Category Archives: Leadership

What If Pastors Were Like Some Politicians?

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Nar B W Chlld Covering EyesGenerally, I avoid politics. That’s not to say I avoid voting or my civic duty. In fact, since I turned eighteen about a hundred years ago, I have always voted (though not always for a candidate you might expect).

As a pastor, and the leader of a church with Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and probably an anarchist or two, I’m careful not to take sides. And for those wondering, I’m not making a political endorsement now either.

However . . .

Does truth matter?

Absolutely.

Is it okay that we live in a “post-truth political world”? No. Not at all.

Truth and trust always matter. And for the record, it seems that candidates from both major parties seem to have a problem with telling the truth.

What? Politicians lie?!

Uh . . . yeah.

And so do preachers from time to time.

But no one wants a lying wolf for a pastor. No one sane.

Because they are leaders in the Church, we hold pastors and priests to a pretty high standard, and we should.

Polics Lying Poli

Most of us would never tolerate a pastor who . . .

Is a liar

Is rude and crude

Is mean and divisive

Is image rich but character poor

Is focused on himself and his needs (a narcissist)

Most of us would fire a pastor who . . .

Acts like a bully

Swears on a regular basis from the pulpit

Shifts his theology to suit the crowd

Has a weak moral compass

We expect a certain level of moral character from our spiritual leaders, and rightfully so. But perhaps we should hold politicians to a higher standard since they lead everybody.

Some will say, “We aren’t electing a pastor-and-chief!” and I would agree. But our commander-and-chief has more influence and power than any pastor on the planet.

Maybe his or her character matters too?

Politics Lie Truth

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9 Responses to What If Pastors Were Like Some Politicians?

  1. PERFECTLY said…it is a struggle to prayfully ask who the best candidate is… I DID agonize ALOT over this when it was time for our turn to vote couple weeks ago.. This shouldn’t be hard right??? In the grand scheme of things.. but I still voted.. & I prayfully hope I made the right choice

  2. It’s sad that our country has strayed from our Christian roots and fundamentals. The country and the world has become lovers of themselves as Jesus predicted. All we can do is pray and try our best to bring people into the body of Christ, and let our light shine everyday! Thank God that Jesus is coming back soon to fix everything! 🙂

  3. Having served in political office in the Idaho Legislature I can tell you that most people who go into political office do it for the right reasons because they want to make things better but the system corrupts people if they do not have a strong moral compass that drives them, must be biblical based and believers who will not deviate from the truth of scripture and the call to be a servant to God and the people.

WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A HERO

WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A HERO

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Hero ShipEarly on the morning of February 2, 1943, a luxury liner (converted into an Army transport ship) named The Dorchester was carrying 902 service men. The vessel was about 150 miles from an American base in Greenland when a torpedo from a German submarine struck it. In less than twenty minutes, the Dorchester sank beneath the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Tragically, 672 men died that day leaving only 230 survivors.

Hero ChaplinsFour of the men who lost their lives that horrible night were chaplains. Those Army chaplains were Lt. George Fox, Lt. Alex Goode, Lt. John Washington, and Lt. Clark Poling. Each of these four men willingly sacrificed his life for others.

When the torpedo hit, many were immediately killed and many more were seriously wounded. Panic and chaos overwhelmed the soldiers as men scrambled to the deck searching through the smoke and darkness for lifejackets.

Amidst the turmoil, the chaplains quickly spread out among the frightened men, tending to the wounded and guiding the disoriented to safety. They offered prayers and comforted the dying.

Hero Chaplins 2As they reached the deck of the ship, the four men began distributing lifejackets from the storage lockers. According to witnesses, when there were no more jackets available, they removed theirs and gave them to four young men. One survivor, John Ladd, said, “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven.”

Survivors in the nearby rafts said they could see the chaplains with their arms linked and praying as the ship went down.[1]

I love a good war story. Not because I love war but because stories of heroism and sacrifice inspire us. In fact, intuitively, you already know that for anything great to be accomplished, significant sacrifice almost always is required.

  • Martin Luther King sacrificed his life for the cause of equal rights.

  • Mother Teresa sacrificed her life for the poor.

  • Nelson Mandela sacrificed his freedom, spending twenty-seven years in prison to free his country from the grip of apartheid.

  • Hundreds of thousands of soldiers have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

We recognize and honor these heroes, but we too often excuse ourselves from that kind of heroism by saying, “I’m no Mother Teresa!”

