When a Pastor’s Child Strays

By David Gough

I recently met up with an old friend. We’d served together in local church ministry, but hadn’t seen each other in several years. After he accepted a pastoral call to another state, we’d fallen out of touch. There were the occasional email exchanges and the annual Christmas card, but nothing more.

It was great to see him. But as we prepared to say our goodbyes, the conversation suddenly took on a somber tone. “Can I ask you to pray about something?” he asked. Tears began to fill his eyes; his normally strong voice faltered. He apologized, and then took a moment to compose himself. Over the next several minutes he told me about the heartbreaking story about his son who had recently walked away from the faith.

Sadly, I’d heard my friend’s story before. Another pastor’s kid, gone. Raised in a Christian home, seemingly trusting Christ at an early age, memorizing Scripture, serving as a leader in youth group, participating in mission activities—the story was all too familiar. Almost overnight and without much warning, his son had an epiphany: he no longer believed any of this stuff. The gospel and the claims of Christianity no longer made sense to him, if they ever really had at all.

A FAMILIAR STORY

I write not as a mere observer or sympathized, but as a father and a pastor who prays for his own wayward children. How desperately I long for them to embrace the faith they were taught and had imperfectly modeled for them. I’ve waited for years for the Lord to call them to Himself, even as I struggle with my own sense of failure in their having chosen the course of life they’re presently pursuing. What could my wife and I have done differently? How might we have made the gospel more appealing? The sense of guilt I sometimes feel, whether legitimate or not, is at times overwhelming.

Ministry is hard enough when things are going well. But it becomes doubly difficult when the path chosen by our prodigals withdraws from the Lord and weighs heavily upon us. Brothers, we need others to help us press on when the burden becomes too heavy to bear alone. Perhaps the following reminders will prove helpful in providing support and reshaping our perspective.

1. Don’t try and go it alone.

Surround yourself with a band of faithful and prayerful men. Perhaps this will mean the elders of your church with whom you serve. Or perhaps it will be a small group of fellow pastors that you’ve grown to trust. These should be men with whom you’re willing to be vulnerable and transparent, those who will not judge you or add to the guilt and pain you already feel.

Be willing to receive appropriate criticism when it is offered by other faithful men. You’ll likely discover that your situation isn’t as “unique” as you imagined, that you’re not as alone in the pain you feel. As these fellow brothers help you to reframe your perspective, the path forward will become more bearable. Though the recovery of your children won’t be immediate, you will enjoy a clearer view of the One whose hands hold much-needed mercy and grace.

2. Don’t fake it with your people.

Church members tend instinctively to look up to their pastors. They consider them either immune from or having overcome the daily problems that they so regularly face. This is perhaps especially true in matters of the home. Because of this, pastors may feel the need to mask the struggles that come with wayward children. They think this helps this ministry, but in reality it more likely hinders it.

As pastors, we shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed to reveal our own parenting imperfections. We shouldn’t downplay the disappointing outcomes for the sake of protecting our reputations. Even the most respected man of God has “feet of clay,” and we should not yield to the temptation of pretending that we don’t. It can be altogether appropriate to admit that we are hurting, and to ask for prayer for ourselves and our families. Consider discretely weaving brief vignettes of your own parenting struggles into an occasional sermon, being cautious not to say too much. But a word of caution is fitting here: we should exercise care in not doing this too frequently or too vehemently, lest we’re guilty of soliciting sympathy for ourselves.

3. Never stop loving your children—really loving them.

Despite what some people think, pastors don’t have “all the answers.” Nor do we think we have all the answers. Privately, we know that all too well, but publicly we sometimes don’t like admitting it. Rarely can we discern what God is doing “behind the scenes.” That’s true in the lives of our children, perhaps especially when they’re “far from home.” So resist blaming a specific cause, and instead receive the troubling providence as a humbling lesson from the Lord.

Nonetheless, our love for them must not be allowed to fade. Nor should it be conditionally dispensed. Warmly embracing our offspring while not condoning their chosen lifestyle is a practiced skill—and it must not be faked. If we hope to keep the communication lines open for the gospel, we must learn to love them well even as they stray.

It’s at this point where pastors sometimes veer off course in their emotion-laden appeals to their wayward children. Consider how the Lord pursued us when we were in the “far country,” and how his consistent love eventually drew us to himself (Luke 15:11–32). We owe our children no less. Therefore, let us continue to pray that the Holy Spirit would grant them faith and repentance so that they would turn from sin and embrace the Savior.

