Ten Joy Stealers in Ministry (And How to Get It Back)

This is a reblog:

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“I know. There are many unhappy ministers in our local churches. Such is not a judgmental statement, but a statement of reality. Indeed, I count myself among those who have struggled with joy in ministry on more than one occasion.

In this post, I share ten of the most common reasons pastors and other church staff members lose their joy in ministry. But I don’t want to just dwell on the negative. Next to each reason, I offer suggestions to counter these joy stealers. Indeed, I have learned both the reasons for joy stealers and the reasons joy returns largely from you readers. Over the past few years, you have been my teachers in many ways. I am so grateful for you.

What are the joy stealers? Even more importantly, what are pastors and other church staff doing to recapture their joy? Here are ten common responses.

  1. Seeing the underbelly of Christian ministry. Christian ministry means working with sinners just like you and me. It’s often not a pretty sight to see what we see in local churches. And while we don’t condone sin, let’s learn to demonstrate grace and love like Jesus did and does.
  2. Constant criticisms (“death by a thousand cuts”). I received my first criticism as a pastor on my third day of ministry. I was crushed. May we be men and women who seek to please God instead of people. And may He give us the strength to be godly and gracious when we do receive criticisms.
  3. Fighting among Christians. A non-Christian recently told me that he has been observing Christians on blogs and social media the past several months. He said: “You Christians are some of the meanest people I’ve ever known.” Ouch. We will know Christlike joy when we act like Him, and not like the world.
  4. Busyness that turns to prayerlessness. We will always lose our joy when we neglect our time in prayer. When we pray, we are connected to the Source of all joy. If we are too busy to pray, we are too busy.
  5. Unreasonable work hours. Many in Christian ministry become workaholics to the detriment of their families and themselves. It is ultimately our choice and our responsibility to have a balanced life. When we don’t, the joy goes away.
  6. Attacks on our family. This is an especially difficult joy stealer because we sometimes feel powerless when it happens. Be even more diligent in prayer to seek His wisdom. Let your family know they come first. Confront the perpetrator if necessary. But do this all in a spirit of prayer and love.
  7. Sour staff relations. Anecdotally, I believe this joy stealer is present in over half of our churches. It is your responsibility to be gracious, to be a reconciler, and to be a peacemaker. If relationships are still sour, you have done all you can. Your joy comes from the Lord, not the other church staff.
  8. Inwardly focused church. A church that focuses most ministries and activities on the members and not those beyond the church becomes stale and self-serving. You must get your joy in the Lord by reaching out to others regardless of what others in the church do.
  9. Lack of respect in the community and culture. Up until about 1990, most ministers were respected, if not revered, in their communities. That reality is shifting dramatically in most communities today. Remember again, your joy does not come from the approval of men and women in the community.
  10. Entitlement mentality among some church members. A number of church members view the church as a country club where they pay dues to get what they want. You responsibility as a minister in the church is to serve all people in the name of Christ. In doing so, you will find His joy. But that does not mean you have to yield to the demands of selfish whiners.

There are definitely two common themes in this article. First, ministry in the church is not easy. It’s been that way for 2,000 years. Second, if we focus on these joy-stealers, they will indeed take away our joy. But if we keep our focus on Christ, our joy can never be taken away.” By Thom Rainer

http://thomrainer.com/2015/02/25/ten-joy-stealers-ministry-get-back/

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The Top 10 Things I Have Learned in Marriage.

wedding

  1. Pray together to stay together. Pray for and with each other daily. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

  1. Love is decision. Love is not just a feeling. You will wake up one day saying, “What did I do?” You married that person, that’s what you did.
  1. Start thinking in twos. Involve each other in all decision-making efforts.

 Marriage

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk, call, text, email.  This also requires the need to listen.  Not to simply hear, but to listen to what the other is saying.  It is better to over-communicate, than to under-communicate.

 

  1. Leave and cleave. Be careful how much friends and family involvement you allow.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24 (KJV)

 

  1. Handle finances together. Handle finances well. Financial infidelity leads to problems.  Debt can destroy your marriage.

 

  1. Respect each other. Calling each other names, sarcasm and derogatory statements can destroy your spouse.

 respect

  1. Forgive each other. You will offend and disappoint each other. Apologize when wrong.  Don’t be stubborn. Saying I’m sorry is a sign of strength not weakness.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
  1. Spend time together. Vacation together. Love is spelled T-I-M-E. Spend quality time with the person you love.  Date your mate.  Keep the fire burning through dates.
  1. Stay faithful.  There will always someone more handsome/beautiful than your spouse.

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Things Soldiers Should Know About Their Corps Officer

Pastor's Ponderings

The Salvation Army is an unique body of Christ is it not?
With that being said, each corps is unique.  Each corps has its own specific strength(s) and its own specific weakness(es).  We can all recognize that challenges do come to our corps structure & ministry.  Sometimes soldiers can look at the present issues happening in the corps and cast a blanket of blame all upon the corps officers.  Sometimes the corps officer can look at the present issues happening in the corps and cast a blanket of blame all upon the soldiers.  Sometimes the blame is shared…sometimes it is not.

I do not wish to imply that all our corps are going through problems and concerns ALL THE TIME.  This is certainly not the case.  There have been some wonderful mountaintop experiences.  There have also been wonderful moments of fellowship, where we share with each other what is on…

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How to Support the Global Mission Field

 ZMT

My wife, Rutendo and I stand in a unique place in our territory.  We were both born and raised in Zimbabwe, Africa. We stared extreme poverty, disease, and hunger in the face daily.  Many nights we went to bed with empty stomachs, only to hear them growl the next morning in class.

