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


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


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?

If you’re going to roast your pastor…here are a few tips

Golden roast chicken

I was talking to a young pastor recently. He’s been called to a church in steep decline and asked to salvage and, hopefully, even grow the church again. It’s hard work changing a church. (I know this firsthand.) He knew immediately he would have to do some things differently to achieve different results. (You understand that…don’t you?) So far, in the six months he’s been there, the church has stopped declining. That’s a good start. He’s lost a few families, but gained others to replace them. He believes they are being positioned for growth and believes that’s why God called him to the church.

The hardest part on him, and even more so on his family, has been the conversations being had about him that he hears about second hand. There have been times he thought things were going great, only to hear of the small coup forming behind his back. Sometimes his wife hears about it before he does. He’s naturally hurt knowing how some are responding to his leadership in this way. He is trying to be open to input and humble in his approach, but he wants to lead where he feels God has wired and called him. The behind the back network of talk is threatening the work the church is doing.

I wish I could say this was church specific, but I hear it (and see it) frequently. Hearing this pastor’s heart reminded me what someone said to me recently. She said, “I don’t know why, but people feel they can say anything about a pastor they want and there’s no accountability for it.” It’s true. It’s not fair or even Biblical the way some pastors are gossiped about in churches, but it’s a reality in ministry.

By the way, it has to be very unattractive for those outside the church.

That’s why I’m writing this post. It’s intended to be a lighthearted approach to a very serious issue. If you are active in a local church, please consider how you can encourage your pastor and pastor’s family today. One way you can do this is to monitor your conversation about the pastor when the pastor is nowhere around. (Do to others as you would want them to do to you…that should include pastors.)

Now, again, in an attempt to be humorous, let me also stretch your mind around this idea. (To understand this post, you should know that I’m a cook. My mom raised me to be. So I can not only pastor a church…I can roast a mean chicken or a smokin’ piece of roast beef.)

If you’re going to roast your pastor…here are a few things to consider:

Temperature – I play with temperatures when I’m cooking a roast. 325. 350. 375. It depends on how fast or slow I want to cook it. When you choose to roast your pastor, consider your own temperature. Are you angry? Are you really at a good temperature personally to be roasting? With the temperature of the church right now, am I helping or hurting the mission of the church by roasting the pastor? This is a good time to check your heart and motivation.

Time – I’ve cooked a roast as long as 8 hours. I can sometimes accomplish it in 2 hours, but it isn’t as good. Consider the timing of your roast. Have you thought through what you are upset about? Is it valid in a context beyond your personal preference? Is it valid within the context of the vision your pastor has been called to lead? Have you given adequate time to think through how you’re responding, or is this only a gut reaction…or even a selfish or angry reaction?

Seasoning – I typically flavor my roast beef with garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. I usually put a few beef bouillon cubes in the water. When you’re roasting your pastor, remember you are to be the “salt of the earth”. Are you seasoning your conversation with love? Would you be okay with others, even your pastor, hearing what you are saying right now? What if it were being recorded and played before the church…or the unchurched? Is it seasoned well? Does it represent the church and Christ’s love well?

Veggies – Momma always said “eat your veggies”. I cook potatoes, carrots, and onions on my roast. I often alternate between green beans,  cabbage and mushrooms as an addition. You’d be amazed how good those can taste in the roast. My family doesn’t always agree on what veggies I put in the roast, so I go back and forth between their favorites. When you roast your pastor, consider the issues besides the issue you’re roasting. A pastor juggles many hats. Where two or more are gathered in Jesus name, He will be there, but also will be two or more opinions on how things should be done. At least one opinion for every person in the room. Most of the time, multiple opinions for each person. Do the math on that for your church. As you continue your roast, consider the veggies in your roaster. (You do realize the church can’t operate effectively if it only pleases you….right?)

Quality – When I’m buying a roast, I realize already that I “get what I pay for”. I can’t expect a less expensive cut of meat to be as tender as a more expensive cut of meat. I can’t expect a grass fed beef and a grain fed beef to taste the same. As you roast your pastor, remember he isn’t a god. He can’t do everything. Don’t hold him to a standard he could never meet. Don’t expect his sermon to be the quality of an Andy Stanley sermon when he may not be Andy Stanley, and when the church doesn’t afford him the staff to lead that Andy has to prepare to preach. I was talking to someone recently who told me of a large megachurch pastor who has a paid research team helping with his sermon. You think he has a well researched message? Of course he does. Realize that the more you pull your pastor in dozens of different directions, and the more expectations you place on him personally, the less time he will have to concentrate on his message. Also realize that God didn’t wire everyone the same in communication or leadership styles. And, God may not place on your pastors heart what you hope He will.

