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God’s Way, or My Way?

The Church is not about us. The Church has never been about us. The Church will never be about us. The Church was designed by God to bring restoration between Creator and Creation through sharing the Gospel of Christ. The only part we play is in giving God glory and honor by loving Him with all we have and all we are, and loving everyone else just like we would want them to love us. Scripture backs this up in many places.

Unfortunately, human nature all too often supplants the true selfless nature of the Church with its own selfish nature, causing derision and strife over inconsequential things… mountains out of molehills, if you will…

I call this the “Burger King Effect,” and I have yet to see a human that doesn’t fall prey to this monster of a problem at one time or another. In today’s ever-increasing instant gratification society, it is almost too easy to get exactly what we want when and how we want it. The internet has made shopping online so much more convenient than having to drive to the store that places like Radio Shack, Sears, Best Buy, and Guitar Center are either downsizing to minimize losses or filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and other online warehouse suppliers are driving physical store locations out of business. You see, instant gratification is convenient, but it has dire effects on others.

Likewise, folks don’t have to write checks or use cash and empty their bank accounts for major purchases either. The rise of the credit card as a means of payment has put Americans under a crushing debt load. According to Dave Ramsey, the average American family spends 125% of their annual income every year… How is this possible?  Little rectangular pieces of plastic that allow you to get what you want right now, and only charge you an 18% “convenience fee.” “Can I afford it” no longer means “do I have the cash on hand,” but rather, “can I make the monthly payment?” For many, as the minimum payments pile up and the collections agencies keep calling, the answer is no. But, they sure do have neat stuff! You see, instant gratification is convenient, but it has dire effects on you, too.

This desire for what I want when I want it seeps into the Church as well. We get bent out of shape when they don’t sing what we consider to be the right songs and they play the songs they do sing too loudly. We’re rankled when the trappings of our precious worship space change. We don’t like it when change happens, because we weren’t consulted. We didn’t give our input, so therefore we didn’t have a voice. And, since we didn’t have a voice, we’re going to complain as loudly and as boldly as we can to anyone who will listen until it changes back. Not only that, but we’re not going to give another dime to this place until we get what we want how we want it… and we sit back and wonder why 1500 pastors leave the ministry every month…

You see, instant gratification in the Church is of major concern, because it has dire effects on congregants and pastors. It effects congregations because it takes their attention off of what the Church was meant to do and places it directly on things that have no salvific value. It shows unbelievers that Christians don’t really care about them because they are too busy fighting amongst themselves for what they want. It changes the Church’s focus from going out into the community sharing the love of Christ and instead focuses it inward toward personal agendas, wants, and desires. It pulls a pastor’s attention away from edifying the saved and evangelizing the lost and places it on putting out brush fires amongst the congregation. It steals a pastor’s time away from study and preparation. It gnaws at a pastor’s confidence when in the pulpit. It chews into a pastor’s family.

As the body of Christ, we must put the Burger King Effect to death, and decidedly so. If we are to return to the true nature of the Church as God designed it, personal agendas and instant gratification tactics must be buried deep in the ground and never exhumed again. I leave you with Paul’s words to the Church at Colossae:

Colossians 3: 1-17 – Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Do You Love Me? Feed my Sheep.

I was reading my morning devotional a couple of days ago, as I normally do, but was oddly struck by the content. Our Lead Minister had just given a message on John 21. This is the passage where Jesus comes and restores Simon Peter after he denied Christ three times ahead of the crucifixion. Jesus had predicted that Peter would do so, and Peter rejected Jesus’ words out of hand. He basically said, “There’s no way I’m going to deny you, Jesus! I’m too strong to do that!”

And yet, just as Jesus had predicted, Peter vehemently denied Christ. The lowly crow of a rooster in the dark marked His words as true to Peter, and he realized what he had done.

Like so many of us, Peter was zealous for Jesus when it was easy, but folded under the pressure of persecution for what he believed in. Pastors are not immune to this issue either. Many of us go into ministry with zeal in our hearts, only to be crushed by the weight of church politics, spread wide by lay leaders who want a piece of us for their projects, and stabbed by those we hold close when we don’t see eye to eye. The zeal fades, fear sets in, self-preservation takes over, and ministry comes to a screeching halt. There’s no rooster to crow, but the cry of a battle weary pastor and his family certainly fill the role.

