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.

Brian Williams — Integrity

One comment

  • A MAN OR WOMAN OF GOD WHO LEAD GOD FLOCKS LIFE SHOULD BE AN OPEN BOOK THAT CAN BE READ BY ANY ONE.IT SHOULD BE A GODLY LIFE AN EXAMPLE TO THE FLOCK THAT THEY HAVE BEEN INTRUSTED WITH.THE BIBLE TELLS US OF A CROWN OF REJOICING THAT WILL BE GIVEN TO THOSE WHO DO THIS.

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.

Pastor, Start Setting and Achieving Your Goals

Pastor, Start Setting and Achieving Your Goals

Setting and Achieving GoalsBy Barry L. Davis

Note: All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version

Let me begin by asking you a question: When you set out on a trip, do you just load up the car and start driving? Do you go to the airport and buy a ticket on the next available flight, no matter where it’s going? Probably not. There’s no telling where you might end up, and it could be someplace you really don’t want to be.

Your destination is your goal. If you’re feeling hungry for great barbeque, you want to go Kansas City. But if you want to enjoy the view from the top of the Empire State Building, you’d best head for The Big Apple.

Success in life, spiritual and otherwise, is every bit as much a destination as is a physical place. Now if you want to reach that destination, you need to know what that destination is, and then you need to have a plan for how to get there. That is what we mean when we talk about setting and achieving goals.

In this article we want to discover what the book of Proverbs has to say about how to achieve our goals. And while the word “goals” is never used in Proverbs, the concept most definitely is, as we shall see.

WHY SET GOALS AT ALL?

I have spoken to people who are opposed to the concept of goals – especially Christian people, who seem to think that it is somehow unspiritual. Yet the book of Proverbs gives us some very good reasons for doing this.

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. – Proverbs 16:3

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. – Proverbs 21:5

It is quite obvious that God wants us to make plans for the future, and wants us to follow those plans until our goals are reached. But if our plans and goals do not include God and living for Him as our principle purpose, then those plans and goals should not be put into practice.

If you are a pastor or in some other area of church leadership, I think it is even more important to set and achieve goals than if you were not. Let me give you some reasons:

It’s a Matter of Stewardship

We are given one lifetime, and we need to make the most of it while we can. If I am going to be a good steward of the time that God has given me on earth I am going to use that time to accomplish as much as I can. When I set a goal, and then take the steps toward reaching it, I am making wise use of my time and accomplishing much more than I could have otherwise.

I’m not talking about just in the area of work, I’m talking about using time in the best possible way – this includes time for your family, relaxation, and other needs.

When we set goals that are financial, spiritual, and recreational, we will find that we will be able to enjoy more of those things than we ever have before.

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.  Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. – Proverbs 6:6-8

If the ants know how to be good stewards of their time, surely we can too. I once had a staff member at church that was getting very little accomplished and his area of ministry was suffering greatly. When I spoke to him about planning, setting goals and the wise use of time he looked at me as if I were from another planet. Even after continued encouragement and instruction he refused to change anything and we eventually had to let him go. As leaders in the church, we are responsible for how we spend our time. Not only are we being paid for our work, but we are doing it as a ministry for our God and Savior.

It’s a Matter of Measurement

I don’t know about you, but I like to be able to measure my progress. Let’s say that I set a goal to read through the New Testament portion of the Bible in the next year. I count up the chapters and discover that there are 260 of them. So I divide 260 by 52 weeks in a year and find out I only need to read five chapters per week to finish the New Testament in one year. So I could read just one chapter a day, Monday – Friday and I would accomplish my goal. But each day as I read, I’m going to check off that chapter and be able to see that I am making progress toward my ultimate goal. It is very motivating.

This same principle is true if I’m investing money, or wanting to spend quality time with my family, or working toward a college degree. Because I have a set plan, and ultimate destination, I am able to measure my progress and discover that my goal is definitely reachable.

If you are planning a building program, a new ministry emphasis, or stewardship drive, make sure and do it in measurable increments. That way you can see your progress as you move toward your goal. Not only is this helpful for you, but you can show the progress that is being made to the lay leaders and members of your church so they can share in the encouragement and motivation such planning brings.

