Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

3981364314_d4b30cb739_bBy Thom Rainer

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.

I look forward to your comments.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

15 comments

  • Sherene D Smith

    Thank you for sharing. We have start a new church and it has been challenging.. thank you again for sharing your wisdom so we can stay focused.

  • Erick

    Thanks for being transparent. I believe it’s part of the reason people are leaving the church today is there is not enough transparency from the pulpit.

  • Genaro Martinez, Jr.

    Thank you for sharing this, all I can say is I have found myself there many times too. Only the grace of God and the love of the people we serve is what gets us through… God bless!

  • David

    I could add, “I spent too much time being mad at the ones who WEREN’T there and not enough time appreciating the ones who WERE there.”

  • Anthony

    I’ve been pastoring now for over 10 yrs. and I still haven’t perfected it. I have found out though, that the word of God, will always prevail over any situation. Just stay with the word. I have felt rejection, experienced slander, been taken to court, you name it; but God, and His word has always brought me through. And for that, I am encouraged.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Lawrence Kumi

    Thanks for sharing. It will be very helpful to some of us lay ministers. Most grateful.

  • Musa Mitekaro

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings from Africa. I have been so much blessed by your articles. Sharing your experiences is a great ministry. I am a pastor and administrator here in Africa, you have touched my life. God bless you, your family and ministry

  • Deborah Yinka

    Thanks for sharing your downsides with others. I really appreciate the fact someone else goes thru these challenges in serving the Lord Jesus. I think I get how to serve better. God bless you

  • KOFI APPIANING

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders

  • Dexter

    Thank you for sharing some of the stuggles, and I believe it will help somebody.

  • Jean Jackson Luma

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings From Haitian Community ( Norwood Church of God in Massachusetts) .

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us ,by today I will apply them in my ministry .

    May God bless you and your family

    Bishop Jean J Luma

  • Thanks, when I hear or see someone take a stand for being wrong, I know they are on their way to greatness. Show us oh Lord who we are and how to grow in you.

  • Frank esilaba

    Dear Pastor
    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders and especially me. I will use this in my service for Christ our Lord.

    God bless you, your family and Ministry,

    Bishop Frank Esilaba

  • Ps Ray Terborg

    Thank you pastor for sharing with us your experiences this counts for Every ps bishops this is an eye opener for every leader in THE churches today,
    Thank you

  • Pst. Edith Wekesa

    Thank you pastor greetings from Kenya and for sharing about yourself. It is great that one can admit their faults. it gives me strength to know that the struggles are for all of us, therefore we need to uplift each other as ministers of the word of God all the earth. Its encouraging to share and enable others avoid same mistakes.

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

3981364314_d4b30cb739_bBy Thom Rainer

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.

I look forward to your comments.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

15 comments

  • Sherene D Smith

    Thank you for sharing. We have start a new church and it has been challenging.. thank you again for sharing your wisdom so we can stay focused.

  • Erick

    Thanks for being transparent. I believe it’s part of the reason people are leaving the church today is there is not enough transparency from the pulpit.

  • Genaro Martinez, Jr.

    Thank you for sharing this, all I can say is I have found myself there many times too. Only the grace of God and the love of the people we serve is what gets us through… God bless!

  • David

    I could add, “I spent too much time being mad at the ones who WEREN’T there and not enough time appreciating the ones who WERE there.”

  • Anthony

    I’ve been pastoring now for over 10 yrs. and I still haven’t perfected it. I have found out though, that the word of God, will always prevail over any situation. Just stay with the word. I have felt rejection, experienced slander, been taken to court, you name it; but God, and His word has always brought me through. And for that, I am encouraged.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Lawrence Kumi

    Thanks for sharing. It will be very helpful to some of us lay ministers. Most grateful.

  • Musa Mitekaro

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings from Africa. I have been so much blessed by your articles. Sharing your experiences is a great ministry. I am a pastor and administrator here in Africa, you have touched my life. God bless you, your family and ministry

  • Deborah Yinka

    Thanks for sharing your downsides with others. I really appreciate the fact someone else goes thru these challenges in serving the Lord Jesus. I think I get how to serve better. God bless you

  • KOFI APPIANING

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders

  • Dexter

    Thank you for sharing some of the stuggles, and I believe it will help somebody.

