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By Chuck Lawless
Pastors Cannot Do

But here are 12 things pastors cannot do…

  1. Read minds. Everybody knows that, but many church members hold pastors accountable for unstated expectations.
  2. Be everywhere. No human being can be every place at once, yet some members still get angry when pastors have to say “No.”
  3. Change hearts. Only God can do that.
  4. Know everything. Most pastors study hard, but nobody can answer every question somebody asks.
  5. Please everybody. Even Jesus couldn’t do that.
  6. Live sinlessly. Nobody can. Including you. And me. We’re all sinners.
  7. Grow churches. If the church does grow, it’s because God does it.
  8. Multiply dollars. That’s too bad, too, since some churches don’t pay their pastors well.
  9. Escape mistakes. All of us will mess up sometime, often unintentionally and even unknowingly.

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“The coming revival must begin with a great revival of prayer. It is in the closet, with the door shut, that the sound of abundance of rain will first be heard. An increase of secret prayer with ministers will be the sure harbinger of blessing.”


Charles Haddon Spurgeon to a group of pastors…

“Your work, brethren, is to set your church on fire…Keep up the fire within, and add fresh fuel to give a more fervent heat.”

“A revival almost always begins among the laity. The ecclesiastical leaders seldom welcome reformation. History repeats itself. The present leaders are too comfortably situated as a rule to desire innovation that might require sacrifice on their part. And God’s fire only falls on sacrifice. An empty altar receives no fire!”

~ Frank Bartleman

No man is greater than his prayer life. leonardravenhill

The pastor who is not praying is playing.

The people who are not praying are straying.

We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few prayers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters.

Failing here, we fail everywhere.”

~ Leonard Ravenhill

By David Dunham

Pastor, you aren’t doing your job!

I hadn’t been serving this small, rural congregation for long when God brought that problem to my attention. Though I’d been counseling a number of young Christians for only a few months, I was feeling drained. I wanted to blame it on the fact I was pastoring a church full of recovering drug addicts, but it was really my fault. I was attempting to carry out the ministry alone.

It’s the pastor’s job to equip his congregation to do ministry. Needless to say, I wasn’t doing my job.

Superman Pastors

Many pastors have learned and practiced a deficient model of leadership in the last century: the Superman model. A Superman pastor sees every ministry as either his responsibility or the responsibility of the paid staff. He functions like a CEO, like a paid professional, like the minister. It’s his role to do the church’s work, and it’s the congregation’s role to reap the benefits of his expertise.

There are a few things in this model we can commend. First, it takes seriously the role of the pastor; he does not abdicate responsibility. Second, the Superman pastor takes seriously his accountability to God, his training, and his calling as he works hard to oversee the mission of the church. Ultimately, however, the failures of this ministry model are grave.

1. This model of ministry undermines the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and the doctrine of the church.

The Bible teaches that all Christians have access to God; all worship him, serve him, and lead others to do the same. Ephesians 4:16 depicts the church as a body of members working together to grow and build itself up. Paul writes that as the church speaks the truth in love, the “whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” The entire church actively ministers to one another. The New Testament is laced with “one another” imperatives given to the congregation as a whole. Any model of ministry that circumvents the responsibilities of the church, no matter how well-meaning, is simply sub-biblical.

2. This model of ministry fuels pastoral burnout.

The pressure to be the minister is crushing pastors everywhere. As recently as 2010, research found clergy were suffering from some of the most serious health- and stress-related illnesses. Obesity, hypertension, and depression have marked ministers for years.

I know pastors who haven’t taken a vacation in more than 20 years. I recall with a heavy heart the suicide of one pastor in our community. If you need evidence that pastors suffer from depression, think of my friend hanging from the stairwell in in his church. Pastoral burnout is a deadly serious issue that can be significantly diminished by a proper model of ministry in which the congregation is empowered to do the work of the church.

3. This model of ministry fails to fulfill the role Jesus gave to pastors.

Paul plainly outlines the role God has given to shepherds and teachers in Ephesians 4:11-16. The risen Christ has given teachers and shepherds to his church “in order to equip the saints for the work of ministry.” That’s his design. In short, Superman shepherds are unbiblical shepherds. We must return to God’s plan for the pastorate.

Realizing what the pastorate does not look like, then, how do we frame the pastor-as-equipper positively and biblically.

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The Prayer Life Of an Above Average Leader

Prayer Life of a Great LeaderI’ve never considered being called average a compliment.  I think it means you’re just as close to the bottom as on top.  I don’t believe that God meant for you to be average.  I don’t think God meant for you to live a so-so or bland, mediocre life.  As a leader, I don’t think God intends for you to be an average leader.  I believe that every human being was designed for excellence, that you’re not one in a million, you’re one in five billion and as the book In Search of Excellencestates, “The average person desires to be excellent in many different ways.”  There is no one else like you in the universe.

As Pastors and Christian leaders, one of the key elements in our pursuit of being an above average leader is having an above average prayer life. I want to share some big lessons from the life of Jabez about the prayer life of an above average leader.

Jabez is a man who literally stood out in a crowd.  There isn’t much written about him in the Bible.  In 1 Chronicles 4, you find a couple of sentences about him in the middle of a bunch of genealogies.  In the middle of 600 names God singles out one man for special recognition.  He stands above average.  He’s like a redwood tree in a forest of Bonzai’s.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 it says, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.  His mother had named him Jabez saying, `I gave birth to him in pain.’  Jabez cries out to God, `O God, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory and keep me from harm so that I would be free from pain.’  And God granted his request.” 

Out of those two obscure verses, we learn that there are three secrets to his life as an above average leader. What can we learn from Jabez?

You Need a Great Ambition

Jabez didn’t want to be ordinary.  He wanted to excel and grow.  In other words, he was a person of vision and dreams.  He wanted something special and something great from his life.  Most of all, he wanted God’s blessing in his life.

A lot of people never achieve the leadership level that they could achieve in life because they just drift through life with no ambition, no master plan, no real purpose, no dream that pulls them along.  It’s what I call haphazard living.  You’ve got to have a dream if you’re going to be a great leader.  And in looking at Jabez’ prayer life we’ll find that his prayers actually came out of his dreams.  When you stop dreaming, you start dying.  If you have no goals, you have no growth.  You were designed by God for great dreams.

You Need a Growing Faith

Jabez had a deep trust and belief in God.  It is obvious from his prayer that he recognized that the source of his blessing was the Lord.  It reminds me of William Carey who said, “Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.”  In these two verses, we notice a couple of things about Jabez. If you’re going to live above average, you first need a great ambition and second, you need a growing faith.

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January 2020
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