Archives for posts with tag: staff pastor

burnoutA Recent Research Paper of Mine for my Doctorate

(Please comment with your thoughts on this important subject! Bibliography at the end lists many more resources on leaders and burnout).

The Problem

Burnout has been defined as “emotional collapse or breakdown that sometimes comes as a result of stress.[1]” Unfortunately, stress can profoundly affect even those who serve the church. Ministers actually rank fairly high on the Maslach Burnout Scale[2] and the Francis Burnout Inventory[3]. In fact, clergy members rank on the same stress level as other occupations that serve the community, such as social workers, counselors and nurses[4]. Certain occupations, including pastoral ministry, have been found to be more inherently stressful than others[5]. The fallout of this stress manifests in the life of pastors in various ways.

Several modern studies have proven a direct correlation between stress[6] and increased physical health problems[7]. Ninety percent of pastors in a recent study reported chronic fatigue[8]. Fifty percent were overweight, twenty-three percent reported being obese. Most said that they had no time to eat well, exercise, or sleep adequately.

Younger pastors are more prone to burnout, and to leaving the ministry[9]. One study found that seminarians in their senior year, when given a stress test, scored an average of 348. This is alarming since the average population generally scores between 75-150 and a score of 300 is considered dangerously high[10]. These stressed out seminarians are often sent from school straight into a “high demand” church, without having learned any coping methods for dealing with stress. Older pastors who have managed to stay in the ministry for the long-term, were only able to do so because they developed effective coping methods for managing stress.

Female clergy do not have an advantage over their male counterparts when it comes to stress and burnout[11]. Several studies found that women and men are suffering from burnout equally[12]. Other studies argue that women’s stress is actually higher. Women do report a higher level of conflict and bullying in ministry. Some women report feeling added stress brought on by trying to be seen as “legitimate” in their role.

Studies did not find a significant difference in stress and burnout rates across ethnic lines[13]. However, it can be argued that much more research could be done on this subject. One study did find that African American pastors had higher emotional stability, and better coping mechanisms than Caucasian pastors. However, African American pastors scored lower for overall physical health[14].

One of the worst casualties of clergy burnout is the pastor’s family. Pastors rank third for divorces among professionals. When asked why they are leaving the ministry, 1/3 of ministers cited “family reasons”. This family stress is cyclical, in that ministerial stress exacerbates family stress, which in turn contributes to worsening loneliness and burnout.

The minister’s stress and burnout affects everyone around him or her, including his or her fellow staff members and the church body as a whole. Rather than being a local church problem, ministerial burnout is a universal church issue. The leader’s ministry will not be as effective because there is not enough mental, emotional or physical resources left to give to anyone else.

Once the pastor begins to “go numb” from burnout, then “depersonalization” often sets in[15]. This means that the pastor stops being able to truly care for their congregation or themselves properly. This is a negative coping method characterized by withdrawing from conflict and difficult situations rather than facing them. Whether a service or a program went well or was a disaster, he or she no longer cares.

One study found 75 percent of pastors report high stress and depression[16]. One-third report daily frustration and fatigue at even the thought of going into the church office. Two-fifths report being totally drained by their duties[17].

Studies varied greatly as to how many pastors are really contemplating leaving the ministry. One study found that 30 percent were thinking of leaving[18]. Another study said that 90 percent of pastors are thinking about quitting. Half of that second study group said they would definitely switch careers if they could[19]. The number one method listed by pastors for dealing with extreme stress and burnout is “getting out[20].” Given that many communities are already dealing with a shortage of pastors, with some pastors having to cover more than one parish, pastors leaving ministry due to burnout is a tragedy indeed.

Between 17 percent and 30 percent of pastors admit to engaging in dangerous coping methods such as alcohol or other “substances” to manage ministry stress[21].

 

The Causes of Ministerial Burnout

 

Too many leaders leave seminary and enter the ministry with clearly unrealistic expectations. This “role dysphoria”, which happens when talents and role expectations do not line up with the actual duties of the position, can quickly lead to frustration and burnout. Often the pastoral role is ill defined and varies by church, denomination and geographical area.

