Conquering Two Roadblocks To Sabbathing

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I thought it was very appropriate that I got to be a guest on the Thriving In Ministry podcast with Kyle Willis while his podcast partner Dace Clifton was on sabbatical. It was appropriate because Kyle and I talked about the importance of pastors finding time to rest. 

Proper rest is absolutely vital for longevity and vitality. I hope you will listen to this short segment from this conversation. 

I shared with Kyle two main roadblocks to sabbathing. 

(1) Trying to be something you’re not. 

We are all wired differently. God wired us that way on purpose. So if you’re an early bird, guard those morning hours for your creative work and use the evenings for rest. If you’re a night owl, don’t try to copy the early birds, but rest early in the day and do your creative work when you are at your best. 

→ So the key concept to overcoming this roadblock is personalization. 

(2) Getting distracted by the non-essentials. 

Two things have really helped me with this one: Sticking to sustainable daily routines, while at the same time being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s redirection (check out my post on the idea I call I.T.L.W.). 

→ The key concept here is flexible focus. 

I talk more about this concept of sabbathing and a leader’s overall healthiness in my book Shepherd Leadership. You can also check out some other posts about sabbathing by clicking here.

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Helping Our Teammates Destress

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

An interesting comment that Jesus made that should catch the attention of every leader is this: “I know My sheep and My sheep know Me” (John 10:14). Jesus is telling us that He knows the uniqueness of every person. 

Combine this with David’s encouraging words about Jesus as our Good Shepherd in the opening words of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need” (Psalm 23:1 NLT). 

This tells me that quality shepherd leaders…

  1. …are around their teammates enough to know them personally. 
  2. …can quickly ascertain when their teammates are feeling stress or anxiety. 
  3. …know how to give their teammates what they need to destress in a healthy way. 

My friend Greg and I discussed how leaders can use playtime as an effective tool to keep their teammates at their healthiest. Check out this short clip—

If you would like to watch this full episode from The Craig And Greg Show, please click here. 

I also talk about how wise leaders take care of those under their care in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. It’s available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

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Links & Quotes

God will give you everything you need to minister to others. But there’s one thing you have to do first…

“He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God.” —Isaac Newton

Back in 1929, Donald Gee shared three temptations that Pentecostals needed to be cautious of avoiding: (1) selfish satisfaction, (2) fanaticism, and (3) the temptation to forsake the pure worship of God in exchange for popularity. Check out the full article here.

I really appreciate the leadership insights from Dan Reiland. That’s why I was so honored to have him write such a nice endorsement of my book Shepherd Leadership! Here is an important post Dan wrote for leaders, warning us of 5 ways we can misuse our spiritual authority

Fight The New Drug is right on-target in warning about the dangers of pornography. Check out this insightful post that gives 8 reasons why not watching porn can improve your real human relationships as well as your physical and emotional health

Another display of God’s masterful creativity in the Archerfish. I absolutely love these video from The John 10:10 Project!

Thursdays With Spurgeon—God Our Healer

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

God Our Healer

O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:2-3) 

     God is the best Physician, even for our bodily infirmities. We do very wickedly and foolishly when we forget God. It was a sin in Asa that he trusted physicians and not God (2 Chronicles 16:12). If we must have a physician, let it be so, but still let us go to our God first of all. And above all remember that there can be no power to heal in medicine of itself; the healing energy must flow from the divine hand. …

     If our watch is out of order, we take it to the watchmaker; if our bodies or souls are in an evil plight, let us resort to Him who created them, who has unfailing skill to put them in right condition. As for our spiritual diseases, nothing can heal these evils but the touch of the Lord Christ: if we do but touch the hem of His garment, we shall be made whole….

From Spurgeon And The Psalms

God has created us as a soul with a body. I believe that physical ailments can be attended to by a medical doctor, emotional distress should be addressed by a counselor, and spiritual issues should have the wisdom of a pastor. 

But let’s always remember that since God created our body, soul, and spirit, He is the Ultimate Source of wisdom for any areas that are out of alignment. So as Spurgeon says, seek out a doctor, counselor, or pastor, but go to God first. 

God may bring divine healing that requires no other intervention, or He may heal through medicine or counseling, but ultimately He is THE Healer.

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Practical Health Questions

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff wanted to know if I had a favorite chapter in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. That’s an easy question to answer because it is the chapter I didn’t write—the Preface of the book was written by Dick Brogden and sums up my book better than I could have on my own. 

