Author: tompelt

Beat March Madness

March Madness isn’t just a basketball tournament. For pastors, it’s the annual (and sometimes exhausting) ritual of getting ready for and playing at our best during “The Big Dance” known as the Easter Season.

Let’s face it, the pressure to

perform is on.

If we aren’t careful, it can get the best of even the most seasoned veterans.

How do you avoid this as a leader?

For too long it has been a disturbing badge of honor to live and lead by “burning the candle at both ends.” While there are days when we have to get up early and stay up late to get it done, this shouldn’t be the indefinite lifestyle of a healthy leader.

Here’s Tip #1 – Get more sleep!

The truth is, when someone is perpetually exhausted, eventually there are poor life and leadership choices being made.

“Rest isn’t weakness.” – Carey Nieuwhof

Find out more at https://careynieuwhof.com/why-leadership-is-so-exhausting-and-what-to-do-about-it/

We’ve all been there when we haven’t gotten enough zzzz’s. We get “cranky,” and our creativity decreases along with our attention span. Poor eating and drinking choices increase as we try to get more energy in all the wrong ways when what we need is more “shut-eye.” 

Not convinced? Check out this link to a great article on the correlation between rest and productivity by Michael Hyatt – Why People Who Sleep Longer Achieve More

It’s simple. If we want to be at our best for the Lord, our families, lead teams and the people we serve, then we must choose to be well-rested.

We might even take an elusive “power-nap” every now and then.

New York Times best-selling author and all around life and leadership guru Jon Acuff challenges us…

“In a world that praises busyness,

rest is an act of bravery.” 

Refuse to live and lead exhausted. Don’t give into the March Madness of ministry during any season. 

REST WELL.

Pack Light, Pack Right 4

Pack Light, Pack Right 4 – The Pastor’s Strength

Let’s face it, pastors aren’t exactly known for physical fitness.

Peak Pastors is committed to helping you grow in your physical fitness so that you can lead your family and local ministry in a more holistic and healthy way.

This is where Trail Fitness Guides like

Kelly & Polly Barcol come in!

The final piece of our heart, soul, mind and strength strategy is being encouraged, challenged and held accountable concerning this temporary “temple” that are our bodies.

Our Trail Teams (small cohort groups) will have the opportunity to meet monthly with Trail Fit Guides like Kelly & Polly who will lend their experience and expertise to our groups.

Add to this the encouragement and accountability from the other members of your Trail Team, and, with some perseverance, you might just get into the best shape of your life!

Be inspired and challenged by Crossfit Winnersville in Valdosta, Georgia (https://www.facebook.com/crossfitwinnersville/) and Crossfit Checkered Flag in Daytona Beach, Florida (https://www.facebook.com/CrossFit-Checkered-Flag-106134717577003/). Be sure to “Like” these pages!

Looking to provide an opportunity to grow faith and fitness in your community? Check out https://faithrxd.org/ and discover what starting a chapter in your area might look like!

Some may say that, “bodily exercise profits little.” This may be true in comparison to our ultimate soul health. However, don’t miss the simple fact that it does, in fact, profit!

It’s time to get in shape, pastor…

heart, soul, mind and strength!

What do you do to get and stay in shape? Share your thoughts here or on our Peak Pastors Facebook Group page @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/peakpastors/

Pack Light, Pack Right 3

Pack Light, Pack Right 3 – The Pastor’s Mind

I’ve got so much to learn.

The longer I have lived and led the more I realize that I don’t often even know the things I don’t know. You know?

Great leaders have always championed learning. Check out some of the suggested learning leader resources below for a few examples to help stretch you! (You don’t have to agree with everyone. But, you would be amiss not to learn from them.)

Rick Warren put it this way…

“All leaders are learners. The

moment you stop learning, you

stop leading.”

Here are a couple of his very challenging TEDx Talks hosted in Orange County, California – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFdRFhVQwvU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPqNtOrTdlU

Leaders are learners. You know this.

Peak Pastors is dedicating to helping

you DO this, to learn to learn.

So, let’s learn from one another! Let’s question and challenge and spur and resource one another on to be stewards of the gray matter God has loaned to us.

Here are three of the podcasts I have been listening to recently. I love these because they interview leaders who learn from leaders!

Share your resources below or on our Peak Pastors Facebook Group Page!

The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast – https://careynieuwhof.com/mypodcast/

Ask NT Wright Anything Podcast – https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Weekday/Ask-NT-Wright-Anything/Podcast

Unbelievable Podcast with Justin Brierley – https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable

Share some of your go-to learners below!