The 19th Century Missionary to Southern Africa, David Livingstone once said, “God had an only Son and He made Him a missionary.”  Our Lord Jesus Christ was a missionary to our lost world, and I believe our faith and our corps function best when we are sharing that faith with others and developing a true missionary mindset.   It is only then that we can truly see and appreciate how greatly we have been blessed, and understand how fleeting materialism is.  What we find is that our real wealth comes through a healthy relationship with Christ and our brothers and sisters throughout the world.   We find that we are all called to be missionaries, no matter where we live, and our world is beginning to see that.

And as we stand in between Zimbabwe and the United States, we bring a developing world mindset to a developed world ministry. We understand God wants us to link those two worlds.  We are conduits of grace, linking the material blessings of the developed world with the spiritual blessings of the developing world.

While I do not stare the conditions of my past in the face each day anymore, my friends, relatives, and former corps members do.  Over the years I have lost many relatives and friend to malnutrition, hunger, HIV/AIDS and inadequate medical care.  We bring teams to Zimbabwe not only to provide for some of the needs of Zimbabwe, but to show our teams that they are also losing brothers and sisters in Christ everyday and have the power to do something about it.

This Sunday, we will be bringing in our Global Giving funds, as way to support the various missions through The Salvation Army’s World Services ministry.  Please do not forget to bring your globes.  What else can we do to serve God in this way?

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Here are a few other ways you can support The Salvation Army’s World Services ministry:

  • Pray for missionaries – their health and effectiveness in mission.
  • Write weekly checks for World Services.
  • Support The Salvation Army El Cajon’s Zimbabwe Mission Trip team. https://fundly.com/zimbabwe-mission-trip-2015#
  • Instead of sending money or prayers, how about you go on a mission trip to serve others?
  • Identify specific missionaries send letters/emails of encouragement.
  • Send Birthday and/or Christmas gifts to specific missionaries.
  • Donate clothes and music instruments for the ZMT team to take to Zimbabwe.
  • Sponsor a child, write the child, visit the child.
  • Purchase heifers or goats for various families.

5 Reasons Why You Need Mentoring

Austin Nayomia

5 Reasons Why We Need Mentors

The night sky was pitch black, save for the twinkling stars that littered the sky in what seemed like a beautiful, yet haphazard sprinkling in the sky.  It was as if God had crushed the moon into small, fine moon crumbs and artistically sprayed them over the expanse of the firmament. A crisp, cool minty wind blew lightly, causing my sun-baked skin to create some small goose bumps.

I stood there inhaling the aroma emanating from the kebab meat on the grill.  Austin turns the lamb kebabs, careful to keep them away from mixing with the beef kebabs. My mouth was salivating, as I waited to devour this culinary masterpiece.  I had not eaten much that day, as I had been traveling.  Rutendo and I were in Kauai, Hawaii for our mentoring visit with Lieutenants Austin and Nayomia Anderson.

What is mentoring, anyway?  According to the dictionary, a mentor is defined as: “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mentor)  The Bible does not seem to mention the word “mentor,” but we see many an example of mentoring relationships.  I think of Elijah mentoring Elisha; Eli mentoring Samuel; Jesus mentoring His disciples; and Paul mentoring Timothy.

Why is mentoring important?

To me, having a mentor is very helpful. I remember a day during the hustle and bustle busy Christmas Kettles day.  I was tired and had just dealt with a very difficult situation.  I felt dejected, discouraged, and overwhelmed.  My mentor, Major Bill Nottle called me.  He said, “My wife and I just finished praying for you.  We hope you are doing well.”  I was surprised.  How did he know what I was going through?  God sent him with an encouraging message, just at the right time.  Having a mentor gave me the confidence that someone is watching my back.  Someone is praying for me.  Someone is available to give a word of advice and encouragement.  I know I do not walk the journey alone. How comforting!

Mentoring blesses both the mentee and the mentor.  The mentee receives tools to use in the workplace or ministry.  The mentee becomes confident, and able to be more productive and fruitful. On the other hand, the mentor has an opportunity to serve by dispensing advice and wisdom.  The mentor has the privilege of walking alongside God’s children.  As a mentor, you have the blessing of witnessing your advice produce fruit in others.

Why you need a mentor:

  1. Experience. All of us can learn from those who have walked the path before us. They know something we do not.
  2. Accountability.We all have blind spots – sins and behaviors of which we are unaware. Mentors see our blind spots. Let your mentor speak into your life.  Let them help you see and develop your potential.  Let them challenge you to walk with the Lord.  Let them keep you accountable.
  3. Networking. Mentors often know people and resources that are beyond our reach. It is imperative that we take advantage of these contacts to develop ourselves and ministries. Sometimes you just have to make one phone call to your mentor, and then doors begin to open.
  4. Cheerleader. You can receive encouragement by simply watching your mentor at work. In addition, your mentor can be one of your greatest cheerleaders and allies. He or she believes in you.
  5. Advocate. Your mentor can be your advocate and supporter in cases where you need to be heard. If you are going through difficult times, your mentor can be a reliable sounding board, as well as your representative to your superiors.

 

Reflection:

  • Who has helped you grow in your Christian walk?
  • How has he/she helped you?
  • Do you have someone you talk to about your spiritual life?
  • When you do, are you really open, or you just share surface problems?
  • How can you deepen your conversations with your mentor?
  • Pray for a mentor. Call the person ask him/her to be your mentor.
  • Go for it.