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Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

The Dark Side of the Ministry Life

I love my calling. I love my job. I love being a pastor. I have fond memories of when I was missionary working overseas and here in America. It’s hard to imagine living any other life than the one I have. But I also know there is a danger with that life.

I saw a recent post which highlighted the struggles a number of people face while working in ministry. The following stats are courtesy of PastorBurnout.com.

  • 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
  • 45% of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
  • 45% of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
  • 50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
  • 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well-being and health.
  • 56% of pastors’ wives say that they have no close friends.
  • 57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
  • 70% don’t have any close friends.
  • 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
  • 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
  • 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
  • 90% feel unqualified or poorly prepared for ministry.
  • 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
  • 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.

It’s no wonder people I’ve talked to about working full-time in ministry have reservations. They’ve seen and/or heard horror stories of what it can be like. (I have my own horror stories!) Why is that? Because the work is crucial.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(John 10:10 ESV)

When God calls someone, He calls them to fulfill His mission. He calls them to love, serve and reach out to people in need. This kind of work will draw someone into spiritual warfare with the Enemy. If someone doesn’t take necessary precaution, they could open themselves, and their family, to unnecessary harm.

One thing I appreciate about working at Christ Community Church is the culture and environment that has been established by Lead Pastor Mark Ashton. Mark has a high standard of excellence he wants the staff to reach. He pushes us to serve and sacrifice. However, he also expects the staff to take Sabbaths. He expects the staff to focus on their marriage and family if they are married and/or have kids. He hopes that staff take time to focus on their own relationship with God, and are plugged into a Journey Group. He schedules times for staff development and has Q&A with the staff. He is leading us in pursuit of God and not in pursuit of keeping the status quo.

When I interact with Mark, or I interact with another leader, like Pastor Steve Walters, those guys are always asking about how I am doing, how my marriage is, and if things are going well with my kids. Of course, they are concerned that I am doing my job and staying on mission with it, but they are more concerned that I, and my family, are mentally/emotionally/physically/spiritually healthy. A few years ago when I backed off some commitments at church, to focus in on my family’s health, I received some criticism for doing so. Mark and Steve encouraged me for making that choice. My family is better off, I am better off, and my work is better off for making that decision.

I think this is one reason why the average length of stay, for a CCC staff member, is five years. While that may not seem like a long time, it is twice the average for a staff person at a church of comparable size. Staff enjoy working here and being a part of what God is doing here. The spiritual health of the staff is important. Are their difficulties here? Of course. Are their conflicts between staff at times? Of course. However, I think staff realize how good it is here. CCC is not perfect, but it is good.

The above statistics are something we must be on guard for at all times. It’s never obvious, it’s a slow drift into depression and burnout. It’s a slow drift into a strained marriage and family. It’s one reason why my wife and I are always militant to make sure we set boundaries. We set boundaries with our Sabbath. We set boundaries for our family. We make sure to have times of prayer, individually and corporately. We make sure we have healthy friendships. We don’t want to fit those things into the rest of our schedule, the rest of our schedule needs to fit around those necessary things.

When we make sure we are centered on Jesus, and we are taking care of our own and family’s spiritual health, it is easier to endure the spiritual warfare that will come. And it will come because the mission of reaching, helping and serving the world around us is great. However, it doesn’t need to defeat us.

It is also easier when your leadership makes sure your spiritual health is a priority. CCC makes sure this is a priority, and the trickle down effect is the people CCC interacts with, and reaches, will reap the benefits of a spiritually healthy leadership.

I want you to know that from the top down, here at CCC, we do our best to make sure we are healthy so we can lead/serve at our optimum best for Jesus.

Mission + Trust = Communitas

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is Alan Hirsch’s concept of communitas. At a recent Emerge leaders’ retreat, Paul Gardner and I shared about the concept. It’s been on my brain that much. Here’s a video where Alan Hirsch summarizes the idea of communitas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETN67tbrvX4

There are a lot of things I like about it. The main concept being mission. We need to be on mission. At Christ Community Church, our mission is:

Making disciples of Jesus for Kingdom impact

Everything we do at CCC is motivated by that mission. We are not here to just be comfortable and escape. We are here, we are called, we are sent by Jesus…to be on mission.

The formula for communitas is something Hirsch developed. Often, we think we need trust before we can have community or go on mission. This is not true. If we have a mission, and others are on that mission as well, we can pursue it together. In that pursuit of mission, we develop trust with those who are on mission with us. And then, communitas forms.

Some of the CCC staff and people I’ve developed good friendships with are people I did not expect to be friends with for whatever reason. We’re good friends because we are on mission together. We are pursuing CCC’s mission together. We are pursuing specific ministry and individual missions together. We have a bond because of it.

