You may be wondering whether we took the month of December off. However, you can sign up for summer and fall retreat as well as new posts can now be found at
You may be wondering whether we took the month of December off. However, you can sign up for summer and fall retreat as well as new posts can now be found at
It’s been a few very busy weeks at BHOK. We’ve been hard at work on several projects that launched just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday!
First off, our new website is here! Same address, totally different look! http://www.bhok.org looks beautiful thanks to the gifted Lindsay Laidlaw! She has devoted many hours (and many revisions) to create a wonderful gift for a ministry she cares deeply about.
Secondly, we sent out our first marketing project. In the post last Monday went five “Message In A Bottle” packages to our local district supervisors of major denominations in this area. We’re so very excited to get these in the hands of people who are invested in the maintenance of pastors.
Thirdly, the date has been set for our Spring Retreat at Ft. Gibson Lake, March 2-4, 2014. Four pastor couples will come for a three-day/two-night retreat where they will restore, refresh, and renew. If you know a couple who you would like to nominate, fill out the form on our website with their information. Even better, sponsor their getaway to show how important they are to you!
We’re about to finish out the semester with Liz Russell as our intern. What a sweet, committed, diligent, and talented helper she has been. I don’t know what we will do without her around all the time! We bless her as she continues her studies and believe God has amazing things in store for her in the days to come!
As you wrap up 2013 and distribute your end of year giving, please consider the work we are doing at BHOK. Your gifts make all the difference in the lives of discouraged pastors and their spouses. You can donate securely through our website at www.bhok.org
Today’s post is a special post from Jena Nardella. Learn more about Jena by visiting her website or following her on Twitter (@JenaNardella)
Can I confess something? My devotion to Jesus has caused my personal and family life to deteriorate. Let me explain:
Does the term Zerrissenheit mean anything to you?
It sounds like the cousin of gesundheit, but its meaning is quite different than an exclamation after a sneeze.
The German term is loosely translated to mean torn-to-pieces-hood.
Hurry, distraction, worry and pre-occupation are all expressions of the Zerrissenheit lifestyle. The Germans might even call it an insane way to live life. It’s one that I am quite familiar with, though, not proudly. Amidst the rush of trying to serve our friends in Africa with access to safe water and HIV/AIDS care for the last eight years, I have let the health of my own life deteriorate. The rotten fruits I have been producing are exhaustion, fear, jealousy and anxiety, things we all agree make up a lousy story.
On MySubplot.com, I committed to practicing the spiritual discipline of Rest.
You never realize how irresponsibly busy you are until you are forced to take responsibly for your personal health and sanity. What I realized, very quickly after seeking rest in Christ, is my life was full of useless noise.
I am a month into my sabbatical, and am just now beginning to taste the truth about what Jesus meant when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” In many ways, it’s easier to live the life of an over-achieving martyr. It’s been difficult to let go, to slow down, and to feel my smallness in the world. But I feel as though I am recovering my life, through rest.
For many, a sabbatical is not possible. But as someone who is just four weeks removed from the Zerrissenheit life that many, like me, are living, I have discovered some practices I believe we can integrate into our current life, and begin to live into the invitation of Jesus’ restful arms.
1. Moderate Your Relationship with Technology
You will feel freedom when you stop letting technology have control over your life. You will realize that the world will not end if you miss your former college roommate’s Facebook status or are unaware of the trending topics on Twitter. You will encourage others to stop staring at their screens if you practice it around them. Rest awaits!
2. Practice Silence
If you’re not careful, your day will pass with every minute filled with noise. Whether you know it or not, there is already a lot of noise in your own heart and mind – oftentimes the radio in the car, television at home or constant buzzing/beeping/chirping of your phone perpetuate a sense of stress. Where you can, choose silence, even if for a few moments in the car to begin with. Quiet your environment and you will begin to feel the quiet in your heart. Don’t be afraid of the silence. Listen for God. He’s there, but we’ve made it such a noisy world that it’s difficult to hear the whisper of the Divine.
