Take Time for Your Spouse

Take time for your spouse
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God gives a pastor a spouse for life, knowing full well that it will take time to cultivate that relationship. Unfortunately, we live in a day in which people think if our activity is not at the church, it lacks devotion to Jesus.

As pastors, we can fall for that lie if we don’t continually guard against it. Just the opposite is true.

When we give our time to our spouse, we are demonstrating devotion to Christ. I don’t think we’re missing out on anything God has for us to do at the church.

One of my cherished mentors, Dr. Howard Hendricks, once made a tremendous statement:

Meet Me in the Library

lonely
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On a lonely Greyhound bus in January of 1958, a young Marine slumped in his seat with his head down. His heart ached for the wife he’d left behind and feared for the place he was headed.

In his hands. he held Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Through Gates of Splendor. As he turned the pages, his life was turned around forever . . .

That was me.

I had no idea what God had in store for me when I boarded that bus. It turned out to be one of my life’s defining moments, and it came to me through a book.

God used Elisabeth Elliot’s volume to rearrange my attitude, my thinking . . . my entire future.

It’s About Character

Character
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Our culture is overly impressed with the externals. You must look good on TV to win the political race. It’s the image you need to polish. Spin it just right.

But we all know—and all have seen—that a leader without character is a tragedy getting ready to happen.

As pastors, we know about the importance of character, of course. But knowing it isn’t our assignment. Your congregation requires your character. Your role is filled because character is present, or it decreases if it is absent.

It’s the same with me. The church where I serve as senior pastor has a respect for me and appreciates my efforts (all my weaknesses not withstanding).

But this respect hangs on the fact that I’m committed to modeling character, and I’m not going to let it slip away in the stuff of leadership.

I remember the day my dad drove home and the front windshield of our car was broken. He had blood running down his face and I thought, He’s been mugged!

Hearing God in the Silence

Silence
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When you pray, do you ever feel like you’re standing at the bottom of a long stairway looking up. The light is off, and even though you knock and call out for a response, nothing happens.

You are not alone. Many a soul struggles at this very moment with divine silence. You likely know the story by heart. A calamity comes.

We cry out and expect relief, but instead of answers, we hear nothing.

A mate who has been there for years suddenly walks out. The one who is left alone to face what seems to be endless responsibilities turns to God for His intervention—for His comforting reassurance—only to be met with silence. That awful silence!

Remember Your Marching Orders

Soldier
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Christians have a lot more in common with soldiers than we might think. Soldiers don’t serve to protect themselves but to guard the interests of their homeland.

There is simply no room for ego or grandstanding among soldiers during the heat of battle. What matters is obeying the leader’s commands. I can’t help but think of Paul’s words to his young protégé, Timothy:

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3–4 NASB)

Of course, there’s also an intangible longing that keeps a soldier going: the desire to go home. The soldier isn’t just a military man or woman . . . but a . . . 

Pastoral Discouragement

Discouragement
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While reading Psalm 5, I see that David is just plain discouraged. He prays to the Lord, “pay attention to my groaning” (Psalm 5:1 NLT). Unless I miss my guess, he sang these lyrics while hearing dissonance in his mind.

So many pastors I meet play out their entire lives in the dissonance of discouragement. There is the grinding dismay that follows unachieved goals or failed relationships.

Some are discouraged over their marriages which began with such promise but now seem weak, borderline hopeless.

Lingering ill-health can discourage and demoralize its victims, especially when the pain won’t go away. And who can’t identify with those ministers who gave it their best shot yet took it on the chin from a few self-appointed critics?

Sing New Songs . . . with Old Truths

Amazing Grace
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Without wanting to be misunderstood, let me say unashamedly that I love the grand old hymns. Throughout my Christian life, I have treasured their historic statements of the church’s faith, having committed many of them to memory.

They have been my dearest companions in dark hours of loneliness and discouragement and my greatest encouragers in times of celebration and adoration.

And while I’m the first to admit that while there’s nothing holy about a hymnal per se, hymns remain an important part of our Christian heritage. Why?

It Takes Grace . . .

Grace
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Sarcastic infighting. Negative putdowns. Stinging stares. Volatile explosions of anger. Doors slamming. Desperate feelings of loneliness. Awkward silence.

Those descriptions portray the marriages in many homes and families. And also, in many parsonages.

We are not immune, are we? It is possible that you have gotten to the place where you look for excuses not to be home. Or to be there as little as possible.

It’s easy in the ministry to justify our absence, isn’t it? Even in our own minds.

For more years than I care to remember, I was so insecure and fearful it wasn’t uncommon for me to drill Cynthia with questions—petty, probing questions that were little more than veiled accusations.

Listen to the One You Married

Listen
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Honestly, I will never forget one man’s criticism of me that helped me as much as anything I have ever heard. I was just about to graduate from seminary.

I had completed the finest courses in theology . . .

  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Homiletics

You know, I was fully prepared for life and ministry. (Yeah, right!) But I still had something essential to learn.

I’ll never forget this man’s words. He looked me in the eye and said,

The Ministry of Marriage

Marriage
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Marriage is one of God’s greatest tools for ministry. For example, consider the impact of Priscilla and Aquila’s marriage. Somewhere in the streets of Corinth, they stumbled across a man down on his luck.

Paul was . . .

  • Weary
  • Homeless
  • Alone
  • Fresh off a demoralizing trip in Athens
  • He needed a place to stay

They cleared out a room. Not for one night, not for one week, but until Paul was called to move on.

Then an up-and-coming young evangelist breezed into town. After his eloquent sermon, Priscilla and Aquila invited him over for dinner.

Acts 18:24–25 states that Apollos was gifted and passionate. Though he was accurate in his teaching, he was incomplete in his theology. This couple corrected his doctrine without quelling his desire.

Priscilla and Aquila simply opened up a room for Paul and a seat at the table for Apollos. Through their hospitality and instruction, they impacted two of the greatest early church leaders.

What about us? Who could we impact that may in turn impact the world?