On Pastoral Expectations

Why Are You So You?

The other day I was razzing one of my kids and she became frustrated and said, “Why are you so, so… so you?” Hmm. Fair enough.

Pastors don’t just get that question from their kids after a good bout of teasing, though. Most every pastor I know is asked that – sometimes with vitriol – by people in the church. So let’s think for a moment about the expectations Christians often have of their pastors.

I don’t have in mind the very healthy and biblical expectations that all of us should have of someone who is serving as an under-shepherd of God’s flock, such as the expectation of godliness, and the expectation that a pastor would devote himself with discipline and rigor to prayer and the ministry of the Word; the expectation that he would remain biblically qualified to hold his office or the expectation that a pastor would love the people entrusted to him. Those are very healthy expectations to have.

I have in mind the extra expectations people sometimes have because of a desirable trait or traits that they have observed in some other pastor but don’t see in their pastor, at least not in the same measure. Why aren’t you more funny? Why don’t you like the same authors I like? Why aren’t you a better conversationalist? Why are you sometimes reserved or awkward? Why are you so, so you? If you have an expectation of your pastor that isn’t stated in the Scriptures as an expectation of pastors/bishops/overseers/Christians, then that is an extra expectation, and the very sort I have in mind.

Most of the time, we have these expectations because we want more from a pastor than is right or good or healthy. That desire is usually rooted in selfishness and idolatry. But don’t let those two words – selfishness and idolatry – turn you off. Let me briefly explain before you turn off. 🙂

I think it is rooted in selfishness because central to such sentiments is our various needs which we demand to be met by our pastor. Of course, the pastor is supposed to meet certain needs of the flock. The pastor serves the congregation by shepherding and encouraging the church in godliness. He helps to meet a very real need we all have to be trained in the Word of God and to see how to apply the Word to our lives. He rebukes and encourages and equips and protects. Those are legitimate desires. We should want pastors to help us in those areas. It becomes selfish when we seek for the pastor to meet all of our “felt needs”, like the need to have someone around us who is of a certain temperament, or quick-witted, or funny, or chipper, or a great conversationalist.

Some pastors are better than others, and some men make awesome pastors. All pastors make horrible gods.

I think that sentiment is rooted in idolatry because we begin to look to the pastor to do for us what we should be looking to only God for. I know you know this, but it is a good reminder nonetheless: your pastor is not God. He is there to help point you to God, not be God for you, meeting all of your spiritual and emotional needs. I don’t mean that in a cold way. As a pastor, I desperately want to help people turn to God and find their rest and life in him. I try to do that well. But no matter how well a pastor does that, he is still not God. Some pastors are better than others, and some men make awesome pastors. All pastors make horrible gods.

If you woke up this morning and thought, boy I would really like to discourage my pastor today. Here is one of the easiest ways to do that. Send him an email or a text or drop by his study and ask him why he is so, so him. That will do it.

And a quick word to my pastor-brothers who might be feeling the weight of unmet and unhealthy expectations. But not a word from me. I am still fighting the same fight you are. Far better than my word is a quick word from the example of the Apostle Paul (Galatians 1:10): For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

How to Combat Those Monday Blues

Every pastor knows how this feels because it happens every.monday.morning.

I’m usually emotionally zapped on Monday mornings. I spent the day before ministering to others, from morning to night. I preached my heart out, delivering a sermon I spent 20 hours preparing. I counseled and prayed with hurting people. I led an evening home group. I met with elders and prayed about the church and made tough decisions with them. And somewhere in that crazy day I also managed to spend some time with my wife and four kids. Now it is Monday. Oh blessed Monday!

Mondays are a slower day, typically, than the other days of my week. It is a day I typically spend almost entirely in my study at the church. Few people schedule counseling appointments on Mondays. I don’t have any Bible studies or small groups to meet with on Monday. I have few meetings of any kind on Mondays. At the church, there are a few people working and coming and going, but it is a relatively quiet day – unlike the rest of the week.