Several studies named “loneliness” as a key factor in clergy burnout[22]. Pastors reported not having friends or support systems or anyone outside the church to talk to. Spouses reported higher loneliness, but that could be because clergy are trying to appear “more spiritual.” Loneliness could be due to high expectations of the congregation[23], or inability to be completely transparent with people in the church. Rural pastors have a unique problem with loneliness due to depopulation of rural areas, and subsequent shrinking of their church membership as jobs move overseas[24].

Pastors consistently rated “church conflict” and “high demand” churches as major stressors. This conflict tends to become personal and persistent in nature, affecting the pastor’s home and personal life[25].

Modernization has also had several noticeable effects on the way we carry out ministry[26]. First, church attendance continues to be in decline in many countries around the globe[27]. Secondly, our contemporary parishioners may be more inclined to recognize secular authority over ecclesiastical authority. Thirdly, the church has adopted more secular (democratic) methods of governing that decrease the authority of the pastor[28]. Lastly, consumerism has also made its way into the walls of the church. Congregants may believe that they are “paying a pastor for goods and services” which they arbitrarily define[29].

One of the toughest times in a pastor’s life and ministry is when he or she is called upon to minister through a time of tragedy that affects their congregants and affects them personally[30]. This can happen when a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster strikes, causing loss of life and property. This can happen when a community has suffered a devastating act of violence, such as a mass shooting. The pastor may have lost their home or a friend or family member. Yet, the minister will still be expected to counsel their parishioners, to help congregants and community members find resources such as housing and food. The minister may feel obligated to ignore their own needs, to focus on the needs of others or of his or her own family. Pastors are visible public figures who are expected to outwardly present a message of hope no matter what they are personally going through. This is a particularly dangerous time for clergy marriages[31], which can fall apart due to neglect[32].

Pastors tend to be massive workaholics spending an average of 55 hours a week at the church office, but only 27 waking hours per week with their families[33]. This imbalance leads to increased family dysfunction, family breakdown and inability to cope. Many pastors report not having enough time to do all that they are expected to do. They definitely lack the time for reflection or self-care.

Burnout has been defined as “the result of mental fatigue.” Serving a congregation can be extremely emotionally draining[34]. This exhaustion is called “Compassion Fatigue”[35] and “Secondary Traumatic Stress” which describes the emotional drain that happens just by hearing and walking through the horror stories and the trauma of the people we counsel. Compassion fatigue has been found to come on suddenly as opposed to burnout which seems to build up over time.

Clergy members are “wearing too many hats.[36]” Possibly due to the breakdown of civil services, pastors are picking up a lot of counseling and social services. Even when other options are available, pastors feel obligated to self sacrifice. Since the church is one of the only multi-dimensional resource centers, parishioners are often going to their pastor before any other professionals. Pastors find themselves doing marriage, addiction and mental health counseling[37]. Pastors are helping people find resources such as housing, clothing and food. Pastor’s wives report working to keep the house, raise children and complete various “expectations” of the pastor’s wife[38].

Without clear boundaries, a pastor and their family suffers “boundary ambiguity” and becomes completely enmeshed in their parishioner’s lives and problems[39]. There is no life “outside of church.”  This can cause pastors to feel that they cannot leave town for vacations or family get togethers because their parishioners need them too much. On the other hand, pastors tend to uproot and move every few years, possibly due to burnout[40]. Each time the minister moves, they suffer the loss of their entire “world” (enmeshed environment within the church) and must start all over.

Pastors report having too few resources including finances. Pastors and their spouses tend to be well educated. However, the average salary for a minister in the United States has not changed in over 20 years[41]. Some cannot afford to seek professional help for themselves or their marriage. They cannot afford ongoing training or vacations.

 

Proposed Methods to Prevent or Treat Ministerial Burnout

 

Over and over again, studies have proven that spiritual resources were the most important factor is surviving ministry over the long haul[42]. Pastors who maintained the regular religious disciplines of attending worship services, prayer, and Bible study reported much lower levels of depression and burnout than pastors who did not regularly engage in spiritual practices[43]. This was the same for clergy spouses, however, pastor’s spouses reported feeling like they had fewer spiritual resources that the clergy person had[44].

Ministers need a strong commitment to physical and mental health, exercise, healthy eating, seeing the doctor regularly, sleeping, and taking vacations. Self-care needs to become a habit. Pastors who have survived burnout and have bounced back highly recommend taking sabbaticals and other times away to reflect and recover[45].