  • Jean Jackson Luma

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings From Haitian Community ( Norwood Church of God in Massachusetts) .

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us ,by today I will apply them in my ministry .

    May God bless you and your family

    Bishop Jean J Luma

  • Thanks, when I hear or see someone take a stand for being wrong, I know they are on their way to greatness. Show us oh Lord who we are and how to grow in you.

  • Frank esilaba

    Dear Pastor
    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders and especially me. I will use this in my service for Christ our Lord.

    God bless you, your family and Ministry,

    Bishop Frank Esilaba

  • Ps Ray Terborg

    Thank you pastor for sharing with us your experiences this counts for Every ps bishops this is an eye opener for every leader in THE churches today,
    Thank you

  • Pst. Edith Wekesa

    Thank you pastor greetings from Kenya and for sharing about yourself. It is great that one can admit their faults. it gives me strength to know that the struggles are for all of us, therefore we need to uplift each other as ministers of the word of God all the earth. Its encouraging to share and enable others avoid same mistakes.

Seven Ways to Deal with CAVE Dwellers in Your Church

Seven Ways to Deal with CAVE Dwellers in Your Church

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By Thom Rainer

They are in every church. They are critics. They are naysayers. If your church has regular business meetings, they will be the negatively outspoken people.

They often begin sentences with “I love you pastor, but . . .” And the moment you hear “but,” you cringe. You wait for the verbal assault.

Critics and naysayers are in every church. They are CAVE (Consistently Against Virtually Everything) Dwellers (This phrase originated with Curt Coffman in his work on disen-
gaged employees.). They can make your life miserable . . . unless you learn to deal with them.

I am not the best role model for dealing with CAVE dwellers. When I was a pastor, I struggled with critics and naysayers. I still do. So I asked some church leaders who, in my opinion, have a very healthy approach to these people. Here are seven things I learned from them.

  1. Accept the reality that every church and organization will have CAVE dwellers. You will deal with them in a more healthy fashion if you are not blindsided by them. And you will realize than the green grass of other churches may be a bit brown.
  2. Pray for your own attitude. I am glad Jesus did not hold my sins against me through his death on the cross. My attitude should be like His, and I should seek prayerfully to have the right attitude toward CAVE dwellers.
  3. Pray for the CAVE dwellers. Even if you consider them your enemy, we are supposed to pray for our enemies. Sometimes I have to ask God to give me the grace to pray for these people because they have hurt me so much.
  4. Stay above reproach. Don’t stoop to the negative, gossiping, bickering, and deceitful level of CAVE dwellers. Pray that God will give you the strength, wisdom, and grace to live above such attitudes and actions.
  5. Spend more time with positive church members. CAVE dwellers can be the squeaky wheels that demand constant oiling. If you spend too much time with these members, you will become emotionally and spiritually drained. Be intentional about spending time with church members who energize and encourage you.
  6. Spend more time with church leaders in other churches. You will develop invaluable friendships and camaraderie. And you will soon discover you are not alone with these issues.
  7. Ask other members to help you deal with CAVE dwellers. I recently heard from a pastor who did just that. He was shocked to find more than one encouraging church leader willing and ready to help him deal with these people. The comment from one of these positive members hit home: “Pastor, we did not know you were having to deal with these issues. We wish you had told us sooner.”

Yes, you will always have people in your church who seem to be consistently against virtually everything. They are emotionally draining. They are discouraging. And they never really go away.

Our challenge, in God’s power, is to deal with CAVE dwellers in the most positive and God-honoring way we can. So, how do you deal with CAVE dwellers? What would you add to the seven ways I noted above? Let me hear from you.