So there. You have some tips for your next roasting time. Happy roasting.

Roast any preachers lately ? What tips do you have?

(This is intended to be a satirical post. I’ve been writing quite a few of these lately. In spite of my disclaimer, someone will misinterpret my poor attempt at humor. For those who do, simply add me to your next roast, but my goal is to help the local church and its pastor better achieve their Kingdom mission. We are losing hundreds and thousands of pastors to the ministry. I see this issue playing a part in that exodus.)

12 Random Pieces of Life I Love

Grandmother with grandson having fun at home - whispering secret

Sometimes it’s the little things.

A lazy Sunday afternoon nap after a great morning at church.

Picking raspberries in Michigan and “testing” them along the way.

Inside jokes with friends.

A song that brings back a nearly forgotten memory.

Sitting on a porch swing listening to a gentle rain.

Laughing as a puppy plays.

Discovering a “hidden gem” of a restaurant when not even looking.

Wrestling with a two year old boy.

Sharing a smile with someone you love.

Waking up at Grandma’s to the smell of fresh coffee and breakfast.

A small child whispering in your ear.

Saturday mornings with no agenda.

That’s 12 of mine. Add one, two or twelve of yours.

Take time today to reflect on the moments that make memories.

And don’t forget…

Sometimes it’s the little things.

7 Most Exciting Things a Pastor Experiences

Winning young man

Yesterday I shared the post 7 Most Frustrating Things Pastors Experience. I promised then that a post was due on the most exciting things a pastor experiences. There are many. Pastors get to see the best and worst of life it seems, but there are many positives.

Obviously, seeing someone become a follower of Christ or baptism of a believer, has to rank as a highlight of the pastor’s experience. That’s what we are called to do. But, that experience isn’t unique to pastors. Every believer, hopefully, gets excited about seeing people’s entry into faith. That’s the call of the church; not only pastors.

So, my list is beyond those experiences to things that may be somewhat unique to pastors. I’m not saying only pastors get excited about these experiences, but to pastors, these are especially exciting. Also, different pastors will have different answers. That’s where the comments section makes this post even better.

Here are 7 most exciting things pastors experience:

A child who loves church – They are our future. And, we know it. Jesus loves the little children. And so do we. I love when a little child leads “them” to church. When a child loves church, I know the parent is sure to be excited also.

Note takers – Seeing someone following a message closely. Hearing pages of the Bible turn. Priceless. Seeing people actually live the truths taught…don’t even get me started.

Sacrificial givers – The church is built on people willing to invest in her work. The generous giver…who gives with no strings attached…way to make a pastor smile. Maybe even dance.

Visitors and people who invite them – Visitors. Could we grow the church and sustain it long-term without them? Of course not. Every person in the church today, unless they were born into it, started as a visitor. Every new church member and every knew opportunity to add someone to our discipleship efforts starts with a visit. I love people who invite. I love those who come when invited. I just want to hug them all. (But, I promise not to hug you on your first visit…or ever if you prefer, because I want you to visit. Visit. Visit. Visit.)

Servant hearts – When I see a man or woman in the parking lot or a baby rocker in preschool, or someone who says “Pastor, I’m here to help you any way I can”, I am encouraged to keep going. Their enthusiasm for serving others encourages me.

New people joining the church – The church is a family and every pastor loves when the family grows. When people who have been visiting start coming more often, and eventually decide this is the church family…WOW! Exciting! I may try to look like it’s a normal day, because I don’t want you to think we are desperate for new members, or scare you as I shout real loud, but inside, I’m bursting with joy.

When the church is the church – I am encouraged when I hear someone is in the hospital and a church member has already made a visit. I get excited when I hear of needs…that have already been met. When the church behaves like we were called to behave, without a staff member or me having to lead the effort, I’m energized. Elated. Blessed.

There is my list.

Pastors, what would you add?