Pack Light, Pack Right 2

Part 2: The Pastor’s Soul

“For the soul to be well, it needs to be with God.”

– John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg

Somewhere in the preparing and preaching, in the teaching and training, the visioning and visiting, counseling and caring for the local church is the soul of a pastor… and it needs keeping.

The second essential thing to pack light and pack right for pastors is a healthy soul. We want to help pastors focus on their own soul health, namely, their personal relationship with Jesus.

After all, without a healthy soul, grounded and growing in a purposed relationship with Jesus, pastors simply cannot be who and what they long to be in the home, the church or community. What was it Paul said?

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

This is where our future Pioneer

Trail Teams will come in!

Be on the lookout for more information about small groups of pastors that will be forming in the months to come. Our first groups will be Pioneer Trail Teams who will help us blaze the trail of these cohorts of pastors, learning together more about what it means to encourage and hold one another accountable in the four essential areas of heart, soul, mind and strength!

Nobody “gets” the life of a pastor like a

pastor (and their spouses!).

Until then, join in our Peak Pastors Facebook Group page by pastors, for pastors! Invite others to join you and encourage, encourage, encourage.

If you haven’t already read Soul Keeping by John Ortberg, you simply must pick it up and put it in your daily carry pack! IT IS A MUST READ AND MUST APPLY. Check it out at http://www.johnortberg.com/book_type/books/ or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Keeping-Caring-Most-Important/dp/1491521619

How do you care for your soul, pastor? Share your insights below or on our Peak Pastors Facebook Group page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/peakpastors/?source_id=440477556480460

Pack Light, Pack Right

Part 1: The Pastor’s Heart

Packing light and with the right tools of the trade is key to going the distance in both the high country and on the trail of life and leadership.

Peak Pastors is designed to help you do just this; to not merely lead better, but to BE better… to grow as followers of Jesus, spouses, parents and as leaders. We will do this by filling our packs with the essentials needed for optimal health in 4 essential areas… heart, soul, mind and strength.

Let’s break this down taking one essential at a time…

The Pastor’s Heart – This is all about family!

Every pastor I have known has struggled to invest in what I have always called their “home church.” No, not the local church they and others call home.

This is about the worship center

of the home… building healthy

relationships as spouses,

parents, & raising Christ-centered kids.

We all know the truth about home and ministry life. When we aren’t relationally healthy in our home life, we won’t be relationally healthy and effective in our church leadership life. However, when things at home are healthy, I don’t know about you, but I feel like there is no summit I can’t reach!

Together, let’s discover practical ways to invest in our marriages and parenting in the middle of what can all-too-quickly become the craziness of ministry life.

Speaking of which, here you go! Check out 3 Reasons Winning at Home is Easier than Winning at Home by Carey Nieuwhof @ https://careynieuwhof.com/3-reasons-winning-at-work-is-easier-than-winning-at-home/

So, how do you keep your heart focused on your home life? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread here or on our Peak Pastors Facebook Group page @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/peakpastors/

Simplify Part 2

We live and lead in a noisy world.

For most pastors (and leaders of any organization) there is no shortage of people giving their advice, opinion and, of course, constructive criticism. Add to this a non-stop stream of voices on social media, email and text, it quickly becomes non-stop noise.

How can you get control of this and infuse your life and leadership with less of this noise? Here are 3 simple steps…

Take control of the Who.

Unsubscribe to all email lists, subscriptions, podcasts, youtube channels, social media follows, etc, except those that you actually use weekly. I have unsubscribed some incredibly influential people simply because my leadership “sponge” (and gray matter!) is already on information overload. I think it’s called “too much of a good thing.”

Take control of the What.

You can’t always control what shows up on your news or social feeds, who calls or texts you on your phone, etc. However, you can control whether you are watching or listening to these devices in the first place.

Deliberately plan daily no-device down time. Carve out time for study in the Word and prayer. Schedule time with someone; a family member or core team member. Keep all devices out of sight. You will come to love this time and the world will go right on without you and your world will vastly improve because of it.

Take control of the When.

Whenever possible, choose to do what needs done first and connect with who needs connected with before entering the cyber world in any forum. In other words, prioritize who and what matters to you and your team.