4. Don’t let go of the grace of God.

We have have no assurances that our children will ever be brought to saving faith. But we do know with absolute certainty that the God we serve is good and perfect in all his ways. He is merciful and just. As we persistently plead with our Heavenly Father to spare and to save these precious ones whom we love, may our dependent confidence in him never fade. He alone is our hope and in him alone do we trust.

In the closing words of Malachi’s prophecy, we are told that the Lord “will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). Of course, that’s not a carte blanche promise that God will save every pastor’s child who has abandoned the faith. Some he will save; their waywardness will end in their salvation. Others he will not; their waywardness will end in their destruction.

So the question that remains for us is a difficult one: will we continue to serve the Lord faithfully with no strings attached . . . even those that are tied to our very hearts?

“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:25). This assurance gives hope to both my friend and myself as we pray without ceasing for our children to come home.


David Gough is the former pastor of Temple Hills Baptist Church in Temple Hills, MD, a local body he served for 13 years. Prior to that he served as the Chairman of the Educational Ministries Department at Washington Bible College for 25 years.
Article originally posted on 9Marks.org

The Holy Spirit: Who He Is, What He Does, & Why You Should Care

Until now there has not been a comprehensive guide to understanding the Holy Spirit and His role in contemporary language for the average person. Many Christians feel that understanding the Holy Spirit is beyond their ability. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In this updated and rewritten guide to The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, Barry Davis and R.A. Torrey consistently and thoroughly present the third member of the Trinity in a way that anyone can grasp. The reader will learn more about the Holy Spirit and His role in our personal lives, the church, and the world at large than he or she could have ever imagined.

In seventeen inspirational chapters the authors describe:
*The Personality of the Holy Spirit
* The Deity of the Holy Spirit
* The Distinctive Role of the Holy Spirit in the Godhead (Trinity)
* The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit as Revealed in His Names
* Holy Spirit Convicting the World of Sin, Righteousness, & Judgment
* The Holy Spirit Bearing Witness to Jesus Christ
* The Regenerating Work of the Holy Spirit
* The Indwelling Spirit Fully & Forever Satisfying
* The Holy Spirit Forming Christ Within Us
* The Holy Spirit & Sonship
* The Holy Spirit as Teacher
* Praying, Returning Thanks, & Worshiping in the Holy Spirit
* The Holy Spirit Sending People Out to do Works of Service
* The Holy Spirit’s Anointing Over the Individual Christian’s Life
* The Holy Spirit Gives Power & Gifts to His Followers
* The Work of the Holy Spirit in Prophets & Apostles
* The Work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ

Available in KINDLE and PAPERBACK.

Here’s The Best Way You Can Help A Small Church Pastor Today


Ministry is hard. Small church ministry is relentless. Doing it alone is impossible.

By Karl Vaters

Small church pastors labor under a great deal of discouragement.

They work unbelievably long hours (often full-time at a paying job in addition to pastoral ministry) with very little money (many supplement the church from their bivocational pay) and very little encouragement.

They are the unsung and unseen warriors of the church.

So, if you’re in a position to help a small church pastor, here’s what we need from you more than anything else.

How To Reach Out

If you’re

  • A member of a small church
  • A deacon/elder at a small church
  • A denominational official
  • A seminary professor
  • A church growth writer or speaker
  • A pastor at another church, whether large or small
  • A family member of a small church pastor

Or in any other position of influence and relationship with a small church pastor, I want to ask a favor of you.

Want to help a small church pastor? Just listen to us.

Call up a small church pastor you know. Offer to buy them coffee, lunch or something else that fits their very tight schedule. Don’t give up if they’re hard to pin down (we’ve been burned by offers of “help” before, so many of us are wary of this.)

Then, when you sit down with them, do one thing.

Shut up and listen.

That’s all.

Just Listen

Want to help a small church pastor?

  • Don’t talk about your latest successes
  • Don’t tell us what you think we need to hear
  • Don’t give us a copy of the latest church growth book
  • Don’t tell us about when you were a small church pastor before your church grew
  • Don’t tell us what we must be doing wrong
  • Don’t tell us how much you admire our sacrifice
  • Don’t condescend to us
  • Don’t try to fix us

Just listen to us.

The Value Of Listening

Ask us what we’re going through.

Listen to our joys, our challenges, our frustrations, our anger and our hopes.

Let us vent.

