How to Honor a Pastor’s Wife (Repost)

(I’m on vacation this coming week, and so for the next couple weeks I’m posting again some of my most read posts, but also ones I think are actually helpful. These are my “favorite top posts”. Some posts had more hits, but they simply do well in the search engines. I’m actually proud of these. :) None of these were posted this year. All are older than that. Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share these on Twitter, and Google Plus to get them circulated. I won’t be doing much of that while I’m gone.)

One of the toughest jobs in the church is that of being a pastor’s wife. I know I’m biased, but I have one of the best in Cheryl. Cheryl has a full-time professional job, is an excellent wife and mother, but the demands on her as my wife are often overwhelming. There is never a day she’s not asked to minister to someone. She is every bit as much in the ministry as I am. She makes me so much more effective as a pastor. Some days…really most days…the demands are more than her time, but still she handles it with grace and a smile.

I work with pastors every week who are burned out from ministry. Almost weekly, I hear of a pastor or pastor’s wife ready to quit the ministry. My desire is to help you know how to honor and protect your pastor’s wife. In this post, I am not talking on behalf of Cheryl. These are tips to help honor every pastor’s wife, but this isn’t about Cheryl. She would never ask for this (most pastor’s wives wouldn’t either) and frankly we are in the best church environment I have ever experienced, as far as the way our staff and spouses are treated. We welcome the continued support, but in this post, I’m speaking on behalf of the struggling pastor’s wife; the one who has a sense of loneliness and often struggles even to come to church.

Here are a few tips to treat your pastor’s wife well:

  • Pray for your pastor’s wife and family daily.
  • Do not put too many expectations on the pastor’s wife. She cannot be everywhere, at everything and know everyone’s name and family situation and still carry out her role in role in her own home.
  • Do not expect her to take your side on an issue opposing her husband. She will protect him as you would your spouse. In fact, this issue possibly causes the biggest tension for a pastor’s wife. If she feels her husband is being questioned, she may naturally become protective.
  • Protect the pastor’s wife from gossip. She does not need to know the “prayer concerns” that are really just a way of spreading rumors.
  • Let her have a husband and enjoy her family time. The pastor is pulled in many directions. If you can limit your demands on his schedule to his normal working hours it will help the pastor’s wife have a family life also.
  • Don’t demand she have a “position” in the church. She may want to, but her husband may want her free to greet guests with him. For me, I want to see Cheryl in the service as I speak, especially for the first service. I feel more comfortable when she’s nearby. I definitely want her in the halls to meet people. (She’s so much better at that than I am.)
  • Include her in invitations without placing demands or expectations on her to attend. The pastor’s wife is often one of the loneliest women in the church. She rarely knows whom to trust and often is excluded from times that are just for fun, but again, she can’t be everywhere; so invite, but don’t get frustrated if she has to say no.
  • Never repeat what she says. If the pastor’s wife happens to share information with you about the church or her personal life, keep it to yourself. There will be temptation to share her words as “juicy news”, but you will honor her by remaining silent.
  • If your church really wants to honor the pastor’s wife, find ways to give her extended time away with her husband and/or family. That is probably what she needs the most.

Feel free to give a shout-out to your pastor’s wife here on this post and share ways you can honor your pastor’s wife. If you are a pastor or pastor’s wife, I would love to hear your thoughts.

How does your church honor your pastor’s wife?

7 Ways I Protect My Heart and Ministry From an Affair (Repost)

(I’m on vacation this coming week, and so for the next couple weeks I’m posting again some of my most read posts, but also ones I think are actually helpful. These are my “favorite top posts”. Some posts had more hits, but they simply do well in the search engines. I’m actually proud of these. :) None of these were posted this year. All are older than that. Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share these on Twitter, and Google Plus to get them circulated. I won’t be doing much of that while I’m gone.)

It seems every day we hear of another big name celebrity, politician or pastor that has fallen into the temptation of lust and had an affair. I think it is dangerous for any leader to assume this could never happen to him or her. Speaking as a man, (I can’t speak as a woman), I understand that temptation is very real. When the mind begins to wander in a lustful direction, it is very hard to control. The failure, I believe, comes more in not protecting the heart and mind. I know that I must personally work to protect myself, my wife, my boys and my church from the scandal and embarrassment of an affair.

There are a few rules I have in place that serve to protect my heart:

I never meet alone with a woman besides my wife (or mother). I always take someone along to lunch meetings and I make sure others are in the office when I meet with women. Also, I never exercise with other women. (If you need explanation, then you’ve never been a guy going to a gym where girls are in workout clothes. Trust me!) I realize this is not popular in these days where men and women are searching for equality in the workplace. Honestly, some women never understand this. I had one woman tell me recently that I “think too highly of myself”, but my family is too important to me not to take this precaution.

