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Many pastors have said that affirmation doesn’t come naturally for them, so they look to other more “naturally” encouraging leaders, hoping to unlock the affirmation code. Whether you are supernaturally gifted to encourage or not, we all need supernatural grace and discipline to grow in encouragement.
If you’re a pastor or church planter, then you know stress (2 Cor. 11:28). And if by some good fortune you are in a peaceful season, then you have folks in your church who are stressed. The pressures of life push in; the anxiety bleeds out.
At this very moment, you either need to care for your own stressed soul or you need to care for someone you know. So, we must understand the nature of stress and the way out of it.
Thankfully, Jesus speaks into our stress with profound insight.
3am. Startled awake. Can’t sleep. Wide awake.
Random pain didn’t wake me up. It wasn’t a rock thrown through our window (although that definitely happened a couple weeks ago). It wasn’t a storm raging outside.
A question had triggered a storm inside — Am I doing a good job?
Recently, during a sermon I was preaching, I made a passing reference to a Hebrews passage that appeared to resonate deeply with some church folk. It was one of those unforeseen moments when a Bible verse pierces the chaos of crazy-busy and taps the brakes so we can slow down and listen.
Elders should be pluralities. This is both biblical and practical. However, over the past few years I have grown discouraged when people mention pluralities but have little to say about ‘what’ the plurality will actually do. Usually, it’s a muttering about accountability for the lead pastor or working through a church crisis. The New Testament's guidance for how a team of elders should lead a church—as opposed to a sole individual—points to many more benefits than simply accountability and crisis management.
In my last post, we talked about the first two check engine lights that will help your elders build a healthier culture, and in turn model a healthy culture for your church. Now we turn to the other two cylinders.
The importance of converting a plurality into a team cannot be overstated. Like it or not, the culture of an eldership determines the health of a church. John MacArthur says, “Whatever the leaders are, the people become.” This is not to diminish the role of the Holy Spirit, biblical preaching, the priority of mission, or many other means of grace that shape the people of God. But without the agency of healthy pluralities, each of these can be quenched or curtailed.
As the elders go, so goes the church.
When a guy is drafted into the NFL, he is keenly aware that his future includes some serious pain. He knows the summer workouts will be hot and the coaches will grind him into the ground. He knows that opposing players are praying for the opportunity to slam him with violent force. He knows his ligaments will strain and joints will feel pain. As if that’s not enough, he’s aware that his biggest mistakes will be replayed by ESPN, as millions of fans wag their heads over his gridiron buffoonery.
No doubt about it: if a guy is going to succeed in the NFL, he must be ready for the occupational hazards.
A man pursuing pastoral ministry must also be keenly aware of the occupational hazards awaiting him.
The state of our soul involves many things. One of the most critical factors seems to be burnout. Many good people who know and believe good theology find themselves in tall weeds because of physical, emotional, and spiritual exhausted. Deep fatigue has left them vulnerable so that their souls are at risk.
Steve Childers, the President and CEO of Global Church Advancement, laments the way church planters wear themselves out. Church planters tend to be hard workers and overachievers, which often leads to unhealthy habits. They sacrifice their health for ministry. Although they seek to advance God’s kingdom through their hard work, they inevitably hurt the work by not being mentally and physically at their best.
Why do our compulsions exhaust us? The core problem which drives our compulsions is our struggle to deal with three exaggerated emotions—fear, shame, and guilt.
Many good men and women are emotionally, physically, and spiritually “fried.” Exhausted and facing chronic fatigue, they find themselves in the Southwest airlines commercial—wanting to get away. And fast!