Do you want to fail in ministry? Here are 5 sure fire ways to end up burned out.

stress face1.  Focus on the Urgent and Not Important Things
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey points out that many leaders focus on the wrong things. Leaders can be tied up in the Urgent and the Not Important. A good leader learns to focus on the Not Urgent and Important things.

One place this shows up in ministry is training and discipling leaders. As a church planter, discipler, pastor or ministry leader it is very easy to allow the most urgent loudest voices determine your priorities. Jesus pulled away at some of the most urgent times to focus on his men. Train your leaders by focusing on the Important and not-urgent task of investing in a few young leaders. It will pay off down the road.

Solutions: Set some goals and boundaries and ask someone you admire how they handle the brush fires?

2.  Avoid Times of Renewal

I deal with pastors and worship leaders who seem to forget that they work during worship! But rarely have time to worship themselves. Certainly there are times during our worship services that renew us as leaders. If you don’t have additional time to renew, you are in danger of slowly draining your tank.

Solutions: Take time to renew each week. Take a sabbath rest on a morning without your phone. Journal, read, pray, play.

Tim Keller – wisdom and sabbath rest

3.  Forget you have a Family
If you forget you have a family you will end up having to do lots of work later. Just as a workaholic needs his career to make his life meaningful, many pastors find meaning in success in ministry. Families suffer, marriages die, children rebel. On the other hand a family that is healthy can be a blessing to you. Look out! Your wife and children need you! Unfortunately the signs are not always easy to see!

Solutions: Ask your wife how you should change your schedule to spend more time with the family. Then get someone other than her to hold you accountable to this priority.

Answers for Pastor wives = Boundaries in Ministry-

4.  Make sure everything comes across your deskmicromanagement
If you have started a new ministry you may think that your ministry can’t survive without your insight and vision. (Remember #1) Great leaders learn to focus on training people who are able to take the baton and run the race with the team. If you have to review every piece of information, every ministry plan, go to every event, and personally oversee every leader, you haven’t learned to lead.

Solutions: Sit down with your leadership team individually and clarify their responsibilities and what ways you will give oversight. Prepare a contingency plan should things not go according to plan. Determine beforehand what balls you are willing to pick up. People will fail. Let people learn from mistakes. Use the opportunity for their training. Plan debriefing into every project.

Audio clip from John Piper

John Piper – Post – Pastors don’t micromanage your church

5.  Never let anyone know you.

The great american cowboy riding off into the sunset! We love that loner rugged individual. Sorry this isn’t Jesus’ model of leadership. If no one knows you, get ready to fall hard. You are a target! The enemy loves to isolate you from the pack and bring you down. Secret sin. Prideful independence. Isolated pain and hurt. All lead to failure.

Solutions: Pray for a Jonathan or a Barnabus. No one will grow without having a partner and encourager! Cultivate a life that understands the gospel! When I understand that I am both a sinner in need of mercy and a son loved completely by my heavenly father I don’t have to protect my reputation. Freedom and Openness to others only happens when I can take my mask and armor off.

 

So what would you add to the list? What have you seen in your experience? What Solutions can you share?

nate

I’ve been trying to encourage a friend of mine to start investing intentionally in the lives of others. Over the last few years, I’ve walked with him through an intense season of humbling and new growth. He’s one of the most aggressive learners I know. He’s an intense, messy, ruthlessly honest person and I think he has a lot to offer other people on the journey with Jesus.

But when I try to encourage him to disciple others, he says something like, “yeah right. Look at me! I’m worse than most people…” To which I commonly reply, “I think that’s your best qualification!”

Okay, hang on. I’m about to get a little preachy… a bit “thou”-ish. Please excuse. ☺

I know precious few who so authentically pursue God’s love while being so honest about the mess that is their lives. In other words, here’s someone who gets grace. He just doesn’t know yet what a rare gem that makes him.

I know FAR more people who excel in righteousness and stink at love. When those people run off to “serve the Lord”, I get seriously worried. In my own journey, it’s become far less about conforming my behavior or cultivating more zeal… I did that for way too long. Instead, my journey has become far more about knowing my neediness and cultivating compassion for the neediness of others.

