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Archive for January, 2014

“Re Upping”

Both of my sons serve in the Air National Guard.  One is a full time DOD employee and other serves as a traditional Guard member.  When you enter the military, you sign a commitment for a specified length of time.  The initial commitment for both of my sons was 6 years.  At the end of that time you decided whether you want to “reup” or to discontinue your service.  Next year my youngest will have to decide what he will do, so we are having discussions about what his long term military plans are.

Without realizing it, I have always had a similar approach to the ministry.  My initial commitment to my current ministry was only on a part time basis as a bi-vocational pastor.  Later, I committed to stay for 5 years and then allow God to move me at that time.  If other opportunities came along and they did, I just told them I would have to wait.  When things here got tough (and they did), I reminded myself of my commitment and tried to get things as healthy as I could until that 5 year period had come.  By the time it got here, I found myself ready to” re-up”.  I think this approach would be helpful for many pastors.

Over the 6 years I have listened to both my sons talk about good and bad leaders they have had.  If it was easy to get out, neither one of them would have stayed the entire 6 years.  There are certain situations in which they can leave, but it is difficult and not without great costs to them.  The military has spent too much time, money, and effort on their training.  If they leave before their commitment, it will cost them.

The same is true of ministry.  I think too many pastors do not really weigh the long term costs.  They allow the situation or the circumstances to become a major factor.  They allow key people to become the focus and lose sight of the  commitment.  One way that I protected myself was through my personal commitment to a predetermined set time.  I never signed anything or had any kid of formal agreement, but I had a personal commitment.  It protected me in so many ways.  I did not start looking a other ministry opportunities when things got tough.  I had a set time I would do that, but not in the middle of a crisis.  I counsel people to never make a major decision when you are in the middle of a difficult time, and that advice applies to pastors as well.

THOT – Have you set a “re-up” time for your current place of ministry?

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Last Man Standing

I am not a writer.  I never have been and it takes great effort for me to write.  I love to research, study and learn.  I am comfortable speaking in public and public speaking is my primary means of communicating what I have learned.  A Blog is a tremendous commitment on my part because I am out of my comfort zone.  Over the years, this Blog has taken a backseat, but I am hoping to change that this year.  I am going to make a commitment to try to post at least twice a month on what I am learning and observing in ministry.  My personal goal is every week, but I am also a realist because my pastoral ministry must come first.

I came to my current ministry in 1992, so that means I have preached and ministered in the same place for 21 1/2 years.  I have seen the good and the bad in ministry.  I have experienced joy and sorrow.  I have been loved and hated.  I am not seeking another ministry and am hoping God allows me another 25 years here.

I am often asked what keeps you in a place for a long period of time.  So for the next few weeks, I think I will try to figure that out.  One of the things that helped me was focus.  I have been at many pastor meetings where they ask pastors to stand who have been at the same place for 5 years, then, 10 years, then, 15 years, etc.  I was at one meeting where they got to 50 years and one man was standing.  I noticed many sat down before 10 years.  It has always been my dream or focus to be last man standing.  One of my idols in ministry was a man who was the pastor at the same church for almost 40 years.

One of the things I have observed in life is that focus determines direction.  I think it is essential for long term ministry.

THOT – What is the focus  for your ministry?
An important focus for me in long term ministry has been the goal to be “Last Man Standing”.

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