Those two things by themselves – my emotional exhaustion and the slow pace of the day – heighten the temptation to become discouraged. But on any given Monday there might be even more to it. Maybe the weekend didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Maybe someone made an overly-critical comment to me after the service (or a normal comment that felt overly critical to my overly-sensitive ears). Maybe no one said anything at all – not even a simple ‘thank you’ for preaching the Word. Maybe (and likely) I am overthinking things.

So now it is Monday and I have to begin again. A new week, with new Bible studies to lead, new counseling sessions, new people to serve, and a new sermon to prepare. New everything. Again.

Whatever the exact causes, the blues often knock on my door on Monday mornings. And, as a pastor I have to fight against it. So how do I do that?  Here are four things that work for me when I get serious about the fight for joy on a Monday:

  1. I pray and read the Bible. It is essential for me to get up early on Monday mornings and spend time alone with God. I do that every day, but Mondays are especially important. I read the Bible and ponder how to apply the passages to my life – how God wants to speak this into my life. And I confess my wrong thinking, and my general self-absorption. I ask for God’s help to be self-forgetful, to seek to serve others, and to view the new day and the new week as gifts to be well-stewarded for the glory of God. I ask him for his strength and enabling grace to resist the temptation to be glum, and to rejoice in him. I do this in the morning and repeat as necessary throughout the day.
  2. I jump into the new week with gusto and work as hard as I can – prepare for as much as possible and get as far as I can on my sermon. Not only is this super helpful for my week’s workload and for productivity, it helps me stay encouraged. I think discouragement and laziness (or idleness) are first cousins, if not best buds. If I let discouragement take root, I will accomplish very little. And if I accomplish very little, discouragement will likely take root. So I work, asking God to help me keep my head in the game.
  3. I exercise. Never underestimate the emotional helpfulness of a good five-mile run, especially on a Monday! I try to run three times a week, but I try even harder to never miss a Monday.

These are the three main things that help me not fall to the temptation of self-absorbed discouragement. These things help me fight the Monday morning blues. What do you do?

Nasty Disturbing Uncomfortable Things That Make You Late for Dinner

Through the years, I’ve received more than pleasure from reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. He had a deep and keen and helpful insight into life and human nature. Take, for instance, the dialog between Gandalf and Bilbo at the beginning of The Hobbit. Gandalf makes it known that he is looking for someone with whom to share in an adventure. Bilbo’s reply:

We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!

Then there is Bilbo, a scene or two later missing his beloved handkerchief, and Dwalin gives him a dose of life in the real world:

You will have to manage without pocket-handkerchiefs, and a good many other things, before you get to the journey’s end.

Then, that made-famous-by-the-movie scene in The Fellowship of the Ring in which Frodo complains about the times into which he had been thrust (“I wish it need not have happened in my time.”), and Gandalf imparts to him this nugget of gold:

So do I and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

So.much.insight.

I woke up this morning thinking that I would much rather read an epic historical account than to continue living through one today. Why? Because adventures are nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things that make one late for dinner and forget his pocket-handkerchief. I didn’t choose this epoch. I didn’t choose to be the first pastor in the history of the church I serve to close its public gatherings indefinitely. I didn’t choose this COVID-19 era, full of sickness and lockdowns and fear and financial ruin. Honestly, I am partial to arm chairs and fireplaces and pipes and books – far more than I am to adventures.

But that is not for me to decide. I don’t get to choose my trials or my suffering or my lot in life. God is sovereign and wise and good, and in that goodness and wisdom he has decided that I will live now, through this time (and that is true for you too, by the way). As Isaiah 46:10 says:

I declare the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’

So, with Frodo, what we need to decide is what we will do with the time that is given to us.

And, frankly, we might have to manage without pocket-handkerchiefs and a good many other things before we get to the journey’s end.

But who cares! Jesus is far better.

Looking Forward to the City

Why do we, with Abraham, look with faith and hope and joy towards the city not made by man, but whose builder and maker is God?

There was a riot today in an overcrowded Indonesian prison. There’s a pandemic virus keeping a bunch of people stuck on a cruise boat that is offering free porn. My mom is in a hospital bed 2000 miles away. She sometimes forgets where she is and why she is there. My wife’s father has cancer, and he is 6000 miles away.