Finding a way to limit the enmeshment and put strong boundaries in place between church and home is crucial. This is part and parcel of reassessing priorities and committing to better time management. A pastor’s marriage and family have to have quality and quantity of time.

Strong support structures outside of the church can help a pastor adapt and flex to withstand adversity. This support structure should include ministry peers, the minister’s family, and perhaps a professional therapist. A minister needs to have a person they can speak honestly with and just be heard[46]. However, this should not spiral into a “venting” coping mechanism that becomes merely a focus on the negative. Also, this support structure should include the “secular” social services resources that exist in the community. The pastor must stop trying to “do it all.”[47]

Denominations and congregations need to implement more holistic training[48] at the seminary level. Young students need experienced mentors[49] who can guide them on how to cope with stress and how to develop reasonable boundaries[50]. Interventions can also be done when a pastor is in the middle of a ministry crisis[51]. In patient short term therapy has proven effective as well as sabbaticals[52]. Pastors also need ongoing training and support long after seminary. The key is to intervene with a variety of methods, not an either/or.

Job satisfaction, a feeling of being successful, of having control and having choices is so important to avoiding burnout[53]. Burnout can come with a feeling of powerlessness and failure. Ministers who had a strong internal sense of their own goals, their own calling and their own “merits” did much better in fighting off depression and burnout[54]. Those who adhered to external criteria for success, such as congregants’ expectations, tended to become frustrated and hopeless over time[55].

Pastors who scored higher in hope and resiliency had drastically lower levels of stress and burnout[56]. The innate challenges of ministry did not go away. Instead, the minister learned how to reframe difficult circumstances as a positive[57]. He or she could still envision a future where their internal goals could be met. Hope does not seem to be an inborn trait, but rather a fluctuating coping ability that gets stronger with conscious use. Hope and resiliency can come from learning how to recognize Christ in every situation.

 

In conclusion

 

Researchers agree that there has not been nearly enough study done in the area of ministerial burnout[58]. Since pastors are key figures in our churches, in our family lives and in our communities, it benefits us all when we learn how to better serve those who serve the church.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Abernethy, Alexis D., Gillian D. Grannum, Carolyn L. Gordon, Rick Williamson, and Joseph M. Currier. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” Spirituality in Clinical Practice3, no. 3 (2016): 175-86. doi:10.1037/scp0000109.

Adams, Christopher J., Holly Hough, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Jia Yao, and Melanie Kolkin. “Clergy Burnout: A Comparison Study with Other Helping Professions.” Pastoral Psychology66, no. 2 (2016): 147-75. doi:10.1007/s11089-016-072

Bevere, John. The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014.

Blanton, Priscilla W., and M. Lane Morris. “Work-Related Predictors of Physical Symptomatology and Emotional Well-Being among Clergy and Spouses.” Review of Religious Research40, no. 4 (1999): 331. doi:10.2307/3512120.

Chandler, Diane J. “Pastoral Burnout and the Impact of Personal Spiritual Renewal, Rest-taking, and Support System Practices.” Pastoral Psychology58, no. 3 (2008): 273-87. doi:10.1007/s11089-008-0184-4.

Darling, Carol Anderson, E. Wayne Hill, and Lenore M. Mcwey. “Understanding Stress and Quality of Life for Clergy and Clergy Spouses.” Stress and Health20, no. 5 (2004): 261-77. doi:10.1002/smi.1031.

Doolittle, Benjamin R. “The Impact of Behaviors upon Burnout Among Parish-Based Clergy.” Journal of Religion and Health49, no. 1 (2008): 88-95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

Edwards, GeneA Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness. Augusta, ME, United States: Christian Books, 1980.

Fallon, Barry, Simon Rice, and Joan Wright Howie. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate Crises in Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 27-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0486-4.

Feuerherd, Peter. “Groups Aim to Help Pastors and Strengthen Parishes.” National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 2016.

Harbaugh, Gary L., and Evan Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout: A View from the Seminary.” Journal of Pastoral Care38, no. 2 (1984): 99-106. doi:10.1177/002234098403800204.

Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

Maslach, C. (2003). Job burnout: New directions in research and intervention. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(5), 189–192. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397–422.

Miner, Maureen H. “Changes in Burnout over the First 12 Months in Ministry: Links with Stress and Orientation to Ministry.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture10, no. 1 (2007): 9-16. doi:10.1080/13674670600841819.

Miner, M. H., Dowson, M. and Sterland, S. (2010), “Ministry orientation and ministry outcomes: Evaluation of a new multidimensional model of clergy burnout and job satisfaction.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83: 167-188. doi:10.1348/096317909X414214

Muse, Stephen, Milton Love, and Kyle Christensen. “Intensive OutPatient Therapy for Clergy Burnout: How Much Difference Can a Week Make?” Journal of Religion and Health55, no. 1 (2015): 147-58. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0013-x.

Ochberg, Frank. When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue. Gift from Within, 2006.

Palmer. Let Your Life Speak. Listening for the Voice of Vocation. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009.

Randall, Kelvin J. “Clergy Burnout: Two Different Measures.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 3 (2013): 333-41. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0506-4. 01/03/2013

Roll, Steve. Holy Burnout: Turning Brokenness into Blessing, through the Power of Gods Restoring Love. Tulsa, OK: Virgil W. Hensley, 1996.

Scott, Greg, and Rachel Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative: Addressing Isolation and Burnout in Rural Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology64, no. 1 (2014): 71-97. doi:10.1007/s11089-013-0591-z.

Shelley, Marshall. Well-intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1994.

Sullivan, James E. The Good Listener. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2000.

Visker, Joseph D., Taylor Rider, and Anastasia Humphers-Ginther. “Ministry-Related Burnout and Stress Coping Mechanisms Among Assemblies of God-Ordained Clergy in Minnesota.” Journal of Religion and Health56, no. 3 (2016): 951-61. doi:10.1007/s10943-016-0295-7.

Warner, Janelle, and John D. Carter. “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment and Burnout in Pastoral and Lay Persons.” Journal of Psychology and Theology12, no. 2 (1984): 125-31. doi:10.1177/009164718401200206.

Wells, Carl R. “The Effects of Work-Related and Boundary-Related Stress on the Emotional and Physical Health Status of Ordained Clergy.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 101-14. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0455-y.

[1] Abernethy, Alexis D., Gillian D. Grannum, Carolyn L. Gordon, Rick Williamson, and Joseph M. Currier. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” Spirituality in Clinical Practice3, no. 3 (2016): 175-86. doi:10.1037/scp0000109.

 

[2] Maslach, C. (2003). Job burnout: New directions in research and intervention. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(5), 189–192. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397–422.

 

[3] Randall, Kelvin J. “Clergy Burnout: Two Different Measures.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 3 (2013): 333-41. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0506-4. 01/03/2013

 

[4] Warner, Janelle, and John D. Carter. “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment and Burnout in Pastoral and Lay Persons.” Journal of Psychology and Theology12, no. 2 (1984): 125-31. doi:10.1177/009164718401200206.

 

[5] Adams, Christopher J., Holly Hough, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Jia Yao, and Melanie Kolkin. “Clergy Burnout: A Comparison Study with Other Helping Professions.” Pastoral Psychology66, no. 2 (2016): 147-75. doi:10.1007/s11089-016-072

 

[6] Blanton, Priscilla W., and M. Lane Morris. “Work-Related Predictors of Physical Symptomatology and Emotional Well-Being among Clergy and Spouses.” Review of Religious Research40, no. 4 (1999): 331. doi:10.2307/3512120.

 

[7] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 334

 

[8] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[9][9][9] Miner, Maureen H. “Changes in Burnout over the First 12 Months in Ministry: Links with Stress and Orientation to Ministry.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture10, no. 1 (2007): 9-16. doi:10.1080/13674670600841819.[10]

Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[11] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 337

[12] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[13] Lee, Dispositional Resiliency” 341

 

[14] Lee, “Dispositional Resiliency.” 339

[16] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 182

 

[17] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[18] Lee, “Dispositional Resiliency” 334

 

[19] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 185

 

[20] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 340

 

[21] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[22] Harbaugh, Gary L., and Evan Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout: A View from the Seminary.” Journal of Pastoral Care38, no. 2 (1984): 99-106. doi:10.1177/002234098403800204.