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on November 17, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

4 comments

  • linda newman

    You could also think about approaching them and making them allies; many may be left-brained analyticals whose first response to an issue is to take it apart and find potential issues to reduce risk, and they are motivated by their love for the church just as the pastor is. They may have been there, done that, have the t-shirt, and may have words of wisdom. Consult with them in advance, get their perspective, and use it or not, but if they feel heard, the comments in the meeting may go away. (I’m the worst of all possible combinations of this, a lawyer who has been a 35+ year member, been a member of every committee, and a compliance officer as part of my day job. I recognize that my analytical nature is not an inspirational gift, but it is a gift that can help anticipate problems. I show up to do the “dirty work” too, teaching sunday school, singing in the choir, cleaning up after fellowship luncheons.

  • Dear Linda Newman. Thank you so much for your comment and perspective, I too am a left- brained analytical , very much a member of the body of Christ. Yes I have learnt to temper my “Ah but….in committee meetings, but so much is achieved and runs smoothly in church because of it. Wrongly used all I did in my younger days was to stifle vision now I help dreams and vision become reality. I see all the problems 6 months before anyone else and within seconds of the idea being voiced, but with Gods help it becomes strategic thinking and facilitating , making others look good- Glory to God for all the gifts within the Body –

  • Floyd Knight

    A board meeting is NEVER the time for analysis or nay-saying. The chair should control the floor and have people speak to the issue or recommendation. So called “left brain” folks should volunteer for the committee or working group which will explore and consider the issue or purchase or programmatic action. The leadership should then distribute the proposal/recommendation and the “summary” document notating the methods and/or procedures used to come to a decision or recommendation–including pros and cons. Questions regarding the same by “left brainers” who have failed to read the document before the committee meeting should be cut short and referred to the section of the document. IF they want to make comments, they should be required to specify the page and section of the summary document or recommendation. They shouldn’t take up the church board’s time and should voluntarily refrain from voting on the recommendation since they didn’t read the same before the meeting.
    |——On the other hand, if recommendations and proposals come to the board without written justification and rationalization, then such proposals should be withdrawn and referred to committee or tabled. Individual responses, personal statements and proposals should also be stopped. The person should be referred to the proper committee, workgroup, or person. Such comments should not be tolerated from the floor–especially if you are following parliamentary procedures. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD CRITICAL ANALYSES AND REVIEWS TAKE PLACE DURING A CHURCH BOARD MEETING;otherwise, you are running an effective board.

  • Floyd Knight

    THE LAST SENTENCE SHOULD HAVE READ:

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD CRITICAL “AD LIB,” “SPONTANEOUS,” OR UNWRITTEN ANALYSES AND REVIEWS TAKE PLACE DURING A CHURCH BOARD MEETING;otherwise, you are not running an effective board meeting.

Pastor2Pastor — Am I Responsible for Church Growth?

17 comments

  • I am happy to come across your site. Church growth is very essential in the church administration, and it is good to have you to share your experience with me.

  • Rev Kenneth Franklin

    Thank you for reminding me! We do get caught up in growing numbers and forget God has called us to be faithful and He will provide the success!

  • Thank you for your practical comments. Very encouraging to remember that we are called to be faithful and God brings growth!

  • Carl Meyer

    Very timely message, Barry. I do not take it as a minister’s cop out but encouragement when things do not go as we would like them to. God is ultimately in control….we would do well to remember that.

  • Very sincere message Pastor Barry. I agree with all you have said. Salvation is off the Lord. A Pastor or Shepherd is called to feed and look after the sheep, but Sheep gives birth to sheep. In other words The labourers are few. Take Care Pastor Barry.

  • Thank Pastor, you explanation of the scripture had not only illuminated my spiritual mind ,but had lifted a great burden away from my humble shoulder. May God Bless You.

    Regards
    Pastor Heart

  • Thank you Pastor Barry.
    A great reminder and a great encouragement.

  • A Most useful and educational resource for any Minister / Priest to listen and inwardly digest. The role of the Priest is defined firstly by a calling that is led by The Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit and the guidance of the Shepherd that Pastor Barry is trying to fire up within all. Let each of us called by God support each other, assisting all our Brothers and Sisters in Christ as true shepherds to gain all and return all to the flock. Pastor Barry’s presentation once again is a reminder for all to undertake God’s will, and it is His will which will ultimately be done. May the dear Lord Jesus, Bless us all and accompany each of us on our daily journey in achieving this goal with all whom we meet.

