Ministry Inside.91

appreciate“Do you feel appreciated in the congregation you serve?”

It took this minister only seconds to answer his friend’s question.

“No, I don’t feel appreciated.  I feel taken for granted by my elders, my co-workers, and many people in our church.”

He went on to say, “Now of course that is not true of everyone in our congregation.  Some people regularly communicate their appreciation.”

Sometimes those of us who are church leaders do a poor job of communicating our appreciation.  I am not referring to public recognition or statements, etc.  Rather, I am talking about simply communicating to another person your appreciation and how much you value that person’s ministry.

Why doesn’t this happen more?

  • Some of the very same people (pastors, elders, ministers, youth ministers, etc.) who do not show their appreciation are not expressing appreciation to their own spouses or children either.
  • Sometimes we get used to a certain person being in our lives and we fail to notice him/her anymore.
  • Some of us have no idea how important appreciation can be to the human spirit.
  • Unfortunately, there are some who don’t show appreciation because, quite frankly, they really don’t appreciate that person’s ministry.  In fact, some may say, “That’s what he’s supposed to do.  That’s why we support him financially.”
  • Still others (and this really does reflect a level of immaturity) will say, “No one shows me any appreciation.  Why should I be expected to appreciate that minister?”

I remember a time in life when I was deeply bothered because I felt taken for granted by the leaders of the congregation in which I served.  It felt like most of the affirmation I received was coming from outside our congregation.  Meanwhile, after a significant conversation with a counselor, I began to realize that I was far too dependent on receiving the affirmation and appreciation of others.  This was something I had to work through.  (I have to continue paying attention to this.)

A few suggestions:

1.  Lower your expectations.  Some people, some groups of elders, some co-workers are just not going to express their appreciation.  

2.  Know that your obedience as a Christ-follower gives the Father pleasure.  Remember the words of the Father as he affirmed the pleasure that his son brought him: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”  Know by faith that your life before God is noticed by him and brings him pleasure.

3.  Show your appreciation to others.  Do what you would like others to do toward you.  I don’t mean this as a manipulative ploy.  Rather, it is important to live out what you want others to practice.

4.  Receive the appreciation that is shown to you as a moment of grace.  Refuse to believe that you are entitled to appreciation.

5.  Find your identity not in the appreciation of others but in your calling.  Some ministers may receive much appreciation and affirmation in their congregations.  Meanwhile, others may receive very little.  That has nothing to do with one’s value or identity as a minister.  Rather, it may say more about those particular congregations.

 

Question:  

What has been particularly helpful to you in dealing with the issue of feeling taken for granted or unappreciated?

10 Ways to Murder a Marriage (Part 2)

Learn-How-to-Heal-Your-Broken-MarriageThe following post is a continuation of an earlier post (find it here) describing behaviors that can murder a marriage.

6.  Refuse to forgive.  Some couples fight and refuse to forgive.  They stuff their anger, their resentments and their bitterness.  They refuse to forgive and move on.  The old negative behaviors of the past are allowed to accumulate in one’s heart and mind, like smelly garbage that is never taken out.

At some point, when this couple is in a heated battle, they open the garbage bag and drag out the past failures of their spouse.  Out comes nasty resentments and more anger.

Refusing to forgive can destroy the intimacy in a marriage and put one another at a distance.

7.  Be disrespectful to one another.  I once knew a couple who regularly showed disrespect toward one another.  They didn’t just disagree.  They wanted to hurt one another.  She would accuse him of not being a real man with any backbone.  He accused her of being cold and unresponsive.  Their language toward one another was demeaning and hurtful.

Disrespect can slowly destroy the tenderness that a couple may have had toward one another at one time.

8.  Act in an untrustworthy manner.  A man in his late thirties has been on a number of business trips with his company.  He never wears his wedding ring when he travels and is very flirty with female co-workers.  At one point, his co-workers were shocked to learn that he was married. Eventually, his wife found out about his reputation at work.  Now she refuses to trust him.

