Moving Forward

As the first day of summer begins, we are reminded that seasons change and time marches on.  How about you, are you moving forward?

If there was anything about your life and/or health you would change, what would it be?     crossroads.613

When you identify that area of your life or health that you would like to change, the first step would begin by saying out-loud, what you would like to change.  This is the first step of owning what you would like to change.  To take another step in ownership, you will next have to determine how serious this area of concern affects your life.  You can determine the seriousness of this area/condition by scaling it on a 1-10 scale (10 is the highest).  Another idea would be to list the pros (good things) and cons (not so good things) about your present status/condition.

You can take the second step of ownership only if …

1.  Your scaled number regarding your seriousness of condition is an 8, 9 or 10;

2.  Your cons outweigh your pros regarding this area or your condition.

If neither of the above are true for you, then you will need to determine what would have to happen in you or your life for the next step of ownership to be true.

If the above ownership answers are true, then you can take the second step of ownership.  As you step up, you may feel very confident and happy, or a little mixed feeling uncertain or anxious.  If so, don’t worry, this is expected and normal.

The third step of ownership is, considering the reasons for your present lifestyle or health condition.  What has led or caused you to be in this condition?

Moving Forward, Part 2 coming soon!


Jesus’ Prayer for Us

As a ministry leader, how connected are you to your team? Whether you work directly with your elders or function on a ministry staff, maintaining positive and supportive relationships often is the key to effective ministry.  

In a recent survey of 165 Midwest, ministry leaders, 92% said they work on a “very” to “moderately united ministry team”. In fact, 78% stated they have “excellent” to “good support from their supervisor” (pastor or elder board).

Team unity and support was on Jesus’ mind as He prepared to go to the cross. In John 15, Jesus called Himself “the Vine” and His Father “the Gardener“. He prayed that His disciples and future followers would be one, like He and His Father. Then Jesus goes on to pray His purpose for unity to be “that the world my believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).

Obviously, being united and supportive to all Christ followers and especially our ministry team, is to be our goal and focus in serving Him.

How does team “unity” and “support” practically look in your ministry setting when organizing worship and ministry programs?

What is your responsibility in promoting relational unity when your opinion is different or program is criticized?

Practically speaking, team unity and support is difficult to live out, promote and maintain. This is why Jesus prayed for us and desires to help us be unified.


Pastor Renewal Ideas

As a pastor or ministry leader, what do you do to renew?  Do you take a renewal day, once a month or quarter?  
Ministry leaders often appreciate time to do things they normally enjoy doing and other things they do not normally get to do.  Such as:

1.  Reading inspiring, spiritual and/or meaty (deep content) books, articles, blogs that you’ve intended to read, though haven’t had the opportunity to read.  Most important, reading God’s Word seeking meaning and purpose in your life and ministry.

2.  Physical activity, go outdoors and/or go someplace you enjoy to walk, hike, ride or play to enjoy and loosen up.  Do something around your house that needs to be cleaned or fixed. 

3.  Spend time with worshiping God, connecting with His Spirit.  Also emptying out your heart of negative emotions and attitudes.  Then reviewing your last 6 months of work/ministry, meditating, reflecting, listening and/or journaling.  Then asking to be filled up by His Word, courage, strength and grace.  Turn over your hands, asking God to place in your hands and heart whatever is needed for renewal. 

4.  Resting could be sleeping in, napping, relaxing at a park or backyard, allowing your mind and body to go “off guard”.  Giving some needed attention to physical needs also including eating healthy, drinking water and juices, etc. 

5.  At the end of the day or for a portion of the day, be with someone/people who encourage and give your energy.  Consider asking them to identify what they consider to be your strengths and areas for growth. 

Remember, obstacles to renewing time are normal, like personal or family distractions, your mind wandering or extended activities.  The key is to relax, not set yourself up to be “stressed” or feel “guilty” for not meeting all your renewal expectations.
Find renewal often and soon!
Resource: Renewal Retreat Centers (state by state listing).

Ministry Storms

Just about the time we feel comfortable and safe, a tornado touches down in our world causing havoc, loss and change.  The damage sends us into a daze, then a panic and our world spinning out of control.