Hero Mother T PIN

SACRIFICE IS NOT THE OTHER “S” WORD

For some, the idea of sacrificing their lives or their resources for someone else seems ludicrous. They might consider doing so for a child or maybe for a close friend, but when the torpedo hits, many people operate out of self-preservation rather than selfless sacrifice.

However, it’s imperative for you to understand that the uncommon life of a hero is one of sacrifice. In fact, a radical and extraordinary life is one in which you embrace a spiritual paradox: To get more out of life you must give more of your life.

Hero Cross PIN

Jesus put it this way, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”[2]

Do you see the paradox here?

Jesus said that the path to true discipleship (and being a hero in His eyes) is a journey of self-denial, sacrifice, and loss, but it’s also the only way to real life.

By nature, we think joy and satisfaction are found in gathering and hoarding. We sometimes hold on to what we have and love with a death grip. But Jesus said to hold this life loosely if we want to live securely in His hand forever.

Forever. That’s a long time and a pretty good deal for a bunch of ragtag recovering idiots like you and me.

Sacrifice matters to God, to others, and to you. It matters in your marriage and in your family. In fact, it matters in all your relationships. It’s how you become a hero. So choose well. Live well. Be well.

Hero Beach Choose Well

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[1] Story and information taken from: http://www.fourchaplains.org

[2] Luke 9:23-25

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11 Responses to WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A HERO

  1. Hi Kurt:
    I enjoyed this war story. I am one of those women who say I am not Mother Theresa, just “cause when I do something is because I have the kindness and willingness of my heart to do it, there is this unconditional altruistic feeling. However, we live in a real world that eventually if you don’t claim your own heroism you will never aim for help. How many people who are recognized as heroes, they are at somebody else’s price, that’s what you are promoting. I have to go to the synagogue, and I hope you understand my message. I explain further later if interested, I do like the chapter of your book. Enjoy your wkd. Lily

    • Hi Lily, Thank you for your input. Just to be clear, by no means am I encouraging people to self-promote themselves into “hero” status. The story and my blog simply encourages sacrifice for the benefit of others. Hope that helps you understand my goal. Blessings!

  2. I think being parents are heros…I think trying to raise kids in this messed up world to be good honest helpful loving Christians is about the toughest job out there. It is a struggle every day to not hold tight to your kids & not let go.
    I know I struggle with this constantly & in an emotional war as we speak..but u certainly don’t feel a hero I feel like a failure

    • Hi Kelly, I SO agree! Parents (including you) are heroes. They sacrifice, serve, care and unconditionally love their kids…a hero for sure. Still praying for you and yours. You are loved.

  3. Okay, this is my first time at this. What you are talking about, Kurt, is tough for us guys. When we think of a hero we think of going in a blaze of glory and looking really great and being greatly admired. What Jesus talks about is something different. When He warned Peter about his coming denials and said he was praying to God, He didn’t pray God would save peter from the denials but, that he would have strength do bounce back. Jesus then told Peter that when he came back he was to use the experience to help and support his brothers. That’s not what we think of as a hero, we want to save face and we forget Judas died to save face and Peter “died” to live.

  4. Hero:1.

    a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

    So, sitting around the campfire with a bunch of guys, and the question arises as to whom each considers a hero. Sports figures, political figures, etc., etc., etc. are offered. My turn came and I said Jesus. You should have heard the silence. It was deafening!!! In my mind, Jesus is the most wonderful example of “hero”. The night He was arrested, He prayed for you and me (see John 17). He was not considering Himself, He thought of those around Him and all future generations. He took the sins of the world upon Himself and made sure that those that believed in Him would see favor in the eyes of the Father. It is not a myth, it is a fact. Thank you Kurt for the wisdom of your words!!!

Three More Things You May Not Know About Pastors (Part 2)

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emoticon angryIsn’t it funny (sad really) how ruthless and mean some people are in an email? They will emotionally vomit into a keyboard in ways they would never actually speak to someone. They will use emoticons, CAPS, and an over-abundance of exclamation marks to make their point!!!!!

I’ve had people use language in an email that would make a trucker blush.

There’s something about sitting alone in front of a computer rather than looking someone in the eye that often brings the worst out in us.

For some reason, Part One of this post, stirred up some passionate and negative reactions. Thankfully, there were also some very kind responses. But I have more to say, so being a glutton for punishment, let’s dive into three more things some folks don’t know about pastors.

pastor priest reading holy bible isolated over white

1.    Your pastor thinks and cares about you more than you probably realize.

Regardless of the size of the church, pastors are shepherds. We take our responsibility seriously to protect and care for the sheep. Your pastor probably notices when you are gone. He knows where you typically sit. Even if he calls you “Bob” and your name is Barry (some of us are old), your face is still embedded in his heart.