Don’t correct us when we say something you disagree with. Wounded people always say stupid things that we don’t even believe ourselves. But we need to say it, anyway.

Cry with us, laugh with us, celebrate with us, get angry with us. Pray with us.

Then, after a few weeks pass, call us again and repeat the entire process one more time.

Not so you can earn the right to be heard. Not so you can get enough information to know how to “really” help us. Just because knowing that someone is listening is valuable all by itself.

Together In Ministry

We need you.

Not your advice, your ideas, or your newest church growth methods.

Just you.

We need you. Not your advice, your ideas, or your newest church growth methods. Just you.

And you need us.

Not as a project to fix, a problem to solve, or a church to rescue.

But as friends. As family. As peers in ministry.

If we have a question, help us answer it. If we share a need, help us meet it. If we have advice for you, listen to it. And if we have questions we want to ask you, answer them honestly and lovingly.

Ministry is hard. Small church ministry is relentless.

Doing it alone is impossible.

Knowing you’re there for us is a treasure.

“This article first appeared on ChristianityToday.com on 07/12/2019. Used by permission of Christianity Today, Carol Stream, IL 60188.”

 

Six Reasons Your Church Welcome Ministry Is More Important Than Ever


By Thom Rainer

“We are the friendliest church in town.”

That sentence or something very similar is the most common statement we’ve heard in interviews we conducted with church members during consultations. Most people active in a church really do think their church is friendly. These members have relationships and interactions that give them that perceived reality.

But when we interview guests of the same churches, we hear a different story. These guests often think the members are “unfriendly” or “cliquish.” They don’t have the established relationships members have. They are not familiar with the church facilities. They don’t know what to expect.

The church welcome ministry (or whatever your church calls it) has always been important. But the ministry is more important today than it’s ever been. Look at six reasons this level of importance has risen.

1. Church members are returning to church after a long absence. The pandemic kept them away. Many have returned, but not all have. Some are easing back into church cautiously and slowly. It is critical for the welcome ministry to encourage these returning members to get back into a rhythm and habit of gathering regularly.

2. More new guests are arriving. During the quarantine, a number of new residents moved into your community. They have not had an opportunity to visit a church, but they are ready now. For some unchurched people, the angst of the COVID era has them asking questions about God, church, and faith. Some will show up at your church.

3. Context has changed. Yes, the world has changed. The local church is a microcosm of some of the contextual changes of our society. Specifically, the ways we greet people in many contexts have changed. Hugs are mostly out. Handshakes are in some places and out in others. The availability of visible sanitizers is necessary in most churches. Those who participate in the welcome ministry are aware of the best ways to greet guests.

4. First impressions are more important than ever. Because some of the guests have not been in a church for months, perhaps even a few years, the first few moments they arrive on the church property are critical. They could return repeatedly, or they could decide it’s not worth the risk and effort.

5. Few church members are naturally welcoming to guests. They naturally gravitate to people they know. They may be uncertain if a person is a guest or a member they don’t know. Leaders can exhort church members to be friendly, but the challenge for it to happen will always be there. The welcome ministry fills this void, and the void has been exacerbated during the pandemic.

6. It is biblical. While we don’t see a formal welcome ministry per se in the Bible, the importance of hospitality is clear and powerful. For example, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13). Additionally, Paul’s qualifications for church leaders include hospitality (see 1 Timothy 3:2-3).

Your church’s welcome ministry has always been important. But it is likely it is more important than ever.

What is your church doing for its welcome ministry? I would love to hear from you.

 

This article was originally published at ChurchAnswers.com. Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at ChurchAnswers.com and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Free Full Manuscript Sermon — Doing Church God’s Way

Note: Feel free to copy this message and use it as your own. Edit it to fit your own style. More messages like this are available at https://singlesermons.com 

Title: “In God’s Power”

Series: Doing Church God’s Way

 Introduction:

 [1]When a hurricane hit South Florida, Norena’s home was one of many that was severely damaged. The elderly woman received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began. However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity. Norena has been living without power ever since. The astounding part of this story is that the hurricane was not Katrina, but Andrew. Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. Norena lived in that dark, unfinished house for 15 years. No heat when the winter chill settled over South Florida. No air conditioning when the mercury climbed into the 90’s and the humidity clung to 100 percent – not one hot shower. Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner. Her neighbors didn’t seem to notice the absence of power. Acting on a tip, the mayor of Miami-Dade got involved. It only took a few hours of work by electrical contractor Kent Crook to return power to the house. Norena said, “It’s hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on. It’s overwhelming.” [end of illustration.]

