Save the Date !

SATURDAY 1st FEB – WOMEN IN MINISTRY CONFERENCE

Get envisioned and positioned for the exciting year ahead! Make time for ‘you’ on this special Saturday to step out of the busyness and come and receive.

Join us as we explore what God has for this year in fresh vision for our lives. Seasoned speakers, anointed worship, prayer ministry and a wonderful time to meet old and new friends.

Check the flyer on our website for further details and to register - https://espsministries.org/

We look forward to welcoming you on the day!

Ten Fears Of Church Leaders ( Thom Rainer)

 

I have not hidden my love for pastors and other church leaders. And I have said and written on many occasions that these church leaders often have a very difficult work. In fact, I recently told a large gathering of seminary students to consider very seriously their calling. No one should enter the ministry unless the calling is clear and secure.

As I converse and hear from church leaders across the country and beyond, I often hear of their challenges and fears. We all know that God has commanded us not to fear but, in our humanity and sinfulness, we do lapse into fear. I certainly did as a pastor, and I still succumb to that sin today.

So what are the most common fears of church leaders today? Here are ten I hear often, listed in my perceived order of frequency.

Fear of critics. Leading a church means the leader will have critics. Sometimes the criticisms become so frequent that it seems easier not to lead. For pastors and other church leaders, the steady inflow of negative comments becomes emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining.

Fear of failure. This fear is almost universal, and church leaders are not exempt from it. Leadership requires faith-based steps, what the world calls risk. Some church leaders do not lead forward because they fear they will not succeed.

Fear of power brokers. These church members often are the informal but true decision makers of the church. Some of them have great influence. Some of them are big financial givers to the church. Some of them are both.

Fear of failing to please. All of us want to be loved, and church leaders are no different. Sometimes this desire develops into a people-pleasing attitude. When it does, the leader is constantly confronted with the reality that any decision or action is likely to displease someone.

Fear of change. Most of us have our own comfort zones. Some pastors and church staff are willing to move and lead out of their comfort zones. But some are not.

Fear of nit-pickers. There is obvious overlap in this fear and the fear of critics. The nit-pickers often don’t view themselves as critics; they offer suggestions about points of minutia. For example, this group includes those who remind the pastor to make announcements of minor matters five minutes before a worship service begins.

Fear of finances. This fear takes at least two different forms. The first is a general fear of anything financial because the church leader was not trained in this area. The second is a fear to take prudent steps of financial faith lest the finances of the church are harmed.

Fear of others seeing weaknesses. Pastors, in particular, are often expected to be omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. But the reality is that no leader or no pastor is good at everything. Some leaders are fearful that those areas will be exposed to church members.

Fear of offending others. Those who are in vocational ministry often must take stands and speak truth that goes against the grain of culture, and even can offend church members. While all church leaders should speak truth with an irenic spirit, many do not do so because they don’t desire to hurt the feelings of others.

Fear of success. A number of pastors have shared with me their fear of doing well in some area of ministry, but then not having the ability to build on their successes. One pastor told me in a moment of vulnerability that he tries to keep his church small, because he fears he doesn’t have the skillset to lead a larger church.

So what is the purpose of this article? Am I trying to shame pastors and other church leaders for their lack of faith and their succumbing to fear? Not really. More than anything else, I am offering it as a reminder and a challenge. We all are prone to different fears and insecurities at times. And, yes, our fear of these types of matters does reflect a lack of faith in God.

Perhaps more than anything else, I am encouraging church leaders to lean more upon the God who called us, the One who promised He would always be with us.

In the meantime, here are a few verses from Psalms as good reminders:-

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom should I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (Psalm 56:3)

“In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:4)

“He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7)

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is also a former pastor, seminary dean, and leader of a church and denominational consulting firm. Rainer is the author or co- author of 24 books, including his new release, “Autopsy of a Deceased Church + 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive.”

This article first appeared here - https://thomrainer.com/2014/04/nine-fears-church-leaders/

 

Pastors Spouse- What Works For You?