While the Bible does not specifically tell us how Peter felt in the aftermath, it does tell us what he did. Rather than continuing on as a disciple, he went back to the family business. He returned to fishing for fish instead of fishing for men. I’m sure he still had a love in his heart for Christ, but the grind had gotten to him. He believed, but his abject failure crushed his desire to continue the work. Breaking his back on the fishing grounds was preferable to being broken into submission to what Christ had called him to do.

Pastors, I know there are days when this is where I live. I’ve come up short, and have been called on the carpet for it by leadership/team members/fellow pastors/congregation members/etc… Sometimes it has been warranted, sometimes it hasn’t, and sometimes I’m just not sure what’s going on. I also know I am not alone in this feeling.

In his book, “Why Pastors Quit”, Bo Lane shares some glaring statistics.

Most pastors are overworked.

90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.

And 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.

Most pastors feel unprepared.

90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands and 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.

Many pastors struggle with depression and discouragement.

70% of pastors constantly fight depression and 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Wait, this is huge. Let’s pause here for a moment.

This means that half of the 1,700 or so pastors who leave the ministry each month have no other way of making a living. Their education and experience is wrapped up solely in the work of the ministry.

So, not only do pastors struggle with their choice to leave ministry, they have to worry about how they are going to feed their families.

Speaking of families, most pastor’s families are negatively impacted.

80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked and feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.

Many pastors are lonely.

70% do not have someone they consider a close friend and 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.

And then there is this:

50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form. And 4,000 new churches begin each year while 7,000 churches close.

These statistics are disheartening, but God is a God of healing, restoration, and renewal. John 21 shows us the story of Jesus coming to Peter. Three times He asks, “Do you love Me?” and three times Peter answers “Lord, You know that I love You.” And Jesus said, “Great! Glad we’ve got that cleared up. Off you go then…”  Nope, Jesus said “Feed My sheep.”

Jesus restored Peter to a place of authority within the kingdom because there was work to be done, and Peter was specifically called to do it. While there are folks who step into ministry with self-gain as their agenda, there are many more who do it because they have been specifically called. Even as tough as the pastorate can be, God called them to do something specific. He called them to “feed His sheep.”

This brings us back to my devotional time. Oswald Chambers says, “Jesus has some extraordinarily peculiar sheep: some that are unkempt or pushy, and some that have gone astray! But it is impossible to exhaust God’s love, and it is impossible to exhaust my love if it flows from the Spirit of God within me. The love of God pays no attention to my prejudices caused by my natural individuality. If I love my Lord, I have no business being guided by natural emotions – I have to feed His sheep. We will not be delivered or released from His commission to us.”

Dear pastors, if we are truly called by God to be His shepherds on earth, we must feed His sheep and allow Him to feed us.

Dear sheep, please pray for your shepherds. Encourage them. Love on them. Share your wisdom with them. If you step on each other, do your best to make it right together. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Trust that God has best intentions for both of you in mind.

Above all, LOVE!

Change is Hard, But for Christ…

It appears as though change is the new normal. There was a time when the world reinvented itself once every hundred years or so, but as advancements in technology and other fields come in increasingly smaller time frames, the world has begun to reinvent itself about every three years. Think about it… in less than 40 years, we’ve come from computers taking up vast rooms with standing reel to reel tape memory to having ten times that type of computing power in the palm of our hands… which we use to shoot small birds into pig-built obstacles for points. That’s a ton of change!

The same can be seen in the Church as well. In the past 40 years, there has been a shift from suits and ties to jeans and cardigans or un-tucked dress shirts. We’ve moved from singing songs written in books to using transparencies on an overhead projector to using a slide carousel to Power Point to the latest edition of ProPresenter or Media Shout. Pastors went from writing their sermons on paper and referencing a physical Bible to typing up everything, exporting it to an iPad, and using a digital copy of the Bible contained therein. The Church organist and choir have been replaced by the worship band, and many of the well-used hymns of the Church have been re-done in a modern style, augmented with modern worship music, or replaced entirely. This is but a small sample size of the massive amount of change continuing to happen within the Church body!

