How to Survive the Pressure of the New Year

It is a privilege to lead people;

To excite them with preaching, planning and preparation.

To cast vision and to create an atmosphere for others to excel in faith and service.

To pray with spiritual power in a manner that awakens another’s passion.

I recently overheard some parishioners say to a pastor,

“Your leadership is refreshing!”

“You make me want to come back to church.”

“I actually enjoy services again.”

“I’ve never experienced God the way I have when you speak.”

It’s days like that when we are all a bit more willing to embrace the honor of leading others.

What a privilege it is to have an invitation into someone’s life and faith journey and to experience the joy of leading someone to Christ or into community.

But it’s a great deal of pressure too,

knowing that someone sees YOU as the reason they are active or spiritually alive again.Even if we all agree that it’s really God doing the difficult work, there's constant pressure to perform and a struggle to survive the never-ending needs of other people.

For every moment where we feel the privilege of being a pastor, we feel all the pressure too.

Our experience tells us that the people will say “Thank you” and the same people will say “How could you?”

People will say “I was moved.”

People will say “I was mad.”

People will say “I’m excited.”

People will say “I’m exhausted.”

People will trust you.

People will cuss you.

In my short 15 years of ministry I've learned that how I respond to the pressure of the pastorate depends a great deal on how well I share the privilege of pastoring.

How I respond to the pressure of the pastorate depends a great deal on how well I share the privilege of pastoring.

When we feel the pressure of ministry and the overwhelming demands, we look for supporters and encouragers. We invite others to pray with and for us, and to take on some of the overwhelming responsibilities. We know there is no other choice but to involve others if we are going to survive.

But when we feel the privilege of pastoring, we’re quick to keep it.

As if it is our doing.

As if it is our strength.

As if the stories told are really about us (alone).

But what makes us strong is not us.

It is people with us.

It is God in us.

And God is somewhere within everyone we meet.

Many of these people may not even know it yet.

As you plan for this new year, make a point to share the pressures of ministry, but share the privilege too. Find new and creative ways to involve other people to make a difference. Find it for people you haven't looked in before. Find it in folks that don't deserve it or haven't had a chance to earn it. Find it in people who are already taking on responsibilities in the community- and invite them to connect their gifts/interests to the church.

I’m outlining 3 new opportunities for laity this year:

An Outreach Innovator: Someone who investigates and instigates opportunities for members to serve in the community and in partnership with local organizations.

A Family Fun Coordinator: Someone who plans and promotes activities that deepen family relationships, encourage interaction among community members, and educate people on how to have affordable fun.

A Fund Finder: Someone who investigates and coordinates activities to generate revenue for mission critical components of the church budget, apart from the local church members.

(Email RenewalLiturgy@gmaill.com if you’d like a copy of these ministry descriptions)

Your capacity to withstand great pressure will increase in proportion to your commitment to extend great privilege.

I'd love to know: Who haven't you thought of yet? How are you planning to share the privilege of leadership this year?

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