The Solo Shepherd

The Solo Shepherd

In the lean and hard years of ministry I often prayed, “Lord, would you move me somewhere else? Would you put me in a church where I don’t have to do everything, and where I can have more influence? (for your glory, of course!)” The Lord answered those prayers with a “No.” In His wise and gracious providence, he kept me as the solo shepherd of a small congregation.

The Lord is teaching me through being a solo shepherd that I am not the savior of the church. By looking to Jesus Christ as my joy and reward, I can more easily be, as the hymn writer puts it, “Content to fill a little space, if Thou be glorified.”

Caring for the Shepherdesses: What Women Leaders Need

Caring for the Shepherdesses: What Women Leaders Need

Women are working hard in many thriving churches and parachurch ministries as leaders, pastors’ wives, and other support staff, and we should care about their hearts and souls.

As a female leader, I have been equipped for ministry by the multiple mentors and caregivers who have poured into my life over forty years. Here are some simple ways people have discipled and shepherded me, enabling me to both function more productively and flourish in ministry.

The Practice of R.E.S.T.

The Practice of R.E.S.T.

Many of us face challenges during the Christmas season -- whether grief, stress, remembering loved ones, dealing with painful family dynamics, and more. As we think about spending holidays with family and friends -- or entering any situation for that matter -- it helps to assess our level of "emotional capacity," defined as the maximum amount of emotional energy that we can offer. 

All of us have emotional capacity, and that capacity varies given our personalities, unique situations, and relationships we are currently in. Capacity also involves our emotional health, briefly defined as our degree of self awareness and ability to feel what we are feeling.

R.E.S.T. is a tool you can use to help manage your emotional capacity. It is a healthy way to invite God into your life, to honor Him, and to realistically assess your own capacity. See yourself through the "grace-filled" eyes of Christ.

The Contractions of Winter

The Contractions of Winter

Dr. Penny Freeman, Originally published December 2016

Holidays set the bar high for crashing afterwards. We long for a feast that invites us to feel both full and at home. To enter a house feeling the welcome of belonging. To hope for laughter, warmth, joy and delicious food (that is what commercials are selling during the televised breaks during the parade after all). 

To hold these feelings is to enjoy the glory we were created for in Paradise. But no matter how good your family is, there is no family or food that can live up to the expectations our souls seem to crave.

The Accidental Legalist

The Accidental Legalist

Dave Wiedis, Copyright 2010, 2017

Have you ever come across as rigid, legalistic, or even weird, when your intent was the exact opposite?  Have you ever impetuously said things that are misunderstood by your family and friends, or in a public setting and watched your credibility undermined?  

When my children were about ten and twelve I walked in on them as they were watching a seemingly innocuous show on the Disney Channel.  Believing that I was a wise, discerning father, my spiritual antenna went up. I scanned the dialogue intently for any hint of immorality, or for some comment that I believed would plant a dark seed into the innocent, undiscerning hearts of my children. Hearing a very subtle comment condoning premarital sex, I made my pronouncement:  “This show is insidious.  I don’t want you watching such filth.”

Some in the Christian world would admire my ability to discern the secular worldview in the subtle comment.  Some would applaud my diligence in guarding the hearts of my children.  Today, with years of experience and the benefits of hindsight, I would say I acted foolishly....

When Toxic Leaders Hurt Ministry Leaders

When Toxic Leaders Hurt Ministry Leaders

Dave Wiedis, Copyright 2017

After listening to a six-page performance review filled with accusations and criticisms, a youth pastor asked his boss, the lead pastor:

"Why did you wait until now to tell me these things? I didn't even know you had concerns with my performance."

The lead pastor replied: 

"I want to see how far down I can kick you and if you can get up."

Can you believe a pastor would say such a thing? How should the youth pastor respond? How can he minister life to those he serves while working in such a toxic environment? Have you ever been in a situation like this?