Over the last year or so, my blogs have focused a lot on what I call the 3-B Syndrome. (see my last entry to get a quick overview).
In many of my recent writings you will find how the Lord has been showing me how ugly this pursuit of the 3-B Syndrome can become. As I see it, I am a recovering 3-B pastor. I’m convinced, much like the alcoholic, that I will spend the remainder of my days in pastoral ministry, keeping the 3-B monster that dwells inside of me, at bay.
Over the last few years, through a series of life-events and ministry failures, my wife, Sandy, and I have now consciously decided to remove our lives from this ugly 3-B monster and begin allowing the Lord to re-build us, re-defining ‘success’ in pastoral ministry along the way. A lot of this re-defining by God has been accomplished by re-introducing us to the measurement tools for ministry success as found in the New Testament.
As we see it, Jesus teaches His followers a completely different set of standards when it comes to measuring ‘success’ in Kingdom ministry. Simply put, we believe the Lord is looking for these 3-S’s (not the 3-B’s) from His loyal servants:
1. SPIRITUALITY. Returning ourselves to our First Love, allowing Jesus to re-define who we are as pastoral shepherds. Jesus must be at the center of who we are and all we do for Him. As we take the much-needed time to ‘step out of the traffic’ (see Psalm 46:10) we can recover our core identity in Christ…beloved sons and daughters of our Servant King.
2. SERVICE. Jesus, the Servant, invites us to join Him, humbly and faithfully extending His extraordinary, life-giving message and ministry into ordinary, broken and direction-less lives. As wounded healers, we are called as pastoral shepherds to enter the harvest field, serving others out of the same agape love He bestows upon us.
3. SOULS. As shepherds of God’s people, we pray for, care for, and bless souls within our circle of influence, one person at a time. We are called, literally, to ‘love the hell’ out of the people around us, encouraging them to stop, look, and listen for God’s in-breaking presence in their lives.
If we, as pastoral shepherds, can become successful at this simplified, three-pronged, God-breathed job assignment, then our world just might have a chance to become a better place, God’s holy purposes served in our generation, and we pastoral shepherds of God can view our lives and ministries as ones lived well for His glory.
As the Holy Spirit has been working these simple truths into our lives, we believe the Lord is asking us (my wife, Sandy, and I) to serve you, the busy 3-B pastor as CONTEMPLATIVE COACHES.
Keep in mind that our role as coaches is not to lead or mentor you into becoming a successful pastor of a growing church. Nor will we coach you into expanding your ministry for the cause of Christ. As we see it, our job will be to encourage you, first and foremost, into your core identity as a precious son or daughter of God. We believe a key breakthrough will be found when you begin giving your full and undivided attention to Jesus’ Great Invitation to His friends found in Matthew’s gospel (Mt 11: 27-30 MsgB)
“The Father has given Me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to Myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Our sense is that there are many out there who will attempt to make you into a successful leader or direct your church into successful ministry, but few who will focus you explicitly on your own individual spirituality.
Author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning, states it this way:
“Leadership in the church is not entrusted to successful fund-raisers, brilliant biblical scholars, administrative geniuses, or spell-binding preachers (though these assets may be helpful), but to those who have been laid waste by a consuming passion for Christ – passionate men and women for whom privilege and power are trivial compared to knowing and loving Jesus.”
Contemplative writer, Henri Nouwen, elaborates:
“Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the Incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance… Dealing with burning issues easily leads to divisiveness because, before we know it, our sense of self is caught up in our opinion about a given subject. But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the Source of Life, it will be possible to remain flexible but not relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle, and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.”
If you are convinced that there’s more to pastoral ministry than becoming a successful 3-B leader, building a bigger church or breaking through the next growth barrier, we suggest you contact us and allow us to begin asking you some deeper spiritual questions than “How big is your church?” or “How many people attend your Sunday morning service?”
We believe Jesus, the Master Rabbi, has much more to say to you than we do. And we’d love to assist you in opening up your eyes and ears so that you might stop, look, listen, and respond.
We look forward to hearing from you soon!