Learning to Carry What You Can’t Put Down (The Weight of Responsibility)

Being a Pastor has it’s perks. I should say blessings. It also has it’s weight. There is a weight that comes with every commitment. For instance, there was a moment once my wife and I said our vows and signed our marriage license a weight was placed on my shoulders. Not a ball and chain weight but rather a weight of responsibility. To be honest I didn’t expect it, but it came. With the birth of our first child a weight came, not a ball and chain but rather a weight of responsibility. It seems everything I have committed to, a weight of responsibility has come with it. Leading in the roll and call of a Pastor and Ministry leader has a weight of responsibility which comes with the call.

With Every Commitment Comes a Weight of Responsibility

The weight of my call is no different. There are two ways I can choose to look at the weight of responsibility as it directly relates to the call God has placed on my life. It can be a burden I want and seek to be relieved from or a burden I learn how to carry. If you are in ministry you have a choice as to how you look at and handle the weight of your call. It can be a dread which you just want to see finished or something you learn how to manage and carry.

You decide the way you view the weight of Gods call on your life. It can be a burden you want and seek to be relieved from or a burden you learn how to carry.

Before I end let me leave you with this. I recently had the opportunity to attend our annual South Carolina Church of God camp meeting in Mauldin, SC. Without taking too much time unpacking everything I gleaned, here is one area God helped me. Long story short I went to a seasoned, well respected Pastor within our state. I had one question I was hoping for insight on. I asked him, “The weight of ministry gets heavy and so often I feel inadequate and not effective. How have you learned to carry the weight instead of just finding something else to do. I can’t step away because that would be disobedience, so if I am to thrive in my relationship with God and in my call, can you teach me how you’ve learned to carry the weight and burden which God has called you to?”

First let me say, my question wasn’t answered directly by this Pastor. Instead, God allowed me the opportunity, when asked a series of questions by this mentor, to have an “Aha” moment. I will share more on that in the next post.

As A Small Church Pastor, 3 Day Weekends Can Be Less than Exciting, Here’s How I’m Preparing For It

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day. Typically this means attendance is at record lows for a lot of churches. As a small church pastor one of the ways you can combat the emotional low that comes with holiday weekends and low attended weekends is to expect it and find a way to enjoy the weekend with your own family. Here’s a quick tip on how I’m going to deal with it and what it will provide for me and my family.

Go out of town, even if it means staying close so you can get back to Church in order to preach. My families going camping with good friends. We are leaving on Friday. It’s close enough for me to come back and feed our dog daily as well as be back for Sunday morning in order to encourage those who choose to attend service. Here’s what getting away does for us even though much of our schedule, especially the weekends, is dictated by my calling as a Pastor. Getting away allows us to be a normal family. We did this last year also, not camping, but we made it a point to get away and come back for the morning service.

You know, without looking I can’t tell you how many people we had in service or how I was feeling emotionally due to that. However, I can tell you my emotional state on that Sunday because of our family time. We had a blast in TN making memories. We stayed at the Inn at Christmas Place, had cookies with Santa (in May). Not only that but we also stayed in a cabin at the top of a mountain with family, went to Ripley’s aquarium, ate at the Apple Barn…etc.

I will be prepared for service but I won’t be down because it was an off day. I’m expecting the off day by preparing mentally and having a blast building memories with my wife, kids, and good friends.

Hopefully this post will offer some encouragement to a Pastor or ministry leader who is looking at this coming weekend and thinking, “I wish I could get away like everyone else and be a normal family.” You can, you need to, you deserve it.

Future Success is Built on the Past

“The future won’t look like the past, but it will build on the past, on its great history.”Dr. Bob Rhoden

The above quote was stated by interim Pastor at Calvary Assembly in Orlando, FL. Calvary was once a mega church that through the years has declined. It was an article on Ed Stetzers blog that brought me to the story and this quote by Dr Rhoden. Personally, as a young Pastor given the charge to Shepard a church which just celebrated 58 years of ministry, Dr. Rhodes quote inspired me.

Often as Pastor’s, especially young ones like myself, we have so much zeal and vision going into a position for the first time or as we move from one place to another, that we end up doing more harm than good at the place which God has called us. In short, God opens a door and we go. We feel Gods plans for that congregation is __________________. In our zeal and inexperience we push our vision without putting in the time to build trust and learn about the particular place God has called us. Often we hurt our chances of doing the most good because we haven’t taken the time to know the history and people whom God has called us to Shepherd.

