and the weak. Oh man, I had probably a list of people that came to my mind when I read that passage, and I image the author writing these words with a list of people as well. And it just made me chuckle.

Then it hit me, how well do I handle the ignorant and the weak? I joke with people when they ask me if I would have been a lead pastor and I always respond with, “As a children’s pastor I get the blessing of when the immature show signs of maturity, as if I was a lead pastor, I get the curse of the mature acting with immaturity.”

That response always gets a chuckle and an “I know what you mean”reaction because the church is designed to a place for the weak to come and find rest. We deal with the ignorant the weak every day, and as a called pastor I need to better at showing gentleness to the people that serve. I can be bothered by their attitude, but I need to be gentle and continue to love on them so that they do not walk away from the faith that is already so fragile.

I need to continue to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

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Reflections Of Being A Pastor

This November, I am coming up on nineteen years since I first accepted a ministry position in a church. Sure it was a part-time ministry in a small city in a church that struggled to get fifty people in its doors on a weekly basis, but it was a start.

I remember accepting the job and trying to figure out what it means to be a pastor. I figured out quickly that PG-13 movies were not all created the same as the first two movies that I played was Austin Powers and Mickey Blue Eyes. I learned that my college student eyes are entirely different than a parent’s eyes.

I am surprised I even lasted the whole year, but it was a good paycheck, and I was very honored to have the chance of pastoring.

Since that time, I got a Bachelors, and Masters degree in ministry had a few kids and served for sixteen years in full-time ministry. I had many years of struggling trying to know what it means to a pastor. I am pretty good at theology, I am no theologian, but I can sniff out a theology that isn’t biblical. I can hold my own on debates with Mormons and JW’s. I still chew on tough scriptures especially ones in the Old Testament, but my hope and faith are still rooted in Christ.

But pastoring is still tough because pastoring goes beyond theological debates on original sin, predestination or theories on revelation. I have sat at bedsides of elderly faith men struggling in death and a young kid on life support where parents are holding on a hope of a miracle before they say their last goodbyes to their children. I have been in homes of people angry over the church’s decision on a non-essential issue but at the same struggle with a teenager who is confused about their sexuality and doesn’t know how others will treat them.

It’s easy to open the gospels and see Jesus pastoring the people around him. He was blunt with some and thoughtful with others. He was angry enough to make a whip and turning tables but also quiet enough to change a crowd by drawing in the dirt. But to practice Jesus pastoring is more difficult than it appears. Because I know for me, I’ve been blunt when I should have been more thoughtful. I have been quiet when I should have turned some tables over.

Pastoring is more than theology, it’s living and loving with the people God has called you to be with every Sunday. It is a calling that isn’t about tasks and chores to be done by Sunday Morning, but a calling that involves your whole life.

I am not perfect, I have made mistakes. Thankfully there is forgiveness and grace from God.

To be an effective pastor, I need to know the hope that I have, and I need to follow Jesus in my everyday life so that people, whether they attend my church don’t, can meet Jesus through my life.

Hopefully the next nineteen plus years I continue to grow as a learner of faith but also more as a pastor that is closer to Christ.

Creative And Active Activities for Psalm 91

Creative Activity

Prepare: Have kids sit in a line. Starting with the back of the line, have a volunteer, use only their finger, to draw a simple object on the first kids back. The kid that was “drawn” on will then draw on the person in front of them, what they think was drawn on them. And continue to the front of the line where they will try to guess what they believe to be the object. Have the front go into the back and do it all over again.

Objects: Cloud, flower, star, heart, Christmas tree, diamond, letter of the alphabet

Talk about: Psalm 91:2 say’s ”I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Could you trust the person behind you? Why or why not?

Though we can’t see God, nor know what He is doing in our life, we can always trust God. He is our fortress, our rock.

Active Activity

Prepare: Divide the kids into two teams, or have the kids versus the teens. Each team will take a turn building and a turn destroying.

Objects: table, blocks (larger the better), bean bags, timer

Do: We are going to play a game in rounds. The first round, Team A will build the most reliable fortress they can in 2 minutes. When time is up, Team B will have one throw per person to knock down as many blocks as possible. Then we will switch, as Team B will build and Team will knock down. Team with the most blocks at the end of the two rounds will be victorious.

Talk about: Psalm 91:2 say’s ”I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Could you trust the building structures you made? Why or Why not?

Though our buildings will fall, our God will stand forever. That is why we can trust in Him!

Take Hold of Your Schedule and Stop Being So Busy

Growing up during the big technology boom of the 90’s, people either lamented about robots taking over the workplace or praised that technology was going free up more time. Well, it’s been over 20 years, and we haven’t been overrun by our robot overlords, and it seems we have less time than ever before.