But there is a chunk of five chapters in Shepherd Leadership that I keep going back to quite frequently. This section is also one that has resonated with other leaders who coach and counsel pastors. 

Dr. Luke summarized the wholly healthy development of Jesus in just one verse: And Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God, and in favor with men (Luke 2:52). I think this gives us the perfect pyramid for our healthy growth—

  • It starts with our mental health (wisdom) 
  • Which helps us make good decisions for our physical health (stature)
  • Which creates an ideal environment for our spiritual health to flourish (favor with God)
  • Which is ultimately realized in our relational health (favor with men) 

This is why, when I am coaching other pastors that are struggling with relationships with their board or parishioners, I start with…

Oftentimes the answers to these questions reveal a deficit in mental, physical, or spiritual health that is preventing a breakthrough in strong, healthy relationships. As soon as health is being restored at the lower levels of this pyramid, positive changes in spiritual and relational health begin to blossom as well. 

Pastor, please pick up a copy of my book to help you get into the healthiest place you can be. You cannot give health to the flock under your care if you are not at optimal health yourself. 

If you want to catch up on some of the other clips I’ve already shared from this interview, you can find them here. I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Dehydrated

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I just came back from California where drought-like conditions cause residents a lot of concern—wildfires, crop failure, what happens if too much rain falls too quickly? Being dry causes people a lot of stress. 

Most people live under-hydrated, if not dehydrated. Depending upon the size of the person, the amount of water in the human body makes up 55-75%. That means that when we don’t get enough water, many complications can arise. So if you struggle with…

  • …headaches, don’t take a Tylenol, but trying drinking more water 
  • …bad breath, don’t swish mouthwash, but trying drinking more water 
  • …being tired, don’t guzzle caffeine, but trying drinking more water 
  • …gut problems, don’t pop an Alka-Seltzer or milk of magnesia, but trying drinking more water 
  • …bags under your eyes, don’t get botox, but trying drinking more water 

The introduction to Psalm 143 only says, “A psalm of David,” but nothing about his actual predicament. But we can see the things that were weighing heavy on David: 

  • he pleaded for mercy, which means not getting the punishment he deserved (vv. 1-2) 
  • enemies were pursuing him (v. 3) 
  • he felt faint in spirit and dismayed in heart (v. 4) 
  • he had a failing spirit (v. 7) 
  • he was lost, asking God to “show me the way” (v. 8) 
  • he prayed for God to “preserve my life…bring me out of trouble” (v. 11) 
  • he felt the slander of his enemies (v. 12) 

All of this must have led to David feeling emotionally and spiritually—if not even physically—dehydrated. 

We have said there are three definitions for Selah, but I think the context of this chapter clearly limits it to just one definition: a pause to reflect. David’s Selah in this psalm is actually a quadruple Selah! A dehydrated David reminds himself and us to…

  • remember or recall to mind 
  • meditate or speak to yourself (also see Psalm 42:5-6) 
  • consider—some translations use the word “muse,” a word meaning an inner conversation, including airing our complaints 
  • Selah—the call to “pause and calmly think of that,” as the Amplified Bible defines that word  

All of these things pressing in on David were getting his full attention, so he forgot to drink deeply of the Living Water of God. As a result, David was dehydrated. This is why he calls for that quadruple Selah to be refreshed. 

But what if there are so many problems around us that we cannot even think of anything that we can “drink” from God? What if there are so many troubles that we don’t know what to thank Him for? 

Let me point you to a tiny preposition: IN in vv. 8, 9 (and also in Psalm 42:5-6). David is not saying he has to get a drink, but that he has to go IN to the Source of Living Water. 

Rejoice IN the Lord (Philippians 4:4) and Trust IN the Lord (Isaiah 26:4). As a result, God will then keep us IN His peace (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:7). [Check out all of these verses by clicking here.]

This is what I think David spoke to himself in his remembering, meditating, and considering—in his inner conversations. Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust IN You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life (Psalm 143:8). 

When you’re dehydrated, it’s hard to think of things to be thankful for, but we can look to the unchangeable attributes of God. David did this and it helped him with his actions and attitude: 

God’s love is unfailing so we can rely on Him (v. 8a)
God’s omniscience is infinite so we can trust His leading (v. 8b)
God’s omnipotence is unmatched so we can be secure in Him (v. 9)
God’s sovereign wisdom is unrivaled so we can confidently obey and follow Him (v. 10)
God’s eternal glory is unending so we can have eternal hope (v. 11)
Again David notes that God’s love is unfailing so we can continue to fearlessly serve Him (v. 12), which takes us right back to the opening two verses of this psalm

The Selah time allowed David to make these connections, or rather, it allowed him the quiet time to drink in the Holy Spirit’s reminders of these attributes of God. David always knew who God was, but in his time of dehydration his Selah re-reminded Him of who God was to him. 