I woke up this morning with a toothache. A friend is going through a divorce. Another friend can’t lift his arm above his shoulder anymore – and never will again. My computer won’t stop updating. Muslims in Nigeria are persecuting Christians. Twitter exists.

I struggle against my own sin – still, after all these years!

My oldest son leaves for college in a few months, and the thought makes me cry. My basement often leaks in the Spring and that is only weeks away. Venezuelan money is almost worthless. Did you catch the Superbowl half-time show? I alternate between burning and under-cooking the food I grill. Human trafficking is still a thing.

Statistically, 8 Christians will be killed today for their faith. 4 others will be imprisoned. Nearly 2000 babies will be aborted. And it is only Wednesday. It is Wednesday! A socialist won another state primary yesterday. A popular Christian leader whom I used to like has gone Catholic.

People call good things bad and bad things good. A few big hotel chains decided not to allow Bibles placed in their rooms anymore. Many people twist the truth, and many more hate God, hate churches, and hate Christians. This world is not our home.

That is why.

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:37-39

New Decade: Same Ambition

2020I’m sitting in a cozy leather chair with my laptop, and it is pretty early in the morning on January 1, 2020. A cold wind is howling outside. The warm house sheltering me is in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. My family and I came down to spend the New Year’s holiday with friends. We had a wonderful time, but probably stayed up too late. I think I am the only one awake right now. But people will soon begin to stir.

A decade is over, and a new one has begun. 10 years ago I was a 35 year-old associate pastor in Orlando, Florida. We had 3 children and a 3-legged dog. A decade later, and I am not 35 anymore. We have 4 children and a 4-legged dog. And I am the preaching pastor for a church in North-West Nebraska. A lot has changed in a decade.

But my ambition hasn’t. By God’s grace, I still want to serve Jesus Christ. I still want to live every day for the glory of God in my life and his glory in this world. I still want to be a good husband, a good father, a good pastor and a good friend. I still want the Lord to be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. It is a new decade, but the ambition I am feeling is the same.

I do have a few resolutions for 2020 (moan and groan away, but I still think resolutions are helpful. Maybe I’ve been reading Jonathan Edwards too much; or maybe Paul?). I intend to read more in 2020 (I’m taking the Christian Reading Challenge by Tim Challies and I plan to read the Bible through again). I plan to write more in 2020 (this blog, and maybe finish a couple of books projects). I want to be more intentional in my conversations with others. I want to love people more and forget myself more in 2020.

These aren’t new ambitions, just resolutions in keeping with the same old ambition – the one that has driven my life and ministry for the last two decades. It is a new decade, but the same ambition.

Hello 2020. Soli Deo gloria!

 

The Art of Double-Speak

double-tongue-paulDeacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued… 1 Timothy 3:8

I don’t want to speak badly about so and so but let me tell you how bad he is. I’m not complaining, but here is my complaint. I don’t want to gossip but let me tell you this juicy and defaming bit of information about so and so, just so that you would know (or maybe so that you can pray). I won’t slander, but this person said this, and I want you to think as badly as possible about them even though in context the thing was more understandable than I will share.

No one is as forthright as the above about his or her double-speaking ways. And that is the problem, isn’t it? We might be so given to the double-tongue that we are double-tongued even about our double-tongued-ness. It might be such a pattern in our lives that we don’t even see it as wrong.

Sadly, this might be true of us even in the church. Even as professing Christians.

In our church, the new deacon team and I are working through what the Bible teaches about deacon qualifications (mainly from 1 Timothy 3:8-13). We had to pause on this gem of a word: double-tongued. It is translated from the Greek word δίλογος. The word is constructed by the prefix di, which means two or double, and the root logos which means word. So double-tongued or double-worded or insincere seems to capture the meaning well. Ironically, the word is employed exactly once in the New Testament, and only once in the Greek Apostolic Fathers. The Bible and the Fathers didn’t doubly use di-word. 🙂

Why do we say one thing and mean another, or say one thing to one person and a different thing to another? Why do we often give a disclaimer that is completely out of step with the thing being disclaimed (i.e., I don’t want to gossip or be hurtful but here is some hurtful gossip.)?