This vast amount of change within the Church has been the radical way in which many of come to Christ, while at the same time becoming the bane of others’ existence. What is “right” and “wrong” as it pertains to the methods by which the Church ministers to the congregation and the community has been a hot-button issue for years. The issue at hand, however, is not the change itself or even the response to the change. It is the attitude, actions, and spiritual fruit being produced by those who engage the change. What I’m talking about is the term spiritual formation.

Dallas Willard defines the process when he states, “Spiritual formation in the tradition of Jesus Christ is the process of transformation of the inmost dimension of the human being, the heart, which is the same as the spirit or will. It is being formed (really, transformed) in such a way that its natural expression comes to be the deeds of Christ done in the power of Christ.”

In other words, spiritual formation is the process of Christ-followers being molded and transformed into His image. Being molded into His image includes the transformation of our thoughts, our words, our actions, and our attitudes. The problem is, our humanity tends to fight tooth-and-nail against this notion, which causes us to rationalize our behavior rather than continue the process of transformation. “I’m doing pretty well compared to the next guy” is the same as not doing anything at all.

Philippians 2:1-7 says, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

Paul’s words hit hard, but they may also cause one to say, “That’s what I’m supposed to do, but how do I personally do that? That’s just too much to do!” Well… they’d be right. It IS too much to do… on our own. We cannot possibly hope to achieve this on our own. It is only through the power and presence of Christ in our lives that we can strive effectively to live this way.

2 Peter 1:2-3 says, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

Peter nails it! It is not through our own power that we can even begin to consider living in such a transformed way. We can only do so through the divine power of Christ supplied by presence and power the Holy Spirit working in and through us! God has already done the heavy lifting by sending Christ as a sacrifice for us, and the Holy Spirit to live within us and guide us through the process of spiritual formation and transformation. All we have to do is recognize our need, submit to the process, live in obedience, and allow God to do the rest!

I must confess, I didn’t come with this idea on my own. It was inspired by the words of my friend Ryan Giffin, who is the Lead Pastor of a Paris Church of the Nazarene in Kentucky. His words cut to my heart, and I hope they do the same for you.

“Fact: People regularly complain about stupid things, usually due to the “It’s all about me” mentality. (I include myself in this, by the way.) If spiritual formation is the process of a person being formed into the image of Christ, then this ought to be one of the changes that occur in our behavior, and more deeply, our attitude. I’d love to see the Church, those who are part of God’s redemptive community on earth, become transformed in this key area: to live for a higher purpose than our own wants, comforts, preferences and security. As usual, whatever changes I hope to see in others, I pray that the Holy Spirit will produce that same transformation in me.”

Folks, let’s stop fighting about the change that doesn’t fit our model of what is “right” in the Church, allow God to transform our lives into His image, and step out together in faith to meet the needs of an increasingly broken & lost world! That’s the only way to navigate change.

Live in a worthy manner…

Wow… Life took hold of me for a while, and it appears as though I’ve neglected writing for a bit! Family events, graduate school work, fall ministry events, and well… life tend to get crazy at times… I apologize to those of you who take the time to read my ramblings and whatnot. I will endeavor to be more consistent prior to 2015 so I don’t have to make it a new year’s resolution!

It’s hard to believe that I’m almost 1/3 of the way through my graduate studies… I feel like I just started, and I also feel like I’ve got a loooong way to go. Well, I DO have a long way to go, but I’m enjoying the journey! This is an “elephant” I don’t mind eating, because each bite is filled with knowledge, truth, and skills which will ultimately benefit both myself and the kingdom of God as I am able to master and implement them. It is hard to believe I’ve come this far at times, since it only took me 17 years to finish a 4 year Bachelor’s degree… Growing in maturity and a new-found love for reading & learning are blessings from God!

This latest class I’m taking is a Homiletics course. For those who are not sure what that means, it is basically a class in which students gain new tools for Scriptural interpretation and message preparation. For the past 4 weeks, we’ve been digging through to the bare bones of Philippians 1:1-30. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Philippi while imprisoned in Rome. Now, one might think he would be writing to them in order to ask for help in procuring his release, right? Wrong. Rather than focusing on his circumstances, the entire letter focuses on encouraging and exhorting the Church to stand up for the gospel of Christ regardless of the opposition or circumstances they faced.

As I read through, there’s a particular part of the first chapter that really captured my attention.

