How to Overcome Spiritual Vertigo

My friend Dwayne Mercer, pastor of CrossLife Church, one of the largest churches in central Florida, just released his book Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo. He writes from the perspective of a seasoned pastor and a believer who has faced personal challenges in his life. Today he is my guest blogger. I highly recommend reading his book.

It was the middle of a typical hot summer night at our home outside Orlando. My wife, Pam, and our two younger children were visiting family in Georgia while our oldest son and I stayed behind. We were sound asleep after a long day of golfing in near 100-degree temperatures when I suddenly woke up in a cold sweat. The room appeared to be spinning. I tried to get up but each attempt made me feel sick to my stomach. To make matters worse, my brain felt like it was moving around inside my heard and my eyes seemed to be dancing. I had lost all perspective of direction and I was scared. I thought, Am I dying? Should I call for help? I tried to cry out to my son, who was sleeping in his bedroom, but my voice wouldn’t carry. Every time I tried to reach for the phone, I felt like the ceiling was attacking me.

Eventually, I mustered the determination to turn, grab the phone and dial 911. By the time the paramedics arrived, I was so disoriented that they had to wake my son to unlock the front door because I couldn’t move from the bed. They immediately strapped me to a gurney and whisked me away to the hospital. When I got there, the doctors administered intravenous fluids to hydrate me. They diagnosed me with a severe case of vertigo due to dehydration.

The high temperatures during our golf outing earlier that day left me exhausted by the end of the round. I’d also been drinking diet soda all day instead of water, which caused me to become extremely dehydrated. That night, I experienced vertigo because of it. The best way I can describe this condition is that your brain and eyes have a functional disconnect and your brain is unable to process what your eyes are seeing.

You may have never had physical vertigo, but most of us have experienced spiritual vertigo. This is a condition of severe doubt, when our faith cannot process what we see, hear, or experience. We know what the Bible says but we feel real life does not match what our faith teaches us.

As a result we live in a world of doubt and often discouragement. We are challenged by sermons and books to be a giant-killer, a lion-tamer, a conqueror in Christ. However, we cannot seem to gather the faith we need to meet the everyday challenges of life.

How do we reconcile life and faith? How do we win over our doubts? That’s why I wrote Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo.

You can follow Dwayne’s blogs here.

Related posts:

How to to Give Effective Staff Evaluations

For years I’ve used this form below when I perform my twice-annual staff evaluations. I have every staff person complete the form on themselves and attach their goals for the previous and upcoming year.  These documents provide the talking points for the eval. Afterwards, I compile a one page written evaluation I give to them.

Staff Self-Evaluation/Annual Review

Employee name: _________________________ date:______   review period: ____________

MINISTRY ROLE

  • Do you know what is expected from you in your role?
  • Do you know what is most important in your role?
  • Do you have the materials and resources you need to do your work right?
  • Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best almost every day?
  • In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  • Does your supervisor or someone at work seem to care for you as a person?
  • At work do you feel like your opinions seem to count?
  • Does our mission make you feel like your job is important?
  • Are your fellow staff members committed to doing quality work?
  • Do you have a best friend at work?
  • In the last six months has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  • In the last year have you had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?

STAFF VALUES

How would you evaluate yourself in the following staff value areas (10 being the highest)?

  • Integrity                                       1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Attitude (positive, coachable, servant-like)      1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Volunteer appreciation/development            1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Holistic health (body, soul, spirit)                  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Simplicity                              1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Authenticity                              1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Teamwork (loyal, resolves conflicts)            1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Continual growth/learning                  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Health work ethic (excellence, hard worker, fun)      1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Risk taking (bold steps of faith)                  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Other areas
  • Budget (wisely manages budget)                        1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Evangelism (invests in and shares w/seekers)            1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Creativity                                                             1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Leadership                                                            1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10

Comments about staff values:

 

Describe your overall job performance?