It’s a Matter of Prosperity

This is true in all areas, but it is especially true if I’m setting financial or work-related goals.

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. – Proverbs 3:9-10

If you want to get ahead in life, you are going to have to set goals, and then work hard to reach them. Notice that the Proverbs writer stipulates that we must “honor the Lord” with our wealth if we expect Him to bless us financially. If you want to have a better income than you have now, you have to plan and work for it – there is nothing wrong with that, as long as we keep it all in perspective and keep God at the heart of it all.

WHAT KIND OF GOALS SHOULD I SET?

As I said, you can set goals for work, for investing, for your family, for education, for weight loss, and just about any area of life that you need to plan for. And while I don’t think there is any limit as to what kind of goals you should set, I think that as a Christian leader, they should at least follow these three guidelines.

Goals that Honor God

Any goal that is unethical in any way, or keeps you from following God with integrity is a goal that you need to get rid of. Integrity is the one thing no one can take away from us, but we can give it away through dishonorable behavior.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. – Proverbs 10:9

Our plans and goals should be made in the context of our commitment to God. So no matter what my goal is, it needs to pass the God Test before I begin implementing it into my life. I need to be able to ask and answer the following questions in the affirmative:

   1) Can I honestly ask God’s help in striving to reach this goal?

Is there anything I’m planning that I would not be able to pray for God’s assistance with? Is there anything about it that would embarrass me before God?

   2) Will I be a better person for accomplishing this goal?

In the process of reaching this goal, and in the accomplishment of it, will I be a better father or mother, a better student, a better businessman, a better son or daughter, a better minister of the Gospel? Is there something inherently good about what I am doing that will help me develop character, integrity, honesty, and those types of things?

1“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”

GOALS THAT ARE S.M.A.R.T2

“The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.” – Denis Waitly

I think Denis Waitly is exactly right – and if our goals fit into the S.M.A.R.T. acrostic, they are ones that we will certainly be able to accomplish with God’s help.

Specific – a general goal would be, “I’m going to grow this church” – a specific goal would be, “I’m going to begin an outreach program that involves training our congregation how to be more welcoming to visitors.”

To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

*Who:      Who is involved?
*What:     What do I want to accomplish?
*Where:    Identify a location.
*When:     Establish a time frame.
*Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.
*Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

Measurable – We’ve talked about this already, but we need to make sure that we have goals that allow us to determine whether we are making progress. You should be able to ask questions of your goal like, “How much” “How many” and “How will I know when it is going to be accomplished?” and the answers should be readily available. A good thing to remember is, “If I can’t measure it, I can’t manage it.”

Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and when necessary, the financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals. You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you begin to develop the traits and personality that allows you to possess them.

Realistic – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. But if you say that your goal is to read through the Bible every single day of your life, you are not being realistic at all. And when you set unrealistic goals, you’re just setting yourself up for a letdown.

Timely – Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by fifth grade – whatever your goal is, it needs to have a beginning and an ending point. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards. If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.

GOALS I’M WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE FOR

When your goals fit into the criteria we’ve mentioned so far, you will be blessed, God will be blessed, and the people around you will be blessed. But we need to understand that there is a price to be paid for these goals. If the goal is a good one, the price paid will be well worth it. If I’m going to climb up the corporate ladder, I am going to have to work very hard, improve myself in any number of areas, and consistently gain new skills and abilities. If my goal is further education, I am going to have to study hard, pay for my tuition, and be willing to devote a large portion of my life to school.

Those are good goals that cost a lot, but the benefits are usually worth it if we keep God as the director of all that we say and do. But then there are those all-important spiritual goals that we should be setting. The Apostle Paul set some goals for his life that were of a spiritual nature:

That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:10-11

Now the first part of Paul’s goal is something many people could align themselves with – to “know him (Christ) and the power of his resurrection.” But another part of his goal was to “share his (Jesus’) sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Paul felt that to fully identify with Christ, he needed not only to share in His power and glory, but also share in His suffering. And that is exactly what he did throughout his ministry – share in the sufferings of Christ. That was the price he was willing to pay.

