Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Assault on the Ministry Family, Part VI: Common.

You can read this entire series from the beginning by clicking on the Links tab at the top of this page.  

There is an area minister who is the closest thing I know to a saint.  He has served his church for decades and his congregation adores him.  He loves Jesus, he loves his wife (who is absolutely lovely and always knows exactly what to say and do in any situation), they have 3 daughters (who I admire and are incredible ladies), he loves his church, and he loves his congregation.  He is one of the real deals, gets in the trenches, visits the sick, prays and speaks with conviction, and lives his life in the most authentic way.  

People say his name with a smile.  They admire his dedication to ministry.  He is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and there is genuine warmth in his presence.  You can literally feel Jesus radiating from his pores.  

Many ministers aspire to earn the same reputation of this man.  They know his longevity in ministry was hard-earned.  They recognize that he has put his faith first and the Lord has blessed him greatly in return.  They longingly look at his congregation and his reputation and wonder what it would be like to walk in his shoes on a Sunday morning.  

And sometimes even some of the other ministers forget that he is an actual person.  
Just like them. 

Our ministry staff are interesting and complex people.  Typically, the ones that survive a career in ministry are some of the most loving and driven men and women.  They have answered the call to ministry and they dedicate a great portion of their lives to serving the church.  They tend to have very big hearts and are compassionate towards those who are hurting or are in need.  They celebrate the freedom they have found in Christ and are eager to share this with their communities.  They wear their emotions on their sleeves and admit to being big softies.  After all, it's emotionally impossible to walk through all of the things they see on a weekly basis and not be affected.  They love seeing people grow in their faith, they love seeing their churches strengthen, and they delight in the things the Lord is doing for His people. 

But, they are 100% human.     

Your ministry staff wake up and put their clothes and shoes on just like you do.  They are tired after a long day at work and relish their days off and vacation time.  Sometimes they really don't want to wear a suit or tie in July (or any other time for that matter) to preach because they are just going to get hot in the pulpit.  They are occasionally short-tempered with their spouses and their children, and sometimes the family is arguing in the car minutes before they walk into the church building.  But no one would ever know because they all walk in smiling.  

They like to hunt and fish and go to sporting events.  They like to man the grill and tinker on cars and boats.  They are computer nerds and enjoy a good book or getting see an action-packed movie.  They love to relive their glory days in college with their other ministry buddies and almost all of the stories involve a prank, a date with a pretty girl, and/or something that came very close to breaking the strict rules of their Christian alma mater.  They often have great big laughs and love to tease their friends and family members.  They want to have fun and they want to live life to the fullest.      

They can have fiery tempers and are usually extremely competitive.  They like to win and they like to have high attendance at church.  They like to be able to share with their peers about the great things happening at their churches.  They have great people skills and are able to put a positive spin on just about anything.  They aren't afraid to speak in front of crowds of people and they are good at reading and responding to people's emotions and mannerisms.  

They know how to work a room.  They also think it's funny when strangers find out they are ministers and the strangers quickly apologize for all of the profanity that just came out of their mouths.  Some of them enjoy a beer with their friends or a good game of cards.  They aren't always listening to Christian music on their radios and sometimes they laugh at a dirty joke (because they would never, ever tell one of their own).  (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge).  And believe me, they look forward to Sunday afternoon naps more than anyone else in their congregation.      

They want to be admired by their spouses.  They want to be desired and respected.  They want to feel attractive and important.  They struggle with the desires of the flesh and temptations that are ordinary to any other person.  They like to get their way, and they don't like to admit when they are wrong  When left unchecked, their egos can grow bigger than their waist lines.  They like to be the boss and they want to be in charge.  They can become jealous of another minister who seems to have it all together or the respect of a certain group of people.  They often take it personally when a family in their congregation decides to go to another church in town.  They have big ideas for their church and grow frustrated when they aren't backed by the leadership.   

They worry about their job security.  They grow concerned when attendance and tithing are down and the budget is tight.  They worry about having money for retirement and the horrors of self-employment taxes.  They don't like to admit when their church is failing in a particular area--especially if it's an area that falls under their direct leadership.  They sometimes forget that their churches are not their churches, and it's hard for them to hand their churches back over to God.  They don't always want to deal with problematic leaders in the church and they sometimes butt heads with the elders and deacons in meetings.  

They don't always want to try the mystery meat or vegetable that the sweet elderly lady made for them.  They sometimes laugh at non-comical stories they have heard countless times.  They grow weary of the people who want to be their friends only because it puts the people in a place of power.  Sometimes they honestly do not want another inspirational quote plaque to hang on their office walls.  They don't always want to be called on to say the blessing at meals.  They love to be around people, but sometimes they dream of silence and isolation in the form of a tropical destination.  

Preferably deserted.  

With his spouse.  

In her bathing suit. 

Your ministry staff loves the knowledge that the Christ they serve came to the earth as both God and human.  They are so thankful that Jesus walked through the same trials and temptations that they face on an hourly basis.  They fall short every single day, and they must repent of their sins just as much as anyone else.  They need Grace as much as the worst criminal.  

They must fight the battle of complacency and autopilot and they need godly men and women to hold them accountable.  They depend on the stronger members of the church to walk beside them, to help them up when they fall, and to encourage them with the Truth in love.  The staff may want to be surrounded by admirers, but they need people who can be honest with them.  They need people in their ministries who are not afraid of telling them that they are in the wrong, even when they do not want to hear the criticism.  

It is an extremely delicate balance because the staff must be able to find people that are not selfish in their motives and who have genuine concern for the church and the minister. The staff members must also ensure that they are hearing reviews from a balanced panel.  Too many "yes" men and women are certain to give the minister a false sense of pride and security.  


To be continued. . . 

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