 

[23] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 183

 

[24] Scott, Greg, and Rachel Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative: Addressing Isolation and Burnout in Rural Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology64, no. 1 (2014): 71-97. doi:10.1007/s11089-013-0591-z.

 

[25] Bevere, John. The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014.

 

[26] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[27] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 105

 

[28] Visker, Joseph D., Taylor Rider, and Anastasia Humphers-Ginther. “Ministry-Related Burnout and Stress Coping Mechanisms Among Assemblies of God-Ordained Clergy in Minnesota.” Journal of Religion and Health56, no. 3 (2016): 951-61. doi:10.1007/s10943-016-0295-7.

 

[29] Shelley, Marshall. Well-intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1994.

 

[30] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[31] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 130

 

[32] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[33] Darling, Carol Anderson, E. Wayne Hill, and Lenore M. Mcwey. “Understanding Stress and Quality of Life for Clergy and Clergy Spouses.” Stress and Health20, no. 5 (2004): 261-77. doi:10.1002/smi.1031.

 

[34] Blanton and Morris, “Work-Related Predictors,” 331

 

[35] Ochberg, Frank. When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue. Gift from Within, 2006.

 

[36] [36] Scott and Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative,” 78

 

[37] Fallon, et al. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate.” 38

 

[38] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 130

 

[39]  Scott and Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative,” 93

38Fallon, Barry, Simon Rice, and Joan Wright Howie. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate Crises in Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 27-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0486-4.

 

[40] Fallon, et al. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate,” 36

[42]  Scott and Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative,” 95-96

 

[43] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[44] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 135

 

[45] Fallon, Barry, Simon Rice, and Joan Wright Howie. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate Crises in Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 27-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0486-4.

 

[46] Sullivan, James E. The Good Listener. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2000.

 

[47] Doolittle, Benjamin R. “The Impact of Behaviors upon Burnout Among Parish-Based Clergy.” Journal of Religion and Health49, no. 1 (2008): 88-95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

 

[48] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[49] Miner, “Changes in Burnout.” 10

 

[50] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 337

 

[51] Feuerherd, Peter. “Groups Aim to Help Pastors and Strengthen Parishes.” National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 2016.

 

[52] Muse, Stephen, Milton Love, and Kyle Christensen. “Intensive OutPatient Therapy for Clergy Burnout: How Much Difference Can a Week Make?” Journal of Religion and Health55, no. 1 (2015): 147-58. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0013-x.

 

[53] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[54] Palmer. Let Your Life Speak. Listening for the Voice of Vocation. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009.

 

[55] Doolittle, Benjamin R. “The Impact of Behaviors upon Burnout Among Parish-Based Clergy.” Journal of Religion and Health49, no. 1 (2008): 88-95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

 

[56] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[57] Edwards, GeneA Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness. Augusta, ME, United States: Christian Books, 1980.

 

[58] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 130

 

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The student ministries pastor has “scaled back” midweek services for the summer. The lead pastor is off with his family on vacation to somewhere amazing- judging by his facebook photos! The associate pastor is so chill right now (he’s growing a full on beard!) because he has “limited” small group sessions planned this summer. He’s using summer to work on fall. So why oh why are you, dear kid’s ministry leader, frying like an egg out on that hot hot hot sidewalk? Summer is not a break for children’s ministry leaders. It is typically VERY busy. Here are just a few reasons that summer can be tough for kid’s ministry leaders:

