Articles tagged with: ministry

19 June 2013

What's Your Tough Mudder?

Posted in Leadership, Church

tough mudderWhen was the last time you set an audacious goal for yourself—when you committed yourself to something you weren’t sure you could actually do?

Last month I participated in the Tough Mudder. It’s a 10 mile course with 20 obstacles that include, among other things, lots of crawling, climbing, and jumping into freezing cold water.

It’s designed by British Special Forces and described as “probably the toughest event on the planet.” You have to climb over an eight-foot wall just to get into the starting area, for God’s sake! And not for nothing, the day of our Tough Mudder was over 90 degrees. So, it is a beast. (Check out the video below for a taste.)

I decided to do the Mudder as a way to motivate myself to get back into great shape. And, honestly, to make me feel better about turning 40 next year.

So, I committed myself to this crazy thing—and to doing something I wasn’t sure I could accomplish. I trained like crazy for five months—running, swimming, suspension training, kettlebells, weight lifting. Many early mornings and many late nights at the Y. It took our team just under three hours to complete the course, but we did it. I finished.

A big part of the Tough Mudder is about confronting fears, whether its jumping off a 20-foot high platform into water below, crawling through dark underground tunnels, or running through electroshocks. And that fear can either paralyze us or it can propel us. That is the fundamental lesson of the Tough Mudder.

26 February 2013

Frodo Baggins: Model for Ministry in Tough Times

Posted in Leadership, Church

frodobaggins

We all have models of ministry we emulate, ministry leaders we look up to. These are mostly those who model success, who are able to perpetuate good times and positive ministries. But what about when things are hard—really hard?

We often lack for ministry models in those time, in part, I suppose, because we like to talk about our successes far more than our failures. We don't as easily celebrate people for their brokenness and struggle, and yet, in ministry, we all wind up there at one time or another.

At some of the most difficult times in ministry, I found an unlikely ministry model: Frodo Baggins.

Frodo is the main character in J.R.R. Tolkien's book trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. During the toughest times in my ministry I found myself watching the recent movie versions often, not merely for escapism, but because in those times I came to strongly identify with Frodo Baggins.

You'll remember Frodo as the diminutive Hobbit, who is charged with carrying the burdensome ring of Sauron across Middle Earth in order to to destroy it at Mount Doom in the forsaken land of Mordor.

The Ringbearer

The ring weighs more and more heavily on Frodo throughout the story. The carefree life of his home in the Shire is replaced with a grinding pilgrimmage through unforgiving terrain. He tires and ages before us. The evil influence of the ring threatens to corrupt is kind heart.

Ministry, whether in good times or bad, is about ring-bearing. It is about carrying the burden for your people—for the congregation itself and for the larger church. Always, we hold the hopes and dreams, and aspirations of our people. In difficult circumstances, we also carry their fear and their anxiety. We are often the recipents of criticism and bad behavior. The weight of the task of guiding a congregation through difficult times can take an enormous toll on the ring bearer.

14 March 2012

Steve Jobs on Self-Care: Keep Your Passion Kindled

Posted in Steve Jobs, Leadership, Church

Steve-JobsMinistry people are kind of obsessed with "self-care." We talk about it a lot and, truth be told, we tend to do a much better job talking about it than actually doing it.

There are all kinds of self-care strategies out there, which can include sprititual direction, retreats, sabbaticals, setting aside time to read and reflect, travel, and continuing education. I've done all of these and they have kept me grounded and well.

Nonetheless, there is something that really bothers me about the way we usually talk about self-care.

22 November 2011

Facebook Is Not The Fax Machine: Technology and the Pastoral Office

Posted in Social Media, Church

telegraphI believe one of the major underlying reasons many congregations and pastors are reluctant to adopt social media for ministry is because historically we have had such low expectations when it comes to ministry leaders and technology.

Think about it.

22 June 2011

Four Lessons for Life in The Thank You Economy

Posted in Leadership, Social Media

aaaOne of the challenges for churches and ministers working in social media is figuring out how to build meaningful relationships with members, friends, and strangers.

In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk draws on lessons he's learned from working with customers with his wine business and translates them into some great lessons for life, business, social media - and, as I see it, church and ministry.

Its worth reading in its entirety, but here are four big lessons I took away from it:

08 April 2011

Heartbreak: The Cost of Discipleship

Posted in Spirituality, Church

Dietrich-Bonhoeffer“a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” - Psalm 51:17, 

Today marks the 66th anniversary of the death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  After these many years, it feels as though we are all still catching up to his brilliant theology, his Christian witness, and his deep understanding of discipleship.

On this day, it seems appropriate to reflect upon what Bonhoeffer called the “cost of discipleship” and to ask what it means for us now.  In my experience as a parish pastor, I’ve come to see that each of us calculate the cost of discipleship differently.  We each give it a different name.

For me, its name is heartbreak.

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