October is Pastor Appreciation Month. But one month out of twelve is not enough to show appreciation to pastors. And here’s why.
According to a Forbes article published in 2014, being a pastor or other religious leader is one of the most stressful jobs. Expectations that are placed on clergy are higher than on other professionals. As a result, clergy tend to feel isolated and depressed.
I’m the proud dad of two girls. Watching them grow from infancy to toddlerhood is a joy. Everyone says these are the best years. It is fascinating to watch them learn new things. When things “click” and they get it, they always have the proudest looks on their faces. The thing they were trying to do for so long, they finally did it!
This is especially seen when toddlers begin to learn how to walk. As I watched my 14-month old basically run around the house today, I pondered what lessons the church could learn from toddlers. Here are three.
1. You will Fall.
As toddlers begin to learn to stand, and then to walk, they often stumble and lose their footing. As churches revitalize, there is always a risk that something is not going to work. It is always possible that you will fall. But, you will not walk if you do not take that first step. And the first step often requires us to step outside of our comfort zones.
2. Get Back Up
Falling will happen. As toddlers are learning how to walk, the first fall does not hold them back. They get back up again and go. As churches revitalize we must be willing to get back up again. Failure is not final. With each stumble, fall, or faceplant we learn something new. And it is from those learnings that we evaulate what worked or what did not work. From there, we can stand up, and try again.
3. Rely on the Parent
Babies and toddlers always keep an eye out for their parents. They never go too far without the parent nearby. And, little ones know that if they need help, a parent will come running. Most often, the parents know to come because the toddler has cried out. As churches revitalize they need to keep an eye on the Parent. When we lose sight of what God is doing in our midst, we rely too much on ourselves. We need to rely on God. And we need to cry out to God to breakthrough and do a new thing.
When it comes to evangelism, there is one thing we know: People come to know Jesus through relationships with Christians. Nathanael came to know Jesus because his friend Philip said, “Come and see” (John 1:43-51). Because of Philip, Nathanael met Jesus and became a follower.
It is because of you and me that others will know the amazing love and grace that is found in Jesus Christ. But first, we have to open ourselves to be in relationship with others. Here are 4 ideas for building relationships.
One of the aspects of Advent and Christmas we often forget is how God’s birth and reign turned the world on its head. We want to think of Christ as bringing love and happiness which he certainly does. But Advent is also a time of repentance, a time to consider the ways in which we have not acted in holy and just ways. In passages like the Magnificat, we hear that the hungry will be filled and the rich sent away empty (Luke 1: 53). At this time of year, we also hear words from the prophets who warn us what will happen if we refuse to take care of the poor.
Amos warns us what will happen if we “trample on the needy” (v. 4).
Where pavement meets gravel in Cartago, Costa Rica, is where you enter the shantytown of Los Diques. This is a place where people with no other means go. Families escaping abusive fathers. Mothers addicted to drugs. Grandmothers raising grandchildren. Young boys whose only way out is to join a gang; young girls whose only way out is to sell themselves. And this is a place the government would rather not exist, which is why they have been so reluctant over the years to give the basic necessities for these people.
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