  1. Most of you have a summer outreach-or two. VBS, Summer Camps, Drama Camp, Sports Camp, Sidewalk Sunday School etc. This is one of your craziest, most impactful seasons of the whole year! And all of these outreaches are usually in ADDITION to your regular ministry times on Sundays and midweek. Which can make it more frustrating that…
  2. Your volunteers are AWAL. Those summer outreaches usually need a LOT of man and woman power. But your volunteers will be taking their vacations and will be off of their usual schedule. I live in the great state of WI. After so many months of bitter cold and snow, many of our leaders literally head out to go camping- ALL SUMMER. The ones who stay on in the summer, still have their vacations to go on.
  3. Parents are EXTREMELY distracted. The parents of the kids in your ministry are carrying out vacations, summer sports, family trips, family reunions, prepping for fall school etc. If your parents and volunteers need to be told something 8 times during the school year before it “sticks”, I think they need to hear information 17 times during the busyness of summer (also during the Holidays).  I do not give out a lot of very important information during the summer. Make SURE you make parents and leaders aware of all important summer dates BEFORE school lets out. We have our parent and volunteer meetings right after school starts.
  4. Your attendance drops. Most churches report that their Sunday and midweek attendance dips in the summer (including the kid’s ministry programs). In the past, when we tried to have a volunteer training or parent meeting in the summer, almost no one showed up.  Do not let this discourage you. It happens to us all. I do not showcase my amazing new curriculum in the summer. I usually pull out a smaller curriculum, tried and true, and then take new risks with it- like REALLY messy games, water play, or a guest speaker who enters on stilts! Summer is a great time to try some newer things with perhaps “older” lessons. Our focus changes in the summer to making VBS and Camp AMAZING and also preparing for the fall kickoffs.

A Few Summer Survival Tips for Those of Us in Children’s Ministry:

  1. Do communicate frequently with your lead pastor and other staff. Many times they have NO idea how difficult summer is for you. They are throttling down while you are ramping up. Let the staff know how crazy this season can get for you.
  2. Try recruiting a whole separate set of volunteer leaders for your regular services in the summer. I started recruiting a small group of summer leaders that would commit for those 12 weeks. Then I gave all of my leaders the option to take summer off. Some stayed all summer and loved it. Others came back to the ministry in the fall. Our retention level is very high. Many said they respected that we value them as people, and we want to see them building their own families too.
  3. Plan Plan Plan. The earlier in the year you start planning for your summer outreaches, the better they will go. Plan downtimes for yourself as well after EVERY event. Try as hard as you can not to plan your outreaches back to back or right off of an all church event. AS tough as it is, try to take your day/days off.
  4. Give yourself a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Most people can push through a tough time if they know there is great reward on the other side, and that the tough time is only temporary. We know the reward for our summer outreaches is beyond measure- children and families coming to know Christ, our church and the kingdom expanding, our community a better place etc. But too often we feel like that insane pace of ministry should be happening at all times, year round. Ministry has SEASONS. For me, fall is my “breather.” After we get all of our fall programs kicked off and running smoothly, I have a couple of weeks that are a bit “saner.” But I have to work hard and plan before that to make sure I do not burn out. I can push through a tough patch of summer, when I focus on the amazing impact of these outreaches and the smoother season to come.
  5. You need to delegate and build teams. And this takes time and patience. Sometimes you have to have a few “wins” under your belt before your dream team will jump on board. But I highly suggest teams to help with each outreach, and above all a prayer team that you meet with regularly. You need others encouraging you and cheering you on as you run that “ball” through to the end zone.

How about you? How are summers different fromIMG_0017 the rest of the year in your ministry? What have you found that helps you the most in your summer ministry?

Love and encouragement always,

Trisha

Can I let you all in on a little secret? I’ve been working on the launch of an all new project- a short, weekly  Youtube show all about ministry- kid’s ministry, youth ministry, family ministry etc. I am so excited at how it is developing! We’ll be talking about what’s working well NOW in kid’s ministry, what’s brand new, what’s on the horizon!

I’ll also be talking live with some amazing pastors, some who are “legends” in ministry and want to share their years of experience. We’ll also feature some newer leaders who are innovating in bold new ways.

I’ll be occasionally broadcasting live when I’m traveling across this nation, so you can see a variety of church facilities and get ideas from several areas of the country and styles of ministry.

Look for fun, impactful, encouraging, inspiring moments together every week. We’ll be covering crucial topics such as volunteer recruitment that works, safety and security, ministry and depression, amazing facilities on a budget and more. Better yet, you’ll have a chance to suggest topics, places and people that YOU WANT US TO talk to/about!!

