How Are YOU Doing?

How Are YOU Doing?

The above question is one that many of us in leadership and ministry find ourselves asking many times a day, in many different ways and to many different people. It’s a genuine caring question for those who are pastoring, coaching, counselling, and just simply encouraging others.

But, can I just ask - what about YOU. How are YOU doing?

We are living in unprecedented days with the everchanging restrictions and reactions to the continuing Covid-19 Pandemic. As we look to support, care for, and pray for others, it’s important we take time to check in with ourselves. How are we actually doing? Not the ‘I’m fine’ pat answer, but time to genuinely reflect on how we are? How are we coping? What are we feeling? How is our walk with God? Are we laying our burdens down or are they in fact weighing us down?

We can all be guilty of forgetting to self-care. Without even realising it, we can get affected by other people’s needs, worries or demands. Added to that is juggling the everyday pressures of our own lives – our family responsibilities, financial concerns, or feeling isolated from friends and extended family. There’s a lot to contend with.

We have shared various articles over the years about the importance of self-care. It’s a proven fact that none of us can keep giving out without getting replenished. We have a duty to ourselves to practice good self-care in all of the four main areas of life. 1- Spiritually, 2- Mentally, 3- Emotionally and 4- Physically. We need to take time to invest in our own wellbeing and part of that is to keep connected to and fellowshipping with other people.

The writer in Hebrews encourages us to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”( Heb10:25 NIV)

With that in mind, why not join us a week tomorrow (Saturday 24th) for our Annual conference – a landmark first virtual one!

As well as specially focused talks that are tailored to this time, we have guest seminars from mature and experienced pastors and pastors spouses – Maggie Lane and Kenny and Morag Borthwick.  They’ll be sharing as well as members of our own team. Together we are looking to build one another up. To bring focus and perspective to these difficult times from being firmly rooted in and trusting in God.

Delegates can also benefit from live interaction with a question panel as well as an opportunity to receive confidential personal prayer with our seasoned prayer team throughout the day.

Here at ESPS Ministries we really do care how you are doing. Come join us on the day, it would be wonderful to have you with us. And if you ever feel you would benefit from prayer or our listening ministry, then please do get in touch with us through our website.

Follow the link for conference details and how to register.

www.espsministries.org

4 Reminders When you Feel  Betrayed

4 Reminders When you Feel Betrayed

I was talking with a pastor who had been betrayed by someone in his church. He told him a secret in confidence and soon learned the friend had shared it with another, who, of course, shared it with another—who shared it with another—and you know the rest of this story. I was empathetic, but thought to myself, “Welcome to the world of leadership”. And it can be true even in Christian leadership.

If you’ve been in leadership very long you know what it feels like to be betrayed. It can come at the hand of one you barely know or someone you trusted.

I love that God provides us real life examples from the Bible of men and women who faced the same struggles we face today. I once wrote 4 Ways to Process Betrayal about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.

Then consider these thoughts from the life of David. “All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me.” —Psalm 41:7

David, the man after God’s own heart, had men who talked behind his back. They spread rumours about him. They maligned his reputation and character. He was the subject of gossip. People said things about him that weren’t true; probably some that were partially true, but stretched out of proportion to reality.

Have you ever been there?

Then consider what David says in verse 9, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”

David had been betrayed by someone he trusted completely.

Most likely you have also. Chances are good, if we are honest, we have been the betrayer and the betrayed. It could have been in a business deal, with a family member or even in a marriage. It might have been a misunderstanding or an intentional act of betrayal, but either way, it still hurt. You were tempted to get even, perhaps you held a grudge. Maybe you quit speaking to the person.

How should you respond in betrayal?

  1. Be confident in who you are, and who you are not.

You are not a super human. You are a man or woman. You have real feelings. You have emotions. You can be hurt. Don’t be surprised by your emotional response to betrayal. You will have to trust again, but you may be hurt again. That’s part of living among sinners like you and me. Give yourself time to process. Be honest about the pain. Don’t pretend it didn’t matter. It does. You were injured by someone you trusted – maybe someone you love.

  1. Be confident who others are and who others are not.

Don’t hold others to a standard they can’t live up to, but don’t allow them to control your reactions either. Others will let you down. Even the most well-meaning people will disappoint you at times. There may need to be consequences for other’s actions, but if you open yourself to betrayal by trusting others, which you will often have to do in leadership, life and love, you will be hurt at times. Just as you are not perfect, others are not either. Part of relationships is the vulnerability, which allows betrayal. They only way to avoid it completely is to avoid relationships.