If you’re a Christian who has “gotten clean” and grown in righteousness, but hasn’t been recently humbled and deeply shaken by God’s love in the midst of your mess… PLEASE don’t run off to the mission field or church work, even if you’re really smart and talented and all the Christians beg you to. Let’s leave that work to those beautiful rotten sinners who need God. In the mean time, we should pray that God makes us one of them. (If you need practical suggestions in how to become more aware of your sorry state, try getting married and having kids.)

But if you’re one of those honest messy people that knows God’s love and thinks you have nothing to offer, then hold on to your hat, “cause it’s about to get real.” You’ll probably find you have more to offer than you ever dreamed. That’s the upside kingdom for ya. As Jesus says, “I have not come to call those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

PS- If your thinking of slapping me in stocks and informing me of the biblical mandate to pursue righteousness, I’ll save you the time. I’m perfectly familiar with the various views on sanctification, the sermon on the mount, Paul’s lists of spiritual ills, etc, etc. My point isn’t that we should be more fleshy, but that we should more readily acknowledge self-righteouness as the most insidiously fleshy thing we can do according to Jesus. It’s not a nasty little habit. It’s the deadliest of those deadly sins. And we should be a little quicker to encourage and empower those who struggle daily to live up to the “standard” and know it. They’re make the best teachers of grace and we’d all do well to sit at their feet.

IMG_1957-300x269One of the joys of my job as coordinator of the Atlanta Arts Network is meeting and partnering with other Creative Artists and in this case Worship Artists.

Jay and Abby Akins have just released a Album called Trust.

You might be saying, yeah another CD from a worship leader.  Isn’t that par for the course.  Everyone who leads worship these days pretty much has to record as well as lead worship.

This is where Jay and Abby are a bit different from the rest!  Jay and Abby see this Album as an extension of their ministry to worship leaders as well as a way to serve the church by providing great songs for worship.

From the first time I met Jay at a Chick-fil-a (the original one in Hapeville GA) I realized that Jay’s heart was for building disciples as well as making music.  Abby and Jay are part of our South Atlanta Worship Leaders Community.  Jay has been a big part of our getting that group going and he really loves investing his time in people.

Trust is a testimony of a Jay and Abby’s vibrant heart for God and a desire to cultivate worshippers of God.  While many people focus on styles of worship, Jay has been at the forefront of helping his congregation learn to focus on Christ and the message of the gospel.  In a culture that looks at the church and what it offers as products and services to be consumed, Jay is quick to point to the fact that their focus is engaging the worshippers in such a way as to point to Christ and to challenge them to vibrant walk with God, and be owners of the church rather than be a merely a member who comes to church!

Trust features songs that call the worshipper to consider Christ and what it means to follow Him in the midst of life!  “Hope is” is a praise anthem that sets Jesus before us as the eternal son who is Himself Hope.  We bring our “Golden Dreams Fragile Hopes and Simple Faith” and find that they are torn.  When we look at ourselves we hear the call of Jesus to “surrender.”

Hope is Rising from the Ashes
I’m delivered
I’m restored
Hope is Rising
Christ delivers Christ restores

I Stand in Awe of You“, communicates the commitment of a follower of Christ who sees the truth of the gospel and prayerfully calls on God to work and shows a overwhelming sense of wonder of His person and work.

Jesus my Savior
I bow low before You
Carried my sin
Healed my shame
I live for You
Forever I am changed
My heart will sing Your praise

I stand in awe
I stand in awe of You

Hope in You, considers the nature of God and how He is the place to find true hope.

Trust, the title track, beginning with a lyrical feel with some nice mandolin work that a made the song flow and yet didn’t take away from the melodies and sing-ability of this song.  The vocal counterpoint between Abby and Jay in chorus will translate well into congregation singing.

Invited features strong vocals from Jay and Abby’s harmonies blend well with the driving guitar which gives this song energy.