As a pastor or leader of Christ followers, storms can be frequent in the ministry office or just random on Sunday mornings; never something we necessarily desire or expect. Yet within the chaos, spinning confusion and hurt, someone generally stands up to lead.            How does that happen?

Leaders accept storms as a reality.

Being able to “accept” life as it happens is a strength.  The only weakness in acceptance, is believing you, the leader can control the outcome.  While doing all you can do to protect and prevent harm is abso

lutely important, blaming others, arguing and/or forcing your own way, generally causes more damage.

Leaders use storms as opportunity for growth.

Stepping back after a disaster, to look globally at the bigger picture can be overwhelming though hopeful at the same time. After addressing basic physical and emotional needs, a leader can bring opposing beliefs and people together to rebuild. The leader must have vision of what can be different.

Leaders point people to put their trust in an all powerful God.

As humans, who happen to be Christ followers, we tend to react to take control of our own and others’ needs for safety.  Remembering to walk alongside others, emotionally affected by disagreements, changes and/or losses is responding in love, can help them trust God more than the way they feel.


Always remember, suffering leads to greater dependence upon God and a ministry’s strength in character!


How will you respond?


Adjusting Stress

In a 2011 survey of 409 ministry leaders, The Center for Health found, 39% of ministers acknowledged they get “stressed very often to fairly often”. Sounds normal for anyone to get stressed when leading people to know Jesus Christ?

One of the highest causes for “ministry stress” is solving problems, whether problems people present, problems in program organization, or problems at home. Helpful hints are effective time management, saying “no” to others or your guilt or what others might think.

Yet one of the most effective remedies can be is to take an inventory of what causes you the most stress in a given week. Such as listing every day of the week across the top of a piece of paper, then divide the day into three parts (morning, afternoon and evening) on left side of paper. Now think of each day and time period by identifying what causes you stress (a specific meeting, phone calls, replying to e-mail, lesson/sermon preparation, specific people).

Next, while looking at your stressors on the paper from a global/overall viewpoint; what do you see? Then look at what days and times are the most stressful. Also, what areas of stress are listed most?

Did you learn anything about your present stress?

If so, what is in your control to adjust now, based upon what you have learned?

Make an adjustment before you “stress out”!


Overcoming Health Obstacles

One’s understanding and motivation of physical activities and nutrition can determine one’s health. Yet obstacles like little time to work out and lack of money to buy healthy foods can impede an individual’s healthy habits. Often, where you live and work influences your activities and eating habits. Plus, an individual’s genetic makeup and abilities/disabilities can greatly impact one’s health. 

Let’s be real, one can be captive to these obstacles or inspired to overcome through discovering what is important and valued in serving. For example, if you were 10 pounds lighter, how would walking up stairs or moving classroom chairs feel different? How would you feel if you did not experience your typical winter sinus infection or flu symptoms? What about possessing the physical and motivational energy you need to connect with someone needing spiritual support? Are these and other healthy side effects worth the time and effort needed to be healthy?

So what are some options? Pick one or two of these ideas to fit into your schedule.


- cook and store several nutritional meals at one time, to be used for lunches, snacks and dinners.

- if you snack, store you office desk with healthy carbohydrates to give you energy rather than fatty, sweet or salty that leave you wanting more.

- after eating several limited calorie meals in a row, have a “cheat” meal that you enjoy.

- the next time you cook, add up the calories you plan to consume and remember it takes 10 minutes of aerobics to burn 100 calories.

- when under pressure or stress, drink 1/2 glass of water and/or take a brief walk to cope rather than eating.



- break up exercise sessions into two 15 minute sessions, such as before you shower, after lunch or walking the dog.

- exercise with a friend, meet a friend at a gym and/or consider activities you did in your early twenties.

- purposefully talk to others about their activities they find helpful and try them out one at a time.

- at night, set out your exercise clothes near your bed as a reminder and motivator.


What health obstacles will you overcome today?



Value-driven Leaders

Leaders are driven people, but not all are driven by the same forces. Each pursues something desired, sacrificing many other things for the one thing. An intrinsic force tells the leader to keep moving, keep battling no matter what. That one thing may be as shallow as ego or fame. Or it may be as pure as helping people see heaven as their primary hope.