But first, I need YOUR help. I am searching for the name of our new show! Here are some of our suggestions from leaders all over the nation. Which one is your favorite? Wanna write one in? Whoever’s suggestion wins will be receiving a free copy of my second book! So please take a sec and vote! We’ll make sure to announce and countdown when the show gets close to going live. I cannot wait for us to connect and create together soon! Thanks so much! Trisha

 

Possible Titles for my Kidmin/Fammin You Tube Channel? Which is Your Pick?
  1. Just Peachy
  2. The Peach Buzz
  3. Going Bananas with Peach
  4. The Peach Adventure
  5. Peachy Keen TV
  6. A Peach of my Mind
  7. Other-comment below!!

 

radio

Will You See Me Off?

“Is there anything else we can do to help Michael?” I asked.  The Dad of 2 small girls looked up at me sheepishly. “Well, there is something I would like to talk to someone about.” His eyes darted over to her wife who was standing hear her hospital bed. Michael is battling stage 4 cancer, and each  new report that comes back is more and more bleak.

“We can talk about anything. What is on your mind?” I asked.

“If I do not make it….”  His wife interrupted him here. “You will be fine.”

“But if I do not make it…” She interrupted him again, “Don’t talk like that. No negative talk.” With that, she kissed him on the forehead. “I’m gonna go get a cup of coffee. I’ll be right back babe.” She left the room giving me a warning look.

Michael looked at me urgently. “I know that my chances are not good. And Leila is in denial. She won’t talk to me about my will, my last wishes, my power of attorney- nothing! Can you understand that I NEED to know that my wife and kids are going to be cared for? That I am terrified of being kept alive on machines forever? She has no clue that I have 2 very large life insurance policies that would take care of her and the kids indefinitely. She won’t listen to where I keep the insurance info. I know she is trying to be only positive around me. But it is just making me feel more and more alone and out of control I need to talk through these decisions. I’m so anxious for my family.” The words just seemed to pour out of Michael, in a hurry.  “Will you help me write up my living will for the hospital staff and for my family? At least will you listen to what I have down and offer suggestions?”

“Of course I will listen! You know I’m a pastor and not a lawyer, but I will offer any help I can,” I offered. His face lit up with relief and hope.

Together we went over his final wishes calmly and thoroughly. Michael leaned forward and took a deep breath. “I feel so very relieved right now.  I can go on fighting. I just need to know that Leila and  the boys will be ok.”

When I left Michael’s hospital room, I found Leila curled up next to the vending machine weeping.  When we talked, she told me that he just could not face the thought of life without Michael. She also said thats he was determined to never ever be “negative” around Michael. To her, any talk of death was, “giving up.”

I am determined to learn all I can and try my best to be for and minister to this couple during this tough time. Some of the  important things I am learning include: A. death is such a crucial time in a person’s life, in the family member’s lives, B..sometimes the person just needs someone to be there, to listen  and perhaps to help them “set their house in order.”

I can honestly say that when I went to Bible College for Children’s Ministry, I had not imagined myself doing end of life visitations or performing funerals or ministering to families that were grieving. I should have.  Over and over again in my 17 years as a staff pastor, I have been called upon to minister to families walking through grief and loss. I am realizing however, that this whole area of “End of Life Care,” is a fast growing, yet terribly under resourced ministry in our churches. According to a report from the National Institute of Aging, Americans are living longer than ever. More and more Americans are dying at home now too, in hospice or palliative care programs.  Because Americans are living longer, and more of them are dying at home, what does that mean for the church? Well, our churches are aging more and more as well.  In fact, a recent study found that 1/4 of American church members are 65 or older. That means that more and more of our congregation members are going to be facing end of life illnesses and final decisions. And it seems like a tragedy for the church to be silent during one of the/if not THE most important time in a person’s life. To me, the most important part of a book or a movie is the ending.Even if someone was a coward or a villain in the film- they might just redeem themselves in the end before the credits! Shouldn’t more of our focus as THE Church be on FINISHING well?

The Bible actually has a lot to say on the subject of death. And it doesn’t talk much about AVOIDING death. What does Scripture tell us about death?

