health

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).

The Lonely Leader

Loneliness is a part of the human experience.

This doesn’t change when we become Christians nor does it suddenly go away when we answer the call to serve the Lord in vocational ministry.

No one knows this better than the pastors reading this. You know, and, thankfully, so does the Lord. When we feel lonely as followers of Jesus, regardless of our role within His kingdom, we have the opportunity to identify with Him.

No one knows what it is like to not only feel forsaken, but be forsaken, like our Lord.

The Apostle Paul got this and shared this sense of connection to Christ in his letter to His followers in Philippi. (See Philippians 3:10.) 

When it comes to loneliness, we all go there. None of us should stay there.

Pastor, here’s the BIG POINT: DON’T BE LONELY ALONE.

When we stay lonely alone, too long, we risk the real problem, isolation.

Proverbs 18:1, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”

The root word in this verse is פָּרַד paw-rad’; to break through, spread or separate: disperse, divide, be out of joint, part, scatter, separate, sever self, stretch, sunder. (Strong’s, H6504)

We all face loneliness. However, isolation is a choice.

How do you know if you are choosing isolation as a leader? Isolation is characterized by numerous symptoms. These symptoms come on slowly but very surely.

Join us in The Lonely Leader – Part 2 coming soon as we uncover these symptoms together.

Until then, check out this great post that deals with the subject of loneliness in leadership by Thomas Rainer. https://thomrainer.com/2013/09/the-lonely-pastor-nine-observations/

Pastor, church leader, whoever you are…

You don’t have to lead lonely alone!

5 Steps to Delegating Well

images-1Leaders who intentionally create and actively encourage a culture of delegation, partner with and position their teams well for health and growth. Of course, too many leaders fear delegation for a variety of reasons and this keeps them, their lead teams and the organization as a whole from reaching their full potential. This doesn’t have to be you. Learn to multiply your influence through the power of delegation!

Here are 5 Steps to Delegating Well…

Step 1: Choose wisely

Resist the temptation to pick someone too quickly, just to meet a need and, let’s face it… get it off your “To Do” list.

Do your homework. Don’t accept the first person to eagerly volunteer or press someone close to you into service just to fill the void. Delegate the same way for a short-term project you would hire a full-time staffer, keeping a sense of calling, character, chemistry and competence in mind.

John Ortberg affirms, “I don’t have a problem with delegation. I love to delegate. I am either lazy enough, or busy enough, or trusting enough, or congenial enough, that the notion of leaving tasks in someone else’s lap doesn’t just sound wise to me, it sounds attractive.”

Step 2: Explain simply

Only expect people to do exceptionally what you have communicated exceptionally well. This is all about letting people in on just what they are getting themselves into. People are far more likely to partner with you if they are aware of the level of commitment they are agreeing to. This means explaining and putting into a simple document the who, what, when, where and how of the role they will be fulfilling and/or task they will be undertaking.

Step 3: Empower willingly

The extent of authority should match the breadth and depth of responsibility. Leaders that fail to lend authority to those they have tasked with responsibility find their pool of quality people drying up fast. Explain simply to those you are empowering and to all those they will be leading who reports to them and who they report to. We are all accountable. Resist the urge to micromanage or hover. Give them space to do what needs done. Remember, you have been lent power to lend power.

Step 4: Resource thoroughly 

You wouldn’t ask someone to drive a nail without a hammer or to bake a cake without flour. Don’t task people to do something without giving them the tools to get the job done right. While these should include tangible resources such as a specific budget, gathering/working space and technology, don’t overlook the intangibles such as the details they need to lead in an informed way.

Step 5: Follow-up responsibly

“How’s it going?” and “What can I do to help?” should be common questions you ask as a leader. Realize that if you have chosen quality people to serve they will be tempted to lead without seeking out additional advice or assistance. Be an occasional but intentional presence. Listen to concerns and lend a hand. Then, when the task is complete or the role has run it’s course, sit down to process the highs and lows and glean from the experience what you would or wouldn’t do again, what didn’t work and what did.

Oh… and CHEER WILDLY!

Be your team leaders, teams and volunteers biggest fans. Lead the way in encouraging and cheering on those you are privileged to partner with in seeing your unique mission fulfilled.

Learn the power and practice of delegation well and see the influence of your teams go farther than you ever imagined!

CRUSH Your 2018 Goals!

imgresHow can you not only meet, but exceed your goals for 2018?

Find a partner and use this GoalSettingGuide18 to help you discover your “Why?”… set your goals and then achieve them with confidence. This is a limited time offer so download it today and get on your way to realizing your goals for 2018!

You can do this! We can help.

Need a partner in life, ministry or organizational coaching? I would love to hear from you and discuss what a partnership might look like. Just let me know in the discussion feed below or email me at tompelt1@gmail.com and let’s get started!

The Shepherd CEO

UnknownTwo extremes pull and tug at most pastors, especially those that lead small/medium sized congregations . They may be called upon at any time of day or night to be one or the other. It can be as overwhelming as it is exhausting to find balance between caring for and leading the flock. In other words, being the Shepherd and the “CEO.”

The pastor as shepherd. This role calls on the pastor to be listener, comforter, intercessor, counselor, friend and more. While this can be as rewarding as any aspect of ministry, it can also be exhausting. Without some checks and balances pastors can easily find themselves suffering from compassion fatigue and worse, burn-out. This role isn’t isolated to the pastor and is shared in so many ways by spouses, kids and other ministry team members.

Still, being a shepherd never goes out of style. As a small church pastor I cared personally for the church one family, couple or individual at a time. When I was a large church pastor I was there for the staff, lead teams and their families who in turn cared for the larger congregation through small groups. To be honest, this is will always be the best method regardless of size… God’s people caring for one another! Regardless, the call to love the people we lead is still relevant, and always will be. Shepherding never goes out of style. Only the context changes with size.

Then there’s the pastor as CEO. Regardless of polity, structure and/or staffing, the pastor can’t ignore the realities of organization life (visioning, goal-setting, staffing, budgeting, planning, training, etc.). I have had the privilege of pastoring churches from 9-900 and the overall responsibility is the same, only the administrative method changes. For many in small and medium-sized churches, they often find themselves as their own secretary, executive assistant, administrative pastor and more all rolled into one. There is a better way and we would love to help you find it! (Let’s talk coaching!)

Whether you have paid staff or not to handle daily operations, the reality is that the church has a business side to it and it should be handled with a practical professionalism, and a lot of prayer! After all, administration is a biblical gift. For those with the benefit of dedicated staff for all the above, you still bear the responsibility of oversight, equipping and encouraging each leader and each area of ministry well.

Pastors have long since been tasked with leading as both shepherd and CEO. “Old school” pastors and churches emphasize one while millennial ministers and their ministries have trended to the other. However, both are vital to the health of the organizational culture and congregation.

Bottom line? Pastors must be all about the business of being there for people while simultaneously overseeing the nuts and bolts of organizational life. Both never stop begging for attention and deserve equal parts compassion and excellence.

The question is, how do pastors do this without losing it? Is balance even possible?

Share your suggestions in the reply section below. Need some help finding a balance or renewing your focus on one or the other? We would love to help you find a more effective balance. Let us know how we can help through an ongoing coaching partnership. Just reply, “Let’s talk coaching!” in the reply section below and we’ll get connected!