Strengths:

 

Areas in which you’d like to improve:

I believe that my spiritual gifts of____________________________________________are being: __Maximized       __Moderated       __Minimized       __Unused

Comments:

 

GOALS (please attach a current copy of your goals with progress notes included)

For______ ______ through _______ ______

(month)  (year     (month)     (year)

Communication

1. Do you feel your area of ministry has been well identified and/or communicated to the:

Staff?             __Yes     __Somewhat     __No

Church body?             __Yes     __Somewhat     __No

Within your area?            __Yes     __Somewhat     __No

As a staff:

2. Where and how would you like to see communication improve or increase?

 

As a church:

3. Where and how would you like to see communication improve or increase?

 

In your area of ministry:

4. Where and how would you like to see communication improve or increase?

 

Staff Relationships

1. With how many people have you experienced significant frustration this past year?

__Some           __One or Two            __None

2. What attempts have you made to improve these relationships? Are the issues still outstanding?

 

3. Any thoughts or ideas on how we can improve staff relationships?

 

4. Any thoughts on how to improve relationships with church leadership?

5. Are all your relationships consistent with biblical standards of sexual and moral purity?

Comment(s) on any of the above:

Energizers and Stressors

1. In what area of ministry are you most productive, energized, or fulfilled?

 

2. On what do you spend most of your work time?

 

3. Are there areas of work or ministry in which you spend too much time?

 

4. In what area of ministry do you experience the greatest amount of stress and frustration?

 

5. What area of ministry do you find difficult to resolve?

 

Team Development

1. How would you describe the current status of the ministry teams you lead?

 

2. Who are the names of new leaders/volunteers you have brought into ministry during this last year?

 

Personal and Professional Development

1. In what area would you like additional development or skill training?

 

2. How can your supervisor help you in these areas?

 

3. What do you believe you can do to develop in these areas?

 

4. Does someone hold you spiritually accountable?  __Yes     __No

How would you describe the effectiveness of that accountability?

Other areas

Anything else you’d like to discuss with your supervisor:

Any suggestions on how to improve this review process?

What kind of staff eval has worked for you?

Related posts:

5 Signs You’re a “Bounce Back” Leader

Inevitably all leaders face disappointment, setbacks, and difficulty in their roles. As a pastor, I’ve faced my share at times: significant budget deficits, losing crucial staff members, people leaving the church in a huff, programs that didn’t meet expectations, and painful conflict. This side of heaven we can’t avoid the pain that leadership sometimes brings. Some leaders bounce back quickly from such adversity. Some don’t. So what does a “bounce back” leader look like? As you read the following list, ask yourself how many of these qualities would characterize your leadership when you face adversity.

The term often used for this ‘bounce back’ quality is called resilience. So we could actually call this list “The Resilient Leader.”

Resilient leaders…

  1. Don’t lead from perpetual caution.

     They take reasonable risks, but don’t “bet the farm” on risky leadership options.

  2. Admit they hurt when they face setbacks. They are honest about how much it hurts. However, they don’t wallow in their pain. The more we ruminate over our disappointments, the more we actually strengthen the fight-flight-freeze-appease parts of our brain which in turn dampens our ability to think clearly.
  3. Seek to learn new insights from their setbacks. Often a setback can be a blessing in disguise, for without it we would not be open to new learning. Resilient leaders are perpetual learners.
  4. Keep a long haul perspective through difficulty. Failure is never fatal nor final.

    Rather, it prompts resilient leaders to step back and refocus on their long term goals, objectives, and core values. Read my post here that explains how we can discover our true north values.

  5. Refuse to let their devotional life slip. In fact, such leaders recognize that in tough times they must draw closer to Him for strength and wisdom.

When you’ve observed great leaders face disappointment and setbacks, what qualities have you seen in them?

Related posts:

10 Transformative Takeaways from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit

Two weeks ago I attended Willow’s Leadership Summit and I’m glad I did. In my prior post I wrote about the 4 books I bought because of the Summit. In this post I list the 10 transformative insights I learned.

The insights are mostly paraphrases from each speaker’s respective talks, with their names in parentheses.

