Tag Archives: thoughts

The lost are at church too

I came across a Twitter feed that pointed to an article by James Ross, a pastor who, like me, writes about his family, faith, and church. The article caught my attention because of the title and nature – you can read it here. It did get me thinking about my own experience in leading a congregation, and some of the ways people reacted to our leadership, our family and our choices.

I am hesitant about creating an image that The Church is a bad place or a place where only hurtful things happen. Far from it. Our experiences were filled with joy, faith, God changing, loving, generous people.  We saw lives changed and families healed. So I will endeavour to follow up this blog with some of those stories.

The book of James points out that we should trust God with all our problems – health, family, sin, relationships. So that’s the point I would make – in the midst of hurtful or dumb things said to us, we believe that God is at work, in us and through us. Sometimes God’s people, caught up in their own issues find the pastor a good target.  We love them anyway and pray they find healing for their own needs.

So here goes, things said to us over 20 years of congregational leadership:

  • following a strategic planning session with our church leaders  – “I suppose that this is good but I don’t see you as being able to lead us through this”
  • following a lovely Sunday morning service and while shaking my hand at the door – “you’re an idiot”
  • in front of the church leaders, and said by a man who we suspected was taking money from the youth group funds “I don’t trust you – you have no integrity”
  • while dealing with a man accused of inappropriate behaviour with children – “I am going to sue you and this church”
  • while visiting a dying member of the congregation “we don’t want you to do the funeral, we’ve called (my predecessor)”
  • while struggling to make ends meet on what was a meager salary and benefits, told that I was lucky because the denomination “looks after you. You could never survive in the real world”… of course somehow I use to live in the real world, working, paying bills, arranging my life for service to others as well as holding down a real job and commuting.

Now that’s not the whole story…. our children received less than kind compliments as did Wendy and yet we believed God called us and sustained us through it all.

So if you’re the member of a congregation – encourage your leaders.  If you’re the leader of a congregation – love your people and be encouraged and strengthened by what God is doing around you and through you every day.

Positive stories to follow!


What I’ve learned in the last year

So it’s been another year of change…

1. Change of appointment
2. Jason, Susan and Rachel moved in with us
3. Wendy’s Mom passed away
4. Philip and Amanda lost one baby but soon found they were expecting another
5. We decided to buy our van…thus parachuting out of the PHH lease system
6. We all had birthdays..yes I know we all do but it just adds to the changing seasons

And of course there are more subtle changes…our graying hair or the flow of our bank accounts or the friends who move away from us.  Many changes.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned in the last year – in light of that and my articulated desire to be a life long learner.

I’ve learned:

1. Things need to be held lightly – people need to be held tightly
2. Change needs to be embraced
3. Expectation of change is always helpful
4. Treasure the best moments however fleeting and by that I mean pay attention – to all the details
5. Don’t be bothered by your inconsistencies – strive for consistency over the long haul so ask for forgiveness quickly for small slips but keep the account you have with God and your friends clean
6. Prepare for what you think are least likely things to happen – some day they will likely come
7. Seek out wise friends not just friendly friends
8. Pray more, worry less
9. Say what you think….like how much you appreciate others or what they do…put words to it
10. Be authentic to who you are…but be wise about it
11. Read – lots but include your Bible

Fault finding and effective leadership

Whether it is in a car or in the office or for that fact in our homes – we tend to see problems and associate blame with others.  Even the disciples of Jesus 2000 years ago viewed problems as someone’s fault…”Rabbi, whose sin caused this man to be blind?” was their question.

I wonder how often we tend to look at our own behaviour, at our own place in relation to the issue at hand.  It isn’t easy and it isn’t always possible.  Sometimes our own blind spots get in the way – we need feedback from another party.
If you’re married you know our spouses are often the ones to help us, and point out that we too exhibit some of the very behaviours we find we dislike in others.
Feed back is critical to our growth and success – especially if we lead or work in a team.  Of course many of the leadership books will tell you that depending our your role, if you’re a leader, it is hard to get honest feedback.  The first step in getting good feedback is in inviting it – and having received it not defending or appear to defend your actions or words.  Listen – look for the golden nugget of truth and build trust with your team mates.
Without honest feedback you’ll never know when you have been an effective leader.