With that said, here are a few things that I am in the process of learning and even gleaned from the above quote.

We can’t go back but we can look back.
Here’s the truth, you may have the zeal but the reality is you do not have the tenure. Get to know the past history of the place God has called you to. I am not asking you to go back, but get to know the past successes and failures. Learn who came before you, their tenure and investment in the life of the congregation you Pastor. Remember, early on you may have the title of Pastor but the trust has not been built to be the Pastor.

Build the Foundation of the Future on the Pillars of the Past.
I have come to view Church ministry as multi-level as opposed to single story. A single story building has one large foundation separated by rooms. A multi-level building consist of a base foundation of a certain size in which pillars/supports would go up in order to be a support for the floor above it. As we Pastor, especially in a Church that has been in existence for any length of time with multiple Pastor’s preceding us, it is not our job to tear down the foundations that have been laid. It is our job to go in a build on the pillars that have already been established. Building the foundation for the future it isn’t going back to a certain style but it is proclaiming that you embrace the identity of the past and allow that to be a launching pad for the future. The pillars which have been erected prior to your arrival, if you let them, will give structural support for the foundation you lay today. The pillars you erect are going to be the structural support for the foundation that the person lays once you are gone.

Celebrate the Churches History while Offering Vision for the Future
Celebrate the past but don’t get stuck in the past. You need to know the past in order to build the future. A detrimental mistake is to be a cocky pastor who doesn’t listen to the history. I understand why we choose not to listen, we are arrogant. We think our way is the best way. We may be uncomfortable who God created us to be that we squirm when we here praise for the people who came before us. Please allow me to speak into your life, listen carefully. Celebrate the men and women who came before you in front of the people you serve. The only way to build a future is to celebrate the history.

Maybe you are like me and are serving in a new ministry assignment. It’s been a little over six months at the time of this posting in which North Aiken Church of God has given me the opportunity to be their Pastor. I served at my previous assignment just a couple of weeks shy of two years. I write this with a little under 3 years of Pastoral ministry experience but I want to leave you with 6 things that you can do today which I believe can give you success over the next 6 months. I will expound on how I have put these into practice in the coming days but for the sake of time in this post, here is a short list.

  • Preach the Word
  • Build Relationships
  • Learn the history of the Church, the past success and failures
  • Find out the organization date, former Pastor’s names, length of tenure
  • Remind those you lead of the past success of the Church
  • Don’t just tell the people you serve your vision, preach and live your vision.
  • Helpful links from this post:
    Morning Round Up 9/23/2013Moody’s Policy Change; Megachurch Not For Sale; Ph.D. Perils | Ed Stetzer
    North Aiken Church of God, Aiken SCAn assembly of devoted Christ followers with a passion for God and a Love for people who are reaching upward and reaching outward in order make a difference in their community.

    The Waiting Period

    And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4-5,8 (NKJV)

    The Waiting Period

    I am learning that in order for things to work effectively and smoothly systems have to be in place. Our life is made up of systems. We have a system for everything we do. Even those who say they are unorganized have a system in place. Our morning routine is a system. The day to day activities at our job is a system. Our life is full of systems. In order to advance the message of Jesus Christ a system was implemented.

    Today as a Church we moved into the book of Acts in our six month journey through the New Testament. I am reminded that Jesus instructed his Disciples to follow a system in order to be effective with sharing their faith (being witnesses). I will call this system, the waiting period. Being effective at doing any “one thing” we have to be empowered to do it. It could mean a certain strength, skill set, or knowledge must be acquired. Each of those things empower us, yet they come through a period of waiting. It doesn’t happen over night and you have to work at it.

    In order to be effective in our life an ministry waiting is necessary. The disciples were asked to wait in order that they may be empowered to be a witness. A witness simply confesses what they have seen and heard. Yet, Jesus taught that in order for his followers to tell what they have seen and heard, it would take power. Waiting was necessary. For us, waiting is still necessary. I am learning that the waiting period is an important part of our life. Some people have a hard time waiting. I know I do, but our ministries and and personal life will be better off if we learned to implement the system of waiting.

    What’s one piece of advice you can share as it relates to waiting? Be sure to leave a comment below.

    I look forward to receiving your feedback. Also, if this post was beneficial to you take a moment to share it with your friends and followers. Also, if you want to stay up to date on current posts, consider having them delivered to your inbox. You can do so by signing up to the right.