When we are feeling dehydrated, we must Selah to drink deeply of the Living Water. This Selah pause plunges us INTO God’s presence and allows us to make His attributes personal.  

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the complete list of them by clicking here. 

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Sabbathing For Pastors

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

During a Bible study I was recently leading, I was asked how a pastor finds a day to set aside as a Sabbath day. This is tricky for pastors because Sunday is usually considered a “workday” for us. And even if we can take a “day off” there are still people who need to speak with us.  

Being able to Sabbath is vital for all leaders, but especially for pastors. I spend five chapters in my book Shepherd Leadership talking about the mental, physical, spiritual, and relational health of pastors. If you are a pastor, I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book. If you love your pastor, please get a copy for him or her. 

I was recently interviewed on the Thriving In Ministry podcast specifically on the topic of sabbathing, you can listen to that interview here. You can also check out some other blog posts I’ve written about sabbathing by clicking here.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

Dan Reiland shares 5 reasons leaders stumble and fall.

Max Lucado addresses the sickening news of sexual abuse coverups in the church. He wrote, “[Jesus] defended the weak, stood up for the forgotten. The idea that His church would be unsafe for His sons and daughters disturbs Him deeply. And you can bet your Bible that He’ll turn a few tables. If history teaches us anything it is this: Jesus will not sit idle while His church drifts from His cause. ‘I will rescue My flock from their mouths,” He declared through a prophet. ‘It will no longer be food for them’ (Ezekiel 34:10). 

“Repentance is necessary; heartfelt, tear-stained, face-on-the floor repentance. By all of us in positions of leadership. Will we see it? I pray so. Regardless, I pray that you will pursue the difficult path of seeking Christ in spite of Christians who have let you down. His pastors have failed to pastor. But when they don’t, He still does. Let Him pastor you.”

Darren Carlson wrote, “Healthy pastors experience the fullness and complexity of their emotions, and then hold them up against the sinlessness of Christ. How might Jesus respond to the pain and loss and victory and neediness in front of me? We grow emotionally as leaders by studying the heart of Jesus as he walks among sinners and sufferers.” His post ‘Healthy Pastors Have Emotions: How to Test and Cultivate Your Feelings’ is an excellent read. I explore the emotional health of shepherd pastors in my book.

Nicky Cruz’s story is a fascinating one. His message for America today should be heeded!

My friend Greg Heeres and I had a helpful discussion about leaders and forgiveness on our Craig And Greg Show podcast. Here is a brief snippet:

Heathy Sheep Need A Healthy Shepherd

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the Thriving In Ministry podcast with Kyle Willis and Dace Clifton. 

Their podcast is all about helping pastors avoid burnout. That’s definitely a message that resonates with my heart too! Long before I stepped into the pastorate, I was actively involved in encouraging pastors and helping protect them from the many slings and arrows that get thrown at them. 

Pastors, we need to remain healthy. Only healthy shepherds can create a healthy environment for the sheep under their care. Jesus not only gave us the example for mental, physical, spiritual, and relational health, but the Holy Spirit wants to help us today to be that kind of wholly healthy leader. 

If you’re a pastor, I believe you will be energized by reading or listening to my book. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

If you love your pastor, get a copy to give as a gift. If you believe that your pastor would benefit from reading my book, but you don’t have the funds available to purchase it at this time, please leave me a comment below and I’ll make sure I get a copy to you. 

It takes everyone in the Body of Christ being actively involved for both the shepherd and sheep to remain healthy! 

If you’ve missed any of the other clips I’ve shared from this interview, please check them out here:

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

A Leader’s Health

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the Ailbe Podcast with Rusty Rabon.

Rusty noted how I had used the description of the early life of Jesus from Luke’s Gospel—And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52)—and then how I created a pyramid of health for shepherd leaders to follow. 

I think that Dr. Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, listed those four items in a very specific order. It begins with the growth of our mind, which helps us make healthy choices for our physical body, which allows us to concentrate on our spiritual growth. But ultimately the real proof of our God-honoring healthiness is seem in how we interact and react with other people. 

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter I take five chapters to unpack the various aspects of a leader’s health, and I offer some practical first steps for anyone to address areas where their health is not at its best. 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is now available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

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