Paul says, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” – Philippians 1:27 [NASB]

How am I do live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? Paul states I am to “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” with my fellow Christians. Sounds easy, right? Oh… wait… I almost forgot… We’re all HUMAN BEINGS… While we are all made in the image of the triune God, we are not all the same. We are uniquely designed by a loving Creator who apparently loves unity in diversity! Ask the same question in a room of 100 people, and you’ll likely get 100 different answers. Some of those answers might be similar, but odds are none of them will be exactly the same.

That being said, how are we supposed to stand firm in one spirit and with one mind? As my Lead Minister is so fond of saying, “You don’t have to be my twin to be my brother.” Translation? We can serve the same God, serve the same Christ, and have the same Holy Spirit within us without agreeing on absolutely everything. Another saying he loves is “In essentials, unity. In everything else, liberty.” What does that mean? If we can agree that the gospel is true, then we can discuss the rest and hopefully find some common ground.

It also means we don’t have to fight about every single little thing that comes along. There will ALWAYS be points of difference between Christians because we are human. There will always be points of contention between Christians because we come from different denominational backgrounds. There will always be points of contention between Christians because we interpret Scripture according to many factors unique to each of our history, upbringing, and experiences. The issue arises when those differences cause so much division that the body of Christ is wounded in the process.

Rather than striving to “be right,” perhaps we should follow the words of Paul and conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel by agreeing on the essentials, that we might be in one spirit and of one mind. That just might be what advances the kingdom in the face of rising opposition.

What to Do When Your Church Changes

Change is always difficult in one way or another, and it appears as though change is even more difficult in the Church. Pastor Joe McKeever has seen his share of change as a pastor is several churches over his career and as the missions director for the 100 Southern Baptist churches in New Orleans. Since retiring from full time ministry in 2009, Joe continues to write books and take speaking engagements on occasion. Take a look at what he has to say regarding the inevitability of change in church and the consequences of resisting it.

These days in my retirement ministry, most of the churches where I’m invited to preach have these things in common….

–Almost no man wears a necktie or suit.

–On the platform you find all kinds of musical instruments.

–Huge screens are mounted on the front walls, where the words of songs and scripture are projected.

–Many people in the congregation read Scripture from their phones.

–Worship leaders are often wearing jeans and sneakers.

–In the announcements, you hear of mission trips to foreign countries, regardless of the size of the church.

–Fewer and fewer hymns are being sung, and when the old ones are brought out, they’re given new treatments. Mostly, though, what’s being sung in worship was written in the past 10 or 12 years.

–Churches announce on their outside signs “blended” services, “contemporary” services, and/or “traditional” services.

The times, they are a-changing, friend.  (And they are not through changing either. So you youngsters should not get too attached to the present innovations.)

If you cannot adapt, you may find yourself living in the 1950s.

The other weekend I worshiped with an interesting church in Jacksonville, Florida.  I have not known that church previously, but had learned a little of their story before arriving.

As the neighborhood changed around them, most of their members had moved away. Since the church failed to make the necessary adjustments to reach new residents of their community, it was slowly dying. So, not long ago, the remaining membership–mostly senior adults–asked a larger (and healthy, thriving) church in the area to take them over.  They would be willing to make whatever changes were necessary to turn this around.

That takes great courage, let me say.

Most “older” churches cannot do this. The members are so wed to the ways of yesterday and the methods of the past that they prefer to let the church die rather than change.

Six months after they called a young pastor from New Orleans to shepherd this transitioning congregation, I showed up for three days of ministry.  As always, before and after preaching, I sat at a table drawing people. I was pleasantly surprised by the large number of children and teens and young families throughout the buildings.  Already, the church is flourishing.

The longtime members of that little church are having to get used to a lot of change.  The pastor does not wear a suit or tie or even a sport coat. Music is provided by a group composed of piano, several guitars, and a drum set.  Four or five young adults were the praise ensemble.

It was a blessed service. The singing was great, the people were happy and friendly, and the fellowship was sweet.  They’re getting this right.

Being with such a happy group of God’s people was such a joy.

What would happen, I wondered, if a member who moved back to town after a year’s absence walked into the service.  A large screen flashes the words to hymns and choruses.  The platform is covered by musical instruments, and an air of informality pervades.