  1. MarginMake margin and Jesus will throw stuff in. (Bob Goff) Bob made me ask myself if my busyness sometimes hinders Jesus from throwing some really important stuff my way. Or, my busyness causes me to miss what He has already thrown my way.
  2. PerspectiveSee people for who they are becoming. Jesus called Peter, even with his impulsive nature, the rock upon which the Church would be built. He did not view him as a wuss. (Bob Goff)
  3. CourageYou can either choose courage or comfort. (Dr. Brene Brown) Wow, what a powerful quote.

My Journey from Preacher to Parishoner-8 Insights I Learned as “no longer a pastor”

My journey from Preacher to Parishoner-8 Insights I learned Dr. Charles StoneI’ve served in the local church as a pastor for over 32 years, yet for the past year I’ve not served in an official pastoral role. After 7-1/2 wonderful years at a church in Aurora, IL, I left to accomplish several goals that I couldn’t have if I were on staff at a church.

So, I’ve been quite busy doing some interesting things.

Because my passion lies in the local church, however, I believe I will soon pastor another church as I’m now in conversations with those showing interest.

Yet, this past year has proved invaluable in teaching me insight about what it’s like not being a pastor. Here’s what I’ve learned. As you read, ask yourself if any of these are true of you.

  1. I allowed my identity to get too wrapped up in being a pastor.As a pastor I told myself to guard against this. But not being one has allowed me to truly see it from the “other side of the aisle” and see how easy it is to replace my identity in Christ with my identity as a pastor.
  2. Corollary to the above: I found that I liked being noticed by others as a pastor. In my new church where we’ve joined, although I’ve preached a couple of times, when church people meet me they just see a regular person, not a pastor. However, when I was a pastor, people instantly recognized me. It’s tempting to enjoy recognition too much. I hope when I begin serving again as a senior pastor, I won’t forget this lesson
  3. It’s easy for the average church member to skip church on a Sunday. On Sundays where I’m not speaking or have no responsibilities, the temptation to just sleep in, go out for breakfast, and take off the day looms large. I now understand how the average person who has worked hard six days of the week would simply choose to stay home and rest.
  4. Corollary to the above: Churches must plan and deliver a compelling, Spirit-filled worship service and sermon each Sunday. I’ve known this intellectually, but now since I’m on the receiving end I see even more its importance. If someone takes three hours out of their day of rest to attend church, they better feel that it was worth their time.
  5. Familiarity blindness has afflicted many church leaders. Familiarity blindness is when we become impervious to stuff we do in the church that can hinder someone’s walk with Christ or hinder a visitor’s receptivity to the Gospel. For example, you may know how to get around the church facility, but with poor signage a new person may get lost. That small issue to us may cause that person to not return.
  6. It’s tough finding community in a new church. In every church we’ve led, we’ve encouraged the regular folks to reach out to new people. It’s often like pulling eye teeth, though. In every church we’ve attended, the familiar folks almost always talk to those they already know. However, when someone who doesn’t know me makes an extra effort to make me feel comfortable and help me meet others, it leaves a great impression. Also, if you don’t have an easy system where new people can join a group or class, you’re turning people away without even knowing it.
  7. I realize how stressful Sundays had been. Even when I’m preaching at another church, I don’t feel the stress that I felt when I was a lead pastor. An undeniable weight of responsibility falls on a senior pastor. I hope that when I become a senior pastor again, I will do a lot more of this: “cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.”
  8. It’s easy to subtly expect others to treat you different as a “man of the cloth.” Sometime a little silent voice speaks up in my mind when someone treats me rudely. That voice says, “Don’t you know that I’m a pastor and that you should treat me like one.” Although we must respect everyone, I shouldn’t expect to be treated differently just because I’m a pastor.

Whether you are or aren’t a pastor, what would you add to this list? In other words, what are some of those subtle behaviors pastors and churches get used to that could hinder Kingdom progress?


“I just learned an interesting church perspective from a pastor who is no longer a pastor.” (retweet this quote by clicking here)


Related posts: