Stop It

My senior year of college was crazy! I was preaching full time, directing theatre and teaching for a small christian school, traveling with the college’s drama ministry, and serving as chapel coordinator. Oh, yeah, I was also married and we were expecting our first child! Life was good, but I felt like I was always rushing to get to the next thing. I put on a lot of weight, and felt my health starting to deteriorate. I was a wreck.

The thing is, there wasn’t a single one of these things I didn’t love (well aside from the health and weight thing). They were all good things. I’d chosen the mess I was in. But something had to drop. I came to the realization that I was trying to accomplish all of my life goals at one time.

Sometimes, in ministry I think we do this. We go to a conference and absorb all sorts of great ideas, then we try to implement them all at once. Or maybe it’s a slow-burn buildup: agreeing to do this thing here, take that suggestion there, become involved in that ministry we’ve seen from a distance… And while we have great intentions for all of these things, and they’re all admirable, we can’t possibly hope to do them all well and still stay healthy. Something has to give. When we become over committed we can often find ourselves struggling physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

With that in mind, I want to encourage you (and remind myself) to evaluate what is on your plate. How many ongoing activities are you involved in? When was the last time you had two consecutive day’s off? ONE day off? How much time are you spending with your family? How much time do the activities you’re involved in allow for you to spend alone with God?

Now, are you comfortable with your answers?

If not, it may be time to cut some of the cruft out, or to delegate responsibility for a few things to someone else. One of my biggest struggles as a minister has been putting a ministry I’ve nurtured into someone else’s hands, but it’s important to realize that we don’t need to carry every program, Bible study, or ministry on our own.

Make sure you’re taking days off; taking your vacation. Jesus said that “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” While we aren’t required by the New Covenant to take a day of rest, clearly God thought it was beneficial for man to do so. 

Of course, all of this can apply to anyone, you don’t have to be a minister to be overcommitted, but: “Write what you know.”

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10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make (Me Included) | Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis

These days, I put more thought into long-term. I think about the kind of adults I hope my children will be and work backward to ask, “What can I do today to foster that?” Being mindful of their future has changed my parenting paradigm, because what makes my children happy at age 10 or 15 is somewhat different from what will make them happy at age 25, 30, 40 and beyond.

via 10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make (Me Included) | Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis.

Some very interesting thoughts, many of which I agree with. As parents, we should be focused on raising people who will be able to navigate life.

What 40 Year Old me would Say to 25 Year Old Me

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A wonderful bit of perspective for those (like myself) who are ministering in their 20s.

The Unappreciated Pastor

 

I was 25 when I became a senior pastor. That was 15 years ago. Honestly, I’m a little down about this whole age thing. I’m looking back a little. Time has gone by so quickly. I have been reminiscing about life in the ministry. In looking back I have come to the conclusion that it would have been great if there were a mentor in my life to prepare me for ministry. The reality is, at that point, I was so hard headed I probably would not have listened to anyone. I was pretty independent. The only person I would have listened to was me. I wish 40 year old me had been around when I was 25. I would have listened to him. That brings me to this blog post. What would 40 year old me have said to 25 year old me?

1. You’re an idiot. I…

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Being Dad

imageIt’s the hardest job that I do on a daily basis. It takes every ounce of strength; every bit of courage; all of my patience; and in my best moments I think I do a pretty good job… but not always.

When I found out five years ago that we were having a little boy, people told me that “boys are easy”, “all they need is a little discipline”, “give him a ball and a stick and he’ll practically raise himself”. When we found out that we were having a little girl two years ago, everyone assured me that “little girls just need loves”.

But here’s the deal: my kids require so much more of me than I ever expected. They’re emotional. They’re messy. They want my time and my energy. I have to talk to them and listen. I need to discipline them and show them grace. They expect me to be gentle when they’re hurting, and they need me to be tough when they’re afraid. Of course they do. They’re children! More importantly, they’re human beings. Messy, demanding, emotional, grace-needing human beings.

But here’s the kicker: even if I do a bad job, they love me. And that may be the most painful part. Because I make mistakes. There are days as a dad when I fail, and they come to me and hug me and kiss me and tell me they love me. Even when I don’t deserve it. And it’s in those moments when love hurts. When I know how undeserving I am, but they love me anyway.

There are few experiences in this life more humbling than the love of a child after you’ve messed up. Forgiveness from your two year old when you raised your voice over something stupid. Kindness from your son when you were stingy with your time.

For me, being dad has been a learning experience in being gracious. I’m going to get a lot of things wrong between now and the day my children no longer need me (which I hope is many decades from now), but I hope the thing I get right is reciprocating the grace they’ve given to me.

Considerate… Loving

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When I saw this post on XKCD the other day, it got me thinking about the difficulty of loving your neighbor.

Jesus tells his disciples that we are to “Love (our) neighbor as (ourselves).” He also tells us that we aren’t just supposed to love our neighbors, but we are supposed to “love our enemies.” He points out that loving those who love us isn’t particularly remarkable, as anyone can do that, but loving people who wish us ill, despise us, and actively seek our demise is our true calling.

I get that I’m supposed to love people, but if I start loving the hard to love people, what’s next?

We find ourselves asking, “WHERE DOES IT END, JESUS!?!? Do I have to love–” And Jesus interrupts us with a simple “yes”. “But, Jesus… I didn’t put any qualifiers on it yet.” “I know,” he responds, “Everyone.”

It doesn’t matter what descriptor we put into the question, the answer is always the same.

Tech In Ministry: Accountability (aka: The Porn Talk)

Tech in Ministry is a series about putting digital tools to use in the Church. 

The Problem

According to statistics from CovenantEyes.com, one out of two boys under the age of 13 have been exposed to pornography; 30% of 17-year-olds admit to having watched pornography “too often to count”; 62% of girls says that they have been exposed to pornography before the age of 17. If pornography were the flu, these numbers would be considered epidemic level. Continue reading