 How many Christians have been living their entire lives without ever knowing what it was like to have the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit operating within? To be frank, I think some of us have had that power turned off for so long, that we wouldn’t even recognize it if it came back to us. But, of course, it doesn’t have to be that way.

– In this series – Doing Church God’s Way – we are looking to the Bible to find out what specifically God’s intentions were for His church. And there can be no doubt that one of those intensions was for individual Christians and the church as a whole to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus left the earth for heaven, He gave us this promise:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8 (NLT)

This promise was not limited to those who were gathered with Jesus that day, but was a promise echoing the Great Commission given to the entire church. God intended for His Church to be a church that moved, breathed, and acted in His power. Now there are three specific ways Jesus said that this power from the Holy Spirit was to be applied that we are going to look at today.

  1. POWER RECEIVED

I guess it should go without saying that to receive the power you must first have the Holy Spirit as your guide, but perhaps we should spend a moment on this as a refresher. The power that Jesus promises is given, “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” And when does the Holy Spirit come upon us? It is when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”Acts 2:38-39 (NLT)

The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit Himself – if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you already have the Spirit as your constant companion and guide. And notice that this promise is for all succeeding generations, not just for those these words were originally spoken to. If you are a Christian today then you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, therefore, you also have the power of the Holy Spirit within. You do not have to be a Christian superstar, a singing sensation, or a well-known speaker to have the Holy Spirit – if you are a Christ follower you already have the Holy Spirit. Now we want to make sure that we understand that the power we are talking about is not our power – It is the power of the Holy Spirit. And we also need to be clear that we are not talking about having some type of super power to fly, leap tall buildings, or anything of that nature. This is the power of God, given by God, to accomplish the things that God wants accomplished. In other words, we are talking here about having something that is holy, precious, and to be used specifically in fulfillment of God’s desires.

  1. POWER APPLIED

It is one thing to realize you have the power of the Holy Spirit, it is quite another to actually apply that power in your everyday life. Consider the woman we talked about earlier who had the electricity turned on at her house after all of those years. What if, after turning her electric on, no one had bothered to tell her? All she had to do was flip the switch, but until she did that, the electricity would have done her no good.

It is the same with the Holy Spirit – we are all promised that we will be empowered by Him, but until we begin to actually use that power, we will continue to live as if we had no power at all. When Jesus speaks to His early disciples, He specifically tells them that this newfound power they have is to be used to, “tell people about me everywhere.”  In other words, the disciples were not given a choice as to how they were to use this power, and the power did not have multiple applications. The power was given so that they could lead other people into the salvation experience they themselves had come to know.

I know that some of you become very nervous when we start talking about sharing the gospel, or giving your testimony to others, or becoming involved in evangelism. Not everyone has the ability to speak in front of people, and many of you are shaking in your shoes just thinking about telling someone else about how to become a Christian. But the great news for all of us is this – we are not the ones doing it – it is the Holy Spirit working through us. You’re going to have to trust me on this until you experience it for yourself, but I can guarantee you that once you begin sharing the Good News about Jesus you will find that the Holy Spirit is taking over your speech, and that God is speaking through you. He wants to use you, no matter who you are, as His vessel for evangelism.

Pastor Steve Yeschek, Crystal Lake, Illinois, lost his sister, Judy, after a five-year battle with cancer. She was a woman who, as Steve described her, was a party animal—a big drinker with a self-contented lifestyle. She was someone everybody loved, because she exuded excitement and a thrill for life. When Steve tried to share Jesus with her over the years, she would laugh it off and keep partying. But at the age of 44, her world caved in – she found out she had breast cancer. She later learned her husband had cancer, too. Adding to the devastation of these two blows, she discovered her husband was having an affair. He subsequently announced he didn’t love her anymore and left her. It was in that context that she began to ask eternal questions and soon prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior. From that time until her death, Jesus and his Word and purpose became her priority. With the same gusto she lived life as an unbeliever, she now approached her new life in Christ. Her greatest aim was winning others to Christ. She boldly shared her faith even as she was undergoing surgery after surgery, praying for a miraculous healing from the Lord. Judy ultimately came to see that the greater miracle would be for her friends and family to come to know Christ. Even as she struggled for every breath, she talked her way out of the hospital about ten days before her death so she could be baptized and publicly proclaim Christ as the only way of salvation. Judy invited everyone she knew to come to her baptism service. Under the power of the Holy Spirit, she mightily and urgently shared her testimony. Her 84-year-old father came to faith in Christ that night and was baptized—along with her ex-husband, a number of nieces, a college roommate who was a New Age cultist, her aunt, her sister, and others. Ten days later, Judy died. Even still, more people came to know the Savior. When Steve read the message she had prepared for her own funeral service, another 100 people received Christ that day. [end of illustration.]