I try not to conduct very personal or intimate conversations with women. I am careful not to compliment women on her appearance, unless I feel she needs the encouragement and her husband or my wife is in the conversation. If a woman is in tears I am careful about prolonging the conversation. When emotions are flowing, people get vulnerable. There are women on our staff and in our church equal or more capable than me to deal with these type conversations.

When talking to couples I focus my visual connection mostly on the man and not his wife. It’s not that I don’t talk to the wife, but I try to place my eyes more in the direction of the man. This is a discipline I have had to practice. Sometimes I see couples from our church in the community and I often don’t recognize the woman when she is not with her husband. This is not that I don’t care about the woman (or that I’d rather look at a man!), but this is necessary in order to protect my heart and mind from wandering. (Did you ever read 2 Samuel 11?)

I try not to stare at women. When an attractive woman catches my eye, I try to quickly bounce my attention elsewhere. Yes, I notice a pretty woman in the room…often. God made some beautiful women. I just know my heart and mind too well to allow myself to stare. Trust me…I can’t.

I spend lots of time with my wife. The best defense is a good offense. The most certain way to protect my heart is to strengthen my marriage. Cheryl and I spend most of our leisure time together.

I try to always remember my boys. My boys are two of my very best friends, and thankfully, as for right now, they still have tremendous respect for me as a dad and man. I would never want to disappoint them by being unfaithful to my wife.

I love my church. I would never want to injure the work God is doing at Grace Community Church. If I were ever tempted to sin against God in this way, I would hope my love for the church would draw me back.

Do my rules offend you? What are you doing to protect your heart?

You might also want to read 7 Ways I Protect My Family Life in Ministry

20 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife this Weekend

Rear View Senior Man and Woman Couple Walking Holding Hands

Give her the best time of your weekend.

Do something with her you know she enjoys, even if it’s not your favorite thing to do.

Share a dessert with her. (Ouch! This one hurts me personally. I don’t usually share desserts.)

Take a long walk together and hold her hand.

Fix the bed, take out the trash, or pick up your clothes…without being asked. (Or whatever it is that you know she would love if you did.)

Genuinely listen to her without trying to fix anything.

Give her a few hours with no responsibility…none. (Even the kids.)

Brag on her to your friends.

Hand wash her car.

Tell her your deepest fears and greatest dreams.

Leave her notes around the house.

Write down 10 reasons she’s the woman of your dreams.

Leave a sweet voicemail on her phone telling how much you love her.

Cook dinner. And then do the dishes.

Book a date night for later this week. Take care of ALL the arrangements.

Pray for her out loud.

Ask her advice.

Say, “I love you”. Unsolicited.

Make her belly laugh.

Dream with her about your future together.

Any ideas you would share?

7 Ways a Pastor has a Great Weekend (Sabbath)

Chaise lounge and umbrella on sand beach.

I recently wrote 7 Ways a Leader Has a Better Weekend. Read that post before you read this one. The most repeated response I received to that post, however, was “Where is the one for pastors?” or “Can you write one for pastors?”

Actually, I thought I was writing for pastors too, but obviously I need to add a little clarity. So, here goes. (By the way, I previously wrote 7 Ways I Protect My Sabbath.)

How does a pastor have a great weekend?

Here are 7 ways:

Plan ahead – Sunday is coming. It comes about the same time every week. And, so should be your Sabbath. It should come every week. I know too many pastors who wait to the last minute to get prepared. They may let everything else distract them during the week, and at the end of the week they have no choice but to cram for a message. I plan my week knowing I’m going to take a day off at the end of the week.

Delegate – Equip people. Lead leaders. This is so critical if you want to disciple others and be effective in your own pastorate. When you believe you are the one who has to do things, or has to know everything, you’ll be married to a ministry more than your spouse. Your schedule will be dictated by ministry needs, which are endless, more than by ministry objectives, which builds disciples.

Entrust people – This may appear the same but some need to hear it again. The fact is, many who think they know how to delegate actually don’t. They assign tasks, but they never delegate responsibility or ownership. In the end, they end up being just as involved in a project as if they’d never delegated. If you think you can do it all or you’re even supposed to you’re going to eventually hit a brick wall. I realize your church sometimes puts undue pressure on you to be everywhere and know everything, but you may have to learn better how to lead the church to a healthier (and more Biblical) reality. You may certainly need to learn to protect your family and your Sabbath.