Maybe it is because we really want to act ugly while still appearing pure or righteous? Maybe it is because our Christianity is a mere pretense, and we don’t want to let that show through? Maybe it is because life (or church) is a game to us, and it is okay to hurt people in games?

I’m sure there are many reasons. But the Bible makes it clear: being double-tongued is not befitting for a Christian. Sincerity and love ought to be the marks of a people who have been transformed by God’s grace. We should be the one demographic that actually says what we mean (and not mean mean things!).

Christians – all Christians, but especially those who are in church leadership – are called to be sincere and loving in the way that we talk. So much hurt and division can spring up from the insincere speech of one double-tongued person. May it not be so among us!

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29

Why Keep Harping on Grumbling? I mean, seriously…

rainIn the church where I serve as pastor, we’ve been talking quite a bit lately about grumbling. Not so much because there is a lot of grumbling (though I am sure we have our fair share) but because we preached through Exodus during the summer, and a few weeks ago we hit 1 Corinthians 10:10. And in those Scriptures, we encounter the sin of grumbling. And big-time warnings against it!

So what is grumbling and why all the fuss? BDAG defines the Greek word translated grumble as speaking in low tones of disapprobation or to complain against someone or to murmur. Merriam-Webster says it is a mutter of discontent.

Grumbling can be the natural and sinful response to pretty much anything we do not like or agree with.

Grumbling can be audible, or it can be an attitude in the heart. When it is vocalized, it is spoken in low, muted tones (literally or metaphorically) because grumblers don’t want everyone to know they are grumbling. It can be directed against a person, such as a spouse; or a group of people like a church. Grumbling is often against a situation or circumstance. We even grumble against God (honestly, I think all grumbling is ultimately against God, but I’ll leave that deep thought for another post)! Grumbling can be the natural and sinful response to pretty much anything we do not like or agree with.

The word comes up in the New Testament 11 times, and every time it is in a negative light. Here is a sample:

Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”

1 Corinthians 10:10, “nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”

James 5:9, “do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged…”

1 Peter 4:9, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

What, pray tell, is the big deal? Can’t we complain a little once in a while? Why such a sweeping – and repeated – prohibition against grumbling?

Here are three brief reasons for why we should view grumbling as the serious sin that it is, and run from it.

First, grumbling poses a real threat to the unity of a church. Of the 11 times the word grumbling occurs in the New Testament, at least 4 of them have to do, at least indirectly, with church unity (all the ones quoted above). Of course, maintaining unity has always been an issue in the church for many reasons. But one really quick method to directly harm unity is simply to grumble against one another and/or against the leadership.

Second, grumbling dims the light we are called to shine in this “crooked and perverse generation”. That is an implication from Philippians 2:14. Since doing all things without grumbling leads to shining as a light, it follows that grumbling dims that light. To put that another way: grumbling mutes the gospel. It is a very serious thing!

Third, grumbling demonstrates a lack of faith in God. In 1 Corinthians 10:10, the context points to Israel in the Wilderness “putting Christ to the test” by complaining against Moses and grumbling against God because of their situation, and the way God was providing for Israel. Instead of trusting God in their trails, they complained and muttered their discontent. Grumbling is the opposite of faith. In fact, it demonstrates a heart-level belief that God is doing something wrong in your life.

So, brothers and sisters, let us resolve to not be grumblers. For the unity of the church, for her testimony to this lost world and to show that we believe that God is good, let’s do all things without grumbling or disputing. 

Adoniram Judson: Devoted For Life

I have a stack of books from the summer that I plan to review here. Some I need to review as an obligation to Baker Books. But most are just great books that I want to pass on to other readers (that would be you!).

The latter is the case with Adoniram Judson: Devoted For Life, by Vance Christie. Christie has done a bang-up job presenting the life and ministry of Judson. I hadn’t read much on Judson before this book, and now I feel pretty familiar with him and his life. A small, well-researched and well-written biography did that. So kudos to Vance Christie for a work well done.

But a biography can only be as interesting and helpful as the subject of the biography. There is a reason no one is writing biographies on that angry guy who lives down the road and never has people over. Nothing to see here, folks, keep it moving.