Some of life’s goals lead us to share in that same type of price, and for others, it is a cost not quite so great – but there is always a cost. If we are going to be achievers in any area of life, we must be willing to do, say, and experience whatever is necessary to reach our goals. Sometimes the experience of paying the price shapes us more than the reaching of the goal.

I hope that you’ve decided to set some goals today. Perhaps you’ve decided to learn how to be a better preacher, and you’re going to take the steps necessary to reach that goal. Or maybe you’re going to make a decision to go back to school and finish your degree, or start on another one. Or perhaps you’ve decided that your prayer life isn’t what it should be, and you’re going to begin spending at least 15 minutes in prayer every day beginning today. Whatever your goal, make sure to allow God to be the main motivation for whatever you decide to do, and you can’t go wrong.

1New Tribes Missionary (author unknown), Eternal Perspectives Newsletter (Fall 2003), p. 15

2Adapted From Paul J. Meyer, Paul. J. “Attitude Is Everything” and other sources.

Barry L. Davis

 

Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling. His latest book is God-Driven Leadership: A Call to Seeing, Believing, and Living in Accordance with Scriptural Principles, from which this article is derived.

2 comments

  • Bob Burchette

    Outstanding! Thanks for sharing!

  • Nathaniel Allen

    Good Morning,

    I was recently called to Pastor a Church, I have never done this before; but I do know that as long as I let God lead me, and I am obedient to His will everything will be alright. Asking for your prayers.

    Rev. Nathaniel Allen

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.

17 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.

  • Tumi

    i salute your courage sir, I honestly need the grace of God too to live above it .

  • PST Ibikunle Ayodele

    PST I am happy at the things you shared with us. As a church leader I now know that i need caution on all these to be fulfilled. Heaven is sure if we are conscious of them as we work for God.thank for the insight.

Eight Characteristics of Evangelistic Church Growth Leaders

Eight Characteristics of Evangelistic Church Growth Leaders

eight

By Chuck Lawless

This week I’ve been preparing some lectures for my upcoming seminars in the DMin in Church Revitalization and Great Commission Leadership at Southeastern Seminary. For years, I’ve kept a running list of characteristics of pastors who lead effective evangelistic churches (that is, churches that are reaching non-believers rather than simply reaching other church members). Below are several of those characteristics.

  1. They believe the Bible is the Word of God. Consequently, they accept the truth that people who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus are without hope. The Word drives them to want to reach people.
  2. They take the lead in personal evangelism. They model evangelism, but not because they happen to be the pastor; they do it because Jesus is in their heart and evangelism is in their blood. These leaders would evangelize even if they weren’t pastors.
  3. They know the church’s numbers. They’re not idolatrous of those numbers, but they’re certainly aware of them. “A number represents a person” is much more than an adage to them; it’s a reflection of their focus on real people who need Jesus.
  4. They take personally any lack of evangelistic growth. That’s not to suggest, though, that they believe they can somehow create growth. It’s simply that they so long to see lives changed that they want to evaluate why when it doesn’t happen.
  5. They’ve led their churches to get ready for growth. They’re not always fully prepared for what God does, but their churches don’t take lightly their responsibility to disciple new believers God gives them. They have the “nursery” ready for babes in Christ.
  6. They know their community well – and they love that community. They can usually describe the general demographic makeup of their community, not only because they’ve studied the data but also because they’ve walked the streets. They’re glad to live where they live, and they hope to stay there awhile.
  7. They hold their staff accountable for doing evangelism. They may not always require written reports, but they’re intentional about asking for verbal reports during staff meetings. Typically, they’re hesitant to hire anyone who doesn’t have a strong evangelism record.
  8. Increasingly, they are more committed to church planting. Because these pastors want to see people saved, they’ve often joined the forces emphasizing evangelistic church planting today. They aren’t worried that everyone comes to their church, and they’re willing to send out some of their best to start congregations.

