Sunday, August 29, 2010

Are you boring?

I don’t think some peeps know how boring they really are. You know, rambling on and on with no point or end in sight when they are in front of a crowd. Most of us as speakers have been that person at one time or another in our career as a pastor. Check it out though, if you want to know how good you are for reals, just get in front of a crowd of high-school kids… better yet, I dare you to get in front of a crowd of twenty to three hundred junior highers. They are unmerciful. And I am glad they are. If you suck, for any reason, they will let you know. They have the shortest attention span of any group that I know. Even when I would do some guest speaking for our children’s ministry of fifth graders and below, even they had a reverence because their folks told them that when an adult speaks they need to listen. When you deal with junior highers and above – all that flies out the window.

I have seen too many pastors get up on stage and tell some stupid joke about how they are going to talk for “the next four hours.” This is all good and fine… IF you understand that peeps really do hate someone who is long-winded and does not know when to end a speech. You know, the old “in conclusion” or “I want to leave you with this one thought” kind of stuff. When you use one of those sentences… END! You are not as good as you think you are. When I put my stuff together to speak, I write it all out and then I actually read the entire manuscript, or for those of you who only use any outline – that will do. But then you need to get all of the fluff out. Believe me, you have some of that in your message. Get rid of it.

When I first started speaking to junior high and high school kids I would go over thirty minutes in a message. My thought was that if I had a kid there that may not ever come back, then I need to make sure he or she gets all of Jesus that they possibly can get shoved down their throats. However, I can imagine how many kids never came back because I would not shut up when I needed to. My point… say it – and then shut up. If you don’t know if this pertains to you or not… I dare you to ask your youth group (or your staff). Trust me; they are waiting for you to ask them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Don't just ask... listen.

I remember when I was in highschool and would spend a ton of time at church. It was one of the only places that made sense to me. I did not go because wanted to get closer to God, but because there were peeps there who cared about me. Kevin was one of those guys. He would come to all of my sporting events, got coffee or lunch or whatever I wanted to do, all of the time. He would call me to roll with him to go do errands or see others in the youth group or church. He did this to spend time investing in me. I never really gave it a thought; I just thought it was cool to chill with him.

We had tons of conversations, mostly about nothing in particular. But I distinctly remember asking him for advice all of the time on everything from girls to God – yeah, worlds apart... but not really, I guess. I'm telling you, I think I can remember maybe two times that he gave me straight answers to my questions. He would never tell me what to do. He never gave me advice in the form of any kind of answer for that matter. What he would do was give me options. I would get done talking for like thirty minutes, telling him every part of my dilemma in like four hundred different ways. Then, I would say something to the effect of, “I don't know, Kev... what do you think?” Silence.

He would just look straight ahead as we drove down the road. I knew he was thinking. And you gotta understand, Kev knew me pretty well. I had spent tons of time with him – at church, extra curricular stuff, his family – and he knew what was going on in that little brain of mine. He knew what I needed to do. He was really good at discerning stuff in my life and those who he knew, both very well and not at all. But still, not answer. He would eventually say something like, “Well, MO, the way I see it you have three options...” He would then proceed to give me those options and then ask me what I thought I should do.

Wait a minute... the reason I was asking in the first place was to get an answer. Kev was supposed to make my life easier by telling me what to do. But, of course in my lack of wisdom, that is not what I needed. Kev knew that I needed to process this stuff on my own. He knew that I already knew what I needed to do. If he would have told me what to do, I would bet I would not do it like nine times out of ten. But, because he made me think about it, and verbalize it myself, I ended up doing the right thing more often than not. And if I did choose the wrong option, one that was detrimental to me in some way or another, I was more aware of it.

Still to this day Kev does not give me that many answers. He makes me think and make decisions based on the information I have. I know a little better now how to process stuff. But I guess the question is whether or not you have one or more peeps in your life who help you through this process. If you do not, I would bet you make more mistakes than if you did have them. I know you may know yourself better than anyone ever could, and that you are too abstract to be understood. And you know what, you are probably right. And if this is true then I would suggest get someone – preferably a full team.