Communitas.

Think of a short-term mission trip. When you go on a short-term mission trip you often don’t know fellow participants. Yet, trust is built because you are with them on mission. You share in the highs and lows. You share in the experience of that mission. You are with them to complete the objective of that mission trip. And then communitas happens. There are bonds between you and fellow participants that last a life time because of the mission you were on together.

I think of overcoming my porn addiction. I didn’t have trust with the men in my group when I first started pursuing freedom from addiction. Those other men didn’t trust me either initially. We had a common mission, though. We were going to overcome addiction by God’s grace. We pursued that mission together. We helped each other out during the bad times. We walked with each other during the valley of the shadow of death. We celebrated victories with one another. Trust was developed because we were with each other, through thick and thin, on mission. And what happened? Communitas. Lasting relationships. Do I see these men every day or week? No, but when I do see them there is a bond there that cannot be broken because of the mission we accomplished together.

Does communitas sound good? Do you want it? If so, are you on mission? Are you engaged with CCC’s mission, or are you just wanting to escape and be comfortable?

For more on this topic, check out Alan Hirsch’s book The Forgotten Ways.
This post was adapted from an earlier post on Robert Murphy’s personal blog, RamHatter.

2011 Leadership Summit Recap

As long as I’ve been a part of the Christ Community Church staff, we’ve always attended the annual Leadership Summit. It’s a conference held at Willow Creek Community Church, in Chicago, IL, and simulcast all around the world. Some of the best leaders in the world share their leadership principles, and stories, to aspiring and current leaders. This was my sixth time attending Leadership Summit in some capacity, and I thought I’d share with you a dozen highlights from the event. At the end of the post, I’ve added links to my notes from all the speakers.

12. “Dig some ditches.” – When I first came across Steven Furtick I was intrigued. This will be expanded upon in an upcoming post, but needless to say the curiosity continues. Him being a speaker at Leadership Summit wasn’t surprising, because of the success his church has had, but I wondered what his talk would actually say. Steven’s talk was good. I appreciated him addressing the fact that so many conference attendees are inspired, but then go home and do nothing. I liked how he referenced Elisha. I liked some of the one liners he delivered. I thought Steven had one of the better talks at Summit. Simple, to the point and actionable items for people. All of us have some dirty work to implement the ideas we generate at a conference. We just need to do it, and trust God to do his part.

(more…)

Joiner on Churches

I’ve been reading a book by Reggie Joiner this week; “Think Orange.” It is actually about impacting the next generation by combining the forces of church and home. But the quote I like best so far is about critiquing other churches.

“Some leaders suggest that institutional churches can never be relational
That traditional churches can never be relevant,
That megachurches can never be intimate,
that attractional churches are not missional,
that missional churches don draw people,
that emergent churches never teach anything substantial,
that seeker churches don’t have depth,
and that organic churches don’t have any direction.

We love to neatly package another leader’s style of church into a box and label it irregular or defective. We accuse the church we abandoned and defend the version we have customized. No one is more opinionated about church models than I am.
Throughout my life, I have realized God is doing something in a lot of different styles of church. We need to be careful about demonizing those who don’t practice church the way we do and learn from every version of church whose mission is to lead people into a better and more authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. God is a lot bigger than our definitions or labels, and I am sure He is not worried about how your church compares to the one down the road.”

Husker/Creighton Athletes at CCC



On January 24, we’ll be joined by some great athletes at our CCC services. Not only are they great athletes, but they will be a great inspiration to live out your faith as well!

Josh Dotzler is a former Creighton All-Star. Wearing the #12 on his jersey, he regularly led the team in assists and steals. His maturity and stability carried the team in tough situations and in finishing games with a win. Josh was raised in North Omaha in a godly family with 13 siblings. After finishing his time at Creighton, he put away his jersey and began investing in his old neighborhood as a pastor. Despite the challenges of violence and poverty, Pastor Josh consistently invests in a youth-driven church called “The Bridge” at the corner of 30th and Lake.

Roy Helu Jr. is a Junior at the University of Nebraska, where he is earning fame as an outstanding halfback. With over 1100 yards on 220 carries, his season has been nothing short of outstanding. Roy would tell you that his life has turned around in major ways in the past three years since leaving his past in a violent city in California. He has come into a relationship with Christ and is as passionate about growing in his faith as he is about football.

Each of these young athletes/men-of-God will be sharing with us on January 24 in our Old Mill services. Sarpy will show the DVD on January 31. They will be a part of our “Fear” series – with a message on “Fear of Violence.”