3. Take Walks
Yes, it’s cold outside. No, you don’t have time to do it. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes in your day, leave your phone at your desk and step outside for fresh air. Begin walking. You don’t need any destination – in fact, it’s better if you don’t have one. Look around you. Slow down. Breathe. Repeat tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
My prayer is that we all learn this unforced rhythm of grace, as offered to us by Jesus.
Are you aware of how much noise fills your life? What are some of the ways you seek and find rest?
“So what is the schedule/agenda/program for the retreats at Barnabas House?” I’m asked this question over and over in many different ways. Every time I hear it I think, “You don’t really get it, do you?”
This week’s Tuesday Tips is the final part to this four part series. 100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (continued)
76. In a Sunday service, try to avoid naming lists of people you wish to thank or appreciate without having the list in front of you. Otherwise, count on it, you will leave someone out.
77. As the pastor, you are the mood-setter for the congregation. Whatever you radiate on Sundays and in private conversation with members, they will pick up, too.
78. Words. Never say anything to a church member about someone else you would not want plastered on a billboard at the edge of town. If you assume they are keeping this in confidence, you will live to regret it. (With your spouse and your mentors, you may speak your mind; to all others, tread carefully.)
79. Daily, pray the prayer of Psalm 141:3. “Set a guard upon my mouth, O Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Another you might want to add is Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto Thee, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
80. Keep good records for everything you do in ministry—whom you saw, your appointments, everything. A few times in a long ministry, you will find yourself digging through it in search of a vital bit of information (“When did this happen?”) and be so glad you had the records. (I once had a woman call to ask, “When did you marry us?” She gave me two possible dates when it might have occurred. I found her wedding on my calendars and informed her that not only were her two dates incorrect, she was on the wrong year!)
81. Just as no one knows you better than your spouse, your co-workers on the church staff see you as no one else does. Make sure they respect you as a person of integrity and compassion who keeps his word, has a sincere heart for God and treasures each of them. Defend them before critics. If you lose their respect, the fabric of your leadership begins to fray.
82. Watch for certain scriptures—a verse here, a verse there—to begin to impress themselves upon you in a special way. This is a work of the Holy Spirit. When this happens, He is inviting you to study this area more, to seek His insights and receive His teaching.
83. Humility. Do not fear apologizing to your people. If you made a mistake and everyone knows it, to stonewall and refuse to admit it is to enrage a few and disappoint the others. By humbling yourself and admitting your error, then asking for their forgiveness, you endear yourself to everyone who matters. (I’ve known of pastors who gained so much love and acceptance by publicly apologizing for a mistake, they jokingly say they are now looking for some other dumb mistake to make just so they can apologize.)
84. When you need the approval of a committee, say the finance or personnel, for some project or expenditure, if the chairperson says, “Oh, go ahead and do that, pastor,” you should respond, “Thank you, my friend. But I’d really like the entire committee’s input on this.” Insist on meeting with the entire panel, and never allow the chair to act as if he or she is the committee. (Church bosses are created just so subtly as this.)
85. Always err on the side of conservativism in finances and on the side of grace in relationships.
86. You should always see yourself as a servant and nothing more (see II Corinthians 4:5). Granted that, in Christ, you are much more. However, we’re speaking of “how you see yourself here.” Be a servant. Serve your spouse, serve your staff, serve the congregation. (The parable of Luke 17:7-10, mentioned previously, reigns in your ego’s need for recognition and appreciation. That parable is found nowhere else in Scripture, and may be one of the most important teachings anywhere for God’s workers.)
87. Learn from everyone you meet. Work at asking key questions to draw them out, and then listen intently to their responses. “So, Bob, tell me what you did on your job today.” “What was the most interesting thing that happened to you today?” Ask it, then sit back and be quiet and wait for an answer.
