Leadership Courage Series # 37

We’re making a brief, final lap through nine traits called for from pastors and influencers in the Church in North America.  The second is: Take full responsibility for your own emotional being and destiny.

Pastor, more than you know, you are the model of what maturity in Christ is.  Regardless of your age, the congregation looks to you to see how to “walk as Jesus walked”. [I Jn 2:6]

Paul urges Timothy to “set an example for the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity…so that everyone may see your progress.” [I Tim 4:12b, 15b]  Notice that only one of these has to do with the sermons you devote all those hours to, each week.

How you live is far more influential than what you teach.  That’s why, when you blow your stack one time with a parishioner, it eclipses decades of faithfulness in the pulpit.

Doesn’t it?

In a Church culture teeming with cowardice, you model spiritual and emotional maturity.  So, how completely do you take responsibility for your emotional well-being?  

These are dispiriting days for many ministers.  Once-vibrant congregations are aging.  Dying.  Young adults stay away en masse.  Social and political winds are blowing cold and hard in the face of the evangelical church. Clergy are viewed with disdain, churches with suspicion, denominations with contempt.  Giving’s dried up, budgets slashed, staffs cut.  And there’s no turn-around in sight.

How completely have you taken responsibility for your emotional well-being?

Were you more confident when there were 20 more cars in the parking lot?

More sure of God’s favor when giving was $2,000 a week more?

Are you grumpier, more stressed, less gracious now than six years ago?

What meaning have you attached to your circumstances that you’re not unaware of?

 Just yesterday a pastor shared a string of difficulties he’s been in.  An insubordinate staff member, a church split, and a financial decline.  He wondered if pastors have a “shelf life”.  Maybe his has expired? The meaning Mike attached to these challenges was that they somehow indicated that God was “done” with him at his church.

What assumptions are you holding as if they were true?

Perhaps you see yourself as victim to a poor economy, squabbling elders, resistant congregation, or denominational freefall.  Does your emotional state bound from pole to pole based on Sunday’s headcount, the offering, or whether so-and-so is leaving or staying at your church?

When my world is spinning, here’s a practice that works.  First, I remind myself that God was not caught off-guard by the troubles that snuck up on me.

Next, I ask myself: “Kirk, does God have you?”  “Are you sure?”  And, “Does God have … [your child, your finances, your congregation]?”  I ground myself in the truth that God has me, you, and it all under control.  Not my control. God’s.

We’re held.

We’re loved.

We’re secure.

We’re good.

Then, I consider my destiny.  I am bound for heaven. That is sure.  As long as I’m pursuing Christ, there’s no doubt.  So, I check myself… repent where needed… turn toward Christ and follow all-in.

Simple.

Effective.

Important.

From a place of security in Christ, you can lead.  Without it, you’ve got no shot.