Even though, technology has helped us in many ways in time-management (like easier calendar integration or easy access to social interaction), and we are running around more often to fit in everything in our 24 hour allotted time that God has given us.

Why?

I think, especially in the U.S. culture that it is taboo for us to be lazy. I think it even goes as far as the appearance of laziness, is just as bad as being lazy. Why do I think that? Well, for one we like to tell people that we are busy, even if we had a relaxed week. Think about. When you are chitchatting with someone on Sunday morning, and if you ask them how was your week, the usual response is one simple word. “Busy.” Where they busy? I don’t know, but saying, “busy” is an acceptable answer in our mind.

Busyness is a problem in our society. It makes us more stress; we lose more sleep and depletes motivation. But I think the biggest problem of busyness is the affect it has on the family, especially children.

Gone are the days of just hanging out with the family on a Saturday morning or eating at the dinner table. Hopefully, in the next ten years, it will change but as of today 2014 it is insane. I have seen families pull into their driveway, run in the house with school clothes and run out with sports clothes. I have seen families sprint out of church, to make their next appointment. Everyone has that speed walking stroll that you would normally see in mornings at the mall.

Maybe instead of being busy, we should be a little more relax. How bad would it be to tell your children, we are taking a season off from sports? How bad would it be, to take a stay-cation, to sit back with the family to eat pizza, play some board games and have a day to relax at the place you pay the bank to stay in?

I want you to look at your life and your calendar. Before school starts take a giant red pen and ink out a couple of days where nothing will happen that day except to relax and have fun as a family. Then on Sunday morning, when someone asks you, “How was your week?”, you can say “Great because I spent a day with family at home.” You will be surprised by the reaction, and most people will say, “I wish I could do that.” Well, guess what, anybody can as long as you are intentional.

Take hold of your families schedule and be intentional in taking breaks for your family.

4 Lessons For Youth Ministers

I read a blog a couple months ago titled “4 Manly Lessons from the Minor Leagues” on the website artofmanliness.com. After I read the blog post, I thought it applied wonderfully to a youth minister as well. Instead of reposting it, I decided to do a little remix on those lessons, but applied them directly to youth ministry.

Lesson #1 Find a Routine

There are a log of small stuff random things a minister deals with on a weekly basis. Our jobs usually have a few big events (youth group, small group, etc…) through the week, but many times we are dealing with small things like email, social networking, copies, cleaning youth room afterwards.

In order to stay on track easier, it is important to have a routine in your schedule. You need to establish office hours. Yes, students are in school, but their parents are not. If you have a regular office schedule, parents will call you then, if not they will call you at home. Have regular hours.

During your office hours, you need to fill in your week’s calendar. The first 30 minutes of my work week, I start off with a spreadsheet, and I will fill in the already planned moments. For me I have school visits, staff meetings, local minister meetings, lunch breaks, and home. Those are nonnegotiable, unless tragedy happens then you need to be flexible. After those are filled in, I start filling those slots up with items on my to-do lists.

Now you have a solid week’s schedule and parents will know when to call.

Lesson #2 Remember the Fundamentals

After being in the same ministry for a long period of time, you can easily start forgetting some core fundamentals of youth ministry. Every list is different, but here are my fundamentals. Pastoring, counseling, adolescent development, administration, disciplining, evangelism, and teaching. These things are not an exhaustive list, but these are the areas that for us to be reminded and remembered so it can be more regular in daily ministry.

Lesson #3 Work On Your Weakness

Currently, I am working on being a more comforting person. It is a weakness of mine and lately it seems I am doing more of it. When you work with young families, you will deal with a lot of issues and stresses. Recently, I realized after talking with someone that I felt I did an inadequate job, so instead of saying “Well I am not gifted at compassion,” I decided to study more on the subject. Will I ever be the greatest comforter? No, but I can be better.

Lesson #4 Stay Positive

Ministry breeds negativity and it can be easily burdened by another’s choice of being a grouch. You will make people upset, and they will be upset for invalid reasons, but also valid reasons. But you can choose to either sink to their level or rise above it.

To stay positive, focus on the successes that have happened in the past. I have a “Happy Folder,” where I kept mementos of the good times. Also look at the successes today, you will have students who are serving in the church and you should feel proud that you were part of that reality.

If you are looking at ministry for the long-haul, than be diligent in your routines, remember the fundamentals, work on your weakness and always stay positive.

10 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend | The Art of Manliness

This was a great post by Brett and Kate Mckay at the blog Art of Manliness about grieving. I know as Youth Workers, we are not the best at pastoral care. If you don’t want to read, you can check my highlighted notes here
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Here are my favorite tips

  1. Don’t try to divert them
  2. Don’t be afraid of causing tears.
  3. Get them out of themselves.

10 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend | The Art of Manliness