    Join Me at the “Oasis Pastor’s Conference”

    Oasis Pastor's Conference 2013

    One of the best ways to grow is by learning from people who have been where you are. This can come through different means. It could be meeting one on one, video or conference calls, reading, or attending conferences or seminars.

    I am learning that you have have to be deliberate in order to get to the place you feel that God is leading. There are a few ways I am trying to become more deliberate in order to become a better Minster and Pastor. One way I am doing this is by incorporating a few conferences in my calendar each year for the purpose of growing. I was blessed back in the spring of this year to attend the Pastor’s Retreat put together by leaders within our denomination and came away having built new friendships and practical ways for me to become better at what God has called me to do.

    I am looking forward to being a part of the Oasis Pastors Conference on September 16-17, 2013. It is going to be held at High Praises Church in Anderson, SC. The cost is very reasonable $35.00 for the registration (not counting room and meals). I am excited about learning something that may help me become a better Pastor as I serve the congregation of North Aiken Church of God.

    I encourage you to take the time and make plans to attend. Honestly, if you are a new Pastor (within your first two years of ministry) do what ever you can to attend. Don’t isolate yourself, make a deliberate attempt to learn and grow. You and the people you are called to serve deserve it.

    Teaching Your Lesson for Maximum Effectiveness

    Exodus 18:20
    And you shall teach them the statutes and the Laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.

    Sometimes when receiving the outline to teach a lesson you can be left with the question, “How are the kids I teach supposed to grasp this?” Upon reading the lesson you may feel as if it is above their heads or too childish. The truth is this is where one of your most important jobs come in to play. It is up to you to take the lesson provided and make sure that your age group has the opportunity to clearly hear the gospel and respond.

    The goal of this post is to help those who teach in the children’s ministry at the North Aiken Church of God take their weekly lesson and adapt it to their age group they have been entrusted to teach.

    After going over this material I see you going into your class this Sunday and teaching the Gospel to your students in a way they will be able to understand and implement as they go throughout their week.

    What You Need to Know:

    1)    You have been entrusted to teach God’s word this week to the children in your care.

    1. You feel called of God to invest in the lives of the students.
    2. Your Pastor has appointed you to instruct them.
    3. The parents of those you are teaching are trusting that you are going to invest in their child’s life.

    2)    You have the tools in order to teach the children in your care God’s word.

    1. You have a Bible
    2. A lesson has been prepared
    3. The time you’ve spent alone with God this week has empowered you to be able to teach effectively.

    3)    Your life has to set the example

    1. How you live outside of the class points them as to how they are to respond
    2. Your life shows them how to walk (live)
    3. Your life shows them how to work (what they must do)

    What You Need to Do

    1)    Begin by praying before opening the material

    1. Pray that God would open his word up to you and you would deliver it in a way that is effective.
    2. Pray over each child that will be in your class

    2)    Get to know the material

    1. Read the Lesson Title
    2. Look up the passage of scripture that is going to be talked about and read it from your Bible
    3. Read the Big Idea
    4. Look up the memory verse and read it from your Bible

    3)    Read through the Bible Lesson from your Outline

    1. 1st read through it just to become familiar with how the writer explained the Bible passage
    2. 2nd read through it and make notes and reword what you feel would help your age group understand the lesson.
    3. 3rd read through it and make notes of things that you can do in order to help your age group comprehend the subject matter. (Such as visuals, actions, or involvement.)

    4)    Arrive prepared to teach your lesson

    1. Arrive with a smile on your face ready to teach your Group the truth from God’s word
    2. As you enter the room and set up your area pray over each chair in representation of a child that will be attending.
    3. Prior to service starting until completion of the service find ways to engage in the lives of the Children you have been entrusted to teach.

    Remember, your goal is to take the lesson you have been provided and teach it effectively to those in your care. The words you speak and the actions you portray have the opportunity to lead each child in your care closer to making a decision to follow Christ. By following the above approach you will see that you will have a great impact in the lives of your students.

    The point is this, God has called you, Your Pastor has appointed you, and the Parents are trusting you, you can teach effectively this week and in the weeks to come.

    Stop Trying to Be Great, Be Consistent

    You don’t have to be great, but you do have to be consistent.

    I want to be be great and I often feel the need to throw myself a “pity party for one” when I realize I am not great in a particular area. To be honest I am learning day by day that it’s not necessarily a moment that makes us great but consistency.