Not so with Adoniram Judson. He lived an extraordinary life full of passion, sacrifice, and adventure. Judson was one of America’s first missionaries (there is a slight debate going as to whether he was America’s very first missionary, but who cares). He served for almost 40 years in Asia, mostly as a missionary to Burman people groups.

I think it would be fair to summarize Judson’s life with three words. Judson was convictional. He was devoted. And Judson suffered.

Convictional

On a sea voyage to Asia with his wife, Judson began to study what the Bible teaches about baptism. When his ship set sail, he was a Congregationalist and fully a pedobaptist (supporter of infant baptism). By the time his ship came into port 114-days later, Judson was a convinced credobaptist (only those who confess faith in Jesus should be baptized). And it was the Bible that made the difference. Judson wrestled with the Scriptures and, in the end, he yielded to them. And that is why the first American missionary was a Baptist.

This is just one example of how convictional Judson lived, often at significant cost to himself. Becoming a credobaptist was a really big deal, requiring a restructuring of his missions support and resulting in many strained relationships back home. But Judson would submit to the Scriptures, no matter the cost. There is certainly a lesson to be learned in that, no matter what you think about baptism.

Devoted

The subtitle of the book is ‘Devoted for Life’ and that is because Judson believed that “the motto for every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be ‘Devoted for Life.’” Granted, lots of eager missionary candidates talk like that, but Judson proved the motto with his life.

Judson once wrote, “I will not leave Burma until the cross of Christ is planted everywhere.” There were many, many times when leaving would have been far easier than staying, and when no one would have questioned him for quitting. But Judson stayed to keep planting the cross of Christ everywhere. Oh, what a challenge that is to me!

Suffered

To say Judson suffered feels almost trite. His entire ministry was marked by suffering. He knew prison, beatings, torture; he felt grief for children and spouses who died too early. In the end, Judson was widowed 3 times. He tasted rejection, poverty, and illness. His life and ministry were marked by acute suffering.

And yet, he never gave up. He trusted in God’s providence in his life and served him in suffering, rather than trying to escape it.

Interestingly, I read this book while enduring a very small trial which I can’t really call suffering. That little trial made me want to give up on ministry. Oh, how I was challenged and convicted by the life of Judson to persevere and to run the race and to suffer when God brings suffering!

Read This Book!

This is a worthy read. Life is so short, and we have only one shot at it. The life of Adoniram Judson is full of lessons that can help us do this life well. Lessons on running the race convictionally, lessons on living fully devoted to Jesus Christ, and lessons on suffering. Judson’s life was a good teacher. And would that we would be good students!

One last thing. In the church that I serve as pastor, almost every Sunday there are many refugees from Burma who attend the gatherings. Most are from the Karen people and grew up with Christian parents. They can trace their Christian heritage right back to a man who sailed away from America’s shore in 1812 and devoted his life to planting the cross of Christ everywhere in Burma. In fact, many bring their Judson Bibles to church with them.

Let us praise God for the life and legacy of Adoniram Judson. And resolve to not waste our own lives. Order your copy of Adoniram Judson: Devoted for Life at Amazon.com.

3 Benefits of a Seminary Education

BookI had coffee this morning with a person getting ready to leave for seminary, and we discussed the pros and cons of his new undertaking. I shared three things in favor of obtaining a seminary education. I am sure there are more, but I am putting these out there for others who are thinking through whether they should go to seminary.

Of course, I should quickly disclaim that I don’t think that everyone in ministry must go to seminary or that one is necessarily at a disadvantage for not having a formal theological education. I know many faithful self-taught brothers and sisters serving Jesus all over the world just as they should. Some of my pastor-heroes were self-taught. So seminary isn’t a hard prerequisite for all vocational ministry.

With that out of the way, here are three benefits I can see of a seminary education.

First, seminary helps a person become better acquainted with the theological conversation in the wider church. Seminary isn’t the only way to do this, but it sure helps and it is quicker too. One gets a birdseye view of the many issues, debates, and theological questions with which Christians have wrestled. One also becomes better equipped to discern the proper weight of the various theological issues that the church is dealing with, or has already.