I’ll be honest, I check my email early in the work day, usually first thing when I get to the office. If someone has connected and I need to respond, I can put it on the list. Then, it’s time to disconnect and check in with staff and spend some time doing what needs done. Later in the afternoon, usually after lunch with some core people and some more no-device down time, I check my emails again and respond.

When it comes to social media, writing and scheduling posts like this and checking out whats going on with the few I actively follow, it happens early or late, but the day belongs to people.

Simplifying is hard.

It won’t ever just “happen.” We have to borrow from the wisdom of sages like the late, great Dr. Dallas Willard who said to Dr. John Ortberg, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” When it comes to overcoming complexity and quieting the multitude of voices speaking into our lives, the same advice holds true.

Be ruthless.

Need some more insight into this? Two podcasts that lend some expert advice on this area of personal life and leadership management are interviews by Carey Nieuwhof with Rebekah Lyons https://careynieuwhof.com/episode303/ and Dr. John Otberg https://careynieuwhof.com/episode307/ .

While you’re at it, check out The High Impact Workplace at https://careynieuwhof.com/hiwtools/

Hope this helps encourage and equip you, your family and team!

simplify

to reduce to basic essentials: to diminish in scope or complexity; streamline. (Webster-Merriam Dictionary)

Most pastors and leaders I know could use a little more of this. Your lives are busy and complex. The question is, “How?”

Most good leaders like you know the answer. You need to say “No” more, for starters. We’ll focus on this and other practical suggestions in the next post. However, the better answer will always be found in knowing your “Why?”

Why simplify? One word… relationship.

Relationships are the real stuff of life. And, they are made in the margins of life. They grow in these same spaces. In order to invest in the relationships that matter the most, you will need to be intentional about simplifying your world.

Here’s one simple step for now. Make a list. A short list of the relationships you want to cultivate. This list will be your motivation, your “Why?”

Caution: Everything about your present world will war against this. After all, who has time to invest in people when there is so much to do on our “To Do” lists? Maybe we need to simplify our “To Do” list? Maybe we need to replace it altogether with a “To Be With” list?

If I had one goal for all my fellow pastors and leaders out there for 2020 and beyond it would be this… simplify.

Jesus was and is our ultimate example. His agenda as revealed in the Gospels was all about people, people, people.

Let’s keep this short, sweet and simple.

simplify.

Pastor Appreciation Month!

Both my wife and I are “PK’s” and we have spent almost 30 years living the highs and lows of life in ministry.

This is no small reason why we love to encourage pastors and the ministries they serve through Peak Pastors!

While we still have so much to learn about life and leadership, and are grateful for the long line of pastors in our family trees, here’s what we do know…

Being a pastor is tough (see stats below). And, being a pastor’s spouse or a “PK” may be even tougher.

From my heart to yours, here are 5 ways you and your congregation can appreciate your pastor and family during this month or anytime of the year

1) Give them grace, a lot of grace. Remember, they are just people.

Your pastor and their family struggle with all the same stuff you and your kids do. They aren’t perfect. They aren’t superheroes. They are human. They need grace.

Be understanding, patient and kind when your pastor and their family struggle deeply along the way.

2) Give them encouragement. Because they are people, too, they need a lot of this.

They are often reminded of their shortcomings, failures and faults in the course of ministry, even while they seek to help others with theirs.

Determine to counter this with a constant stream of compliments and “Atta’ boys!” They need it. Besides, it’s so very hard to be an encourager when you are discouraged.

3) Give them… gifts! Your pastor isn’t in it for the money. Still, they would love to be able to go out and have a good time with their spouses and kids a little more often.

Donate gift cards to restaurants, shopping centers, coffee shops, theaters, sport venues, gas stations, and more.

If you are a Lead Pastor, do what we have done over the years and see to it that there is a table provided where members can give those cards and maybe a note of encouragement.

4) Give them your prayers. Pray a lot for your pastor! Your pastor has a great big “bulls eye” on his chest. The devil would love to discourage or even destroy your pastor and family knowing that so many more are likely to be disillusioned should they stumble.

Pray protection, endurance, discernment and, above all joy in the journey of your pastors and their families!

5) Give them more time. Whether you decide as a leadership team to extend your pastor some extra days off or an extra week of vacation… the biggest pressure on your pastor and their family is time.

No, most pastors don’t have to “punch a clock.” However, they don’t have weekends off. They often spend evenings studying, answering emails, phone calls, at meetings, counseling, at that community event, praying, planning, texting with members and more because their days are so full of, well, church business.

Allow me to offer one more rather bold suggestion on behalf or your pastoral family.