Now how did Judy, an ordinary woman, become such a powerful witness? We could speak about her personality, her experiences, and many other things that might have contributed, but most of all we would have to say that she opened herself up to be used by God. She was willing to apply the power of the Holy Spirit in telling others about Jesus Christ. When Jesus spoke to His disciples he told them to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. He was covering everything from telling those they knew the best and were most comfortable with, to telling people who were very much unlike them. And His promise was that if they would be willing to share the message, they would receive all the power necessary to deliver it.

Now this is where you and I come in – are we willing to be spokesmen for God? Are we willing, like the early disciples and like Judy Yeschek, to make ourselves available for God’s use? If so, God promises that He will empower us to accomplish His will. It is really as simple as that.

  1. POWER TRANSFERRED

Now when we go into our Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, what is going to happen? Some of those people that we talk to are going to respond by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior and then what is going to happen? They will receive the same Holy Spirit that we have, along with the same power to do God’s will. And that power will be transferred from one generation of believers to the next, until that day that Jesus returns for us. If you will research church history you will find that the Gospel message spread out from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth, just as Jesus instructed His disciples. He made the promise, they acted on that promise, and we are here today as a result of their obedience.

Now, here is the big question for each of us to answer individually, as well as our church as a whole – who are we going to transfer this power to? Where is our Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria? Who are the people God has called us to influence, and when are we going to get around to giving them the message that Jesus loves them and will save them for all eternity? The fact is, we can’t wait around for someone else to do it, because that “someone else” might never get around to telling them. It is up to us, in this church, and in this generation, to spread the Good News that has been given to us. We do not want to be guilty of spiritual selfishness, where we are willing to receive the message for ourselves, but unwilling to share that message with others.

Conclusion:

As we spend these weeks learning about Doing Church God’s Way there is nothing any more important than what we have learned today. God is ready to use us for His glory – all we have to do is act. What it really comes down to is this – can God trust me to trust His promise? Am I willing to move out of my comfort zone and allow God to use me for His glory? Am I willing to be His mouthpiece so that future generations can experience the same salvation that God has so generously shared with me? My hope and prayer is that we can all answer, “Yes, I am willing, able, and ready to be empowered by God to tell others about His Son.”

 

[1] KUTV, “Woman Turns Lights on After 15 Years in the Dark,” KUTV.com (2-17-07)

Help! I’m a Pastor!

By Joe McKeever

“In a multitude of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6)

I said to Pastor Marion, “I’m glad to exchange notes with you like this. But you need a couple of mentors–older guys with long histories in the ministry–whom you can sit across the table from and talk about these things.”

He named two such, a seminary professor and a retired pastor.

Pastors often find themselves in tough situations.  At the moment, Pastor Marion is leading his church in a massive building campaign, while working night and day to minister to his growing flock.  In the five years he has been there, his church has doubled or more in attendance. And then, this happens….

A deacon who is used to getting his way in the church called a meeting of the key leadership. He was upset about some of what Marion has been preaching, he says. Furthermore–it will not surprise you if you have ever been the target of this kind of abuse–-“many others in the church feel the same way.”

He threatened that steps may be taken to remove the pastor from the pulpit.

What is a pastor to do?

I mentioned a few possibilities, but with the caveat that “these are just some thoughts.” No way do I want to take responsibility for whatever he decides.

 

–a) I said, “You can take it to the church. This Sunday morning, tell the congregation that a couple of deacons are suggesting you need to resign, that they are unhappy with your leadership. And that you are calling a business meeting for Wednesday night to discuss this.”

The upside of doing that is you take the initiative, take the matter out of their hands and put it where it should be, in the hands of the congregation. This tends to stop a bully in his tracks. His anonymity has been a winning technique for him–that is, working on the pastor in the background. But you are now flushing him out.

The downside of this is that anytime you ask a church to affirm your ministry, you should anticipate the possibility that they might just hand you your walking papers. More than one pastor has gone into a church meeting expecting affirmation only to suddenly find himself jobless.

