Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

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4 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor

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.

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Devotion: On Our Own

“Immediately he [Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.” (Matthew 14:22, NRSV)

The first time we left our daughter longer than a couple of days I kept a straight face, but deep inside, I was a wreck.  Megan and I went on a trip to Mexico, and our daughter stayed the week with my mom.  And even though I knew she would be safe, cared for, and loved, I was still a wreck. “Will she be okay without us for this long?”

I can hear what you’re thinking, “Just wait until she goes to college.” 

I’m not sure I can handle that. 

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3 Lessons from a Toddler for the Church

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.

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

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.

Devotion: Give it Away

“Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.” (Matthew 14:19, NRSV)

It is interesting that Jesus blesses and breaks the bread, but does not give it away himself. Instead, he gives the food to his disciples, and instructs them to give it away.

Jesus asks the same of us. We have been given the huge task of communicating Jesus to others. But Jesus does not demand that we all become academic theologians or world-class preachers. After all, little is much in the hands of Christ.

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4 Ideas for Building Relationships

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.

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