Whoever heard of a church changing?  (Smiley-face here)

Churches are always changing. Only the dead ones don’t.

May I repeat that? Churches are always changing–if they are alive.  I guarantee you that Saddleback Church (Rick Warren) in Orange County is always tweaking what they do. As does North Point (Andy Stanley) in Alpharetta, and Celebration Church (Dennis Watson) in Metairie.

But we see this same scenario playing out again and again.

You’ve belonged to that church for many years.  You were attracted to it because of location and ministry, because you liked the pastor and the people were friendly. You have served the Lord there in numerous capacities and your children grew up there. You have a history with that church. And now….

Now, it’s not the same church.

There’s a new pastor and new leadership. They are attracting a different group of people from the lovely group that drew you in.  You feel less and less a part of things.  You’re not at home with many of the innovations they’re doing now.

What should you do?

1) Recognize that churches are always in a state of change if they are alive.

Everytime someone joins your church or leaves it, the church changes. Everytime a member begins to get serious about reading the Word or witnessing or tithing or ministering, or when they backslide, the church changes.  It is never static, never a frozen entity.

2) You yourself are growing and changing if you are alive and obedient.  I grew up on a certain kind of church music, then grew past that.  Later, my tastes changed and to no one’s surprise, have changed again.

3) Your needs and requirements change.

My tastes change.  It’s called “life.”  After radiation treatment of the head and neck a full decade ago, many things no longer have a taste at all, while others are as wonderful as ever.  I  can handle spicy food better than before since I have fewer functioning taste buds.  Life is like that.

4) Perhaps you are dragging your feet and resisting something new the Holy Spirit is trying to do in your life.

You are if you insist that the Lord do something again in the same way He did it before.  You are dragging your feet and resisting Him if you reject the new things He sends because they are outside your comfort zone. Do you suppose Jonah felt comfortable going to Nineveh?  Don’t you know it was way, way outside his comfort zone?

5) Perhaps the Lord has something new for you in the community and you should be in another church.  This may be His way of cutting you loose from those ties that have bound you so you can move forward.

6) Are you open to new things?  New ways?

If you are not, you’re going to have trouble with the Lord Jesus.

“Behold,” the Lord said, “I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).  He wasn’t just talking about Heaven, friend.

He’s making me ever-new right now. Yep, I said that.  Psalm 92:12-15 promises that. “The righteous will flourish…. They will still bear fruit in old age. They will be full of sap and very green….”

So, what do you do when your church changes?  Grow with it.

Find more wise words of wisdom from Pastor McKeever at joemckeever.com

 

What PK’s need from Church Members

I didn’t grow up as a “PK,” which stands for Pastor’s Kid, but I did grow up as the son of the church Liturgist and Accompanist, which was almost as daunting a task. Now, as a grown man who is a Pastor and has three PKs of my own, I hear and see them deal with some of the same things I went through when I was a child. Barnabas Piper, son of John Piper, wrote a wonderful article on this subject. His thoughts echo my own, and I pray each person who is part of a community of faith takes a moment to read, ponder, and possibly adjust their attitudes, presumptions, and actions toward PK’s in their church.

 

Everyone in church notices the pastor’s kids. People don’t think about noticing them, it just happens. I grew up as a PK, the son of John Piper, and even I notice PKs. It’s almost impossible to avoid. They’re like the first children of the church.

Don’t think you notice them? Here’s what it looks like.

You know things about their personal lives you don’t know about any other kid in the church: where they’re going to college, who they took to prom, that they just got braces, that they got pulled over for speeding last week. You make comments about their behavior to them or to anyone else. “Did you see his new tattoo?” “You can’t talk like that; you’re the pastor’s kid.” “Can you believe she wore that to church?” “Pastors’ kids should know better than to run in church.” You expect them to speak out in Sunday school, to pray, to lead. You have a tacit standard for them as PKs. You hold them to a higher standard than their peers in church, and you’re not even trying to do so.

What you might not realize is how this makes PKs feel.

They feel like people are always watching. The fact that you know personal things about them makes them hyper aware of you watching, listening, knowing.

They feel like there is no room for mistakes. People watch them. People tell them how to act. People have a standard for them. What pressure! They know they’re going to screw up, but how can they with everyone watching?

