We don’t talk about it much. But we all know that a life of ministry can be really hard at times and that it can have serious effects on us. Right now I’m thinking of five great guys who are presently dealing with possible borderline clinical depression. But they wouldn’t tell you that. They know how to “do ministry.” They know how to throw on the smile and turn the attention to others. They really want to help others know Jesus better. But deep inside, they hurt, possibly even to the level of their brain chemistry being affected. Sometimes the answer is just some serious time off from literal 24/7 schedules. Sometimes a temporary prescription of something like Zoloft or Paxil can clear things up. At times they just need a half dozen or more visits with a Biblical counselor. But whatever they do, they know they can’t quit because they know that deep inside this is the life God has called them to in the same way that Peter responded to Jesus in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” This is the life of their calling and existence and they know they could not in good conscience do anything else. So they press on. Continue reading
I’ve been amazed over the years how words trip in and out of vogue in certain communities. When I was a graduate student, the journals, magazine articles, and study carrel conversations were filled with the phrase “paradigm shift”, referring to change in the assumptions of many Western Christians. Less formally, “shucks” became “stink” became “snap”. Leadership writing today prolifically promulgates the term “metrics”, as in, “Your process is deficient. It has no metric. How can you evaluate production?”
Enter your average pastor or missionary. You want to keep it moving on all fronts. You value learning. You desire to see God’s Kingdom gain influence far and wide. Perhaps in your reading you discover “metrics” and, as so often happens, it becomes the fascinating new concept that will revolutionize your ministry. Everything then becomes wrapped around measurability. While this concept or technique is useful, it can also derail the truly important. How do you measure the value of a casual conversation? Can you remember a conversation that changed the course of your life? How can you measure the value of faithful, consistent prayer? Can you graph the empirical changes in someone’s attitude or spiritual condition by creating a new “metric”?
Welcome to our first installment of “Book Reviews”. I know I’m not the only one out there in ministry who has been blessed by a book recommendation before. In fact, I still carry with me one or two jewels that came my way from mentors when we headed to Russia right out of college. So I know that recommendations can be helpful. That’s what we want to do here in this category of Healthy Pastors. To launch this section, I’m including a review that was actually done by my wife. I’ve got a number of “To Read” books on my desk and Debi snagged this one before I got to it. But from the snippets she read me, I think this work address a huge need to ministers and pastors today. You can also order through the links we put here. If you have read this book or can speak on the subject, feel free to chime in. Enjoy! Continue reading