Tag Archives: stress

Pastor Sisyphus’ Bad Day

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,
    how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you are so trusting,
    what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?  Jeremiah 12:5

sisyphus

Church leadership, especially the pastorate, can feel a little like the plight of Sisyphus…forever pushing that boulder up the hill with little or no results to show for it.  They won’t pray…they won’t listen…they won’t volunteer or help…they won’t commit.  But, oh, how they will complain! Sometimes you just feel like giving up.

I think every pastor who feels oppressed and burdened and stressed to the point of giving up should take a break and study Jeremiah’s ministry…really try to crawl around in Jeremiah’s skin. I promise, you will feel much better about your own circumstances!

Jeremiah spent 40 years obediently delivering a message nobody wanted to hear. Nobody. At all. He pushed and he pressed. He obediently spoke, again and again. He was ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, and his own family scoffed at him. And through it all, to the very end, he was so very, very alone. And at the end of 40 years of these tireless efforts, he had not a single conversion to show for it. None. Jeremiah prayed and he begged God to change his assignment. He cried and he pled. He wished he had never even been born. And at one particularly low point of his depression, God’s response to him was something along the lines of “You think this is bad? The hard part hasn’t even started yet!”

But Jeremiah’s plight teaches us something important about how we measure our “success” in answering God’s call (and, just as importantly, how we should NOT measure our success). Maybe there will be amazing results to …

What Churches Learn from Conflict

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Every church conflict is unique in many ways.  The mix of personalities, the history, and especially the specific facts and circumstances cover a huge range of possibilities.  But they all have some things in common as well.  As I “debrief” a church leadership team after having come through a difficult conflict, I am always intrigued by what they learn as a result of that conflict.  Intrigued, but rarely surprised anymore.  Because, generally speaking, I hear variations on the same lessons over and over again.  “What regrets do you have?” I will ask them.  In the instances where we actually came through with success, I almost always hear the same regrets.

Church Leaders’ 3 Most Common Regrets from their Conflict:

1.  “I wish we had built stronger relationships.”

No surprise here, right?  There is a lot of talk these days about the fact that the church is not a building, it is people.  I agree with that, but I disagree with saying it quite like that.  The church is not just people…it is people living in relationships with each other.  The key is the relationships.  It’s one thing to get a bunch of people attending a weekly “show” on Sunday mornings.  But if they are not in relationships with each other, they are no more a church than the theater full of people all attending the same movie.  What makes it a church is the relationships between the people.  And what destroys the church is when the relationships fall apart.  Relationships, then, are the very “fabric” of the church.

When church leaders look back at a season of severe conflict, they almost always realize that much of the attention, emphasis, energy and …