  1. Be confident in who God is and who He isn’t. 

God is able to protect you. He doesn’t always protect you from betrayal. Sometimes he even allows those closest to you to be the betrayer. He will, however, always use it for an ultimate good. We shouldn’t expect God to do as he hasn’t promised to do. We can expect God to never leave us nor forsake us and to be our strength when we are weak and to lift us up in due time when we humble ourselves before him.

  1. Be confident in what God has called you to do and what He hasn’t. 

God has not called you to please everyone. He has called you to be obedient to your call; regardless of the sacrifice. Even in the midst of betrayal, we are called to love mercy, act justly and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). He has also called you to forgive. He has not called you to enable bad behavior.

You can’t control the world from betraying you, but you can control your reaction to betrayal. That begins by living out of the confidence God has given you through your relationship with him.

This article originally appeared here – www.ronedmondson.com/2019/01/4-reminders-in-times-of-betrayal.html

Ron Edmondson, a frequent contributor to OutreachMagazine.com, is the former pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. He revitalized two churches and planted two more.

**Ps. Remember to register for further encouragement at our ESPS Annual Conference - RESET – to be held virtually on Saturday 24th October. For more details and to book, follow the link - www.espsministries.org/reset-conference

 

When you Feel Like A Failure

When you Feel Like A Failure

Whether you’ve truly failed―or you just feel like a failure―the experience can actually be a blessing. “Well, Cara, I’m not really sure what to say, but you failed to do what we hired you to do.” The chairperson folded her hands on her lap, and looked at me blankly. I stared back at her, numb to the world around me.

Glancing at the paper in front of her, she went on to list all of the many ways she believed I had failed at in my first two years of ministry. My cheeks burned red and tears pooled in my eyes, soon cascading down my face. I looked at my boss―the same man who’d fed me accolades of praise week after week―who now sat mute in the corner. Why wasn’t he standing up for me? Why was there such a disconnect from the encouragement he showered upon me in our one-on-one meetings and the silence that swallowed him now? “I’m sorry,” I whispered. An apology was all I could muster. She’d rendered me mute, as well.

The meeting crippled me for a long time. Two weeks later, I moved two states south to take on a promotion with the same outreach organization. I’d been offered the job months prior, but wanted to finish out my time in good standing, so I’d stayed an additional two months after the initial offer period. Still, her words haunted me. I didn’t trust my own leadership abilities, just as I didn’t trust that God in me could do a mighty work through me. I cried whenever I divulged the truth of that awful meeting. Finally, feeling like I would never fully thrive unless I worked through the pain, I turned to a therapist.

Wiping away tears, I told her my story. I felt like an utter failure. Surely, she could see it, too. But where one woman’s words had stripped me to the core, her words filled me up. They were like balm to my soul.

“You can’t fail at that which hasn’t been communicated to you,” she said simply. She was right. The chairperson held me to expectations of her own that hadn’t been communicated to me. Clearly, my boss also had different expectations of me―expectations I met with shining gold stars. In that moment, the therapist’s clarity helped me understand I hadn’t actually failed at all―even though I had been made to feel like I failed. This clarity of truth was all I needed. Eventually, I returned to ministry a new woman, with a bounce in my step and a newfound confidence in my position.

Had I not been told I failed, I would not have begged God for mercy. I would not have learned to be vulnerable and ask for help. I would not have learned that strong leaders are honest regarding their own abilities, just as they are honest about their own expectations of others. Equally important, I would not have understood how significant it is to learn from mistakes, nor grasped the necessary art of self-care. Above all, I learned failure―even when it just feels like a failure―really can be a good thing.

Learning from Failure

In an April 2017 article from The Guardian, writer Gavin Haynes introduces readers to a psychological phenomenon in Helsingborg, Sweden―The Museum of Failure. Its mission is simple and, ultimately, life giving: “Innovation requires failure. Learning is the only process that turns failure into success.” Highlighting such marketing flops as Colgate lasagna and Harley Davidson perfume, the museum goes a step further―encouraging attendees to learn from their mistakes.

Take, for example, Coke II. Introduced to the public in 1984, consumers did not embrace the new taste. Acknowledging the failed innovation, Coca-Cola immediately began selling its original formula again ―because, why change a good thing? What some outsiders might view as a failure, the company sought to embrace and learn from. Today, Coca-Cola is the world’s third most valuable brand. I don’t doubt it’s much different for those of us who are in ministry.

Jerusalem Greer, a speaker, minister, and author of At Home in this Life, shared with me an experience of failure early in her ministry career. In an effort to not be what she described as a “program church,” the church staff―including her―wanted to be innovative, particularly when it came to mid-week services and small-group ministries. Their efforts to create something new and different, however, didn’t include any sort of programming or care for kids, thereby doing a disservice to the parents of young children. Children were welcome to come to Wednesday night praise and prayer services and weekly home groups, but as any parent knows, it’s difficult to keep a child “under control” in the middle of serious adult conversations or prayer sessions. All too often, an already worn out parent would go to another room to entertain the child with books, snacks, and songs. Parents and children both missed worship and community experiences, and in the end, parents simply forfeited their involvement altogether.

It wasn’t until Greer became a parent herself that she realized how her arrogance and inexperience not only crippled her leadership influence, but also failed a large population of potential congregants. Now, almost 20 years later, she looks back on the experience with gratitude, mostly because she learned how important it is to realize your limitations. “Just because you are an innovative thinker,” she reasons, “doesn’t mean you’ve thought of everything. You have to listen to the collective wisdom and life experiences other people bring to the table.”

She continues: There is a reason most churches provide some sort of care or programming for the youngest members. There’s a valid need. My mistake back then was in throwing the entire concept out, instead of modifying it to fit our innovative vision. The truth is we need both: we need to create church cultures that welcome children in all spaces―in both words and actions―and we need to care for our parents who are worn thin. I believe both are possible, but it does take a change in culture, and it is a slow change.

Jesus’ Example

Greer is not alone in seeing failure as a good thing. Read the Gospels―repeatedly, there remains a divide between the expectations of the Israelites and the human God sent to earth. Where was the purple-robed king sent to rule over all of the earth? Where was the great warrior-judge, the one who would “wage war against the idol-worshipping Gentiles and destroy the sinners among the Jews”? How, then, did Jesus, seen as a failure in light of their expectations, respond?

He just kept on going.

In Matthew 13:54–59, Jesus returns to his hometown to teach people in their place of worship. His words were met with questions and accusations, while his ways were met with negative and offensive reactions. As a result, Jesus continued to preach, but was unable to perform miracles because of their lack of faith in him. Although Jesus had failed to be who they thought he should be, he hadn’t failed in the least, for he continued to be true to who he truly was.

Although Jesus may have failed in the Israelites’ expectations of him, he was not a failure in the least. Quite probably, it’s the same for you. If you’ve recently been labelled a failure―whether by yourself or by someone around you―consider one of these three action steps:

Seek to see failure as a good thing. If you’ve believed yourself a failure because of another person’s unmet or unspoken expectations of you, ask yourself the following questions: How might this experience make me a better leader? How might my failings bring me closer to God, and transform me into the most authentic and real version of me?

Seek the peace only Christ can bring. In Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Ruth Haley Barton writes, “we often blow right past the place where God is creating a stir to get our attention.” Might current or past experiences of failure be God’s stirring in your life?

Seek to rewrite the narrative. More than anything, you may need to rewrite your own story of failure, which starts with acknowledging that you’re not a failure. Consider how changing this perspective changes your story altogether.

Above all, know that you are loved and you are not alone. We stand with you and are here for you. Even in your failures, we cheer you on.

Cara Meredith is a writer and speaker from Seattle, Washington. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and co-host of Shalom in the City’s monthly book club podcast. She holds a Master’s of Theology (Fuller Seminary), and can be found on her blogFacebook, and Twitter.

This article originally appeared here -www.christianitytoday.com/women-leaders/2017/october/when-you-feel-like-failure.html

**Ps. Remember to register for further encouragement at our ESPS Annual Conference - RESET – to be held virtually on Saturday 24th October. For more details and to book, follow the link - www.espsministries.org/reset-conference

 

Pastor, Your Church Needs You to Rest and Take a Vacation

Pastor, Your Church Needs You to Rest and Take a Vacation

There are two types of sleep: BC and AD. Before Children and After Death. God does not take naps, but you might need one. Far too many pastors do not get a proper cycle of rest. In the fourth commandment, God set up a pattern of work and rest. This pattern goes back to the creation account in which God rested on the seventh day.

Notice the connection between rest and salvation in Psalm 62: “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.” True rest is found only in God’s salvation. In the Old Testament, we have the promise of rest from God. In the New Testament, we learn how to enter this rest—only through Jesus. You cannot properly point people to eternal rest in Christ if you are not rested spiritually and physically.

Generally, Americans are restless. In the 1940s, the average American got right at eight hours of sleep per night. Today, the average is under seven hours. We are burnt out, worn out, tired, sleepy, and cooked. Our first two movements in the morning are to stop the alarm clock and look at the cell phone.

Everyone needs rest. Taking a sabbath is important. Taking a vacation is important.

