Goals Lead to Success but hold them loosely

Goals, whether they are small or large almost everyone has them. That is especially true this time of year. We call them resolutions, but essentially they are our goals for the next year.

Goals for the New Year

Personal Goals

I’ve set some goals for 2021. Like most people, one of my goals is to be healthier. 2020 did a number on me. We went from stocking up on M&M’s to Oreo’s to Ice Cream and then holiday candy and treats. Before I knew it, I had put on 20 in 2020.

If I were to poll the audience, I am sure many of you have a goal to live healthier this next year as well. Or maybe you are planning on striking out on your own and starting a new business. You are finally going to do it. Or maybe your goal is to finish school or that big project you have been working on. Maybe you want to read more or through the Bible in 2021. If you don’t have any other goals, I’d certainly suggest reading through the Bible in a year as a worthwhile goal. Or maybe you want to downsize, clean out those closets and garage. Whatever it might be, I’m sure you have some goals, a New Years Resolution, or two in mind.

Almost 50 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions. 80% of those people believe they will keep their New Years resolution, but the truth is New Years resolutions are not easy to keep. According to the Washington Post, only 46 percent of those who make resolution will keep them for six months and 8 percent the whole year. That is a staggering statistic. Only 8% hit their goal, which means 92% of all people fail at keeping their New Years Resolution.1

Since New Years resolutions are not easy to keep, the goals we set are not easy to attain so:

  • We must be realistic with the goals we set.
  • We need a good foundation upon which to build.
  • We need others to help us realize our goals.

Church Goals

As a church, we need the same. We need a goal for which to reach or we are going to flounder around like a fish out of water. We also have to be realistic with the goals we set. We have to build on a good foundation. We need one another to help us realize our goals.

Goals Lead to Success

We have to know in what direction we are going before we head out. I’d encourage you to develop some personally goals for the year.

If you are a brother pastor, develop some ministry goals as well. Develop goals for your personal ministry as well as your church’s ministry. If we are going to see success in 2021, we must develop goals.

Hold Them Loosely

While it is important we develop goals, we must hold our goals loosely. If 2020 taught us anything, our goals, whether they be personal or ministry-related, might not match God’s goals for us. Develop goals, but hold those goals loosely as you pray for the Lord’s guidance, empowerment, and ultimately for His will to be done.


[1] https://www.finder.com/new-years-resolution-statistics AND https://www.wrpawprint.com/features/2015/01/27/failing-new-years-resolutions/

Surviving the Challenges of the Pastorate

If you think back over your life, there are bound to be a few days you hold as special; days that have shaped you. In my life there are a little more than a handful of days that are extremely special to me; days I will never forget.

Those days include: High School, College, and Seminary graduation. The day my wife and I were married. The birth of our two sons – Camden and Bryson. My call to the pastorate, and the day I was ordained. Those are all special days for me. Days I will never forget. Days that have shaped my life.

While each of those days were joyous occasions, each also brought with them new challenges. One day, or one journey, that has been joyous yet challenging is the call to the pastorate.  I have been extremely blessed by the people I pastor, but I have also been extremely challenged.

For the those who are thinking of entering the pastorate, just starting out, or are seasoned pastors there are three things that will help you survive the challenges of the pastorate.

Surviving the Challenges of the Pastorate

(1) Love Jesus

You must love Jesus above anything else in your life. When you love Jesus more than anything else, you will pursue Him more than anything else. It is necessary that you pursue Jesus because you will need Him to strengthen you for the task at hand.

There will be times when you will have to console those who are hurting, pray for those who are sick, apply godly counsel and wisdom to sensitive and difficult situations in the church, and much more. You can’t do those things in your own power, nor must you attempt to. Doing so is the surest way to set yourself and your church up for failure.

So in order for you to serve the Lord in the way He has called you to serve Him, you will need to love Jesus more than anything else in your life, so that you will pursue Him to a greater extent than anything else in this world.

When I talk about pursuing Jesus, I mean for you to pursue Him in prayer, Bible study, and worship. Which are all necessary if you are going to lead and serve the church according to God’s Will.

In order to know God’s will, you must be in His Word as often as possible. In order to apply His will, you must pray. In order to grow in your love for God so that you will continue to pursue Him more and more in prayer and Bible study, you need to worship the Lord, so that your affections are stirred for Him more and more each and everyday.

