churchleaders

Leading Women

I look back and can’t imagine my

life and ministry without the

impact of some amazing and

influential women.

I’m guessing your life history tells the same story?

Pastor Lillie McCutcheon – Click on the link to learn more!

Peak Pastors honors and celebrates the God-given and prominent roles of women leading in the home, in our communities, and in the Church!

Of course, the debate goes on in many circles as to exactly what those roles are and should be.

NT Wright gives lends at fresh take from not only a biblical perspective, but from the central theme of God’s Word, namely, the resurrection of Jesus.

Check out the following resources from the Ask NT Wright Anything podcast as he addresses questions concerning this and many other subjects from listeners around the world. https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Weekday/Ask-NT-Wright-Anything/Podcast/Ask-NT-Wright-Anything-6-Female-church-leadership-complementarity-and-marriage

Watch this short clip from this podcast @ https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Weekday/Ask-NT-Wright-Anything/Videos/Why-women-should-be-church-leaders-and-preachers-Ask-NT-Wright-anything

What are your thoughts? Join us on our Peak Pastors Facebook page to engage in this vital conversation!

Join us in celebrating the powerful role of women past, present and future in the fulfilling of God’s will until our Savior, Jesus Christ, comes again!

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/

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.

Avoid The Merry Madness

How do you keep from getting caught up in the merry madness? Here are 5 ways to take back the holidays and put the “Merry” back in Christmas…

1) Declare your intentions. It’s not too late. Talk about your desire to avoid the mayhem with your spouse, kids, lead team, co-workers, etc. Ask them for input into how, together, you can avoid the overkill that so often accompanies what one classic song describes as, “The most wonderful time of the year.”

2) Plan on doing (and spending) less and experiencing more. This doesn’t mean taking a page out of the “Christmas with the Cranks” playbook with an all-out boycott. It does mean choosing to say “No” to some otherwise festive events that, collectively, only serve to bring out the “bah-humbug” in all of us. And, why not opt for more thoughtful and less expensive gifts for your loved-ones and friends? This may just start a trend everyone will be grateful for and happy to follow.

3) Eat less, exercise (and sleep) more. Determine to enjoy your favorite holiday foods in moderation and to stay active. And, no, “Black Friday” didn’t count as aerobic exercise. Get the rest you need by going to bed a little earlier and, when that rare opportunity presents itself, take a “power nap.” Why wait until the New Year to resolve and start living healthier?

4) Serve together. What if you gathered your family or small group and traded a day looking for a parking space and standing in crowded lines shopping for an afternoon volunteering at a homeless shelter or evening caroling at a nursing home? Do this with no other agenda than to be a blessing to others.

5) Hit the “pause” button often. No, we can’t always drop everything for the day or even several hours. Still, be intentional about some 15-30 minute moments of reflection. Make a list of all the people and the things you are most thankful for. Read the Christmas story (Luke 2) slowly and reflect on what “Immanuel, God with us” really means to you.

You don’t have to settle for merely surviving Christmas. Determine to take back this holiday season and discover again the true reasons for the season.

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).

Depressed

Recent news of another pastor taking his own life has us all hurting and questioning.

How should we approach the reality of depression among Christian leaders, especially among those of us who preach and teach the Good News of Jesus?

Whether you are a pastor, church leader or just happened to be searching the web on this subject, here are a few thoughts about pastors, from a pastor, to help guide your conversations.

Pastors aren’t immune… to anything. We are flawed, failed, tempted and tried, and our calling doesn’t magically make us somehow above the things that challenge others, including an unseen sickness like depression.

Pastors are lonely… at least it often feels that way. We may be surrounded by people, many are even very encouraging. Still, church leadership can leave us feeling very much isolated no matter how many “likes” we get on social media.

Pastors don’t have all the answers… too many think they do (maybe even a few us pastors). We have some education, attended a conference or two and have some experience. The very Word of God is right there at our fingertips on a daily basis.

Make no mistake, there is hope in Jesus Christ.

Still, that doesn’t mean we always know exactly how to prescribe it in the real world to others or even ourselves.

Pastors are a target… and we need a lot of grace and prayer. Sure, the devil is trying to take everyone down with him in the end. Still, everyone knows that in warfare, if you can take down leaders, the impact on your enemy is multiplied many fold.

In short, pastors are people.

What can you do to deal with the pressures and stresses of ministry life as a pastor, or to come alongside one that you care about? We’ll talk about that in Depressed, Part 2.

What would you say about the realities that pastors face? Share your insights below in the reply section. We would love to hear from you!