88. Never forget the old adage, “No one should ever preach on hell without tears in his eyes.” Only the compassionate are entitled to teach the stark truths about hell. To speak of such a “difficult doctrine” (see John 6:60) without your heart breaking fails your people.
89. Sleep. No one unable to turn off the constant demands on his life will be able to sleep at night and endure long as a pastor. You live in a world of unfinished tasks; get used to it. (Nothing lifts burdens like prayer. Pray about everything, then leave matters with the Lord—at least overnight.)
90. Have a notepad on your bedside table. When thoughts of people you need to call, projects you need to lead, notes you need to answer, will not leave you alone and interfere with your sleep, write down reminders for the next day and go back to sleep. You’d be amazed how jotting these down settles the mind. (Never assume that “This is so important, I’m sure I’ll remember it when I awaken.” You won’t.)
91. Beware of spending your days locked in your study, absorbed in your computer. Get out of the office and drink coffee with your office staff and the other ministers. Visit your people in the hospitals or the homebound. Check on the saints in the assisted living facilities.
92. Prayer-walk your neighborhood and the blocks around your church regularly.
93. Knock on the doors of all the homes around your church, at least a block in each direction. Introduce yourself and say, “I’m just meeting all our neighbors to ask one question: Is our church being a good neighbor to you?” See where the Lord leads.
94. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
95. Guard against even the appearance of anything out of line with women. If you find yourself being attracted to some person other than your spouse, pick up the phone and ask your mentors if you can meet with them “tomorrow or sooner!” Tell them; they are unshockable and can talk straight to you.
96. Don’t sell your seniors short. Just because we opened this “list of 100″ with a dig about “only 3 people like change and none are in your church,” the fact is, most people do not mind change. They just don’t like abrupt change. Seniors are not averse to new things. No one drives a 1948 Packard to your church. Your seniors own widescreen TVs and computers. Some of them want only hymns written before 1912, but most would appreciate some of the great choruses being produced these days. And they’d like something more than just the piano and organ. But don’t dump it all on them at once. Introduce it slowly, sweetly, carefully.
97. Help your people learn what it means to live by faith. The Lord has no hesitation in asking us to go when we do not know the destination, to build when we do not have the resources, and to give when we have only two mites. Show the flock how to do it yourself, pastor, then (and only then) teach the principles.
98. Remember the delicate balance the Lord has put in His churches: Just enough ornery, head-strong people to keep you humble and just enough sweet, godly saints to keep you from quitting.
99. Have a pleasurable hobby, one you do with some regularity to help you keep your balance in life. But do not let it grow out of proportion and begin to assume too much of your time, energies or money.
100. Start your own list of “Things God is teaching me in ministry.” Or even, “Lessons I have learned the hard way and have the scars to prove it.” Or this one: “Areas in which the Lord is still working on me.”
Thank you for reading my entire list. If as many as six or eight of these seem to have your name on them and to have been planted here just for you, we are well-rewarded. God’s richest blessings on you, my friend.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know we are all about encouraging pastors. But you may be thinking, “Sure, but that’s just you. That’s just your job.” So today we want to share ACTUAL words from REAL people about their pastors, and you. Without further ado, here are your people, speaking to you:
Pastor, remember that time the matriarch of our family died and everyone flipped out & turned on each other? We had a family meeting with wailing & gnashing of teeth…sackcloth, ashes & a pretty sweet rendition of Stairway to Heaven in the background. Well, because of the beautiful things said about her and the godly wisdom you gave us, we were all able to get through what was undoubtedly one of the hardest times in our lives. Your presence & words would not have been as effective if you didn’t know us all on a personal level. And that didn’t happen because we went to your church. You knew us because you’re an amazing shepherd.
The most amazing pastor I ever had was ___________. Joy, gentleness, loving are just a few of the words I would use to describe him. And such a wonderful gift for teaching with incredible clarity. I miss him greatly.
