Welcome to Musings!

Why Musings?
A few years ago I was struggling in my leadership role as the founding pastor of Living Oaks Fellowship (Aurora, CO). As I prayed, the Lord told me to go back to my journal and look at the lessons He had taught me over the past few years. I identified 17 lessons on a variety of topics, but that was not the most significant discovery.  What I found most significant is that only one of these lessons had been mentioned during my 3 and 1/2 years of seminary education. About this same time, I heard a couple of statistics about pastors that I found disturbing. The first one was that 50% of pastors leave the ministry in their first 5 years. The second one was that 85% of seminary graduates are out ministry in 10 years or less. (Note: As I was writing this I came across this blog with more such statistics  – http://preachersandteachers.wordpress.com/2008/03/26/71/ ).

Why is this important and what is the connection between the statistics and my experience?

I believe that the reason so many pastors are leaving the ministry is what I call the negative variance between what they expect and what they experience once they enter ministry. The reality of ministry is far different (and more difficult) than what people either see from the outside looking in or are prepared for in seminary education. The stark contrast is, for some, too much to handle and they quit. Our role as pastors is to lead people from Egypt to Canaan; from spiritual slavery to spiritual freedom. The dirty little secret that we are rarely told is that we never make it to Canaan in this life. There is no place of ministry where the elders don’t fight and the sheep don’t bite. We will never “arrive” in ministry, coming to a place where we can relax with no issues. However, if we are on this journey with a constant refrain of “are we there yet?”, we will be in for a rude awakening.  Entering into ministry without a realistic understanding of what you will face can set you up for disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment.

Adding to this dissonance is the truth that many pastors have no one with whom they can honestly talk and share their hearts:

  • Boards are looking to protect the church. A pastor who regularly admits weakness or shares struggles may lose his/her job.
  • Congregations are looking for a hero.  Parishioners often have unrealistic expectations for their spiritual leaders and don’t want to face the truth that their pastor is as human as they are.
  • Other pastors are often viewed as competitors. As unhealthy as this may seem and as unpopular as it may be to admit or share, many pastors often do not feel the freedom to confide in their counterparts their struggles and concerns. Our self worth is often tied to tangible measures of growth – bodies, budgets and buildings.
  • People outside of the church don’t understand the challenges of pastoral leadership. It is very difficult for someone outside of the church to relate to the spiritual, emotional, financial and relational battles inherent in this position.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not writing this from a position of bitterness or disillusionment. I love the Lord, His work and His people. I am still actively engaged in the life of the church in pastoral ministry. Have I been hurt by the ministry and the people whom I’ve ministered? Of course!  But that goes with the territory. I am not seeking to dissuade anyone from going into ministry by painting some horrid picture of pain and suffering. In fact, I want to do just the opposite. I want to assist in properly preparing people to go into ministry so they can be more effective in their service.

My hope for this blog…
It is my desire for this blog to become more than a platform for me to share my opinions, knowledge or expressions. My hope and prayer for it is to:
… Give pastors and ministry leaders a safe place to connect, discuss issues and to be “real”.
… Create a learning environment where those who are young in the ministry can learn from those with more experience.
… Connect pastors and ministry leaders with others who are like-hearted and to encourage them to create their own small groups.

Many of the thoughts in Musings will come from what I learned during my own journey towards leadership and personal healthiness that are being shared about in an upcoming book: Living the Journey – Lessons from the Front Lines that Might Save your Ministry, your Mind and maybe even your Marriage.

Who is invited to share these conversations? Anyone who is engaged in the anointed and challenging task of serving God’s people. Regardless of your age or tenure, you are welcome and we want to hear from you. I look forward to sharing conversations with you about the Journey.

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10 thoughts on “Welcome to Musings!

  1. Thank you for the inspiration Pastor.

  2. Dear Jason, you hit right on the mark. Everything you wrote about I have experienced in my ten years of ministry.

    Just before reading your blog I was speaking to my wife about the struggles, disillusionment, and sorrow that years of minstry have produced. Despite that fact, I have come to the conclusion that I would never want to do anything else.

    What keeps me going? I focus on the changed lives, saved souls, and thankful hearts along the way — knowing more tranformations are forthcoming in the future keeps me going as I try to remain obedient and sacrfice myself.

    Thank you for being honest enough to share these truths about ministry. I thank God for you and your heart. You are a blessed and successful minister, despite the struggle along the way. May your experiences minister to many through this blog!

    • Ron, The reason I am writing both the book and the blog is to seek to bring light (and therefore healing) to so many suffering, silent servants. i know that we can look forward to God’s encouraging “well done, my good and faithful servant,” but I don’t think that excludes us from being encouraged in the present. I, too, pray that many will be ministered to through this blog. I pray that God will lift you up on eagle’s wings and fill your heart with renewed joy and strength. Blessings on you!

  3. Anthony Slade

    Dearest of Friend,

    I am beginning to understand that one issue with Pastors, is the lack of being sheep. We all need the care that Pastors are to give. In various conversations with some of my Pastor friends, they don’t feel they can open up to anyone. This is a trick of the devil. We, as true ministers of the Good News must proactively reach out to others. Don’t be surprised by the rejections. They are great. But as we are called to advance the Kingdom of God, we must press through these hinderance. I am encouraged to be apart of this forum. I pray that we all be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Faith, Hope and Love

  4. Jason,

    I applaude you for this ministry to other pastors and church leaders. I will be following along and sharing comments from time to time.

    I too have felt this call to help leaders, especially pastors, find healthy places to be real. God laid it on my heart to write a fable about this topic which I completed last summer. If you are interested in downloading a free copy of it go to http://www.all-things-new.org

    I pray that God will bless you and your ministry!
    Rodger Price
    Coordinator of Leader Renewal and Pastors Networks
    The Reformed Church in America
    rprice@rca.org

    • Rodger, Thank you for your comments and support. I pray that this blog will be a resource for the pastors in your network. I’ll take a look at the fable. JP

  5. Sherdeill H. Breathett, Sr.

    Jason,

    Grace and much peace my brother from another mother (no pun intended). This is a much needed platform for Pastors. We pastors need to also avoid trying to be all things to all people – which gives the false impression that we’re invincible. We must remember it’s Jesus Church and we are sheepdogs (putting it in perspective).

    I’m all about the encouragement – we need more of that. You’d think some have been called into the ministry of condemnation. Honestly, I can’t think of a true confidant; someone to bleed with/share. Who do you trust? Jimmy Baker trusted Jimmy Swaggart and you know what happended next. Sexual sins have plagued so many in the pastoral ministry as a result of always pouring out to others and never or infrequently receiving renewal for oneself, making us vunerable to all types of addictions and deceptions from the enemy.

    My heart goes out to the many families affected by the latter. “We must foster and celebrate Healthy Marriages.” Q. Promise Keepers movement focused a lot of attention on men having accountability partner(s), do you really, truly have one?

    There is so much I could say, but I will limit my expressions. I’ve already wrote more than my share. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to vent some. “Count me in!”

  6. essenceofnone

    I sat here in awwww as I read your comment on my post. I cannot tell you how I feel right now, very hard to explain. I have many people who follow and it wasn’t until this morning when I seen my blog stats how many actually read my post. Thank you, I will try to find my soul and write again.

  7. Allen

    Thank you for the word. I will be checking in daily. As a young minister I am encouraged by a supportive word. I appreciate the honesty and effort you have put into this site.

    Gog bless,

    • Allen, You are quite welcome. Pass the word. FYI… Under “Email Subscription”, you can subscribe to the blog and conveniently receive updates to the blog via email. JP

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