    • Dear Brother,

      Praise God Pastor Barry, Thank you for the Bible verses. God bless you in everything you do. Thank you for the encrougement through Pastor to pastor. God’s grace and his
      Justice, his omnipresence and his holiness, his majesty and his glory will work to develop this .

      With regards

      REV. SUSAI NAYAGAM
      NO 120 P&T COLONY VENKATESHPURAM
      CHRISTIAN GOSPEL FELLOWSHIP CHURCH.
      BANGALORE-560045
      PHONE NO 91-80-25478286 CELL—7204488112.

  • Maxine Taylor

    Thank you pastor Barry for your encouragement, very interesting and that is so true there was a time I use to feel discouraged, but not any more , I just try doing exactly what you said to do , and trust God to do His part. Again thank you very very much.

  • ANTONIO

    Amen!!.thank you so much for the word of encouragement.am blessed!

  • Mel Janzen

    This really ministers to me, because I am a pastor of a very small congregation,and every Sunday i see before me so few attending and this feeling of failure comes on me.I shudder when even one of them is away.But I will remember that it is the Lords church and not mine.Thanks pastor for your encouraging word.

  • David

    It was good

  • Pas.Jockin Fernando

    Praise the Lord Pastor,
    Thanks for this as it is very useful and encouraging for the growth of ministry. And it’s a blessing, will pray for your ministry that God should use you even more than this.
    Thank u & God bless you.
    Regards,
    Pas.Jockin Fernando

  • John

    We are living in the time I believe we should realize the works of Satan surrounding Christians with his trickery ….Those of us who are Pastors should encourage and lead the flock into the wolf den with the Sword of The Lord and deliver the Word of God to the sinners and lead them to Jesus Christ..ALL Christians are commanded by God to go into the highway,hedges and anywhere else souls can be found.. Some will plant the seed and others will harvest the seed after the Holy Spirit has watered and fertilized the soul…We must trust the Holy Spirit to prepare the way for acceptance of God Word for Salvation…No one can enter the Kingdom of God Accept through Jesus Christ…..All Christians are Sowers of The Word of God…refer to > Mark 4:13 thru 32..Give God All Glory…Honor…and Praise….

  • Demlun

    Praise God Pastor Barry,Thank you the Bible verses.God bless you in everything you do.

    In His Service,
    Rev.Demlun

What Effective Pastors Do With Their Time

What Effective Pastors Do With Their Time

By

Leadership gurus will tell you that a primary skill of an effective leader is the ability to manage time for maximum productivity. Out of curiosity, our research team asked over 200 pastors to provide us an hour-by-hour calendar of a typical 168-hour week for them. Keep in mind that 168 hours represent all the hours in a week, so their reports included such mundane items as sleeping and eating.

Impressed with the Effective Leaders

Our study included 101 pastors that we called effective leaders because their churches ranked in the top five percent in conversion growth in American churches. A comparison group of pastors of similar number were leading churches that did not have significant conversion growth.

Our researchers were impressed with the time management skills of the effective pastors. Perhaps the best way to show their skills is to compare their use of time with that of the leaders of the comparison churches.

Differences in Priorities

Without comment, let us highlight some of the most significant differences between the pastors of the effective churches versus the pastors of the comparison churches. You may be surprised at some of the findings.

  • Pastors of effective churches sleep slightly over six hours per day. Pastors of comparison churches sleep almost eight hours per day.
  • Pastors of effective churches spend twenty-two hours in sermon preparation each week versus four hours for pastors of comparison churches.
  • The effective church leaders spent ten hours each week in pastoral care compared to thirty-three hours for the comparison group pastors. Pastoral care included counseling, hospital visits, weddings, and funerals.
  • Effective church leaders average five hours per week in sharing the gospel with others. Most of the comparison church pastors entered “0” for their weekly time in personal evangelism.
  • Comparison church leaders spend eight hours a week – more than an hour each day – performing custodial duties at the church. The typical custodial duties included opening and closing the facilities, turning on and off the lights, and general cleaning of the building.
  • Leaders of effective churches average 22 hours a week in family activities. The comparison church leaders weren’t too far behind with 18 hours of family time each week.