Every Saturday, I invest time walking through our auditorium praying. I lay hands on the chairs, and I ask the Father to work in the hearts of His people. Every Monday, I get the prayer requests from our congregation, and I often weep over their needs. Why? Because most pastors put people over programs. We know that only people are eternal, and we deeply understand that Jesus died for people. Trust me, you matter to us more than you know.

lamb with shepherd

2.    Your pastor has probably developed a thick skin, but he still has a tender heart.

Every Sunday we are evaluated. Every Sunday people decide to stay or leave based on what they hear or experience. Every week we work hard to proclaim grace and truth. But just about every Monday somebody complains about something. “The music was too loud.” “I don’t like the way we took communion.” “You talk about money too much.” “I disagree with your position on that issue.”

The fact of the matter is, though we value constructive criticism, long ago most of us stopped trying to keep everybody happy (check out Galatians 1:10). We’ve accepted the reality that some will love us and what we do, and some will not. We’ve also learned that sometimes our greatest fans shift and become our greatest critics. Strong leaders are often polarizing, but we believe strong yet humble leadership is necessary (for a good example, see Jesus).

Years ago, my pastor, a thriving mega-church leader was asked, “What do you consider to be your greatest success in ministry?” Without hesitation, he replied, “That I haven’t grown cynical.” In other words, despite the fact that sheep sometimes bite, his heart was still tender. Mine too.

South African Rhinoceros

3.    Your pastor is perfectly imperfect (just like you).

Most pastors have no desire to be placed on a pedestal. We are intentionally transparent about our struggles because we want you to relate to us, not worship us. We understand our perfection in Christ and yet our imperfection in practice. Like you, we are a work in progress.

Practically speaking, that means we will occasionally say something stupid or maybe even theologically incorrect. Gasp! Sometimes we will react to a situation rather than respond like Jesus. Sometimes our thoughts are anything but the mind of Christ. This is not an excuse for sin, but an explanation of our humanity. So we need grace and mercy (just like you). Maybe you could forgive your pastor as God has forgiven you?

On a regular basis I remind our people: I am not the perfect pastor, and we are not the perfect church because there is no such person or church.

broken chair b/w

A final thought . . .

I love the Church. As a preacher’s kid and pastor for the past thirty-five years, I have a profound love and appreciation for pastors and the Bride of Christ. If anything I’ve written here or in part one of this post has offended you, forgive me. That being said, perhaps you would be wise to consider why I’ve pushed your buttons. Is there a church or pastor you need to forgive?

Remember, forgiveness is His way.

Cross on top of bear island in  Ireland

 

“Bear with each other and forgive one another

if any of you has a grievance against someone.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

 

 

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12 Responses to Three More Things You May Not Know About Pastors (Part 2)

  1. Kurt, thanks for sharing. As a PK (and ex head deacon myself)I am very familiar with the points you made. I can vouch for you and say that pastors are normal (well I guess that term is debatable

  2. Kurt,I hear your heart! I have been a pastor’s daughter and then a pastor’s wife for over 50 years. I have heard many complaints and even falsehoods during these years…..usually directed at my husband or the church. People forget that we are called to be Peacemakers, not trouble makers. The scriptures tell us to go directly to a person if we have differences, and talk face to face, definitely not via paper or behind their back. If I am looking for perfection in church or pastor, I definitely shouldn’t go there, because as soon as I get there, it won’t be perfect. Shouldn’t we be surprised that God loves us at all?
    Gratefully,
    Aunt Dee

  3. If someone can take offense to the things you have posted here in your last two articles, one thought comes to mind. Self centered, opinionated, SOF (son of a flea). I was told there was a question, I gave an answer, and then discussed face to face the issues that “in the grand scheme of things, had very little meaning” and cleared the air and brought the parties closer together. That is the way it should be. You are the focus of our attention when you speak, and all of us have minds and opinions. We need to share them in Love and Respect, and try to understand just how tough a job it is to be that center of attraction. I for one, Love you Kurt. I mean that. You and the Staff of Eastpoint make a great and pleasant place to Worship God and hear His teachings in a pleasant and pointed manner. Thank you so MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Really enjoyed the article, Kurt. Don’t remember when or how I first encountered your writings, but they always seem to bless me. I’m a 36+ year veteran of serving as a pastor, and probably about the same age as you. I definitely feel a kindred spirit in the writings you post, so I just wanted to affirm you. You seem to be a guy I’d enjoy hanging out, or fishing with. Thanks for being real. I’m trying to do that myself.