Returning is features a nice organs and guitar which complement the Abby’s vocals on this rock ballad that echoes the themes of a prodigal.

For too long now
I’ve turned my face from You
I have tasted
The bitter sinful fruit
I am longing
To feast upon Your love
I am turning
Please fix my eyes above

Ransom Song and Point of Surrender finish off this album pointing us first to the Cross of Christ where the debt was pain in full, where Jesus took our place.  Point of Surrender finishes by taking lyrics of traditional hymn and re-tuning it in such a way that provides a new melody that still ties to the original and then weaving the melody of “I surrender” as a close.

Take some time to listen to “Trust” and consider getting a copy and spreading the word.  This review is no where near unbiased as I think Jay and Abby are pretty awesome both as musicians and partners in ministry.  But listen for yourself and let us know what you think.

Get the Album on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/trust/id715743606

 

 

 

 

Get at CD at cdbaby
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jayabbyakins

Hear about the Stories for their Songs:

http://jayandabbymusic.com/song-stories/

Don’t Forget to Like their Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/JayAndAbbyAkins

 

Editors Note: Previously posted at Atlanta Arts Network

Hope

Hope is sometimes hard to hold onto in this life.  It isn’t always an easy process.  There have been seasons where I have tried to write out my feelings in a song but have been at a loss for lyrics.  The situation I was in was so complex that it was hard to express in words.  At those times I have found that the music itself was a better medium for my heart than lyrics.  I think that my creativity is sometimes directly tied to hope.

Hope

So, if my ability to create is so connected to hope, what is my hope tied to? I’m realizing that my ability to look at the world with hope is directly related to how I view my relationship with God and His purposes for my life.  Many in my circles talk about “preaching the gospel to yourself.”

That might seem a strange place to begin when creating art (for me, music and lyrics).  But the truth found in the “gospel” can provide clarity and perspective.

Understanding that God has chosen to pursue me in love is the beginning of hope. For when I was “dead” spiritually, He loved me.  In Jesus’ death He has freed me from the penalty of sin and given me freedom in Jesus’ resurrection. Not only that, but as a Father He has adopted me as a son, and now I am no longer a  slave to sin.  This is the gospel message I have learned to preach to my heart.

A lack of hope in my life leads to self doubt, pessimism, and powerlessness. In the moment I forget the gospel, these issues begin to surface.  It is actually the gospel that is the cure for these Hope killers!

The cure for Self Doubt

When I doubt if I have anything to offer and words on a blog like this seem to be lame, I remember that I am no longer a slave to sin but a “son” of God.  I am loved dearly because Jesus was willing to die for my selfish heart.  I no longer have to doubt my worth because it is no longer defined in what I think of me.  What matters is what God thinks of me!

The cure for Pessimism

When I begin to think that nothing matters, nothing will ever work out, I’m going no where, the gospel message brings me back to another truth, God saved me for a purpose!  He has brought me out of darkness to light.  He has revealed that I was re-created to serve and love Him. I have been re-created and am being renewed to be part of something bigger than me, that He is in charge of! I no longer have to worry and be a pessimist.  God is in control.

The Cure for Powerlessness

Instead of feeling powerless, the gospel changes the way I pursue my work and calling.  For where I might have looked for strength in my ability and self will, I remember that once I was powerless.  I had power in my self but not the kind of power that comes from God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in me.

When I wonder what this looks like, I begin to think of the disciples hiding out after Jesus had died.  They were pessimistic, they were powerless and had plenty of self-doubt.  But Jesus appears in front of them having first risen from the dead and shown Himself to two women at the tomb.   Soon the Holy Spirit would come and fill them with power to do His will.  They would preach and see 1000s of people turn in faith to the true Messiah, Jesus.

For the first time they have Hope and it came in the good news that Jesus has overcome and now has given them purpose and a calling.  What they would do as followers of Christ would have eternal impact.

So What?

So what does this mean for my creative work?  The gospel gives me perspective that changes the way I look at everything!  Hope doesn’t come from my experiences, but rather hope comes from understanding what Jesus has done for me and what Jesus is calling me to be for Him.

