Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Weight of Pastoring

I've now been a Senior Pastor for around five years and an Associate Pastor for about eight. It's a little different for me in that I actually was a Senior Pastor for five years before becoming an Associate in a much larger church. It gives me an appreciation for what the Senior is going through and also makes me defensive in His favor.

A year or so ago I had someone at the church respond to me privately regarding a recent church issue with "I know you don't agree with that decision". I responded with "I do as far as you know!". I firmly believe that it is my duty to the Senior Pastor to support his vision and his decisions as if they were my own. I can (and should) discuss them with Him if I have concerns, and attempt to persuade and influence in private where I can, but once the course is set it should look to those who I lead as if the decision were part mine.

Many Associate Pastors and other leaders aspire to be the Senior guy and will often discuss the styles, decisions, vision of the Senior in relation to "the way I would do it" or "the way it should be done". I suppose this is somewhat normal... some of these Associates will likely be a Lead Pastor at some point in their ministry... but the gifts, talents and abilities that a minister has cannot even begin to balance the scales against "calling" and "authority". It would be easy to look across the desk and think "I can teach as good" or "I can lead as well"... but the thing virtually nobody who hasn't been there can comprehend is the "weight" of the office. It can be an overpowering burden and many Senior Pastors lead very isolated, lonely lives.

I think of it a little like the football commentary that "you can't coach speed". An outmanned team has prepared against everything the stronger team can do... and they think they are ready... and then the stronger team comes on the field and simply outruns everyone else on the field. The lesser team technically knows what to do but until they stepped on the field could not comprehend the sheer speed disparity.

An Associate minister may have the knowledge, skills and abilities... but until they step on the field in the Lead role they will not be able to comprehend the "weight" disparity.

Thoughts on Honor in Marriage

Since I spoke on this last Sunday I have had many discussions and opportunities to elaborate. One of the keys I keep coming back to is the distinction between loving someone and their ability to feel loved... or honoring verses feeling honored. It doesn't really matter whether or not you are honoring your spouse (or anyone else for that matter) if they do not FEEL honored. Therefore it is somewhat customized to the person what is or isn't honoring. It may required a little investigative work to discover what really works. The object is not to feel good about how we are doing in honoring our spouse... its to make our spouse feel honored... and sometimes that looks different than I expect.

It is a consistent theme in my marriage that Marie feels honored when I open a car door for her. Honestly, I hate doing it... it seems contrived and insignificant and takes twice as long for us to get into the car... I don't understand why that matters in the least... but it matters to her, so when I think about it I open the door for her. I'm not that consistent in it but I'm becoming more aware of how it makes her feel. Obviously, if I say "Ok... but your arms don't look broke to me" then I have defeated the purpose... I must do it with the attitude that this is to her honor and as unto the Lord... and I do genuinely enjoy seeing her feel special.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What is Biblical Holiness?

What a tough question. It always bothers me when someone starts talking about being called to a higher level of holiness. I think I know what they mean when the say it but what I often hear is that I'm going to start earning my salvation better than I am now.

Obviously we are called to please God and there are things that scripture makes clear are required, but I always find myself going to Galations for a balanced perspective.

Galatians 3:1 - 5 (NIV) 1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

The question here is "What is holiness?" Is it doing ANYTHING different? or is it the condition we find ourselves in after experiencing Christ?

If Christ by his Holy Spirit has taken up residence in us then there will be visible, genuine changes in our life evidenced by both word and deed. But the changes are not holiness... holiness entered us when the Spirit of God entered us.

Isaiah 61:10 I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Signs of Maturity

What are the signs of maturity as a Christian? Certainly this is over-simplified but I would define it as giving out more than you take in.

So many Christians require a tremendous amount of attention... the proverbial "black hole" of pastoring. Everyone, myself included, requires care and extra attention from time to time. Life takes it out of us all and it sometimes hurts and we must depend on others to pick up our slack and, with patience and compassion, nurse us back to health. But the object is to get back into the fight... not make a lifestyle out of spiritual intensive care.

Therefore... I judge Christian maturity, at least partially, by watching how someone handles adversity... and how much they give out in caring for others in relation to how much care they receive.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rumors of My Demise are Greatly Exaggerated... I Hope...

I had an exciting weekend but everything seems to have turned out alright. On Sunday morning I collapsed and was taken to River Oaks hospital where they diagnosed me as having a "Significant Cardiac Episode"... or heart attack. An EKG showed almost total blockage of a main artery (that's as technical as I know). I was then rushed to Baptist Hospital's Cardiac Center where they performed a heart cath and a hundred other things that left holes and hairless areas all over my body. The results after 3 days of tests were that there was no evidence of heart damage, or signs of heart attack... the doctor said "I am not a religious man but if I were I would say we had witnessed a miracle". All of my vitals are normal... cholesterol lower than average... blood pressure low average... so...
I don't know for sure what happened but I'm doing well, feeling fine ( a little sore from all the poking and prodding ) and back at home today.

Thank you to all who were praying... I do believe you made the difference...