Since my time with with Kev back in the high school group I have added new members to my inner circle. These peeps are the ones who give me options. They know what I need and when I need it. They all have good information. Each of them knows some of who I am, but none of them know all of who I am. That's just the way I do it. You may have one person who knows all of who you are... just make sure that person knows you to the core.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Chaos is where God is most profound. Have you ever been there? I know that for most of my youth ministry career I felt that I was somewhere in this realm. I would think that burnout was evident. I thought this to be true because there were so many pastors around me who were dealing with this. One time I went to a conference with Cobb and one of the other interns. What we didn't know was that the conference was for pastors and their spouses. So, needless to say, we were kind of on the outs because neither I nor the other intern was married, and Cobb did not have his wife there.

There was this one breakout session where half of the pastors sat in a room with half of the spouses – and of course you were not in a group with your own spouse. The session was for the spouses to give their perspective about ministry and what it means to be married to a pastor and doing ministry in that capacity. It was amazing. I have never seen so much emotion in one room. The burnout was evident. There was so much that the pastors were putting onto their spouses, in terms of pressure and expectations. And the most astonishing part was that the pastors, for the most part, did not have much of a clue at all. And these were some good, seasoned pastors – peeps who had been doing ministry for yrears... successfully!

It really opened my eyes. If there is one reason why I need to stay away from burnout its to keep my family sane. When you do not take care of your should then others are going to get hurt. You cannot use the excuse that you are burning out because your job is too stressful or the senior pastor gives you too much to do or whatever. You need to take responsibility of your life and priorities. After witnessing that crazy breakout session I remember talking to Cobb about burnout issues. He has never experienced it. And the reason he stays away from burnout is the relationships he has chosen to have with mentors, the way he spends his time – putting aside time for God and family in the madness of running around, and knowing how to say “no” to stuff that is not within his calling.

Are you close to burnout – or even been close? If so, have your reevaluated to see how you got there. Cobb never let us get to that point while under his care on staff. He knew the signs. I knew that he was there to look out for me and so I guess I pushed the limits of my own sanity at times. Now, with him hundreds of miles away, I still stay far from burnout because I know how to do so. Do you know? If not, who could you ask? It's worth your time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A balancing act...

I can remember my younger years in ministry – man, I was always on “the go.” if there was something to be done, I did it. If there was a task that needed to be finished, hove no fear! If there was some place to be, you could be sure that I would get there, within the appropriate amount of time and with the materials needed to complete whatever needed to be done. And this is what sticks out in my mind. I was away from home much of my early ministry. There were some summers that I would be out of town most of the summer, for speaking engagements, camps, and seminars. I really did not have a choice. I had decided that my priority was to serve others and make sure that our ministry was effective. There were a ton of peeps who relied on me to get stuff done. But, as you could have guessed, this began to take a toll on me.

I was away from home so much that I sometimes forgot my priorities back at the ranch. My family struggled to support me at times because it was taking a lot out of them to encourage someone who was not home very much. They were in this ministry deal a hundred percent as well. They had just as much, if not more, commitment to my ministry as I did. In those early years, as a young pastor, I leaned heavily on the Word of God. Isn't it funny that we get religious when things are not going our way? When the going gets rough and we want to be tough, we always seem to make time for that “God, if you just get me through this...” prayer. And you know what – that is ok. That is what God wants from you. He wants to bless you. He wants to comfort you. He wants to give you the desires of your heart.

Even today, as in those early years as a pastor, I seek that extra little “umph” from the Lord. And you know what, I seem to be asking for it more often. A passage of scripture that I hold on to in times like those says,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31).

When you are running around, busy, away from home, and burning that midnight oil all the time – it's good to have something to hold on to. Don't do it by yourself. You gotta get you some good time with God when you can. And those who seek God will be answered.