Write your sermon all week – Get the main idea. Just one. Put it in your schema. All week build on that idea. I use Evernote and I’m consistently adding thoughts to the file for messages. I may have messages I’m building upon that won’t be preached for six months. It makes writing a sermon much easier when I have notes already in place that were spurred from my heart and mind through daily living.

Be willing to say no – It’s amazing how many pastors resist my encouragement on this one. They think they have to be everywhere, even on the weekend. Every social. Every invitation. Everything the church does. I’ve even had church members say “that’s what I’m paid to do”. They want me available when they want me available. I know pastors who agree. The problem is this isn’t practical for my personal health or the health of my family, especially longterm. Which ultimately is not health for the church. Pastor, if you would teach your church to honor the sabbath then shouldn’t you lead the way?

Listen to your spouse and family – If you are not sure if you are protecting your family or personal time…ask them. Give them the opportunity to speak into your life. Ask them if they think ministry gets in the way of your time with them. Ask them to be honest, but to tell you which they think you love more…them or your ministry. (Wow…will you really ask that?…even I’m not sure you should. Actually, I think you already know the answer…whichever it is.) Before I get the emails, let me be clear I’m not talking about your love for Christ. That always comes first. But, love (or devotion) for ministry doesn’t always originate out of love for Christ. Many times it originates simply out of a sense of obligation that’s man made not God inspired. Make sure you’re following Christ more than traditions of men. And make sure your honoring your family over any other human relationship.

Have a true Sabbath – Your weekend may not look like everyone else’s, but you can have one. You can do a Monday and Saturday combination or a Friday and Saturday, whatever works best in your setting. Again, don’t be ruled by what society says is a weekend. Just be ruled by the truth that you need rest. I work six days most weeks. I don’t recommend it unless you’re wired that way. But on my day off…I’m off. It is rare for anything to interrupt that day, except for unavoidable occurrences, (which obviously occur in ministry or outside of ministry). This sounds so harsh to some people, but I don’t mean it to be. I didn’t make up the idea of a Sabbath. I’m just trying to actually live it.

Those are my suggestions. I’m not trying to add more pressure to already stressed out pastors. I love you guys. I’m one of you. I just know you need your Sabbath. You need your rest. God seems to think so too. If you want to last for the long run…honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.

Pastors, who enjoy great weekends (great Sabbaths), what would you add?

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

I’ve been listening to Jadon Lavik’s version of the song below a lot lately. It’s speaking to me. What insight a pastor from 1757 who penned this hymn had even today into my heart.

I’ve made bold the parts which speak to me most (and made super bold the line which rocks my world).

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help I’ve come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God

He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be

Let that grace now, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love

Which phrases speak to you most?

7 Ways a Leader Has a Better Weekend

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If you are like me you love your weekends. T.G.I.F…right? If we are not careful, however, the weekend passes so quickly and we begin another work week feeling we wasted the weekend we had. Or we are so stressed by the week behind or the week ahead that all we do is catch our breath and we can’t fully enjoy the weekend.

How can we help guarantee better weekends? Every weekend. I have learned the more intentional Cheryl and I are about planning for it, the better weekends we had as a family when our boys are home and now as empty-nesters.

Here are 7 suggestions I try to live:

Plan on Monday – Set your week up for success. Plan what you can realistically do in a week and end the week with a sense of accomplishment.

Do hard things now – Handle the hard stuff as they arise. Try not to carry it into the weekend. Obviously that’s not always possible, but many times it is. for example, don’t put off that difficult conversation you know you have to have until Monday if you can and should do it today. It will haunt you all weekend. Whatever the issue, bite the bullet and handle the tough issue, as soon as effectively possible.

Be honest with your schedule – Don’t feel bad about declining activities on the weekend. If you want to go then go, but if you’d rather relax then do that. No guilt. Say yes sparingly when accepting weekend appointments. They sometimes sound good on Monday but are less exciting on Saturday morning.

Attend church – That’s an appointment you should keep. I know it seems self-serving to suggest it, and I’m not being legalistic. That’s not my nature or theology. I’ve just hardly ever heard someone say they wish they’d skipped church. But I’ve heard many who believe it gave them a better weekend. God always seems to bless the time I give Him.

Plan ahead for a true Sabbath – Even though it makes for slightly longer weekdays, try to accomplish many of the “chores” you have to do before the weekend. Try to have some unplanned time simply to do what you enjoy.

Keep a fairly normal sleep schedule – If you always have to “catch up” on your sleep on the weekends, or you spend your week tired because of the late nights on the weekend, you never gain a healthy rhythm for life. Be reasonably consistent in your bedtime and waking up time and you’ll feel better and enjoy a more productive awake time.