I can say without pause that my pastors operate in unconditional love and humility before our Lord and Savior. They are men and so therefore like all human kind miss it now and then …. But oh they are true shepherds and they love and protect their sheep, Love, acceptance and forgiveness is what our church was founded on…..I think they both have strived to do it well!
And a special shot out to Pastor… We have walked life out together… He has genuinely been there for me at every twist and turn in my life since my twenties! He prayed me through, loved me through some hard places, some grievous times! God bless the man who stands in the gap and loves Gods people!
Ron Dunn said ” Don’t just stand there- Pray something”
Your calling is so important. Please protect that by making time to renew yourself. The adage “you cannot give what you do not have…” is very true. You must take care of yourself as fill your vessel to give to each in the measure they need or require. Also, do things outside of church that energize you. That energy will be needed.
I am blessed to call him my pastor and my friend. He is an incredible man of God and it’s a pleasure to do life with him.
Self-care isn’t selfish
Spend time with your family! If you’re not caring for them, you can’t care for anyone else. (From a PK)
Vacations are a good thing. Schedule time away or you’ll burn out. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but inevitably it will come.
What you do matters…eternally!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5, 6 NLT)
Thank you. Thank you for your service and for the gift of yourself. Please take time to care for yourself and your family. Please take time to nurture your marriage. Please do not feel compelled to say YES to every demand and request. I appreciate you and don’t want to lose you.
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:10-12
What would you like to say to your pastor or to pastors in general? Share it with us!
This week’s Tuesday Tips is part three of the four part series. 100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (continued)
51. Do not criticize other preachers from the pulpit. Satan loves it when we do this, but I suspect Christ is dishonored by it.
52. Never preach someone else’s sermon. Plagiarism is plagiarism, no matter where it’s found or who does it. (And yes, you may borrow a point here and there or a story or a great insight from the text. Should you give credit to the source of the story or point? No. But be prepared in case someone asks where you got it. I once heard Adrian Rogers say, “I got this from someone who got it from someone who got it from the Lord.”)
53. If someone else’s sermon so impresses you that you just “have” to preach it (or large portions of it), do not do so until, through prayer and study and waiting on Him, the Lord makes it your own.
54. Leave politics out of the pulpit. You have bigger fish to fry.
55. If an election is coming up and you wish to invite the candidates to church, make sure your lay leadership agrees. Invite all those running for office, no matter their stance, and recognize them individually in the service, but without giving them an opportunity to speak. Have a fellowship time afterward where each one is allowed to put materials on a table and greet your people. (In the invitation, specify that this will be the procedure. Otherwise, some will arrive expecting to be allowed to address the congregation.) Sunday nights are best for this. If you preach a sermon, Jeremiah 29:7 is a great text to use.
56. Before you recommend a movie to your people, be sure you have seen it and be confident there is no objectionable content. Otherwise, don’t.
57. Before you condemn a movie or a book publicly, see it (read it) beforehand and know what you are talking about. If that’s not possible, spell out in your presentation where you came by your information. Do not put yourself in a position where someone asks, “So, pastor, have you actually read this book you are denouncing?” and you have to admit you have not.
58. Attire. Pay attention to your clothing. I suggest that the pastor dress one step better than the men in your congregation. That is, if the men are all wearing t-shirts and jeans, my suggestion is to wear a nice shirt fresh from the cleaners with dress slacks or pressed chinos. I’m not sure why, but our attire speaks of the value we place on what we are doing in God’s house. (Do I preach this to my congregation? Probably not. This is not worth the grief you will get from the unknowingly self-righteous who are certain God cares not at all about our clothing and who condemn those who say otherwise.)
59. Invite outstanding preachers and authors to your church. Expose your people to the best. After he or she speaks, have books for sale in the foyer and the author there to sign them.
60. Public prayers should almost always be brief, and therefore well thought out in advance.
61. Resiliency. There is no shame in being fired by a church or run off by a group within the church. The shame comes when you let that discourage you from future ministry. Read Second Corinthians 4:8-10 again and again until you “own” it. Then get up and get back in the game. Your team needs you.
