One of the core skills of being a church member is being able to offer care and comfort to others. And contrary to cultural precedent, this is not the sole responsibility of the pastor. In fact, most “pastoral” care can be offered by non-clergy or laity.
The problem is that many church goers feel under equipped or ill-prepared for those conversations. (As a side note, so do I, despite having literally hundreds of hours of pastoral care visits). So I wanted to offer a few basic steps to offering care to someone you know in your church. These won’t make you a counselor or therapist, but they should help you be a better friend and church member. Some of them are fairly obvious, but worth restating. Continue reading
One of the most iconic movies of my generation is ‘The Karate Kid’. It’s not just a good martial arts movie; it’s just a great film. The film shows us the life of Daniel, who is a kid who finds himself in a new high school, which comes with a new breed a bullies. Daniel’s situation grows so bad that the maintenance man of his apartment complex, Mr Miyagi, offers to take Daniel-san under his wing and train him in karate.
Daniel shows up excited to learn. His excitement quickly dissipates when he finds out that his training will begin after he does some chores. Daniel’s would-be mentor has him sand his back deck, wash and wax his car, and paint his fence. After three days of hard work and no training, Daniel has had enough. He confronts Mr Miyagi about the lack of training. Just as Daniel is about to walk away from everything, the wise old mentor asks Daniel to do all of the motions that he had over the last three days; painting the fence, sanding the floor, and famously wax on, wax off. With little warning, Mr Miyagi begins to throws kicks and punches at Daniel-san, who instinctively begins to throw near perfect blocks, deflecting the attacks.
Turns out, he had been training this whole time.
I think God is a lot like Mr Miyagi some times. Continue reading
When I was ten, I got my first Swiss Army knife. It came with a two-inch blade, screwdriver bits, a nail file, bottle opener, and a can opener. It was awesome. I felt like I could do any and everything suddenly. Who needs all of those different screwdrivers from the hardware store? Why even bother getting another can opener? Not only do I have all of those in one tool, but I have all of them IN MY POCKET!
So you can imagine my disappointment when it began to dawn on me that sometimes you do need different screwdrivers.
There are a lot of pastors that try to be a ‘Swiss Army’ pastor. Maybe they feel like the church needs them to be, or they want to be that indispensible, or some combination of both. I think the job of ‘pastor’ is fairly susceptible to developing this ‘all things to all people’ mentality. For starters, there are a wide variety of tasks and skills that pastor need to have in order to do their job well. I mean, a day can consist of researching 6th century Mesopotamia for a sermon, visiting homebound, and helping draft a budget proposal, all before a worship team meeting later that night.
So here are some thoughts on pastors being the churches Swiss Army Knives of ministry: Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I snuck away to watch a movie on my sabbath. While I was there, the mall lost power, thus ending the movie a bit too early. Joe was none too happy about it, so I left quickly after getting my rain check from the theater. On my way home, I found out that the whole section of town lost power, and the police were scrambling to direct traffic. It made me realize something; as a pastor, I am a lot like a traffic cop.
In my church, I am blessed with a good number of people who are sharp, and eager to serve and lead within the church. Some of them are stay at home moms. Others are retired business leaders. I’ve got farmers, teachers, accountants, and engineers, all of whom are ready to serve and lead within the church. Here’s where it gets scary:
They’re just waiting on me to direct them where to go and what to do.
Here are a few reasons why ministry is a lot like directing traffic: Continue reading
Today, you are you. That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Earlier this year I had to interview with an office of my churches denomination in order to become an official Army chaplain. We came to an interesting point in the conversation that I doubt I will ever forget, because of just how perfectly (and bluntly) an observation about me was said. I was asked about my personality type (Meyers-Briggs; I’m an ENFP), to which I said there was really only one area I was uncertain of (the ‘P’). What follows is as close to a direct quote as I can recall:
“You’re definitely a ‘P’. You have a trailed of broken and missed deadlines behind you”.
He wasn’t being mean. He was just being honest. I had just never heard it put that way. And oh man, was he right.