    For example…

  • A great husband isn’t measured by saying I do, but by consistently fulfilling his responsibilities as a husband on a day to day basis.
  • Being a great father isn’t just being at the birth of his children, but by consistently fulfilling his responsibilities as a father on a day to day basis.
  • To encourage you to be consistent, let me remind you…

    David became consistent with a stone and a slingshot before he ever became great in the eyes of a nation.

    Not matter what your context, being great is accomplished by being consistent. So as I write this and am working on things in my life to be more consistent in, I hope you are encouraged to keep pressing forward.

    Don’t focus on being great, focus on being consistent.

    Thanks for reading, I value your feedback. Please take a moment to leave a comment below. If this post has encouraged you and you feel others may grow in their walk with Christ please take a moment to share it on the social network site of your choice.

    Also, take a moment to read a great post that I read this morning which encouraged me and was the basis for this post. Thanks to Pastor David Kemp for his leadership and ministry. It’s titled Choose Greatness and as I began reflecting on that statement I began to realize that my choice of greatness begins with consistency.

    How I Treat Others Says A Lot About What I Think of Me (Quote)

    When I was 15 I was given a Bible which belonged to my Grandfather, Capt. George Ellis Tallmage, USMC Ret. It was in my fathers possession. It was a KJV Thompson Chain Reference which was given to my Grandfather in the 70’s by the congregation of First Assembly of God in Walterboro. It was passed down to me as a gift a few weeks after I announced to my family that I accepted the call to preach. This particular Bible sits in my office right next to my desk.

    In the first few blank pages of this Bible there are a few things penned, mostly by my father. Here is one quote which I have read often and still retain in my memory today. I would like to share it with you. I haven’t found where it is attributed to anyone else so I will give the credit to my dad for this quote.

    The way I love my neighbor is the way I love myself. – George E. Tallmage, Sr

    There is a lot of truth in this quote. If the greatest commandment is to Love The Lord God with everything you are, and to Love your neighbor as yourself. Then it is only accurate that the way I love those around me is deep down what I think about and how I love myself.

    Easter’s Past, Now What

    Another Easter weekend is in the rear view mirror. If you are unfamiliar about why we make such a big deal about Easter you can read in the Bible, John chapters 18-20. For all of my ministry friends I hope this past weekend proved to be one of your best weekends of the year. Maybe you didn’t quite reach the goals you set out to reach. Can I give you a word of encouragement? Just because you didn’t hit the number you were reaching for it shouldn’t get you down.

    At the time of this post I have only been at the North Aiken Church of God for about 7 weeks. Sure, we had some expectations but I haven’t let those expectations control me. We plan, we execute, but ultimately the rest is up to God.

    For instance, we were planning for an attendance goal of 75 people. We have been averaging 50. We had a total attendance of 55. Although we didn’t meet our planned goal of 75 there are a few things that we were able to execute by having that goal. If we were going to hit 75 we had to free up space in the sanctuary. So, we created an environment where children ages 2months – 5th grade can learn about Jesus and the purpose of Easter. That freed up close to 20 seats in the sanctuary for the guests that we’ve been inviting. We had a nursery for kids 2 months thru 2 years. A group for kids ages 3 thru 5 and a group for kids in k5 thru 5th grade. In total there were 13 kids present.

    Here’s what I have learned and I hope is an encouragement to you.

  • Don’t allow the fact that you didn’t have the number of people you expected and planned for make you unbearable to be around.
  • Don’t allow the fact that you may have had a record breaking attendance make you unbearable to be around.
  • Don’t forget to put the same amount of prayer and planning into this coming weekend.
  • Don’t forget to reflect on what God did this weekend in spite of us.
  • Don’t forget, it’s not about you it’s all about God and His plan and purpose for those he’s allowed you the opportunity to shepherd.
  • In closing let me add, the most important thing I believe that could have happened did. At least two people recognized that they have been trying to go through this life alone and recognized the need to turn it over to God and trust in Jesus.

    What was the highlight of your weekend?

    If you are a ministry leader what’s some sound advice you would give to other ministry leaders right after a big weekend?

    Afternoon Quote from Billy Sunday

    20120712-150837.jpgHere’s a quote that should ignite a fire in every preacher of righteousness. In a culture where it’s so easy to give in a give up, keep pressing forward.

    I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition. – Evangelist Billy Sunday