Pastors should model proper behavior. Part of leadership is showing the way. It is hypocritical to teach about spiritual health if you’re not accounting for your own physical health. A fat slob of a preacher will never effectively communicate spiritual disciplines. A workaholic pastor cannot possibly communicate moderation honestly.

Pastors are not the heroes of their churches. You need this reminder. Your church needs this reminder. If you lead well, then you will equip enough people to serve while you take a quick breather. Entire ministries are built around the charisma of a talented leader. Clearly, this model is wrong and completely unsustainable. However, it’s just as wrong to believe your church cannot possibly operate for a Sunday or two in your absence. Both models—the charismatic hero and the worker bee hero—are misguided.

Your family needs more of your time. Rare is the pastor who is dedicating too much time to family. Most pastors have created idols of their churches at the expense of their families. Idol worship is always destructive and never beneficial. Take a vacation and kill your idols.

Creativity needs to be recharged. Like a battery, creative energy often needs a recharge. You can operate on low power for quite some time. You can lead through weariness, but creativity almost always suffers. Take a vacation and come back a more energized and creative leader.

God created fun. Neglecting fun is neglecting a part of God. Go and have fun with your family. We don’t need any more curmudgeon pastors.

Physical rest is good for the soul. There are those who believe the answer to their unrest is simply working harder, doing more, and justifying themselves. The harder you work to find rest apart from God, the more restless you become. True rest comes when you trust in Christ’s work, not your own. That’s the point of the atonement—Christ’s work on our behalf. If you’re not resting regularly, then you’re relying on your own efforts, not those of Jesus.

Sam Rainer - President & Senior Coach

As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.

 

This article originally appeared https://churchanswers.com/blog/pastor-your-church-needs-you-to-take-a-vacation/

 

 

A Word to the Pastors Wife

A Word to the Pastors Wife

It is a beautiful Sunday morning. She has been up for a few hours to ensure a sweet time with the Lord and to have plenty of time to slip the casserole into the oven. She wakes the little ones with a chirp of, “This is the day the Lord has made!” The kids dress easily in their matching ensembles she laid out the night before. She sips her coffee and adds the finishing touches to the Sunday school lesson she has prepared. She kicks off her slippers in exchange for her cute red pumps as her children happily skip to the car, bibles and notebooks in hand. She laughs as she nearly leaves the house without the meal she made for the new mommy in the congregation. Where is her head today? They arrive early and joyfully enter the church service with a smile on their faces and a song in their hearts. And then…the pastor’s wife pulls up.

In stark contrast to the lady in the red shoes, the pastor’s wife has been up for hours, trying to wrangle her four children into the car. She is running late as usual, and is yelling to the older children not to forget their Cheerios that she threw into a baggie. She looks down and realizes that the little one has on mismatched shoes. Again. Exhaustion overwhelms her as she was up most of the night praying for the strength to love the lady who keeps sending her husband emails about his lack of care of the senior saints. She is greeted by the cheerful choir director who hands her this week’s music octavo. She puts on the rehearsed plastic smile that comes so naturally now as she feels the weight of her inadequacy cover her like a cloud.

Sound familiar? Are you a pastor’s wife who is at the end of herself? Sweet sisters, Christ understands and empathizes with all you go through. He understands being in a family that is scrutinized and judged. He cares for you as you rarely ever get to sit with your husband on a Sunday morning. He understands being betrayed by a close friend, and knows your hesitancy to trust others. Your Brother knows and feels all you go through as you serve the church. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. ” (Hebrews 4:15) He identifies with you as you seek to lay your life down for a people that seem ungrateful. He prays for you and promises to give you the strength you need to endure. All of these unique trials will press you further into the love and acceptance of your Saviour.

Know that who you truly are has nothing to do with what your husband does. Who you married is not who you are. You are a cherished, precious daughter of the King. You are a woman who has value, not because of your husband, but because Christ chose to set his love on you. Your righteousness does not depend on whether you can play the piano, or make a delicious casserole, or teach in children’s ministry. Your right standing before God has been completely and unalterably secured forever by the lover of your soul. All of the weaknesses and inadequacies in your personality were designed especially by your Heavenly Father. They do not hold your husband back or hurt his ministry, they point the church to the beauty of a Saviour who uses weakness and inadequacy and sin to display unspeakable brilliance of his power and mercy.

Hear and believe the words of Psalms 139:13-17

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me”

So rest, rest in His tender compassions for you. Serve knowing that he served you with his life, his all. Love remembering how you have been loved with an everlasting love.

Jessica Thompson is the author of Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family and the coauthor (with Elyse Fitzpatrick) of Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. She is a wife, a mother of three, and a member of an Acts 29 church.