At ESPS Ministries we regularly come across pastors spouses who still feel an element of uncertainty and confusion as to what their role as a spouse in church should or should not be? It generally seems to be unique to each couple where wives/husbands have to find what works best for them.

I came across this article for pastors spouses with some great reminders for us to shape our clarity at the start of this year. Remember these are just one person’s opinion, but it may help us in forming our own. Be mindful to keep communication lines open with your spouse and both of you share thoughts, expectations, level of engagement, etc together. Pray these through, seeking God’s blessing on all decisions.

Be yourself. 

Resist letting your spouse, children, or church family push you to become someone you don’t want to be.

Use your best gifts most often. 

Do the things you do the best and leave the rest - and don’t feel guilty about it.

Make your priorities obvious. 

Let the congregation know what’s important to you. Don’t let the church squeeze you into their mould, and don’t do too much.

Show visible love to your spouse. 

In your conversations let people know that your spouse is both special and human. Keep showing the church that you love one another and you care for each other.

Talk about advantages to your children. 

Never tell your children they have to do something OR not something because they are the pastor’s children. Help them see how they can play a positive part in your family’s shared ministry.

Take a worship break. 

Go somewhere every few months where you can worship as a family.

Don’t spiritualize everything. 

Enjoy life - its ups and downs - without becoming so religious in your outlook that you’re no fun to be around.

Learn to laugh at yourself and your situation.

Have a life outside of church activities.

Schedule vacation days and date nights. 

See to it that your spouse puts important family dates on the calendar.

Encourage your spouse to find an accountability partner. 

Every pastor needs a covenant partner, where “pastoral stuff” can be talked about and burdens understood and shared.

Stay attentive to your spouse’s needs. 

Don’t back away. There will be times when your spouse, under the weight of the struggle, will become sullen, aloof, and depressed. This is when he or she needs you the most.

Try doubling or tripling your affection and support.

Commit to self-care. Take care of yourself - spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Continue to mature spiritually.

(Written by H.B. London Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman. )

 

 

Ponder, Plan and Position

If you haven’t managed to yet, then be sure to make some time this month to ponder and plan for this new year that lies ahead. There is still plenty time to do so.

A day retreat, a sabbatical, or just fencing off some hours one day for ourselves can be so very beneficial. We may find life too busy, but unless we are intentional with self-reflection and a view to making changes, then too busy can become our norm.

In looking to make beneficial changes I wonder what needs laying down or newly implemented into our lives?  What needs to change in daily life, in marriage, family, ministry and spiritual walk with God?

We hear the slogans of a ‘new year- a new you’. What if that could be the case? Not procrastinating any more but taking definitive steps towards good physical and mental health, prioritising times of relaxation in our weekly diary’s, getting enough sleep and rest, spending more time with family and friends etc. To have a vision for your life in God is great. To want to look after ourselves in order that we can actually fulfil that vision is even better!

Life really is a gift. Let’s be careful not to waste it living mindlessly going through the motions or same old routines. As well as contemplating how we live, it’s helpful to contemplate how we do ministry. Priorities, boundaries, time management. Be sure and have friends out with ministry that are encouragers and good to be around. Take study leave, plan a sabbatical, go to a conference, etc.

Taking time to plan ahead and prepare means we are then in a good place for the months that lie ahead. There will always be the unexpected, but if we manage to find healthier rhythms of life and prioritize well, then we can position ourselves to go through this new year in a much better place physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually than we ever have before.

Finally, remember in all our planning not to omit times with God. Dedicated times of personal fellowship, planned into our day. Prayer and worship really are the oxygen to our souls and what sustains us through each day, week and month and indeed life itself.

I’ll leave you with some quotes to reflect on today.

“Always plan ahead, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark” (Richard Cushing)

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream”

(CS Lewis)

“The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.”

( John Maxwell )

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

D.MacNeil

 

The Gate Of the Year

“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

( Minnie Louise Haskins)

Wishing you all a very blessed and Happy New Year.  May we walk confidently toward the many blessings God already has in store for us in 2020, knowing the loving presence of our Lord right by our side.

Love and blessings from All at ESPS Ministries