When I remind myself of the truths of the gospel, I have real hope.  I have a storehouse of resources for communicating about my life, the world, my relationship with God and others and taking these ideas and creating music and lyrics.

So how do you deal with a lack of Hope in your life? How does it hinder your creativity?  How might understanding the gospel help you have true Hope?

If you are interested in learning more about how the gospel changes everything, consider reading Putting Amazing Back into Grace by Dr. Michael Horton (the first chapter is here in pdf and you can order the book online).http://www.whitehorseinn.org/putting-amazing-back-into-grace.html

This WDA Pocket Principle is also helpful in reminding us of our Security in Christ. http://www.disciplebuilding.org/2013/05/31/security-in-christ-wda-pocket-principle/

 

targeting the heart

targeting the heart

 TARGETING THE HEART WITH GRACE AND TRUTH

We need to pay close attention at all times to the motivational dynamics of the Christian life—the primary reasons (from a human perspective) why people do not see Jesus as precious, and therefore do not see the appeal of following Him with their whole hearts, are in fact motivational reasons. Specifically, the “sin beneath the sin” of all sins is idolatry—the elevation of a created thing to a place where it becomes one’s functional “Lord” and “Savior,” the ultimate object of worship and service (Romans 1). Therefore, the key to persuading people to trust and follow Jesus (grace and truth!) rests in persuading hearts that Jesus is more precious and lovely than the idols that we are all prone to worship and serve. Remember, it is the Gospel (the fantastically great news of Jesus) that alone is the power of God for salvation—it is the only power for true, heart-level transformation.

For every one look you take at your sin, take ten looks at Jesus.

– Robert Murray McCheyne

The reason I preach the Gospel to you every single week is precisely because you forget the Gospel every single week!

– Martin Luther

The first and greatest commandment is that you “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.”

– Jesus

 

We must directly address why the Gospel does not “take” with many—idolatry is that reason.

John Calvin rightly said that the human heart is an idol factory. Our hearts will instinctively erect counterfeit gods or pseudo-saviors to whom we give our allegiance, our ultimate affections, and our obedience.

A working definition of idolatry. An idol is any person or idea, any created thing that captures the loyalties and affections of our hearts more than God Himself. An idol is anything that becomes more essential to us than Him.

An idol is anything which occupies God’s place—it is anything upon which you will base your life. It is what you look to for your sense of meaning, happiness, and validation. When something becomes your idol, you will give it your unquestioned loyalty. You will let it run your life, determine your choices, and govern the use of your money and time. You will give yourself to it effortlessly.           – Timothy Keller

We must assume that everyone is religious by nature. Every human being, whether Christian, religious, agnostic, or atheist, will worship something or someone. One of our primary tasks is to understand what is capturing the ultimate affections of people’s hearts. Ecclesiastes reminds us that God has put eternity into the heart of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We were created to be in relationship with God. He designed us to love, honor, adore, and obey Him. If we don’t do this, by necessity we will have to love, honor, adore, and obey something or someone else! Our idols are our “rather-than’s” that capture and sabotage our hearts’ affections that belong first to God.

 

This is part 5 of a series of articles by Scott Sauls. 

Read the rest starting here – A Jesus-like Culture Part 1

Scott Sauls, a graduate of Furman University and Covenant Seminary, is foremost a son of God and the husband of one beautiful wife (Patti), the father of two fabulous daughters (Abby and Ellie), and the primary source of love and affection for a small dog (Lulu). Professionally, Scott serves as the Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to Nashville, Scott was a Lead and Preaching Pastor, as well as the writer of small group studies, for Redeemer Presbyterian of New York City. Twitter: @scottsauls

Editor’s Note: Scott was a member of our WDA Campus Ministry (Next Generation Ministry) while at Furman University. We are excited to see our alumni continuing to carry a vision for discipleship!

This is a repost of A Jesus-Like Church Culture  by Scott Sauls. It appears here with the author’s permission. Website: cpcblogs.blogspot.com.