Behaving in an untrustworthy manner is a major breech in a marriage and destroys the trust that might have once existed.

9.  Be manipulative.  Manipulators attempt to get what they want without being honest enough to be transparent.  A woman once said regarding a family member: “I feel like he is always up to something.”  The manipulator is always trying to put himself at an advantage so that he can get what he wants.

Husbands and wives who manipulate one another destroy their opportunity to practice self-giving love while they opt instead for power and control.

10.  Put yourself first.  

Putting yourself first in your marriage destroys the opportunity to follow Jesus while you decide you choose instead to go your own way.

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

Wrong way run!  (Hope your week started better than this)

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Don’t miss this great post by Seth Godin

This short post entitled “Most People” made me think.  A reminder not to measure ourselves by what we perceive most people to be doing.

I will listen to this podcast again.

How to Become a Happy Person Others Want to Be Around (podcast).  This is an important podcast by Michael Hyatt and one that could be helpful to many.  I once heard a guy complain because no one seemed to care to listen to his ideas.  He perceived that his ideas were too progressive for his friends and fellow students.  Years later, it occurred to me that it was not his ideas that his friends rejected by his attitude.  He complained constantly and had a very cynical attitude.  His ideas may have been good.  However, his attitude became a barrier between his friends and those ideas.

Tim Keller’s New Book

Go here for the table of contents and introduction to Tim Keller’s new book Center Church.

Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed.

Don’t miss this very good post by Jeff Cook on Jesus and desire.  Jeff’s post is thoughtful and worthy of serious attention.

The quarterback with one leg.

Wow!  Be sure to check out “The Amputee QB

Ministry Inside.90

to-do-listDo you ever find yourself putting off a task and as a result, it remains on your to-do list day after day?

I am thinking of a particular task that stayed on my to-do list for three weeks.  Every single day, I looked at that entry.  I needed to take action regarding a particular situation.  Instead, I let it linger.

I was procrastinating.  I put off doing what I knew needed to be done.

For awhile, every time I looked at that entry on that to-do list, I felt guilty and frustrated.  Finally, I felt nothing.  Day after day that item remained on my list and I no longer saw it.

I am not sure why I did this.  I suspect that one factor was fear.

Can you relate to this?

A few suggestions:

1.  Make sure that everything on your to-do list is actionable.  “Prepare sermon series” really doesn’t say much.  It is vague and has no specific action.  Better to say, “Write titles and purpose statements for six possible sermons for new series.”

2.  If an item seems big and overwhelming, break it down into step you need to take and then work on one of these tasks.  For example, instead of “Work on Bible class,” you might break this down into steps:

*   Create handout

*   Verify the details of the opening story

*   Review film clip

*   Read article regarding background information

A list of specific actions is much easier to address than a vague statement.

3.  Make a list of any actions you are avoiding.  Consider the emotional reaction you have to seeing a particular item on the list.  Is it fear?  Do you feel overwhelmed?  Do you feel a sense of dread?  Pray regarding these feelings.

4.  Take action on one of these tasks during your peak time of the day.  In other words, instead of using your peak energy time to look at Facebook or comment on someone’s blog, you might take action toward something that you’ve been avoiding.  Don’t wait until you have an energy lull to then look at what you want to avoid.

 

10 Ways to Murder a Marriage

marriage-broken-eggThe following is part 1 of a two part post in which I reflect on how to destroy a marriage. We have been married for 34 years and have had a front row seat to many, many other marriages.

1.  Create an atmosphere that no one would want to come home to in the evening. Do nothing but stare at your television night after night.  Complain.  Gripe at her or him for mistakes.  Go to bed angry and resentful.  Repeat the next day.

Constant carping, complaining and whining can destroy the atmosphere of a marriage. 

2.  Use pornography.  This is an ever increasing temptation not only for men, but women as well. You can lose yourself in a make believe world.  Pornography creates the illusion that sex is basically about the enjoyment of one person, instead of the mutual service of two people.  You don’t have to grow.  You don’t have to mature.  You don’t have to work at the give and take of relationship.

