Some Advice for Pastors – Part 3

IMG_8905I’ve saved the best for last piece of leadership advice for rookie to veteran pastors…

Lead your Family. 

I love to remind pastors to, “Pastor your home church first and best!”  Most in the room assume I’m talking about the congregation they lead. I’m not. This isn’t a plea to shepherd more diligently, to make another call, schedule another meeting or preach a better sermon. I’m not talking about church people at all. I’m talking about the gathering of people that meets daily in the sanctuary of your home… your spouse and kids.

Statistically speaking, close to half of the pastoral leaders reading this won’t finish their careers in full-time vocational ministry. This simply may or may not be God’s will for your life. What is God’s will for your life is to keep cultivating an amazing marriage and invest in your kids at every stage.

Here is something to help put things in perspective. Remember this phrase, “Fried chicken and potato salad.” What?!? That’s right, repeat it like a mantra. “Fried chicken and potato salad.” Face it. If you die today your staff, elders, and congregation will be eating fried chicken and potato salad in the fellowship hall within 30 minutes of your graveside service. Soon after they will have an interim pastor and, in no time, they will call someone else their pastor and move on with God’s greater plan for the church. That’s just how it goes and deep down you wouldn’t want it any other way.

But, what about your family? What legacy are you creating now and what will you be leaving then? What memories are you making? Don’t give me that bit about “quality time.” Quality time is quantity time! Especially for those of you with young kids (ok… or grandkids!) don’t miss the moments for the sake of another meeting. I promise you, I have never sat with a broken pastor who has lamented not spending more time at the church office or making another visit. There will always be another meeting but your kids won’t always be at home. And your marriage will not survive, let alone thrive if “the church” is your mistress and not your ministry. Never stop dating your spouse! Make those memories. Take the time, make the time and invest, invest, invest in your family. This is leading by example. This is leading well.

Yep… I saved the best piece of advice for last. “Pastor your home church first and best!”  

Monday Mindset – Legacy

imgres-6How will the decisions you make as a leader today, impact the world for Christ tomorrow? Who will you encourage and equip to be better and reach farther in the unique role God has designed for them? You won’t know unless you step up, step out and invest in them.

Here is a brief story of just such an investment…

Walking down the long farm lane in the beautiful hills outside of Knoxville, I couldn’t help but give quiet thanks to God for playing a small role in a much bigger story. I had just performed the wedding of a young couple. Nick had graduated from Asbury University in Wilmore, KY, the previous weekend, and Mary Nell has two years to go. They have an awesome heart for Christ, others, and love for the outdoors. He is also our new youth pastor at church. But the story and our connection goes back much further.

In the late 50’s my father was working at the Bluebird Bus factory in Fort Valley, Georgia. He worked the long days in the factory and slept in the bunk house with other workers at night. His heart was already stirred by a calling to ministry, encouraged by his older brother who was entering the ministry. However, pursuing this educationally was not a financial option. Still, he did his best to witness for Christ each day, something that didn’t go unnoticed. One day he was called into the office of the owner and President, Mr. AL “Buddy” Luce. Fearing for his job and wondering what he might have done, he was relieved when Mr. Luce simply began to ask him about his life, his hopes and his calling. Mr. Luce quickly got to the point and made dad a deal, “Come and work for me in the summers, keep your grades up, and I will pay to send you to Asbury College to pursue your calling.” Dad was stunned, grateful, excited and scared all at once. The next thing you know he was on a bus and off to the faraway country of Kentucky. The rest is history yet unfolding. He would meet my mom, graduate college and seminary at Asbury, and they served the Lord for over 50 years in ministry. As a matter of fact they are still serving today, along with two sons, a daughter, grandson and a host of young men and women who have followed their own callings into ministry, missions, education, business and more. But our family hasn’t been the only ones by far.

Throughout the years the Luce family has continued investing in young lives through various scholarships, endowments, and other channels of generosity unseen and unsung. The young couple I had just married is one of those as the Luce family is supporting her education through one of their scholarships. We had no idea about this connection when we first met and called this couple to work with our youth. The wedding itself was hosted by the Luce family at their Ivy Hill Farm.

Sitting around a reception table with the grown grandkids of AL “Buddy” Luce, I had the privilege of sharing the story of how God has used the generous investment of their grandfather to leave a legacy. This legacy continues to be passed down and spread wide for Christ and His kingdom still today.

How is God calling you to invest in someone today? You may not be able to send a host of kids to college to pursue their dreams. However, what each of us can do as servant leaders, we must do! Your encouragement and your support of the emerging generation will set wheels in motion that will impact the world in ways you will only know in eternity. Our family’s life and legacy was set in motion long ago at the Bluebird Bus factory and I give God thanks every time I see one of these busses. Where will your legacy begin? Invest in someone for Christ today!

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