Priorities and Balance

The time allocation of effective leaders seems to complement the way they describe their own leadership styles. In order to accomplish what they considered priority functions, they had to sacrifice in other areas. The leaders of effective churches spent over 40 hours per week with their families and in sermon preparation time. In order to fulfill these priorities, they obviously had to let some things go.

Thus the effective leaders cannot do many of the responsibilities often expected of them as pastors. They cannot make all the hospital visits. They cannot counsel everyone. And they cannot perform all of the custodial duties that may be expected of them. But as leaders they can see that those things get done.

Leaders of effective churches thus make certain that their family and work life is balanced. And they make certain they have time to be missional and all about the Great Commission.

They also give priority in time to prayer and to preparation in God’s Word for the sermons to follow.

They almost sound like they are following the pattern of the early church leaders: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the preaching ministry” (Acts 6:4, HCSB).

Biblical. Missional. Evangelistic. And powerful preaching.

How are you spending your time?

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on July 1o, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

One comment

    • I am a bi vocational pastor. I work a secular job and pastor. My day begins at 4:30 with prayer and getting ready for work. 10 min for reading and off I go. Listening on the way to work with Bible on CD. This is 20 min. At Work 20 min. before work begins reading in New Testament. Prayer through day. Breaks and Lunch Study some more. This is about 50 min. Home by 5:00pm Eat with family at the table and spent time with kids. Then work at church til 10 and to bed. I average about 18 to 20 hours of study and visitation a week.

The Importance of a Supportive Spouse in Ministry: Five Key Areas

The Importance of a Supportive Spouse in Ministry: Five Key Areas

By Thom Rainer

I am tempted to say that my ministry would be incomplete without my wife, Nellie Jo. It is more accurate, however, to say I likely wouldn’t have a ministry without her. She not only has been supportive; she has been a vital partner in my ministry.

Pastors and church staff members across the nation have shared with me the importance of their spouses in ministry. I was again reminded of this reality when I read a recent article in Harvard Business Review. The article was based on an incredibly impressive research project interviewing almost 4,000 business executives over a five-year period.

There were many parallels in this study and the anecdotal information I have heard from pastors and church staff members. To be clear, the HBR study looked at business executives, not those serving in churches. And they broadened the survey from “spouses” to “spouses and partners.” For those reasons, we can certainly expect divergence in the results compared to those serving churches vocationally.

Still, look at each of these key five areas and see for yourself if you can identify in your own ministry. The numbers may differ, but I think the sentiments will be similar.

  1. The importance of a spouse for emotional support (34% of the men and 29% of the women). A pastor recently shared with me his frustration with his church and his temptation to quit ministry. I asked him what has kept him going thus far. He told me: “The call of God and the support of my wife.” Many of us in ministry have similar stories.
  2. The importance of a spouse to accept career demands (16% of the men and 17% of the women). Someone who serves on a church staff is typically on call 24/7. Though pastors and church staff should do everything they can to give their families time, emergencies happen. Many needs are time sensitive. It takes a special spouse to handle that reality.
  3. The importance of a spouse to provide practical help (26% of the men and 13% of the women). In the HBR article, this practical help specifically addressed child raising and housekeeping and similar functions. I know a man whose wife serves as children’s minister in a church. It is very important for him to be home on weekends, particularly Sundays, because that’s his wife’s workday. He needs to be available to take care of the kids.
  4. Career advice (19% of the men and 13% of the women). I have looked to my wife every time I sensed God leading me to another place of ministry. She not only has been supportive, she has offered me wise and timely counsel. I was talking to a pastor just yesterday about a possible ministry change. He shared with me how important his wife is in providing counsel and advice.
  5. Willingness to relocate (10% of the men and 8% of the women). I feel confident that these percentages would be much higher among those in vocational ministry. The ministry is more often than not a very noble and mobile calling.