–b) Another possibility, I told Marion, is “You can meet privately with the other deacon or two who had partnered with the bully. Find out if they feel strongly the way he does or are allowing themselves to be pushed along by the force of his personality.  Get them thinking about the cost of forcing you out in the middle of a building campaign.”

–c) “But before you do anything else, Marion,” I said, “I would meet with those two mentors and give them the entire picture. See what counsel they have for you.”

Every pastor needs a few counselors.

Proverbs says, “In a multitude of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 11:14).  The wonderful KJV says there is “safety.” Not wisdom, necessarily, but surely safety and eventually, if we do it right, victory.

We’re more likely to make the right choice after running the situation by several people whom we respect and considering their take on matters.

One question we would like to ask Marion is, “So, what have you been preaching that would cause this deacon to react this way?” There is always the possibility that the deacon is right. Older mentors could help him look at all angles.

Another question to be asked by the older guys: “In case the church should terminate you, do you have any fall-back support, anywhere you could go, any way to support your family?” If not, this will limit the pastor’s choices.

“Marion, how strongly do you feel that God has placed you there in that church and still has His hand on you?”  This may be the most important question of all.

I once had a deacon take me to lunch with an offer of a lot of money if I would walk away from the church. I said, “I’d love to leave. I’m so tired of this stress. But God won’t let me. I have to see this through.”

It’s not about me; it’s about the Lord.

Get that straight and you’d be surprised how quickly it clears up matters.

No young pastor should ever do anything just because his mentors advised it.  But they can help him reason things out, can pray for him, and can be there in the future when and if things go badly.

Why pastors are reluctant to get mentors

Something inside us wants to go it alone. That feeling is not from God. No one in Scripture was commanded to go into the Lord’s work all by himself. The Lord intended that His people would have partners, co-laborers, advisers and counselors and helpers. Some will be–you will understand the expression–“above” you in ranking and some “below” you.  You need both groups.

Your pride can become your worst enemy. “I don’t need anyone else. The Lord is with me.”  The last part of that is true, the first part is a fatal error in your machinery.  You need lots and lots of people in your life. Check out all the “one anothers” found throughout the New Testament. We are to love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, rebuke one another, and so forth. At least 31 different such commands are given in the NT. That ought to tell us how strongly the Lord wants us to be part of His team and not long rangers.

Notice how often Paul identifies certain ones as his co-workers, co-laborers, and partners in ministry.

How to get a mentor

First, toss the terminology. When a deacon asked if I would “mentor” him, some 20 years ago, I asked what he had in mind and then declined. He was looking for someone to meet with regularly, with whom he could share his every wayward thought, and who would function as his manager in spiritual things. I was his pastor, admired a hundred things about him, but simply did not have the time or energy for this.

Just call these guys your “friends.” That’s what they are and all they need to be.

Second, if you have had a favorite professor or pastor along the way who lives in the area and is still working in the Lord’s vineyard, call him up for coffee.  That’s how you start. And, under no circumstances should you tell him you want to meet with him like this every week or month or whatever for the rest of your life. That sounds burdensome.  Don’t do that to him or yourself.

Just enjoy the visit. Be sure to ask what he’s doing and what you can pray for concerning his work. And don’t overstay. Thirty minutes may be a tad short. Forty-five minutes is ideal. An hour is pressing it. Two hours is too long and will cause him to hesitate the next time you call inviting him for coffee.

Third, wait two weeks, then call him again. If the meeting place was ideal, stay with it. If it was too crowded or noisy or the chairs were uncomfortable, find another coffee shop. This time, have a situation in your church or your sermons for which you need his advice. Take notes. Jot down his advice, scriptures he mentions, books he recommends.

Then, wait a month before you do it again.  After that, you will know–and so will he–if this should be an ongoing thing.

Remember, it’s fine to have several such friends. You are not betraying the first to do the same thing with one or two others.

Finally, if you are leaning heavily on those two or three friends, at least annually drop them a personal note to say how much you appreciate them. Every couple of years, give each one a gift card to a local bookstore with a note of thanks.

They may make the difference in your ministry.

Now, while you’re at it, look around for some younger minister who may be needing you.  What comes around should indeed go around.


Pastor Joe McKeever
http://joemckeever.com/

Five Marks of a Spiritually Immature Staff Member and What to Do About Them

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