Second, seminary helps a person become more precise in study. Of course, learning the biblical languages and hermeneutics and exegesis all greatly aid in the precision of Bible study (I think increased precision is the reason to study Greek and Hebrew). Also, in a general way, learning to weigh sources is super helpful to sharpen one’s theological study. Seminary pushes students in that direction.

Third, seminary helps a student understand how much he doesn’t know. We don’t realize how deep a lake is until we go swimming. Theology is more like an ocean than a lake, and seminary, if done rightly, helps us see how small and how close to the surface we are and how deep and vast the ocean really is. This is immensely helpful for one’s life-long pursuit of learning. It is also very humbling, which is a good thing.

As I said, seminary isn’t for everyone and it shouldn’t be required in all cases and for every context. What would my pastor-brothers in remote Asia do if it were? Seminary isn’t even an option for them. But here are three good reasons to consider seminary if you believe God is leading you into a life of vocational ministry.

What I’m Still Learning After 10 Years of Pastoral Ministry

It is hard for me to believe that I’ve been a pastor now for over a decade. It feels like only a year ago that a congregation in Florida gathered on a Sunday night and voted to call me as their associate pastor. But that was the summer of 2008. And I still feel like the new guy on the block here in Nebraska, though now I’ve been the pastor for preaching at Ridgeview for over 5 years.

So what am I learning now after more than 10 years? Lots. Way more than 10 things. But 10 is a nice round number and so here are the 10 bigger lessons that I am still learning after 10 years of pastoral work.

  1. I’m still learning that the three main elements of good pastoral ministry are: 1) loving God, 2) loving God’s people, and 3) preaching God’s Word. Way back in my seminary days, a prof asked his students to boil down pastoral ministry into one sentence, and these three things made up my sentence. Ten years later they still do. In fact, more than ever. Since I’m still learning to be a good pastor, I am still learning these three things.
  2. I am still learning that loving God means being the real deal. It means seeking to make much of God with my life and ministry, and not to make much of myself. It is the opposite of platforming. It also means making war on my sin. It means loving my wife and children well. It means running from idols. For me, it means getting up early each morning to be in his Word.
  3. I am still learning that loving God’s people means way more than just trying to be a nice guy. Loving others often means saying really hard things for their good. It means serving God’s people for their eternal joy in Christ. It also means walking with people through hard times and deep suffering. It means knowing more about the struggles of others than one would normally want to know. It means bearing the burdens of others. I’m still learning how to love God’s people well.
  4. I am still learning that faithfully preaching God’s Word is one of the most significant ways that a pastor can love God’s people well. Why? Because preaching God’s Word helps people to see and cherish God, and what can be more important than that? That is why preaching has been the great labor of my life these last 10 years. And the greatest joy has been seeing God work in his people through his Word.
  5. I am still learning that the effectiveness of one’s ministry cannot be measured by “the numbers.” Ever. No exceptions, nuance or caveats. It is easy to see a big crowd and do a quick pat on the back, or see empty seats and wonder where you’ve missed the boat. But numbers are a poor measure of pastoral ministry. Terrible pastors can draw crowds and faithful pastors can serve few (and vice versa!). Pastors, stop doing the headcount on Sunday mornings!
  6. I am still learning that it takes God’s grace to save a person. As passionately as I try to persuade and win people, both in private and in preaching, at the end of the day it is God who opens blind eyes to the saving beauty of the gospel.
  7. I am still learning that pastors need friends and that healthy pastors pursue deeper friendships with a few people. We shouldn’t buy into the lie that pastors cannot have meaningful friendships. I’m so thankful to God that that is, in fact, a lie. Even so, I’m still learning what it means to be a good friend.
  8. I am still learning that the church is not about the pastor. This should be a one-and-done lesson, but the reality is that there is the ever-present danger for pastors to think more highly of themselves than they ought (just as there is for everyone else!). The church is about God, his people, and his Word.
  9. I am still learning that good leadership is largely good listening. When I assume to know someone’s position or motive or whatever, I am hardly ever right. I need to hear them. I am better at this than I was 10 years ago, but I still have a lot to learn.
  10. I am still learning that pastoral work is one of the sweetest, greatest, most joy-filled, most tear-filled, most disappointing and most satisfying paths that a man could ever take.

I love being a pastor.