David —–> Jesus


David was a type, or foreshadowing of Jesus. The King of Israel as a two dimensional shadow of the three dimensional King of Kings. Like the guy in “Fu man chu’s China Buffet” offering Princess Chicken on a toothpick as a sample of the entree to come, so David is offered as a sampling of the King to come. Check out the parallels:

David came from humble origins. He was just a shepherd boy born in a nowhereville town called Bethlehem.
Jesus came from humble origins. He was just a carpenter boy born in a nowhereville town called Bethlehem.

David was a shepherd, tending his sheep and keeping them safe from predators.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, laying down His life for His sheep.

David mystified his family by his anointing, effectiveness and power.
Jesus mystified his family by his remarkable teaching, claims, and resurrection.

David stared death in the face, in the form of a giant Philistine,
Jesus stared death in the face, in the form of a roman execution,
wearing nothing but shepherds clothes,
wearing nothing but a loin cloth,
carrying only a stick and stones.
carrying only two sticks in the form of a cross.

David spoke and led with authority, amazing people as a warrior, writer and musician.
Jesus spoke and led with authority, amazing people as a teacher, healer, and miracle worker.

David spent 10 years in the wilderness.
Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness.
He was running from Saul,
He was tempted by Satan,
protected by God,
protected by God
and writing God’s word.
and quoting God’s word.

David ruled a mighty political kingdom, expanding Israel’s territory during his 40 year reign.
Jesus rules a mighty spiritual kingdom expanding God’s territory during his eternal reign.

David had his 30 followers, mighty men of strength who fought for him.
Jesus had his 12 disciples, common men used by God to change the world.

David was the anointed one, chosen to be the King of Israel.
Jesus was the anointed one, chosen to be the King of…everything.

David was called the King of the Jews a title that he owned with pride
Jesus was called the King of the Jews, a title that hung over His head on the cross.

David was the savior of Israel, keeping the country free from foreign threats.
Jesus is the savior of the world, giving all men freedom from sin.

The prophet Nathan told David his name would be great, and many knees would bow to him.
At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth.

David was promised that one of his descendants would rule on his throne forever!
Jesus is the descendant who rules on his throne forever!

David cried out to the Father from the caves, asking “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus cried out to the Father from the cross, asking “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

David predicted “You will not let your holy one see decay.”
Jesus fulfilled that prediction by dying, and not decaying.

David, while being only human was used mightily by God to change Israel.
Jesus, while divine, became a human and was used mightily by God to change…everything.

Leading the Dream – Seven Kinds of People

Here were my points at the conclusion of Sunday’s message on what it means to be a leader in the area of cross-cultural relationships and reconciliation. In my 20+ years of ministry experience I’ve seen a lot of things come and go. What does the church really need to move ahead in this big area? Here’s my top Seven:

1 – People who are already leaders in their church, profession or community. Are you willing to make reconciliation a part of your leadership agenda?

2 – People who have taken the courageous step into the experience of multi-ethnic marriages and families.

3 – People committed to deep friendships across cultural differences. Anybody can make an acquaintance, can you keep a friend … for life?

4 – People willing to engage in big needs, not just make short excursions into brief volunteer efforts. Pick a need and make an impact over the course of several years.

5 – High School and College Students! Make strategic choices about what you study and major in. Graduates, make kingdom-minded choices about where you’ll live and work.

6 – People who lead are people who persevere in an attitude of grace and forgiveness. Regardless your color, if reconciliation is what you’re committed to, you’ll get hurt in the process. Choose forgiveness. Choose grace.

7 – People can not effectively lead without committing to being life-long learners. Get yourself informed, learn the race relations history of your community, know the needs and stay in touch with them.

Leadership Summit

It is coming! August 6-7 is the Leadership Summit. For me, the leadership summit, is jet-fuel in my engine. I have gone every year for 10 years now. I never miss because God meets me there. I have leadership challenges to tackle every day, every month, every year. When I go, I am exposed to Godly, brilliant leaders sharing their best life lessons. The Summit makes me a better leader.

About 40-50 staff and leaders from CCC go every year. Kelle is coming. Elders are coming. I have brought hundreds of people over the years and have never heard a person that was disappointed. It is very inexpensive and it is local (Brookside Church). Speakers include Tony Blair, Bill Hybels, David Gergen, Tim Keller and others. Do you want to come?

It does not matter if your leadership is in the home, the business world, the church, or education. You will be a better leader by meeting with God and hearing brilliant leaders at the summit. If you want to sign up with the CCC group rates, call my assistant Jannie at 402-330-3360.

Some clips of this year’s speakers