What’s your one thing? What do you value so much that you are driven to achieve it, to reach it, to share it? For Solomon it was wisdom. For my missionary friend it is training national leaders. For a professor I knew it was truth and sharing truth with the world. For King David it was passion for God, and for his word. For my niece it is rescuing young women from slave trafficking.

We all have values, but leaders act on their values and urge others to join them. Their courageous action inspires followers who would never act on their own. What you want—that one thing—good or evil—becomes the value your followers will pursue as well.

Try this exercise: jot some bullet points of your most time-consuming activities. Beside each, note the value displayed to followers by the activity. Are these the values you want to pursue and share?

Mark Reed


Change Problems to Opportunities

Problematic e-mails, disappointing meetings and awkward encounters often cause any ministry leader some type of anxiety and grief. Yet meaningful reminders that problems are also opportunities can change anxious reactions into meaningful encounters.

Consider the young shepherd’s size when he insisted on fighting Goliath. An adulterer who Jesus taught about “grace”. An old disciple, stranded on an island, who saw and wrote about the “eternal kingdom”. How did they view their limitations and problematic circumstances?

Reacting to our gut and disappointing situations is quit normal, actually expected. What happens after our initial reaction is most important. Reminders help us to surrender our initial reactions to God, to see the situation as an opportunity for Him to work.

One reminder is the use of S.W.O.T. S=strength; W=opportunity; O=opportunity; T=threats. This acronym helps when planning any program, event or problem-solving situation.

Practically speaking, take out a white piece of paper or use a white board. At the top, define the problem. Underneath the problem, write Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats from left to right. Next, ask God’s Spirit to help you write out your/team’s characteristics, under each category. Then write out action points made up from the S.W.O.T..

Through God’s lead, you are now ready to respond to the problem as an opportunity, whether individually or as a team.


Burnout Stress-Test

How do you rate on the questions below?


Not At All = 0;  Rarely = 1;    Sometimes = 2;    Often = 3;  Most Often = 4    All the Time  = 5

1 Do you feel run down and drained of physical or emotional energy?

2 Do you find that you are prone to negative thinking about your job?

3 Do you find that you are harder and less sympathetic with people than perhaps they deserve?

4 Do you find yourself getting easily irritated by small problems, or by your co-workers and team?

5 Do you feel misunderstood or unappreciated by your co-workers?

6 Do you feel that you have no-one to talk to?

7 Do you feel that you are achieving less than you should?

8 Do you feel under an unpleasant level of pressure to succeed?

9 Do you feel that you are not getting what you want out of your job?

10 Do you feel that you are in the wrong organization or the wrong profession?

11 Are you becoming frustrated with parts of your job?

12 Do you feel that organizational politics or bureaucracy frustrate your ability to do a good job?

13 Do you feel that there is more work to do than you practically have the ability to do?

14 Do you feel that you do not have time to do many of the things that are important to doing a good quality job?

15 Do you find that you do not have time to plan as much as you would like to?


>15 Little sign of burnout here.  You’re pretty normal.
>25 Be careful – you may be at risk of burnout, particularly if several scores are high
>35 You are at severe risk of burnout – seek help from a mentor or professional.
45 + You are at very severe risk of burnout – do something about this urgently.

Permission granted use from: © Mind Tools Corporation, 2003

Note:  Scores adjusted due to formatting.


Minister Spirituality

In 2012, Gallup polls released American religiosity results, finding 51% of protestants viewed themselves as very religious. This year, a poll by this writer found 24% of conservative, Evangelical, Midwest ministers rated their relationship with God as “very well”, compared to 76% of the same minister group identified as “moderately” to “somewhat close to God”. The comparison of survey results is limited due to the differences in surveys and research projects.

There was no difference between male and female ministers (2013 Minister Survey), though a trend was found as ministers’ aged, they viewed their relationship with God as closer.   The effect of age on a ministers’ relationship with God is easily understood. Potential need for younger ministers is for spiritual growth in early years of ministry and life challenges.

Even in the limited comparison, both American Protestants and Ministers acknowledge there is room for growth in their relationship to God.  Honest expressions of their humanity and spiritual needs are the beginnings of true hunger and thirst for God.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”

Matthew 5:6.



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