Archive for October, 2015

Pastor family blogI love being productive. I love seeing results. And it is especially rewarding when I am able to produce good results for something I believe in with a great team of people. To this end, our leadership team invests in carving out time to strategize and plan. There are many brainstorming sessions, evaluations, and meetings to prepare for events and programs. We also pray for the people we want to serve, and for wisdom in knowing how to best bring God’s kingdom here on earth. We do our best to be intentional and strategic with our time and energy to accomplish our goals.

But here’s a pivotal question: how much intentional time and focus do pastors give to lead their family? How many hours in a week are spent to move the family into health and purpose?

God calls us to lead our families with the same intentionality as we do with the church. We see this in 1 Timothy 3:5, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” In fact, this should be our first calling. Are we as pastors taking our call to serve and lead our family first seriously?.

This is not just an extracurricular activity, but something that needs to be a core priority. In one survey by the New York Times, 80% of pastors reported that ministry had negatively impacted affected their family dynamics. 77% of pastors shared that they do not have a good marriage. Anecdotally, you can see this pastoral family tension in things like the stereotype of the rebellious PK (pastor’s kid).

Would things be different if the pastor focused on leading their family first? I believe so and I want to encourage pastors to make this their first priority. Investing in your family may require shifting of priorities, schedules, and commitments. But it is well worth it and can bear much fruit both at home and at church. Below are 3 tips to help you get started based on three core elements we often do to lead our ministries.

1) CREATE VISION: What’s the desired outcome for your family?

Vision tells us where we are going and what we are hoping for. It’s a buzzword in leadership circles at the workplace but often overlooked at home. So what is the desired outcome for your family? Take time to think and pray about this. Here are some other questions to think through this question.

  • What kind of marriage and relationship do you want to have with your spouse in one year, 5 years and 20 years? What does it look like?
  • What about for your children? What kind of family dynamic and reputation do you want to have with your kids?
  • What do you NOT want your family to be known for?

2) EXECUTE VISION: What actions or activities can you do to achieve the vision for your family?

Once you have a goal for your family, how do you plan achieving it? Pastors spend countless hours on programs, events and retreats to strive towards the vision of the church. In the same way, pastors need to create intentional events, activities and family trips on a regular basis to foster the kind of environment and opportunities for growth that you want in your family. Intentional planning and organization needs to be done on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis to ensure that your vision for your family continues to progress.

  • What are some activities that your family will start doing this week?What are some monthly events that your family will do?
  • When is your next family vacation? (don’t use a piggy back it with a church event)
  • What behaviors or words should you do or say more often? What should you do less?

3) PROTECT VISION: What will you do when you stray from the vision? 

Leaders know that it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose focus of the vision. Resilient organizations find ways to deal with unexpected problems and strategically plan for potential issues as well as engage in preventative actions to minimize the risk of problems. When things arise that threaten the vision, or when the vision becomes neglected, you may need to initiate family meetings and be ready for tough conversations. You may also want to have people help you check your priorities and actions to prevent your vision becoming neglected in your business. Accountability is also crucial for the pastor to stay the course.

  • Do you have a plan when the vision slips?
  • What are the potential things that will hinder you from supporting your visions, and what can you do to protect yourself against those things?
  • When was your last family meeting?
  • Who is keeping you accountable on your family vision?

The most important ministry that God has called to is our family. We need to care for our family members spiritual health and relationships just as much as we care for the church. And the beautiful thing is, as we lead our families effectively and lovingly, we will be more balanced and supported in leading the church. Lets make sure our families are getting our best.

 

 

 

 

pastor small grou profile picMost pastors would agree that small group ministry is important to the growth and discipleship of believers. They herald the importance and urge others to participate, but many pastors aren’t actually a part of one themselves.

Why is this the case? Why aren’t more pastors involved in small groups at their churches? From my own experiences and hearing from other pastor friends, there are two reasons: 1) the lack of a perceived need and 2) the potential conflict of being in a pastoral role verses small group member. As a pastor, you may be constantly reading scripture, going to prayer meetings, talking about spiritual things that consciously or unconsciously lead you to conclude that in the grand scheme of things, being a member of a small group is not necessary. You are, after all, devoting a lot of time to study scripture and learning on your anyway, right? Also, the idea of being vulnerable about personal struggles with other church members can be a scary or concerning thing. As a leader, how much can you share without being a stumbling block to someone else? Or perhaps my leadership as a pastor is compromised due to showing “weakness” and “struggles” in a small group?

While every circumstance is different and pastors need to assess their specific church situation with discernment, , I’ve come to the conclusion that pastors being in a small group at their local church is not only beneficial but vital to personal and collective growth. Here are my five reasons why:

1. Model what you want

“As the leader goes, the ministry goes.” Pastors need to model the type of spiritual disciplines that they want for their church. You can tell people to join a small group all day long but if they don’t see you practicing it yourself, then it’s just words. People will follow your actions more than your words.

2. Breaks myth that pastors are better than or different from

When pastors don’t join a small group, it can communicate to the church that they are somehow above or not in need of this form of discipleship. The unintended consequence is it may create a sense of holier than thou barrier with church members. It also plays into the myth that pastors need to be put on a pedestal or be superman, which is actually the opposite of the leadership Jesus portrayed and the heart of Christianity itself. When pastors do join a small group, it shows the humanity of the pastor as well as creates a bridge with the members.

3. Pastors need church family, not isolation. 

Some of the loneliest people in the church are the pastors. It’s easy for the pastor or leader to be doing the ministry and feel so isolated and alone. If anyone in the church needs accountability, support and prayers, it’s the pastor. The best place for the pastor to receive this weekly is through a small group. It doesn’t matter who you are and what your role is – we were all designed to be in community and fellowship, and this is where the best growth can take place – hand and hand with each other through the good and difficult times. They can take their pastor cap off and learn to receive rather than give, which can be uncomfortable for some. It should be a place for the pastor to be able to find support with other believers who can love and encourage their fellow brother or sister.

4. Come out of the bubble

It’s easy for the pastor to live in his own world or bubble and be disengaged with their member’s lives especially in a large church context. Doing life together with a small group of people breaks you out of that bubble. It helps you to see what your members are going through outside of Sundays and participate in the messiness of life. It allows you to hear stories, struggles and pains from your small group that you may miss because you are in your office sending emails or preparing for a message. Small group gives you a better pulse of what people are struggling with and what they need.

5. To grow closer to God

Pastors are expected to grow in their walk with God more than the average believer. Pastors have their quiet time, study, read the Bible, pray and do other disciplines. However, one of the best ways for pastors to grow in their walk is through small groups. Jesus was in a small group with the disciples. This helped the disciples grow tremendously in their faith. Many of the ways to grow spiritually are linked with learning how to interact with others in more honest and vulnerable ways. I believe that pastors will also experience this same type of spiritual growth when they activity participate in a small group.