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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The word Hallelujah basically means to “praise the Lord” or “God be praised”. It’s a beautiful word offered here on earth and heard in heaven.
It’s easy to raise a Hallelujah when things are going well. When we are full of the joys of life and feeling close to God. It’s not so easy to raise a Hallelujah when we feel discouraged, sad, ill, or burdened with problems and feel far from God.
Choosing to praise God in the storm is powerful. Whether your struggle is your own issues, family problems, ministry tensions, or a faith crisis, when we focus on God in the storm something shifts. Hope rises. Although it can feel like the last thing we want to do, when we do engage in worship, it’s like releasing a dam. We pour out our vulnerabilities, hurts, brokenness, confusion, fear and dread…and we choose to lay it all down at the feet of Jesus. We choose to trust. We choose to believe. We choose to surrender.
To help get to that place today, take a few mins to listen to this beautiful worship song with powerful lyrics. This song was written from a place of unbelief and fear as the writers friend’s 2 year old son was very ill with a virus and it didn’t look like he’d survive the night.
“As soon as I got that text, I felt like this giant of unbelief stood in front of me,” Jonathan Helser said. “I thought, ‘Jaxon’s going to die tonight, we’re not going to see the miracle.’”
As the Helsers dove into prayer over Jaxon, a new song came out. “All of a sudden, out of my gut, this song came out in the face of the giant – ‘I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies. I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief.’” This song became an anthem for the Taylors throughout the rest of the battle over Jaxon’s life.
Joel Taylor recounts his experience, “God’s timing often doesn’t makesense until you look back to see that mountains were climbed and canyons were crossed on no strength of your own. In the battle for Jaxon’s life, the global church community rose up like a mighty army and joined us in prayer and worship all over the world. Our son was miraculously healed and today is perfectly healthy.”
Whatever our circumstances today, may each of us raise a Hallelujah that will be heard resounding in heaven and will release great blessing in our lives on earth.
Years ago I wrote an article on harvesting plums, and today I find myself drawn once more to the analogies that same old tree of mine continues to offer. It’s harvest time again in the world of plums, and I’m most thankful for a tree that has been so very generous to share its bounty with me.
This season seemed to bring an acceleration of growth and copious amounts of fruit, way before I was ready and prepared for any jam making. Then true to form for Scottish weather, it suddenly changed in an instant, as a strong wind rose one night while we slept. The branches of the tree were given a right good shaking, and in the morning the grass was carpeted with fruit. What a waste. I rescued what I could but the birds and insects were up long before me and started harvesting for themselves. Thankfully the tree continues to flourish, and the branches are weighed down with even more glorious pink plums.
Before God, my heart has been breaking with the spiritual connotations. The harvest is all around us. There is a lost world literally dying to hear the good news of Jesus. There is no putting off for a more opportune time. The harvest is here.
As I’ve been pondering these things, I wonder, what is our personal and collective responsibility? That may feel like a weighty question when perhaps we ourselves are struggling with different burdens. However, when we change perspective to see through the eyes and words of Jesus, we remember the foundational reality that we were never meant to go to heaven alone. So many people are looking for hope, for faith, for unconditional love, and ultimately for Jesus. And we can all be sign posts. ‘Weighty’ can suddenly become an ‘exciting opportunity’! Especially as we don’t rely on our own strength or feelings, but utterly lean on the strength, courage, wisdom, and grace of God.
As God’s people may we get a fresh kingdom perspective of the times that we are in. A kingdom perspective to walk in faith and not fear. A kingdom perspective to practise wisdom in pandemic protocols, whilst still using our little areas of influence to share the love of Jesus with our families, friends, and communities.
The seasons don’t change. They will roll on in the order of creation regardless of other factors. Storms and predators are ever ready to sabotage harvest, even as we still ponder our response. This may be the simplest of stories today, but let’s pray the words of Jesus for ourselves and for others, and by faith, be prepared to be utterly amazed as He answers!
Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. (John 4v35)
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9v38)
Lots of people are trying to make sense of the days we’re living in. For some this is a reset for life; for others it’s a wilderness and desert season that we’re just trying to survive through; still for others it’s a time of preparation for greater days to come. Whatever others or your or my thoughts, I think this is a season where we simply need to allow God to be God. That we acknowledge we’re really not sure about the days we’re living in, but we’re sure about the God whom we worship. That we need to look to Him, trust in Him, listen for His voice, and follow Him.
This is what David Jeremiah encourages us to do in the YouTube clip below. David Jeremiah has been the pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church since 1981. In 1982, Jeremiah founded Turning Point Ministries which focuses on multi-media Bible instruction. Turning Point can be heard worldwide on more than 2000 stations, as well as online. Turning Point Ministries also developed a national television program in 2000. The programme features a 30-minute Bible study followed by an hour of preaching and worship music. Turning Point Television can reach a total of 2.7 billion households worldwide.
In 1994 and again in 1998, Jeremiah was diagnosed with lymphoma. During that season and since he’s learnt more and more what it means to ‘Shelter In God!’ May you take comfort and encouragement from his wisdom and his words today.