    • Yup…sounds like we have a lot in common! Your encouragement is both timely and deeply appreciated. May Jesus continue to bless you and your ministry. You are loved…

  5. I’m just impressed that you take the time to reply to most comments/emails/voices both positive and negatively focused.

    Don’t worry Kurt, you aren’t normal…just like the rest of us?

Three Things You May Not Know About Pastors

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Resting at officeTed was dead serious when he said to me, “How tough can your job be when you only work a few hours on Sunday?”

Without blinking, I replied, “About as tough as Russell Wilson’s job, I guess, since he only works a few hours on Sunday too.”

At the risk of sounding defensive, let me take that chance with the hope of helping you understand a few things about pastors.

  1. Most of us work long hours in preparation for Sunday. Just like a professional athlete who works hard all week to get ready for game day, we invest a lot of time in study, research, prayer, message preparation, and practice. On average, most pastors devote about 15-20 hours each week preparing their talks. Why does this matter to us? Because we recognize the value of teaching the Word and realize eternity is in the balance for many who attend.

Man Reading Bible

  1. Regardless of the size of the church, every pastor invests a great deal of his time in caring for the sheep and the staff or volunteers. I lead a fairly large church, so there’s no way I’m going to be personally available to the thousand or so who call me pastor. But I oversee an amazing team of pastors and staff members (who oversee hundreds of incredible volunteers) who daily support the spiritual growth and health of our church. Equipping the saints (Ephesians 4) and investing in lives takes time.

Gregge di pecore in montagna

  1. Some chafe at this reality, but it’s true nonetheless: the church is a business. There are bills to pay, payroll to meet, toilets to fix, and floors to clean. If you’ve ever run a small business, you know about the 1,001 little things that regularly vie for your attention. If you’ve been an executive (CEO, CFO, COO) in a company, you know the daily demands placed upon you. Most pastors, at some level, are the chief-executive-financial-operations officers of the church they lead. You would be shocked to see how many hats most pastors wear.

senior architect getting multiple calls

Oh, did I mention the many extracurricular activities like weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, and a plethora of community events we’re expected to attend? (Okay, maybe I don’t do many bar mitzvahs, but you get the point.)

Wedding

Our lives are full. Most of the pastors I know work long and hard hours, and they do it with joy. We count it a privilege to function as under-shepherds in service to the Shepherd and His flock.

Pain Fix Eyes CrossAnd when a lost individual is found . . .

Or a marriage is healed and renewed . . .

When the disenfranchised is restored . . .

Or a broken soul is made whole . . .

All the sacrifices we’ve made pale in comparison, and we wake up each morning thinking, “This is the greatest job in the world!”

 

“Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern

for all the churches under my care.”

2 Corinthians 11:28 (NIV)

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11 Responses to Three Things You May Not Know About Pastors

  1. Kurt, my prayer every night is to continue to bless our pastors on staff. It’s a tough job, and I am one who truly is thankful for you and all pastors who work so hard to feed HIS sheep. I love seeing your smiling face on Sundays knowing I am loved. May our Heavenly Father continue to bless you.

  2. I’ve been on numerous church boards. The question of how much do you pay your Pastor has often come up. There is one answer to this question that sums it up. Not near as much as their worth.

  3. And then there’s prayer. Without it every pastor would sink into an abyss and so would their people. Most Christians don’t think of prayer it as part of a pastor’s work, but neither do they realize the importance of prayer in ministry. When Moses sent Joshua to the front lines to fight their enemies he committed to sustained intercession by holding up the “rod of God”. As he held the rod high, Israel prevailed, but when his hands grew heavy and began to sink, Amalek prevailed. So Aaron and Hur supported the hands of Moses – and Joshua won the battle. (Ex. 17:8-16) This is a beautiful picture one of the most important responsibilities of a pastor which takes no small amount of time in prayer.

  4. I, for one, am so very pleased you posted these comments. It gives all of us a glimpse of just a snippet of what it takes to be a Pastor. You do such a great job of it, and we should see some of what you go through. You care for us. You Love us. You give your “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” for us. Thank you. And may God Bless you and all the Staff in so much abundance with His Grace and Love.

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