Hey Leader…Get Some Help

A copy of this Carey Nieuwhof book was given to me recently. Just finished reading it. Worthwhile.

I want to pass along one paragraph that may be one of the most helpful practices in the book. In chapter five entitled “Don’t Quit,” Nieuwhof lists five practices that have helped him, the founding pastor of a multi-site church near Toronto, persevere. The second practice reads:

2. Get some help. A decade ago I sat down with a counselor for the first time. Jim helped me get through some key issues, and he helped my wife, Toni, and me navigate some of the pitfalls common to couples when one is called into ministry. I’ve seen a few counselors over the last decade during different seasons and am quite sure I wouldn’t be in ministry today if it weren’t for their influence in my life. When I’ve been tempted to quit moments before a key breakthrough, my wife, prayer, wise words from others, and the help of a counselor made all the difference. I really believe God uses other people to speak to us. Interestingly enough, I don’t know of a single influential ministry leader who’s made it over the long haul who hasn’t been through some form of formal or informal counseling. My only question is why I didn’t go sooner.

Leader, consider the practice of your colleague. Get some help.

Saying No to Say Yes (book review)

I don’t recall how I came across this book. I’m guessing it was a “if you like that book you’ll like this book” Kindle referral. God bless Kindle.

If you are remotely involved with pastors (you are one, you serve one, you sit under one, you counsel one, you plan to be one, you’re married to one, you are searching for one, you just hired one, you used to be one), this book is gold. Why? Because the church world more often than not fails when it comes to pastoral boundaries. Ask your pastor.

We cannot become an expert at anything if we are responding to everything.

If for no other reason, get the book for chapter three, Setting Boundaries in Anxious Congregational Systems. Congregations become anxious for all kinds of reasons. That’s part of community. In those anxious seasons, they respond in various ways. Chapter three discusses four of those: projection, scapegoating, triangles, and multigenerational transmission. Immensely helpful.

The greater the anxiety, the more primitive the functioning of members… The greater the anxiety and emotional contagion, the more primitive and reactive people become and the less capable of creative thinking.

Chapter three also introduces the topic of differentiation-the ability to be in emotional contact with others yet still autonomous in one’s emotional functioning.

True differentiation is the ability to go home, not become emotionally reactive, and attempt to maintain a one-to-one relationship with key members of the family… Trying to keep everyone happy is not differentiation nor is avoiding or cutting off from unpleasant people. Differentiation is the ability to lead, set clear boundaries, say “no” when necessary, while at the same time building intimate relationships – even with those with whom we disagree.

All pastors will face boundary issues. It comes with the serving people career. If your pastor is up to pursuing excellence, he will agree with this final quote:

It is our job to preach, teach, and live a gospel that doesn’t depend on human over-functioning but on God’s grace.

Do him and yourself a favor. Get copies of this book and start creating healthy boundaries that connect to an overwhelming “Yes.”

Praying for Your Pastors

We paid church staffers are often asked, “What can I do for you? How can I pray for you?” So, let me give you an example of how any pastor could use your prayers.

Sunday mornings are when they have the largest volume of interaction with churchgoers, visitors and members. And the range of conversations is quite broad. Just this morning after the service, in less than ten minutes I had five different brief interactions with people about the following subjects:

  1. Church member facing gall bladder surgery
  2. Church member grieving loss of adult son
  3. Church member preparing for professional exams
  4. Church member out of work and shelter
  5. Church member asking about the temperature in the Worship Center

This is common, normal Sunday intake for your pastors. Put yourself in that space for a moment. What prayer(s) come to mind for you to offer on behalf of your pastors?

The one that comes to mind right now is that your pastors would be an example of Galatians 5:16-26. Your pastors are human. They are prone to the same tendencies as anyone else. Paul writes here that we cannot operate well for God’s kingdom without being led by his Spirit. Pray that your pastors stay closer to God than to anyone else, that they remain ready to withstand their flesh and anyone else’s, and that they then will produce the fruit of the Spirit not becoming “conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

A last thought. Tell your pastors you pray for them. Tell them how you feel led to pray for them. Tell them you have a glimpse of their Sundays.