Need help right now? You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Transition Shifts

Every time there is a transition in an organization’s staff there is a cultural shift that follows, especially if that transition is among senior level staff.  Thankfully, you don’t have to be surprised by this shift and the Lord has already given you and your team what you need to lead well through it!

Before diving in, let’s define culture. Culture is a combination of what we create and what we allow as leaders. (Craig Groeschel) This combination, over time, defines an organization and says “This is how we do things here.” 

What should we expect during this season of shift? How can we prepare for and walk well as a team and organization going forward? 

There are several Major Shifts that take place around a leadership transition…

Gift Shift

Every leader is uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit. They are simply different than other leaders that may have filled the same or similar roles. In addition, their personality, communication style, leadership strategy and more are different. This is just as God designed it. Their gifting, along with other senior level leaders, will find it’s way into the leadership culture and, in time, the greater culture of the church.

Relational Shift

A healthy culture is simply made up of healthy relationships working in harmony towards a goal. And, how and who a leader relates to others is as different as each God-given personality. Discovering and understanding our shared gifts and personalities will be an important venture into knowing ourselves and one another better relationally.

Who a leader relates to on a more personal level will be different. Not better, not worse. Simply, different. We all have a small circle of interpersonal relationships we can maintain in a healthy way. In other words, close friends. This is just how God designed it.

Jesus had 12 disciples, hung out with 3 of them a little closer (Peter, James and John) and had 1 best friend (John). This is neither right nor wrong, just as it was with the previous leader. We simply need to recognize and flow with this as it naturally develops. 

The new leader will gravitate to a different circle, although every leader should prioritize their staff and lead team (Pastoral Staff, Elders, Team Leaders, etc). I recommend they become like family! 

Vision Shift

The Holy Spirit partners with leaders to communicate and carry out a unique vision for seasons of life and ministry. This big picture reality should also be both anticipated and embraced. 

The new leader should seek to partner with the broader leadership team to pray, process, promote and walk in the new vision as the Spirit reveals it through them and the team they are privileged to lead with. 

Values Shift

Values simply define HOW we do what we do (and don’t). No surprise here… different leaders hold to a different set and level of values. However, there are some values that organizations of greater influence all have in common. When values are clear and defined over time, a culture thrives. When values are not clear, a culture suffers, insider RELATIONSHIPS suffer and with it, influence with outsiders.

It will be very important to pray and process through the values of the incoming leader in partnership with the lead team, and then live them out and promote them until they become part of the culture at the DNA level. Over time, these Values will simply say, “This is how we do things here.” 

Preaching/Teaching Shift

Elijah and Elisha had unique voices. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each communicated about Jesus’ ministry in very different ways. Paul and Barnabas had differing styles as well. Simply put, leaders communicate in their own God-given voice and way. This will take some getting used to for everyone. What matters is that a leader communicates God’s Word faithfully. 

Still, it will take time for the congregation to adjust. Many will love the new style. Most will be fine with it. A few might leave over it. Accept this as the natural part of the shift in preaching and teaching style.

Organizational/Administrative Shift

This area concerns day-to-day functions of a leader and team. Some leaders have a high organizational gifting, and some not as much. Further, what was simply assumed, delegated or done by one leader administratively, isn’t always the same with another. Some of these functions can and should be anticipated and talked through. However, most will need to be handled with clear communication and a high level of grace as they naturally arise in the course of ministry life. 

How do we navigate Cultural Shift? 

First, we pray about it!

This is more than the “Sunday School” answer. The Holy Spirit can and will help us make inevitable changes throughout the organization, while helping everyone involved to adjust to them. We simply need to stay prayerful about it! Pray specifically for fellow team members and the congregation as they adjust.

Second, we talk about it.

This is about the health of the church we are privileged to lead. With much love and respect for both former, present and new leaders, we simply talk about differences in leadership style and vision and how they affect the church at each level. Again, this is more about culture than it is personality.

Third, we clarify it.

Again, what roles, duties and functions that simply were assumed by and/or of a previous leader, may not be so with a new leader. Many of these cannot be anticipated and will simply be addressed in the day-to-day course of ministry life. However, major responsibilities, direct reports, etc, should be discussed and then affirmed going forward. 

The Holy Spirit will give us everything we need to love and lead well through the shifts that always occur during seasons of leadership transition.

Remember, you simply can’t over communicate as a new leadership culture is established through a season of transition. 

What “shifts” have you experienced during seasons of transition? Let us know in the reply section below!

Want to drill down deeper on leading through transition? Email us at peakpastors@gmail.com and let’s see how we can partner in a coaching relationship!