Pornography can destroy intimacy in marriage.

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

The following are some resources for the week that you might enjoy.  These are links to posts, articles, etc. that in some way caused me to think.  Maybe you will find some of these useful as well.

Sobering

A Tiny Life Ends in South Sudan.  I read this piece in the New York Times recently.  Very sobering. This a stark reminder of the impact of disease and poverty on families in South Sudan (and so many other places).  Periodically, I have to read articles like this to bring perspective to my life and work.

Reading

Peter Scazzero has written a good post.  Summer Reading Picks 2012.  I appreciate lists like this.

Thinking

What a great piece!  How to Miss the Point: A Guide to Dimwitted Discourse. (Originally seen on Scot McKnight’s blog.)

Work

Have you ever worked with someone who constantly attempted to micromanage you?  You might find Michael Hyatt’s post “How to Manage a Micromanager” useful.

Ministry

Paul Tripp has written a new book entitled Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry.  I have not read the book but did enjoy the brief video promo that you can find here.  This sounds very interesting.

Ministry Inside.89

button Learn(The following post is written with church leaders in mind.  However, others might find this useful as well.)

Have you noticed that some people love to learn?

Last night, a wonderful young guy in our church shared a part of his life/faith story. Part of his talk included his work life as a firefighter and the many classes and special training he has undertaken.  Throughout his career, he has been devoted to learning and growing.  Not surprisingly, he has continued to advance in the fire department in which he serves.  He is now a fire marshall.  I suspect he will be intentional about learning and growing for the rest of his life.

Have you noticed that some people continue to grow and develop as ministers, pastors, elders, etc. while others put very little energy into learning?

Madeleine L’Engle, in her book Two-Part Invention, speaks of her early years in the 1920s when she was single and working in the theater.  She writes:

One of our roommates came because of the piano.  She was a budding musician and filled the apartment with Beethoven, Brahms, and Bach, though after she came I played only when she was around.  She grew as she played, not only in technique but in maturity.  The great masters pushed her as she tried faithfully to go where they led.   We do learn and develop when we are exposed to those who are greater than we are.  Perhaps this is the chief way we mature.

I love these lines.

We do learn and develop when we are exposed to those who are greater than we are.

Refuse to Settle for Being Half-Alive

alive_bigI came across this powerful line in Patrick Morley’s newest book Man Alive (p. 13)

You don’t have to settle for being half-alive.

I thought about this for several days.  I think it stayed with me because I’ve seen so many men and women who shut down long before they actually died.

  • The man who sits in his recliner at 40 years of age and complains about being old.
  • The woman who seems to have shut down once her children left home.
  • The man in his 50s who constantly talks about the years in which he played high school football.
  • The minister who sounds bland and bored as he speaks to the congregation.

So what do half-alive people look like?

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

The following are some of the posts that I read within the past week. Hopefully you will find a post or two in this list that you find useful.

Working in coffee shops

Wade Hodges recently moved from Austin to Dallas. He has written three fine posts on his experiences in working in a coffee shop. These are great! See: “In Search of a Good Coffee Shop,” “Five Lessons I’ve Learned from Working in Coffee Houses” and “My Coffee Shop Nemesis“.

Learning to face fear

Former FBI agent, LaRae Quy reflects on learning to face your fears. It was helpful to read through her steps.

For parents

You might find “Supernatural Parenting” encouraging. Wisdom from a pediatrician (Thanks to Scot McKnight)

For church leaders

John Frye’s recent posts regarding pastoral ministry have been outstanding! Don’t miss John’s most recent post which was posted on Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight’s blog. You can find John’s blog here.

Don’t miss Andy Rowell’s post on the practical nature of ecclesiology.

Thinking about God

See this excellent post by Jeff Cook, “Could Believing in God Harm Your Soul“?