Well, here it is… the final post on the topic of Prone to Wander! So far this week we talked about the negative consequences of leaving too early, and seven things that contribute to our desire to do so. Now, I want to share with you…
4 Practices that Produce Short Pastorates:
1. Going it alone. Whatever you do in ministry, do not go it alone! Loneliness and isolation almost guarantee pastoral failure. First, you don’t know enough to try and do your ministry alone. You need the help of the body of Christ. Second, you’ll miss out on partnership, camaraderie, and the joy of teamwork.
Do you have others on your ministry team? Are there some people in the church that you’ve known for a while you needed to tap and move into a ministry, but just haven’t? Perhaps you fear rejection. You think they’ll say no. Maybe they’re just waiting to be asked.
I recently asked two people to serve in our church (they’ve been around for several years but haven’t been serving) and they were surprised to be asked and happily said yes. They’ve served like superstar athletes in our church these last few months – they were just waiting to be asked! Do not go it alone. Gather a team, empower others, and enjoy the game.
2. Poor or scant communication. Are you someone who gets energized by being alone? Do you like your solitude? Do you think you should only need to tell someone something once? Do you not like to talk on the phone? Do you avoid email and voicemail? If you said yes to any of these questions, let me encourage you to evaluate your communication within the church.
Poor communication produces disgruntled and unhappy teammates and church members. Bad communication produces mistakes and bad results. Neither is desirable. We just absolutely need to communicate with our leadership and church family on a regular basis. We need to do it one on one, in small groups, in large groups, through email, cards, letters, announcements, phone calls, personal visits, private conversations, etc. Ministry is about relationships, and relationships thrive on good communication.
3. Bitterness and/or unforgiveness. Life is too short to hold grudges. I was at lunch with someone today when we bumped into a person who left our church some time ago. The person I was with just walked by, but I stopped, said hello, and said something personal and encouraging. The person I was having lunch with said I was too nice to people. But I said “No, it’s just a lot easier to be nice. It weighs a lot more and takes too much energy to hold a grudge. Besides, being nice is way more fun!” It’s true. Forgive quickly, or those burdens of bitterness will bog you down!
4. Playing fast and loose with your integrity. Just like it’s easier to be nice, it’s also easier to tell the truth. It takes more processing power and additional mental and emotional RAM to sustain more than one account of reality. Issues of integrity can range from opposite-sex relationships to handling church finances to private conversations with staff, leaders, or members. Live what you preach and preach what you live. Life is a lot easier that way.
Are there areas where you are playing fast and loose with your integrity? Are you a little nervous? Afraid of being found out? Developing some bad habits that you know sooner or later will ruin you, but you’re just not admitting them to yourself? Find another pastor to talk to and confide in. Confess your faults and find the encouragement to change. You can do it, but also in this area, you just can’t do it alone.
As we wrap up this week – it’s almost always too early to call it quits in ministry! You may be just one week away from a huge breakthrough, or a significant ministry achievement or blessing. Don’t quit! Hang in there! Find some help, open up to someone else. You’ll find out that you’re not alone in the struggle. Call on, and rely on, God! Just remember though, God often works through his people, and may show up as another pastor or person, so be looking and open when God arrives.
May I remind you once more that the leadership you provide in your 200church is so very vital and important in the Kingdom of God?! Yes, it really is.
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