Share time with people you love – The best memories center around time with people we love. When the family is running in many different directions you end the weekend feeling like you “missed” the weekend. Limit activities your family commits to or do things your family can do together. This takes prior thought and coordination but makes for a more enjoyable weekend.

Pastors, this list includes you too. I originally wrote it for you and decided to expand it to a more general audience. Your weekend may look different, but you need to protect it. I wrote THIS POST on how I protect my Sabbath.

What tips do you have for a better weekend?

The 7 Best Excuses We Make

Excuses File Contains Reasons And Scapegoats

There’s always an excuse if we’re looking for one. I’ve made so many. Even when we are certain God has called us to something, we will stall because an excuse is always near. Most excuses seem reasonable at first glance. Common sense even.

But, following a dream, especially a God-inspired, God-sized dream, always requires a certain level of risk. Walking by faith. Stepping into the unknown. Overcoming excuses.

Are you stalling? Maybe you’re even running out of another good excuse. If an opportunity is still staring you in the face, let me help.

Here are 7 of the best excuses I’ve used or heard:

I can’t – You don’t have what it takes…and so far…aren’t trusting God to provide what you lack. (Gideon would agree. Judges 6)

I won’t – Or at least you won’t give it a try. In fact…if the truth is known…you’d rather run…some more. I did this one for years. (How did that work for Jonah?)

I don’t know how – It seems overwhelming…and you are either too proud to admit it or aren’t willing to learn. (Think Noah knew how to build a boat that large? Genesis 6)

I don’t have time – God calls for obedience now…and you’re preoccupied. And, chances are…with this as an excuse…you never will have time. This has worked for me before too…for a season. (See Luke 9:59)

I’m all alone – It feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it? It’s true. Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. I once thought I was the only one with a burden to plant a church. Little did I know. God had an army prepared. (Elijah thought He was alone…and found out otherwise. 1 Kings 19)

I’m afraid – And you can choose to let fear control you. I have. Many times. It’s a powerful, motivating excuse. Much could go wrong. And, our mind is capable of quickly creating worst-case-scenarios. (Could we learn from Esther? Esther 3)

I can’t afford it – You’re afraid the dream will be more expensive than the provision of God. You wouldn’t verbalized this one, but it’s real, isn’t it? (Tell that to the widow in 1 Kings 17…or the disciples who picked up 12 baskets of leftover bread. Matthew 14)

There will always be an excuse not to follow the dreams God lays on your heart. Obstacles in life are plentiful. You can keep making excuses, or you can address them one excuse at a time. The one who achieves most is often the one most willing to overcome excuses.

Are you?

What excuse are you using to stall on God’s plan?

A Dad Loves Uniquely From Any Other Love…

Happy moments

A dad loves uniquely from any other love.

A dad often shares a quieter love, marveling at his children on the inside, yet expressing it differently than mom.

A dad may act silly. Wear funny clothes. And never change his hairstyle, use the same corny jokes or actions, inaudibly enjoying the teasing it brings from his kids and because he loves the sound of his children laughing.

A dad will often stand back, watching as mom dotes, often even pretending he thinks she dotes too much, but so glad that mom dotes on his children.

A dad may pretend to be tough, when really, he’s only a big puppy dog, and this is many times only realized later in his life.

A dad might let mom take the phone call from the kids, but then ask lots of questions after the phone call ends.

A dad loves to sacrifice, work hard for his children, not doing it for recognition, but secretly relishing when his children do realize he did it just for them.

A dad might dismiss the need for attention. Say he doesn’t need anything. Act like he’s good with less attention on Father’s Day, but a dad warms inside with a simple acknowledgement from his children that he is their dad.

A dad loves uniquely from any other love.

(I realize this us written from the perspective of a dad who is involved in the life of his children…and it won’t fit with every dad. It’s written more in principle than in exact practice. A dad’s love is unique. But, I hope your dad was or is all that you have needed him to be, even though no dad is perfect. If you didn’t have a great experience with your dad, and I know so many who don’t have this story for their life, my heart goes out to you today. That was my story until the last few years of my dad’s life. Don’t be ashamed to reach out to other older men in your church or life and thank them for their influence in your life.)

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Go to Bed Tonight

father-daughter

Did I begin today in prayer?

Have I read my Bible today?

Did I give today my best efforts?

Did I make someone’s life a little better today?

Did I take steps towards the dreams I have and God has for my life today?

How did I add value to the world around me today?

Was my attitude ever in the way of me or others having a productive, happy day?

Can I put today behind me, go to sleep, and give tomorrow another chance?

How can I improve my answers tomorrow night?

Am I ending today in prayer?