Let me encourage you to make it a point to read God’s Word as often as you have opportunity. Not just for sermon preparation, but for personal devotion. Allow God to nurture your own soul as you meet with Him daily in His Word.

Pray each and every time you have a question to answer, a situation to handle, a decision to make, or a sermon to write.

Be involved in the worship service, attentive and worshipping alongside your congregation. It is easy to find projects to complete, people to talk to, or notes to review before you step in the pulpit. Avoid doing those things and worship alongside your congregation, not only as an example to them of the importance of worship, but also for your own soul.

As well as take moments throughout your day to worship the Lord for the many ways He is working in your life, for the awe of His creation, and the prayers He has answered in your life and the life of your church.

(2) Love Your Church

Love is an interesting word in our modern vocabulary. By it people often mean they have a certain feeling about someone or something, which usually arises because that something or someone makes them feel good. So for instance when I say I love coffee. What I really mean is that it makes me feel good, so good that it invokes a response out of me.

However, when I talk about loving the church, I don’t have that same type of love in mind. Instead I have in mind the love that Christ has for us. In 1 John 3:16, we read,

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 Jn 3:16)

Jesus’ love for us is self-sacrificial, and it is not based on feelings or what we can do for Him. We know that is true because Jesus died for us while we were His enemies (Rom. 5:7-8).

It is important we have that type of love for the church because there will be times when the church doesn’t make us feel good. But here is the thing, we aren’t called to serve the church, to love it’s people, to only give of our time, money, and resources when they are making us feel good. Instead, we are called to love the church at all times regardless of how it makes us feel.

Unless you love your church with the same self-sacrificial love that Christ has for us, you will not stick in there. The first bout of controversy, difficulty, or lack of perceived success that can easily creep in will cause you to give a little less of your time, your emotions, and your heart to the people you are called to serve. It might even cause you to start looking elsewhere for greener pastures.

(3) Love Your Family

With all the demands that are put on you in the work of ministry, the one thing that is easy to but something you can’t do is neglect your own families. You must love, care for, and continue to nurture them, even while you are loving and serving the church.

In fact, you should see your family as your first church. The way you love, serve, and minister to them should be a reflection of how you will love and serve your second church – the one you are called to pastor. So don’t neglect your families to do the work of ministry.

This is something I have had to learn in my ministry. I love pastoring, teaching, and preaching.  In the past, I have neglected my family to do those things. Thankfully, by the grace of God I learned quickly that was not the way things should be. As a result, I quickly set some parameters. Parameters my wife helps me to keep.

So yes, love your church, sacrifice for and serve your church, but don’t do it to the neglect of your family because your family is your first church and there is nothing more important than taking care of them.

I am convinced that if you do these three things – (1) Love Jesus, (2) Love your Church, and (3) Love your Family – you will be an effective pastor, who will serve the church well for many years to come.

Question for Reflection

  1. What advice would you offer to those facing the unique challenges of pastoral ministry?

Resource

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Why Do Church Members Think the Pastor is the Only Minister?

Shepherd

Why do church members think the Pastor is the only minister? I asked that question last night during our Community Group meeting.

The Answer

Talking with my wife afterwards and thinking through the responses this morning, it seems congregants don’t believe they are on par with their pastor when it comes to their ability to minister. Pastors are put in a different category, thought to play in a different league, or are seen as higher on the hierarchal scale of spirituality. They are the professional. As the professional, they are the ones who do the “real” ministering.

The Reality

I, however, don’t believe that’s true. While my full-time vocation is ministry, I don’t see myself as higher up the spiritual scale as others. Nor do I believe I am playing in a different league than my congregants. There are those in my congregation who can minister just as effectively, if not better, than I can.

While, at times, my knowledge of the Bible, Theology, Hermeneutics, and Ecclesiology might be greater, my life experiences are still limited, my relationships don’t run as deep, and my ability to comfort is, at times, not as great.

Knowledge doesn’t always equal better ministry.

Additionally, if a Pastor’s main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4), that necessitates others in the congregation are not only given the responsibility to minister, but also have the ability to minister. A little coaching or training might be needed, but ministry is possible.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

So don’t sell yourself short. You have the ability to minister. You might not be able to answer every theological question thrown at you, but ministry is much more than sharing knowledge. It is also about sharing wisdom. Wisdom that is gained from years of walking with the Lord and applying His Word to your life.

Question for Reflection

  1. How do you minister alongside your Pastor?

Resource

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