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on 12/10-2015. 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 nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

3 comments

  • Pastor. Dr. Reuben M. Sathiyaraj

    Wonderful article for leaders.

    • Pastor. Dr. Reuben M. Sathiyaraj

      Practical and followable guidelines for the leaders. It is a must for all kinds of leaders of the Church and Missions. Taken as a personal teaching to me at the nd of this year, so that practice it effectively without any more delay.

Ten Areas Where Pastors Need to Be Trained for the 21st Century

Ten Areas Where Pastors Need to Be Trained for the 21st Century

By Thom Rainer

Any pastor or other church staff member should be prepared in biblical truths. Theology is a key discipline as well. Indeed none of the classical disciplines should be forsaken, nor any of the practical disciplines, such as missions, evangelism, or church planting.

But the American culture has shifted dramatically in a relatively short period. The United States is becoming more like an international mission field. As a result, ministry training, whether formal or informal, should reflect this reality. Missionaries are typically required to receive intensive cultural and language training before they go overseas. Frankly, a similar need exists today for those in American congregations, or those planning to go to these churches.

So where are the greatest needs? My list is certainly not exhaustive, nor is it in any particular order. But I do see all of these areas as key to reaching our new and challenging culture.

  1. A new language. If a pastor or church staff member does not “speak” social media, he or she is neglecting one of the fastest growing trends in our nation, indeed in our world. It is no longer a fad; it is a primary means of communication.
  2. A non-Christian culture. Our nation is fast becoming a non-Christian nation. While we lament the relative decline in the numbers who follow Christ, we must also accept the reality that those in our community cannot be assumed to be like us, or to hold our values.
  3. The decline of cultural Christians in churches. The Pew Research project confirmed the dramatic increase in the numbers of people who have no religious affiliation. For our churches, this development means that most people do not feel cultural pressure to attend churches. More and more, those who are there are convicted Christians and not Christians in name only.
  4. A new work/life balance. Pastors and church staff members have always been on call 24/7. But now they are connected 24/7 as well with computers, smart phones, and other technological advances. For better or worse, the world of work and personal life is becoming increasingly blurred.
  5. Unregenerate church members. Cultural Christians are those who really know they are not believers, but are affiliated with churches for cultural reasons. But another group includes those who may cognitively assert a belief in Christ, but have really not had a conversion. For certain, this development is not new. But we are seeing the cumulative cost of weak discipleship and false conversions in our churches. How will we respond to the issue of numbers of members who are not truly believers?
  6. The community as a mission field. Can we change our mindsets and be better prepared? Our communities are not just changing because there are fewer Christians. They are changing with an influx of new ethnic groups and people of other religious beliefs.
  7. Less automatic cultural respect of church leaders. In past years, those who held the title of “pastor” or some similar nomenclature were revered in the community just by the position they held. Such is not the case today. Respect must be earned one day at a time.
  8. A more critical world. Many pastors and church staff members do not deal well with the more transparent and critical world in which we live. Some retreat to a form of passivity or paths of least resistance. And some quit altogether.
  9. A greater need for leadership skills. The world in which we live is complex. We may long for simpler times, but that won’t change our realities. Church leaders must be better leaders in more challenging times.
  10. More churches in need of revitalization. This last item may be last on the list, but the need is huge. As many as nine out of ten of our churches are in need of some level of major revitalization. There are tens of thousands of these churches, and the implications for equipping leaders for them are vast.

This list may be discouraging to you as you read the cumulative implications. I see it, however, from a different perspective. I see this new reality and this new mission field as a great opportunity. No, it’s not your father or mother’s church. It’s a new and challenging reality requiring a missional mindset. It requires total dependence on the One who sends us to the mission field. And that is exactly where God wants us.

What do you think about this mission field called America?

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.

One comment

  • Donald Clark

    Mission Field America is probably the greatest challenge for the Christian Church since the crucifixion and ascension of Jesus Christ. Didactically, I say that because the Holy Spirit teaches us all that modern Babylon will arise and that those who belong to the Lord will have to come out of her at the climax of the End Times. How many of us are adhering saints who are consciously aware of what is destined to happen?

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