Archive for October, 2010

>Famous Last Words….

Posted: October 19, 2010 in death, funerals, Legacy

>Let’s continue on the theme of funerals. Shall we? I thought I might give you a brief peak behind the curtain of these services that a pastor provides. I did my first funeral when I was 19. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but in that time it seems I’ve seen everything from the comedic to the inspirational. I’ve actually entertained the idea of writing a book on these experiences because they are just that good! That is for another blog however.

When I receive a request to do some one’s funeral or memorial service I make it a point to meet with the family so that I am able to help them in putting the service together. This meeting with the family is also crucial if I did not know the person that has died. I want to get know the person I will be eulogizing. I usually just bring a pen and a journal and ask the family to just begin to share. I say, “I’d like to just be a fly on the wall as you remember him or her through stories and descriptive words.” Can I tell you that these meetings are either vastly moving or grotesquely shallow. When being summed up by those closest to you they can only share what they’ve experienced. (Side note: People do have a tendency to deify the person after they’ve past wanting to only remember the best about the person.)

Here are two contrasting lists of descriptions of family members of their loved ones:

Unbending integrity                                          He could really eat
Invested in others                                             Had a great golf swing
Very generous with his time and money            Made a lot of money
He loved God with all his heart                         He really loved his boat
He put his family first                                        He cussed like a sailor but he was so funny

One of the most heart breaking things I have to do as a pastor is listen to a family share about their loved one and continually tell me as they share, “you don’t have to put that in there.”

My question to you faithful reader is what do you want to be said about you at your funeral? Once you’ve answered that question I’d ask this: Are you living in such a way now that people would say those things.

Live with your last day in mind and you should be fine.

Tick Tock,

Nathan

>Why a Part of Me Loves Funerals

Posted: October 18, 2010 in Evangelism

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There is a strange part of me that loves to do funerals as a pastor. Before you dismiss me as insane, hear me out. While funerals are painful and difficult, I have found hope and comfort in knowing that those that attend funerals are dumbstruck with their own mortality. When people are faced with their mortality they for a moment put their life on pause and will consider what really matters in life if a pastor is intentional about posing the right questions. While the rest of a person’s lifestyle might seek to push God away, their heart is tender in that moment when grieving a loss of someone they love. This coupled with the realization that they themselves are not invincible many times can allow their heart to be receptive to the gospel and what awaits them in eternity.

>Go to fullsize imageI learned a brutal lesson this morning as I sat in a Starbucks lounge chair. I was meeting over coffee or in my case Hot Chocolate with a great guy that I’ve been mentoring. It had been several months since we had been able to meet and there was a lot to catch up on. As we talked he shared with me some pretty big decisions that he had made and I found myself somewhat offended that he would not have come to me and asked for my input. As he continued to share I realized that he had withdrawn from the mentor relationship because he thought I was too busy for him and yet I had perceived his lack of contact with me as being a lack of follow through on his part. He wanted an older brother relationship that sought after him and I wanted a mentee that knew the ball was in his court and not mine.

This was a break down in communicating expectations. A few lessons I learned:

1. You cannot assume that people know what your expectations are of them in a relationship. People can’t your mind.
2. You cannot assume to know what others expectations are of you in a relationship. You can’t read their mind.
3. Talk openly about expectations early on in the relationship.
4. When in doubt, ask.
5. If someone fails your expectations have a loving and grace filled conversation with them. Resist the urge to withdrawal, isolate and bail on the relationship.

Always Learning,

Nathan

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One of the great ways you can lovingly help your pastor is making yourself available to serve in any area that is needed. If you’re just waiting to be asked for help you might miss out on a crucial time when you could have really contributed to a needy situation. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a situation as a pastor when I needed another pair of hands for a task, someone that had some time to run an errand for me, a class that I needed someone to step in and lead for a time.

There will always be a need because the needs in pastoral ministry always outweigh a church staff’s time and resources. Instead of waiting for your pastor to ask you for help, why not be proactive and ask how you can meet a need.

We Need You,

Nathan

>Warning: Doing the following will actually in the long run be a blessing to you.

Heb 13:17

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

This has to be one of the most unpreached verses in scripture right along with the topic of gluttony. The average pastor does not want to come across as lording his authority over God’s people. Submission to authority and obeying leaders isn’t exactly popular in our current post modern age. This lack of teaching has allowed a generation to flourish in the church that doesn’t really see a need for leadership. We must point them to scripture.

Scripture seems to make several things clear in this one verse:

1. You can obey and submit to your pastors knowing that God will surely hold them accountable for their leadership. A pastor truly called to lead, feels the weight of “watching over your souls.” In my experience God  has given me a supernatural love for the people I lead. This isn’t a heavy burdensome affliction but one that feels like a deep sobering responsibility.

Note: I’m not talking about checking your brain at the church door and following leadership blindly. Everything should be filtered through the word of God.

2. The writer of Hebrews notes that walking in obedience and submission allows your pastoral leadership to do their work with “joy” and “not with grief.” The author states that to not obey and submit makes it hell for your leaders and this in the long run is “not profitable to you.” You do the math.

Jesus Christ is the chief shepherd and He has called pastors as under shepherds to lead His church. They are a gift to the church and should be treated as such.

The question then is do you make leadership a joy or a pain for your pastor? How do you treat them? In public and in private conversations? Are you constantly causing debate and strife?

Give a gift of obedience and submission this October,

Nathan

>With October being pastor appreciation month I thought I could turn the influence of my powerhouse of a blog 🙂 toward church families  and write about how they can be caring for and feeding their pastors. I know full well that there will be some that will see this as self-serving knowing that I am a pastor. I don’t mind being misunderstood, people misunderstood Jesus all the time. Most pastors won’t teach on this topic for this exact reason, they think people will think they have an alterior motive. But not teaching a Godly principle because you may be misunderstood is cowardly. This robs the church of actually knowing what they should and could be doing to properly honor and care for their pastors.


One of the greatest things you can do for your pastor is pray for him and his family.  I’m not talking about throwing him into your twenty second prayer at dinner. I’m talking about setting aside time in your prayer and devotional time on a regular basis to pray for him. Pray for your pastor as a family. This is a great way to model to your children the importance of praying for those in leadership. As with most things in life we can come to a place of taking things we value for granted, our pastors being one of them. Realize, that Satan has a special affinity for picking off church leaders. The military does not have officers wear their rank on their helmets in combat for a reason. They know that if the enemy knows who is leading they will be the first soldiers targeted. If Satan can take out church leadership in some way, he can begin to wreak havoc in a church family.


Pray for your pastor’s spiritual health. Pray that God would continue to cultivate his soul. Pray that God would give him wisdom for the countless decisions that must be made and people he must counsel. Pray that God would guard and deepen his marriage. Pray that God would help him as a father to pastor his home well. Pray that God would provide every need: physical, emotional and financial. Every pastor covets the prayers of his flock.


Why not stop and pray for your pastor right now,


Nathan