Bitter Sweet

by George Herbert

Ah my dear angry Lord,
Since thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sour-sweet days
I will lament, and love.

God sometimes does the opposite of what we desire. In response, we must more often act in the reverse of how we feel.

Pastor as Shepherd

There is no more fundamental description of what the role of a pastor should be than the role of a shepherd. There was a season of life where I was only reading leadership books. They have great advice and fantastic insight they can help you be a better leader which we should all strive to be. The fundamental flaw in being a pastor who strives to be a CEO versus a pastor as a shepherd is the focus of what you do and the motivations behind what you do.

A CEO is driven by the need for efficiency and measurable outcomes. They make the mistake of being efficient with people so you can be effective in ministry. This is where we make our fatal flaw as ministers we think that we are judged by some elusive bottom line, and in the frenetic pace of ministry we kill ourselves trying to make it across some finish line we have set up for ourselves, but we never end up crossing. We burn up and burn out because we become disillusioned with the pace and the culture of pastoral ministry.

You Are an Undershepherd, Not an Owner.

We live in a very entrepreneurial culture. If you build it, they will come. The dream you have can be realized, you can be a self-made man. While all these things are true to a point as a pastor, you will never be satisfied with your work if these are the ideas you have about pastoral ministry. As a pastor, you are more of an undershepherd than even a Shepherd. We are stewards, not owners. A steward recognizes that he doesn’t set his goals or achieve his outcomes. A steward’s job description is to take care of and grow his flock for the person whom he works. When we are the owner we tend to obsess over outcomes rather than the hard work of planting, loving and trusting. When we see ourselves as the owner we are shaken when things happen that we can’t understand. As a CEO we don’t think anything as above our paygrade, as an undershepherd, we have a greater capacity for mystery because in ministry there are many things that don’t make sense.

Pastor as Disciple

One of the dangers that can come from being a Pastor who is a leader is you forget or neglect the fact that you are first and foremost a disciple. Leadership is fun it can be very challenging but is many times rewarding because we look behind us and can count those following us and be encouraged by our weekly mini census. The problem with being a disciple is that it is not glamorous it is not visible. It is difficult and often times painful.

Under-shepherds, pastors, always remember that you are more fundamentally a sheep than a shepherd. – Mark Dever

We as pastors can be so busy getting others to live the Christian life that we forget that the Christian life is a daily dying. It is walking in a moment by moment obedience to the call of Christ and to the cross of Christ.

Youth pastor your job is to preach the gospel to the next generation, absolutely but if you fail to follow Christ primarily, your messages will be shallow, and your ministry will be short. I have pastored at the same church for nearly 20 years and what I have learned is that I want to duck and I want to hide. I have now known most people longer than I have lived my life not knowing them. What that affords me is people speaking truth to me when I need it most, even if I don’t want to hear it.

I have led in times when I wasn’t following well and the ground was as hard and as inflexible as my heart. I find the more I live my life yielded to Christ the more I am concerned with how well I am following. Healthy leadership is most often the byproduct. There are many unhealthy churches in America because there are many unhealthy leaders in America. Pastor, you must preach the cross of Christ not just principles for better living, you must model what it means to deny yourself and carry the cross you preach.

Radical Truth for Kids and Parents.

An Interview with Champ Thornton

Below is an interview with Champ Thornton the author of ‘The Radical Book for Kids.’ If you would like to buy the book or get more information about it you can do so by clicking this link. http://stores.newgrowthpress.com/the-radical-book-for-kids/

This book is amazing it is part history, part theology, part practical guidance and part random fun stuff. What made you put all those parts together in one book?

A quick search on amazon.com will yield various books promoting: “everything a boy/girl should know or do.” Yet all of them are secular in content and approach. The Radical Book for Kids is different; it’s what I wanted my own children to know about God our Savior, the Word He has written, and the world He has created.

So this book is an attempt to point my kids and others toward that goal. And in the background of this desire is that in 2003 I was diagnosed with a blood clot and a genetic blood disorder. When you’re 29 years old, you think you’re fairly invincible, but God brought into my life a daily reminder of my mortality. I’ve not had another scare like that since, but God has used this diagnosis to raise my awareness of the importance of passing along to the next generation the good news of Christ and the truths of His Word.

How do you envision this book used in a perfect scenario? Parent read, student read, or devotionally read?

This is a book that kids, ages 8 and up, can read on their own. For curious readers, a table of contents and index make topics easy to find. So kids can explore their book however they like: hopscotching around via topic or just reading straight through. For kids of younger ages, parents can also read this book aloud in family devotions. Bible teachers can use it to supplement their main curriculum. For parents or teachers, there are plenty of places to stop reading and to discuss issues posed, consider questions asked or just laugh at something funny. (Also, as the book has been previewed, I’ve learned adults have found this book useful for themselves or to give to others who are growing in their faith.)

The chapters are random yet ordered. How did you decide what topics to cover and which ones to leave out?

When I started compiling potential chapter topics, I knew the finalized list wouldn’t be exhaustive. Instead, it’d be more of a starter-kit. So I started by making a list of all the things (about God, the Bible, theology, life, etc.) that I’d want my kids to know about or know how to do. Then I emailed over a dozen friends in ministry, asking them what they’d include on their short list of things for kids to know or do. Initially, over 100 topics made the list, but we eventually landed on the 67 mini-chapters that make up The Radical Book for Kids.

From the beginning, chapters began to fit into one of three categories: “radical depth” (going deep into the Bible, theology, apologetics); “radical strength” (how to live as Christians—drawn from Scripture and from examples in church history); and “radical fun” (miscellaneous topics that might be interesting to kids and are also loosely related to the Bible).

What Every Boy and Girl Need to Know

I love books and am always looking for books for myself as well as my wife and kids. One of the books that has caught my eye over the years is the The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls. They are fantastic full of practical helps, historical facts and fun games and activities. They are heaps of fun to pick up and read wherever as each chapter is self contained and you can read them in any order you want. It’s a brilliant concept and a fun read. The one thing you notice for a book that teaches kids the nostalgic arts of marbles and tea time, is the almost total absence of religion.

Recently I stumbled on a book called The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith. Something I am always looking for as a Pastor of Families and as a father is resources to help disciple kids. This book is laid out similar to the Dangerous and Daring books for kids. How it is different is its focus is around theology, church history, practical how-to’s and fun things to-do.

One of the things that concerns me for my own kids and for the kids I pastor is overwhelming influences in their lives that teach them good but not ultimate things. I am concerned about what my kids are being discipled into. I am not so sure that one hour a week is enough for kids to gain their footing in the truths of the world or see the beauty of the gospel. We need more resources that are practically useful and theologically deep. Not an easy combo by any stretch but one Champ Thornton accomplishes in his Radical Book for Kids. He does an excellent job of making complex ideas accessible.