Keep in mind that the percentages noted in each of the five areas were for business executives. I believe, for the most part, the numbers would be much higher for those in ministry. And though the numbers are not mutually exclusive, there are hardly any leaders in businesses or churches who do not lean on their spouses greatly. Frankly, I can’t see how any pastor or any church staff person can make it in ministry without a supportive spouse.

How do you view these five areas? Are there some areas you would add to the five? Do you have a specific story of a supportive spouse in ministry? I would love to hear from you.

And by the way, Nellie Jo, thank you. I couldn’t make it in ministry or life without you.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on March 10, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

4 comments

    • Josiah Themba Mdaka

      This is what couples are for. I so pray that my wife can be that support pillar in my ministry as a pastor.

    • Terry Moore

      My wife and I have served several times on the mission field and I know without God`s protection and my wife`s support I would never have lasted long in ministry. Even today as we serve in our own community I still need the encouragement and love of my wife. I can always count on her for the truth in direction and support.I know that God loves me, because he put this wondeerful gift into my life. Thank You Lord!

    • Allan RIver

      How wonderful to know that everything about my life had been planned by God. He knew I needed a strong woman, my wife, on my side seeing that I will be experiencing many challenges in my life. I never would have made it alone or with somebody else. It shouldn’t just be a spouse but He chose that specific one who will know how to support me when I’m down and out, when it seems as if God don’t respond to all my prayers. I can’t stop thanking God for the spouse He gave me to be on my side.

    • Calvin H

      Barry-Excellent article. I wonder, however, how you harmonize what you say with Paul’s words in I Cor 7:32-35? (The bigger context begins with v. 7). Matt 19:12 also relates to this. It would seem that single ministry is God’s preference and married ministry is acceptable but second-best. We glorify romantic love in our culture, but Paul seemed to think that singleness was better for those in the Lord’s service. Some say that “that was only because Paul thought that Jesus was coming back in a few short years”. OK, but God apparently inspired those words and chose to have them preserved for us today. Thoughts? (I have been married for 35 years).

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

Nine Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

3981364314_d4b30cb739_bBy Thom Rainer

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.

I look forward to your comments.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

15 comments

  • Sherene D Smith

    Thank you for sharing. We have start a new church and it has been challenging.. thank you again for sharing your wisdom so we can stay focused.

  • Erick

    Thanks for being transparent. I believe it’s part of the reason people are leaving the church today is there is not enough transparency from the pulpit.

  • Genaro Martinez, Jr.

    Thank you for sharing this, all I can say is I have found myself there many times too. Only the grace of God and the love of the people we serve is what gets us through… God bless!

  • David

    I could add, “I spent too much time being mad at the ones who WEREN’T there and not enough time appreciating the ones who WERE there.”

  • Anthony

    I’ve been pastoring now for over 10 yrs. and I still haven’t perfected it. I have found out though, that the word of God, will always prevail over any situation. Just stay with the word. I have felt rejection, experienced slander, been taken to court, you name it; but God, and His word has always brought me through. And for that, I am encouraged.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Lawrence Kumi

    Thanks for sharing. It will be very helpful to some of us lay ministers. Most grateful.

  • Musa Mitekaro

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings from Africa. I have been so much blessed by your articles. Sharing your experiences is a great ministry. I am a pastor and administrator here in Africa, you have touched my life. God bless you, your family and ministry

  • Deborah Yinka

    Thanks for sharing your downsides with others. I really appreciate the fact someone else goes thru these challenges in serving the Lord Jesus. I think I get how to serve better. God bless you

  • KOFI APPIANING

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders

  • Dexter

    Thank you for sharing some of the stuggles, and I believe it will help somebody.

  • Jean Jackson Luma

    Dear Pastor Rainer
    Greetings From Haitian Community ( Norwood Church of God in Massachusetts) .

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us ,by today I will apply them in my ministry .

    May God bless you and your family

    Bishop Jean J Luma

  • Thanks, when I hear or see someone take a stand for being wrong, I know they are on their way to greatness. Show us oh Lord who we are and how to grow in you.

