I’ve served as a pastor for over 30 years in churches as small as 4 1/2 (my wife, two pre-schoolers, and one on the way) to churches that approached 2,000 attenders. The locations have included the far west, the midwest, the south, and the southwest.
A sampling of responses to the question, “How well do you think Charles did?” would include…
- He was great. I’m sad he moved.
- I’m glad he left.
- His preaching really inspired me.
- I just wasn’t getting fed.
- He really cared about people.
- He was distant and unavailable.
- He had great leadership skills.
- He’s no John Maxwell.
If you’ve served in ministry for any time, you’ve probably asked yourself this question, “How well am I really doing?” If you’ve not asked that exact question, I’m sure you’ve secretly asked yourself some pretty probing ones that made you feel guilty.
I’m beginning a blog series on Guilt-producing questions pastors secretly ask themselves and I’d like your help. I’ve listed a few questions below that those in ministry probably ask. What do you think? What would you add to this list?
- Why do I sometimes want to skip church on Sundays?
- Am I spending enough time preparing my sermons?
- Why do people really leave my church?
- I love my wife deeply. But if I think another woman is attractive, am I crazy? Or worse, am I sinning?
- Why do I feel like I don’t measure up to the expectations of … the board, my staff, my spouse or …? Is it their problem or mine?
- Am I spending enough time with my family?
- Do I pray enough?
- Does owning nice things like a nice house or a new car or enjoying things like a fancy vacation diminish my example? Is it wrong to have or experience what others in my church have?
- Why do I often feel anger inside toward people?
What guilt producing questions do you think pastors secretly ask themselves? I’d love to hear from you as I begin this blog series.
I’m convinced God gave me a ‘Geek’ gene.
From my monopoly on science fair first prizes in high school to my toy tank that fires bb’s to my radio-controlled helicopter that shoots plastic missiles, I love any gadget that runs on electricity. I’m also among an elite 50,000 who bought the very first Macintosh in 1984. I sold a life insurance policy and used the cash value to pay for it. Since then I’ve owned over 20 different Macs and I now sport a brand new MacBook Air. I also use an iPhone 4 and an iPad.
Like I said, God gave me a geek gene.
At the same time Mac blood has flowed through my veins, God infused into my bones a passion to teach God’s Word. I’ve preached over a thousands sermons and I’ve seen my preaching evolve over the years in this progression.
- write sermon notes in the margin of a wide column bible (my eyes can’t see teeny-tiny print now )
- type out the sermon on one half-page and insert into my bible
- type up the full text and insert small pages into the bible so that it looks like I’m not using notes
- print out the full text and place the full sized pages on the lectern
- Preach from an iPad
I love using the iPad now. It took a few weeks to getting used to it, but I don’t think I will ever change. I see three advantages in using an iPad.
- Easily mark up and highlight on the fly
- Keep all your sermons in one place
- You look really cool, especially when the house and stage lights are off…it casts a holy glow on your face
Here’s how I now prepare my sermons and get them to the iPad.
- I write my sermons on my Mac with Word. Accordance (easy to use and trusty) and Logos (quite expansive yet rather slow and cumbersome at times) are my primary study tools. Note: My iPad still has not replaced my laptop and I don’t expect it to.
- I save my Word doc as a PDF file
- I drop the PDF into Dropbox (a free app that allows you to easily move a pc file to the iPad via shared wi-fi)
- I open up the PDF in Dropbox and then open it in Noterize ($2.99). Many PDF markup programs exist. This one tends to be a bit slow in turning the pages, but thus far it works best for me. I would love to use Apple’s Pages program, but at this point they don’t offer highlighting options.
- I then mark up, highlight, and make changes as needed. Our service production team always has a paper copy available in case my iPad goes down.
Here’s a screen shot of what an iPad page looks like.
If you are an iPad user, what apps do you use for preaching? Any tricks you’ve learned?
Each week pastors sit on the hot-seat. We preach sermons in which we invested hours to people who don’t have to be there. We hope what we say helps people grow, helps our churches grow, satisfies our influences, and most of all, honors God. But what happens when someone, especially an influencer, doesn’t like our performance as a leader or communicator? Or, what if they simply don’t like us?
When that happens, it’s easy to become defensive when those people tell us what they don’t like. When I’ve become defensive, I end up the loser. When I don’t, although I may not change his or her opinion in the conversation, I actually win because the other person feels like I listened. Often, I can take a grain of truth from them and realize a growth area for me.
Below I’ve listed 5 responses that make things worse when someone criticizes us or tells us something about our performance that we’d rather not hear.
- Cross your arms in the defensive posture.
- If they tell you that you are being defensive, disagree with them.
- Bring up lots of facts that prove your point and disprove theirs.
- Send them an angry email later.
On the positive side, what has helped you become less defensive?
Related posts. How to Deal with Criticism
Great article on criticism by Tim Keller here.
In a previous blog post I wrote about how many pastors suffer with relational anorexia. Pastors can find a cure for this devastating issue when we seek out and find people with whom we can process the pain ministry inevitably brings.
As you consider the traits you’d look for in a safe person, consider these Scriptures and the guidelines they infer, because these people are often difficult to spot.
When Samuel went to look for Saul’s replacement, God told him, Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. GOD judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; GOD looks into the heart.
Outward impressions may belie the heart of a potential safe person, so don’t let a poor first impression turn you off. When David looked for those with whom he’d surround himself, he wrote, I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people—they’re the ones I want working with me; Men and women on the straight and narrow—these are the ones I want at my side.