62. If you are terminated—or “encouraged to leave” a church in a way that leaves you angry and bitter—read Luke 6:27-35 repeatedly until you make it your own. Then, to rid yourself of the anger and bear a faithful witness to your detractors, do the actions the Lord commands here: do good, bless, pray and give to them.
63. Encourage pastors who have been terminated. (A pastor recently ousted from his church asked me, “Why don’t other pastors want to help me?” I said, “Tom, when you were pastoring, how many unemployed preachers did you help?” He said, “I didn’t know it was the problem it is.” I said, “They don’t either.”)
64. Problems. Teach your lay leadership (preferably in small group settings) how to deal with problems that arise in church, how to confront a troublemaking member and what to do about a pastor who has gone rogue. (When nothing of that sort is happening in your church is the perfect time to teach this.)
65. Make yours an encouraging church. Train your people to write notes of congratulations and appreciation to people in the news who do good things.
66. Give away Bibles. Put a large box in the foyer and ask your people to bring unused Bibles from home which you can give to those who do not own one. Then, with the aid of some select volunteers, go through and inspect each Bible. Cull those with no backs and fronts, those that have been mutilated and those published by cults. Insert material on the Christian life and your church in the pages, then announce to the community: “This Saturday, free Bibles in front of our church from 2 to 4 p.m.” See what happens.
67. Publicity. In anticipation of a musical program, send some of your singers to a public forum where shoppers congregate to do a short impromptu concert. You’ve seen the “mobs” on Youtube. Do this spontaneously in a store, a mall or on a sidewalk. If the song is not long, too loud or too disruptive, you do not need to ask for permission. Afterward, have the singers fan out and talk to people. See what the Lord does.
68. Vision. Remember that church members who have a burden for a particular segment of society (those in jail, the old folks, the needy, unwed mothers, etc.) must not give you their burden and ask you to act on it. The Holy Spirit grants burdens as a gift to the faithful. When we make ourselves available to Him and take that burden seriously, in His own time, He leads us into a ministry to meet that need. The order looks something like this: A burden comes, followed by a vision, followed by a call, which is followed by a ministry (if you accept the call), which is followed by a several things including fruit, imitation, opposition and duplication.
69. Constantly remind the staff and a few key leaders to be on the alert for disruptions to the Sunday services. Whether an intruder with a gun or an ill person off his medication, leadership should receive periodic training in how to deal with such. (If you train them once and never mention it again, they will forget it. Keep it before them.)
70. Money. Never sign checks for the church. Never. And for that matter, do not handle money at all. When someone approaches you following a service to say, “Here’s my offering. I missed the plate,” ask them to hold on a second, then you call some leader to take charge of their offering.
71. Before you arrive at a new church is a good time to ask the leadership to bring in an auditing firm to review the church’s financial practices and make recommendations. By doing this before you arrive, people who have held key positions for decades (treasurer, bookkeeper, finance chair) will be less likely to take it as a personal insult and become defensive. (If the church has an annual audit, a review is unnecessary. If the church has never had an audit, the initial cost would probably be prohibitive. A review is cheaper, and may accomplish your purposes.)
72. Staff. Try to find the balance between being the boss of the staff and each one’s friend.
73. Never fire someone abruptly. If their work is unsatisfactory, make sure they know in what ways it’s not acceptable, and how they can improve. If they simply cannot do the job you are asking of them, you are doing them a favor by releasing them, painful though it may be.
74. Before doing something abrupt like firing a staff member or church employee, make sure you get sufficient counsel from your mentors and that church leaders are on board with this.
75. Do not reject raises in your salary. While doing so may feel noble to you, it tends to keep the rest of your staff at lower wages, since the church is not going to pay a staffer more than the pastor. Accept the raise, then, if you choose, you can become more generous in your contributions.