  • Frank esilaba

    Dear Pastor
    Thanks for sharing. This is a great lesson for all ministers and Christian leaders and especially me. I will use this in my service for Christ our Lord.

    God bless you, your family and Ministry,

    Bishop Frank Esilaba

  • Ps Ray Terborg

    Thank you pastor for sharing with us your experiences this counts for Every ps bishops this is an eye opener for every leader in THE churches today,
    Thank you

  • Pst. Edith Wekesa

    Thank you pastor greetings from Kenya and for sharing about yourself. It is great that one can admit their faults. it gives me strength to know that the struggles are for all of us, therefore we need to uplift each other as ministers of the word of God all the earth. Its encouraging to share and enable others avoid same mistakes.

Pastor’s Instructions — 2 Tim. 4:2-4

2 comments

  • Allan RIver

    Very powerful.

  • frank brefo

    i am very grateful for your upgrading and your undiluted word of God you have always been feeding us with. it is my heart said prayer that the most high God will forever grant the strength to do the will of the Majesty as the days are approaching. thanks and God bless you much.

Eight Things Pastors Do When Their Churches Are in a Slump

Eight Things Pastors Do When Their Churches Are in a Slump

 

By Thom Rainer

The meaning of “slump” is more evident in sports. When a baseball player, for example, is in a slump, we surmise that he is not hitting as well as he was earlier in the season.

For churches, however, there is no clear definition. Indeed, some leaders wonder if it is even right to say that a church can get in a slump. Still, some pastors say they church is in a slump if they are not connecting as well with members as they once were. Others declare a slump if attendance or offering numbers are down. Still others have a more subjective sense of a slump that defies a clean or clear explanation.

But many pastors will tell you about times when their churches were in a slump. Some will admit that the slump is present tense. So I asked a number of pastors how they react when this reality hits them. What do they do to lead their churches out of this perceived slump?

The pastors shared with me eight consistent responses. I list them in the order of frequency that I have heard them.

  1. They sought the advice of a leader outside their specific church. Sometimes that person was the pastor of another church. On other occasions it was a denominational leader or a church consultant.
  2. They refocused on the vision of the church. A number of pastors indicated that the church had “lost its way.” So they spent time reminding the congregation of the vision of the church. Of course, this approach presumes the church has a clearly articulated vision.
  3. They led the church to more outwardly focused ministries. Some church slumps were the result of the congregation becoming too inwardly focused. One pastor led his church to “adopt” an elementary school in the area. The members became motivated and enthused as they did whatever the principal and other leaders of the school told them the school needed.
  4. They sought a trusted confidant to evaluate their leadership. This reaction is similar to number one. In this case, however, the problem was specifically perceived to be the leadership of the pastor.
  5. They spent more time in prayer. I suspect this and the next response were actually more frequent. Many pastors sought the face of God more intensely and more frequently for guidance out of the slump.
  6. They became more consistent in their time reading the Bible. Many pastors get into the trap of reading the Bible only to prepare sermons or lessons. I know. I’ve been there as a pastor. But pastors need the consistent nourishment of the Word of God beyond the time they spend studying it for sermons or lessons.
  7. They became more intentional about connecting with their members. One pastor made a commitment to hand write one letter a day to a church member, write two emails a day to a member, and make one phone call a day to a member. The purpose of each piece of communication was brief encouragement and gratitude. It took him less than 30 minutes to do all of them, and he was consistent in it four days a week. In one year’s time, he connected with 800 members.
  8. They set aside time on the calendar during the week to dream. Pastors are on call 24/7. Life can become hectic and frustrating. One pastor sets aside two hours a month to go to a private room to dream about the future of the church. The time is a fixture on his calendar. Sometimes he prays. Sometimes he reads about God’s work at other churches. And sometimes he writes ideas and thoughts. The process invigorates him, and he can thus lead the church with greater enthusiasm and clarity himself.

These responses to a slump could really apply to any Christian leader. In this case, I listened to pastors.

So . . . can you sense when your church is in a slump? What is it like? How do you respond?

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on September 15, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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