All tagged ministry
Leadership resources are legion in our culture, and for good reason - leadership is vital. We all need to be led and we all lead. Books, blogs, conferences, and podcasts are filled with practical instruction on the defining marks of effective leadership. Things like courage, competency, care, communication, and creativity are all essential to leadership.
Sadly, I rarely read, or hear anything about what I would argue, is the most important and attractive mark of effective leadership:
Pastors always have plenty to do.
There is always another meeting to attend, sermon to write, class to teach, decision to make, counsel to give, etc. If we are not careful, our calendars can quickly fill to the point of being unrealistic. This is one reason so many pastors burn out.
What most pastors are not honest about, or maybe even in touch with, is what truly drives our over-busyness. Too many pastors don’t trust the God we preach. We betray our disbelief when we try to be saviors instead of the stewards God has called us to be. In his book The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene H. Peterson cuts to the heart of this over-busyness problem:
“The word 'busy' is the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective 'busy' set as a modifier to 'pastor' should sound to our ears like 'adulterous' to characterize a wife or 'embezzling' to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront.” (P.27)
Having a fruitful life and full schedule is a good thing. We should work hard and spend ourselves making Jesus known. But busy to the point of burnout is a problem. It’s a problem for the pastor and it’s a problem for the church.
Busyness becomes a problem when what we CAN do crowds out what we MUST do. We can do all kinds of things, but there are at least three things that must be prioritized in the pastor’s life…
When I first started preaching, I had one and only one thought on Sunday mornings:
I walked around like I was carrying a cup of coffee that was just a little too full, afraid if someone bumped me, my sermon may spill out of my mind and onto the floor. I'm more relaxed now, yet still aware of how difficult preaching well truly is.
There are so many ways a sermon can go wrong. I know God's Word never returns void and I'm thankful that the caliber of God's work isn't determined by the quality of my preaching. Personally, I just never want that to be an excuse for phoning in a crappy sermon.
The longer I preach, the more aware I am of just how many issues impact my preaching. I can study, pray, and prepare hard and still crash and burn on Sunday - I know because I've done it. Preparation is paramount, but there are other factors in play.
Here are 11 issues that impact the preacher in no particular order...