Please, don’t automatically give them an invite for yet another evening with you and a few other couples.

They have likely been visiting with people in and out of the church all week in addition to meetings, etc. While you are no doubt wonderful and fun-loving people, they desperately need to just hang out with their own families without having to be “on.”

This Pastor’s Appreciation Month, pick one or, better yet, all 5 suggestions and encourage your pastor and family all year-long!

ps – Don’t forget your Associate Pastors and families! Same pressures, different roles!

What follows are some stats concerning pastors and ministry life. Some may be anecdotal, but they certainly feel like fact to pastors and their families…

  •  90% of the pastors report working between 55 to75 hours per week.
  • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor’s children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.
  • 95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses.
  • 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
  • 75% report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
  • 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
  • 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged as role of pastors.
  • 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
  • 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
  • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
  • 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • 33% confess having involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church.
  • 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
  • 94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor’s ministry.
  • 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
  • 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose a different profession.
  • 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.
  • The profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman”.
  • 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
  • Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
  • Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month , many without cause.
  • Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
  • Many denominations report an “empty pulpit crisis”. They cannot find ministers willing to fill positions.

Statistics provided by The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc.

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17, NIV)

Team Energy

Your team has an energy.

Over time, your church or organization will adopt this same energy.

What is energy? It’s a combination of intangibles like relational and organizational unity, momentum, support, morale, attitude and ultimately spirit.

Webster defines energy as: a usually positive spiritual force; vigorous exertion of power; a fundamental entity of nature that is transferred between parts of a system in the production of physical change within the system and usually regarded as the capacity for doing work; usable power.”

Energy is the real stuff of life God put in motion from the beginning.

Alright. So, what is Team Energy? It’s all the above either multiplied, subtracted or even divided by the energy of each team member.

Collectively, it’s the soul-condition of your organization.

Why does this matter? Two reasons.

#1 – Because people matter. Specifically, the health and well-being of your Lead Team matters to the Lord and should matter to you.

#2 – Because your vision matters. Your Team Energy will either be moving you collectively towards or away from fulfilling your unique vision.

For those of us trying to reach our communities with the Good News of Jesus, this is a big deal.

What does this have to do with your role as a pastor or especially as a lay-leader?

You are an Energy Manager. Wait. That’s not good enough and can often be counter-productive.

You are at your best as an Energy Multiplier.

(and so is your church!)

As an Energy Multiplier you should make it your goal to come alongside your Lead Team (fellow Pastoral Staff, Elders, Team Leaders, etc) to see that Team Energy is and remains at a high level.

This should be a shared role and goal and especially applies to the Team Energy of the Pastoral Staff.

Again, why does this matter?

Your vision is the reason and your church’s capacity to fulfill it will rise and fall with your Lead Team’s ability to model it and partner to move it forward.

And this takes ENERGY!

What are your thoughts on Team Energy? Share your take in the Reply section below.

Depressed Part 2

Whether you are a pastor struggling with depression or simply hope to come alongside one in your life who does, where do you begin?

I’ll admit it. I was a pastor who was simply unqualified to counsel on this subject early in my ministry. If I had been, I wouldn’t have heard these words from an ER physician. He said, “I don’t know what you do for a living. But you either learn to love it, find something else, or die a very young man.”

I was stressed, depressed and didn’t really know what to do about it.

Thankfully, there were people in my life that did. In time, I made changes that have kept me living and leading healthy.

Here are three resources to help you respond in a more compassionate and informed way to the realities that contribute to depression and compound other forms of mental illness among church leaders…

Understand the “Why?” behind it. Thomas Rainer helps us come to terms with some of root causes behind depression among clergy. https://thomrainer.com/2018/02/five-reasons-many-pastors-struggle-depression/

Get past the stigma that comes with it. Mark Meynell writes for the Gospel Coalition about getting the conversation out in the open. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/pastors-depression/

Take some practical steps to confront it. Something has to change. Stephanie Lobdell draws from the life of Elijah to offer some steps anyone can take to keep depression from leading them down a darker path. https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2017/december-web-exclusives/when-youre-pastor-who-suffers-from-depression.html

It’s become all too cliche and way too familiar. Still, “the struggle is real” for those of us serving to answer God’s call to ministry.

There is hope. There is help.

Be a part of the solution and stay informed on the realities of depression and mental illness.

If you are struggling with depression. Let someone know. You don’t have to walk alone.

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).