“Stretch out your left arm. Make a fist. Hold still while I insert the needle.” The nurse filled two vials with my blood and said the doctor would contact me in two days and give me the test results. Just the other day I had my annual physical exam. Before the blood test I had already completed a two-page questionnaire, answered a battery of questions in the examination room, but now it was time to look deeper. The blood test revealed what could not be seen on the outside. A more in-depth look was necessary.
As pastors we look good on the outside, we sound fine, and are faithfully performing our ministry responsibilities, but I wonder if it might be time for a deeper look.
I remember growing up in church and singing the old hymn, "Count your Blessings." It's been years since I've heard this song in church, but as we gather with family and friends to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, perhaps it's time to dust of the lyrics. If you are not familiar with the song, here is the first verse:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Written in 1897, Johnson Oatman reminded us not to forget what God has already done in our lives. If you are a future-oriented person like me, it's easy to forget past blessings.
I've had my share of pain.
More than some, not as much as others, but I've had my share.
I've had seasons of discouragement and times when I wanted to quit. Like you, I have faced unrealistic expectations, unfair criticism, and unresolved conflict.
I'm grateful to be in a healthy season of life and ministry, but I've been reflecting this week on ministry pain and how pastors can navigate these difficult times.
Pastors are people too, and like most of humanity, it's hard to let go of emotional pain. We forgive and move on, but certain triggers bring the pain back up again. I've learned forgiveness is not a one-time event. It's an ongoing process.
By now most of you have heard the news of the tragic suicide of Pastor Andrew Stoecklein in California. We pray for God's comfort and peace to be upon his dear family and congregation.
I started my blog and FB group in an effort to encourage pastors to be healthy. Not just healthy in body, but also in mind, emotion, and spirit. The untimely death of this pastor reminds us all of the importance of mental and emotional health, the difficulty of our task, and the reality of spiritual warfare.
We were walking around Home Depot. It was yet another trip across town to pick up supplies for the church remodeling project. I had been there so many times over the past month, it was starting to feel like a second home. I looked at my wife and said, “I think I would be happy working here.”
Most pastors have had those moments where the stress of ministry has caused them to dream of doing something else. If you are like me, you have even written out your resignation letter a few times.
Over the past year I have been writing to encourage pastors who are tired, weary, frustrated, and discouraged. I write not as an authority figure, but as a fellow-journeyman. This is my first post after taking the summer to rest, reflect, and redirect.
If you have ever felt overwhelmed with the enormity of the pastoral task at hand, I understand. In the past I have written about life/work balance, and have even given suggestions on how to make it happen, but now I’m not sure it is possible.
I saw her out of the corner of my eye. The service was over and she was waiting to speak with me. I was talking and praying with several members, but she waited patiently. I greeted her warmly only to hear these words… “You are not the man of God I thought you were.”
The woman, who had not been in our church long, preceded to tell me why she disagreed with how I was leading the church. “You’re not listening to Holy Spirit”, she said. Predictably, she soon left the church.
I became a lead pastor at age 25. My wife and I had been married for three years, and we had a little baby girl. We had served as youth pastors at another church for two years, getting our feet wet into ministry, but stepping into a lead pastor role was a whole different ball game.
We were in a small West Texas town of 3,000 people. Our little church was not only passed it’s prime, it was barely alive. With a handful of people and a broken down, badly neglected building, we began our pastoral ministry.
I have a growing conviction. God didn’t just call me to pastor a church. He called me to pastor a city. My calling is not just to serve a local body of believers, but to influence a community towards faith in Jesus.
There is a fascinating verse in 1 Samuel 9:6. The servant of Saul says, "Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let's go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.” Years ago at a pastors conference I heard a stirring sermon from this verse called, “Is there a man of God in your city?”
When I ask pastors to describe their process for developing church leaders, the conversation often gets very quiet. Most of us believe leadership development is one of a pastors top priorities, but how do you do it?
Have you ever had a leader step down, and you realized there is no one qualified to take their place? I have. One of the mistakes pastors make is putting the wrong person in a leadership role, simply out of necessity. This decision might help in the short-term, but can be a disaster for the long-term.
Hi! I'm Loren Hicks. I am follower of Jesus, a husband, a father, a friend, and for the past