They feel as if they have to have it all together, to have a firm faith and a solid family life. No room for questions or doubts. No chance to wonder or wander. No struggles allowed. And really, who could they ask any way?

But you can help them. You can encourage PKs. Here are three ways.

1) Let PKs be themselves.

For better and worse, let PKs be themselves. One of the hardest parts of being a PK is being what others expect you to be without ever being able to find out who you are. Remember how you came to faith? Remember how you’ve grown in faith? I bet it was through struggles, through mistakes, through seeing the profound grace of God when you needed it most. I bet it came when you connected with Jesus in the deeply personal way instead of trying to be perfect or live up to someone else’s expectations. That’s exactly what PKs need—the room to connect with Jesus like that. And it might be a winding road with mistakes along the way, in fact it probably will be. But that’s OK.

2) Don’t ask anything of a PK you wouldn’t ask of anyone else.

One of the hardest things about being a PK is being known of by so many people you don’t know. It’s compounded when you interact as if you’re friends even though they can’t even remember your name. When you delve into their personal life, it doesn’t feel like friends talking; it feels like an invasion of privacy. Even more so when you demand that they act a certain way. When seven boys are sprinting around the church lobby, why stop the PK? When all the high school girls are dressing a certain way, why call out the PK? Step back and realize that you might be unwittingly piling expectations and scrutiny on them even though your motives are pure.   

3) Befriend them as a friend, not as a novelty.

PKs need friends they can trust, friends who care nothing about their last name and everything about their personhood. They need friends who will love them for who they are not because of their daddy’s position in the church. They need friends who will help them, push them, listen to them and not judge them. These kinds of friends are the ones around whom PKs can begin to figure out who they really are, who God really is, and what it means to love Jesus in a personal way, not just a way that meets expectations.

 

Barnabas PiperBarnabas works in social media and content marketing for Lifeway Christian Resources. He is the author of the forthcoming The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity (David C. Cook, July, 2014). Barnabas and his wife live in the Nashville area with their two daughters. Read his blog at BarnabasPiper.com and follow him on Twitter @BarnabasPiper.

 

The Waiting is the Hardest Part…

“The waiting is the hardest part / every day you get one more yard / you take it on faith, you take it to the heart / the waiting is the hardest part” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Hurry up and wait… doesn’t it feel like life hands you that line on a regular basis? One of my favorite examples is the drive-up window at the local burger joint. You’re there to get “fast food,” so you order, pay, and then get told, “Its gonna be a few minutes on fries. Can you move up to the yellow line please?” I remember that same feeling when I was a kid before birthdays and Christmas morning. After being asked for a list of what I wanted, I made it out quickly, gave it to my folks, and then… had to wait for weeks and weeks until the day finally came. Oh, but what a glorious day it was!!!

We all have moments like that in our walk with Christ. His timing is most assuredly not our own. If it were, we’d be in heaven right now thanks to instant gratification! However, God doesn’t work like a microwave. He generally works like a crock-pot slow cooker, which is hard to wrap our minds around in today’s gotta-have-it-now pace of life. The thing is, waiting may be the hardest part, but it also produces much more in our lives than instantaneous satisfaction ever could. Scripture speaks to this in several places.

Isaiah 40:31 – But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Lamentations 3:25 – The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Psalm 130:5-6 – I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

Psalm 62:5 – For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

And, one of my favorites on this subject…

James 5:7-8 – Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

My wife is a master of the slow cooker. Of the meals we have in a month, many are recipes that must cook all day in that big black pot with the clear lid. When I get home from work, there’s usually an hour or so left before we can serve it up, and the smell is so good I can hardly stand to leave it alone! However, if I were to dig in without letting it finish cooking, the final dish would potentially go lacking (not to mention the chance for food poisoning because the meat isn’t done yet!). By waiting for it to completely finish cooking, the final product is so worth the wait.

The same can be said of our very lives. God’s timing is not ours. We live in the slow cooker of life, hopefully allowing God to finish His work in every situation, all the while hoping and wishing for a microwave style solution. Thanks be to God that He doesn’t do it our way!

Is there something you’re waiting on today? Be patient like the farmer. Be patient like the family waiting on the slow cooker to beep. Be patient, take heart, and wait on the Lord to bring it to fruition. The final product will be so worth the wait!