  1. We are ALL going to die (barring those going in the Rapture, according to my faith). (Heb. 9:27, 1 Thess. 4:17-18)
  2. Our lives are short, even if we live 100 years- it’s over in a flash. (James 4:14, Psalm 39: 5-6)
  3. Jesus went through death first, and conquered it. (Col. 1:18, 1 Cor. 15:57, Rom 6:8-10)
  4. Death is not the end.( Revelation 14:13, John 11: 25-26)
  5. We will see those we loved, who died in Christ. (1 Thess 4:13-18)

How did people in the Bible approach death? In the Old Testament, the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph) would realize that they were going to die soon. Then they would gather all of their family around them and speak a blessing/prophesy over them. They were “setting their house in order” (setting their earthly and spiritual affairs in order) before they died, surrounded by their families (example Gen. 39).  In the New Testament, Christians are pictured as going to their deaths confidently (sometimes as martyrs), assured of eternal life in Christ. Paul famously said at the end of his life, right before being martyred, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8. How amazing to be able to say that at the end of a life! So a comprehensive look at Scripture seems to teach that we should prepare for death, with confidence and faith in Christ, looking back on a life lived all out for Jesus, having all of our earthly and spiritual affairs in order, speaking blessings on our family as we go. “The day of death is better than the day of birth.” Eccl 7:1.

This beautiful picture of ending life well reminds me of stories my grandmother has told me. My grandmother who is now 86 was a pastor’s wife for 35+ years.  This is one story she told me. “Back then, we thought about death differently. People didn’t usually die at the hospital. They died at home. And when they were close, you called the pastor and all the family to pray together in the room until they were gone. One time, this elderly lady called your granddad and I to say she thought she was close. She loved Jesus and was battling the cancer for years. We called her son, and we raced over. We prayed with her as she rocked in her rocking chair. She said, ‘Lord, I’m ready to go.’  A few minutes later, we looked up from prayer and she was gone. It was a beautiful moment and we were glad to be there for it. Her son pulled up a few minutes later.”

I feel bad when I hear stories like this, because I do not feel that the church is as involved these days in the end of a person’s life.  If the church IS dropping the ball a bit in the realm of end of life ministry, I could pinpoint a few reasons for that.

  1. Our culture does not like to face the reality of death. The Victorians used to keep death in front of them at all times. Funerals were held in homes. With disease running rampant and little medical care, death was all around them. Victorians even coined the phrase, “Remember you will die.” Our culture seems to be the opposite. We pretend that we will never die. We keep bodies and dying people far away from the public. It helps us keep our happy illusion of immortality.
  2. Some denominations, including mine, pray for the person to recover. I totally agree with praying for a person to get better. But talking about death and final wishes CAN be perceived as a lack of faith. I disagree with death being caused by a lack of faith either on the part of the person or those praying for them. Everyone eventually dies. And death may be God’s way of fully healing that person.
  3. Our pastors and key volunteers are usually not trained well to deal with death, tragedy or grief. It is scary and sad to be present when someone is dying/has died. It reminds us of our own mortality. It may feel like an intrusion of the family’s time. So, fear may hold us back from ministering well when someone is leaving earth.

So, how could the church do a better job of ministering to individuals and families facing loss and grief? According to the funeral director here in my town, many families are totally unprepared when death strikes. They often made NO plans for the funeral (even for family members who were in their 90’s!). These families often need guidance in putting the service together and making 100’s of little decisions- and they have to make their decisions in a very short amount of time and while dealing with their own grief. What if the family has to make the awful decision of whether or not to keep a family member on life support? They badly need their church family through that. My church’s stance is of not doing anything to end life in any way (euthanasia). But I think more pastors and key leaders should be trained in dealing with crisis, in grief care and in ministry to those at the end of life.

When I recently  interviewed the nurses in my local hospital’s emergency department, they shared with me that they used to have a whole list of pastors who were willing to come to the hospital for emergencies. But now, over the years, they only have 2 pastors willing to stay on that list! The nurses said that often they cannot get a pastor willing to come if the person is not one of their parishioners. So they take turns sitting with the person, because they do not want them to die alone. This broke my heart. Where is the church? I hope to bring attention to the crucial mission field of those with one foot in eternity- and their families grieving the loss. My hope is that the church will step up to this mission field, white for harvest, and help more of our congregation members to FINISH WELL!

What do YOU think? What is the role of the church with those who are dying? With the families of those who lost someone? Love Trisha

hospice

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Recer, Paul. “Older Americans Living Longer, Study Says.” ABC News, ABC News Network, abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=118056.

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2013/02/06/more-people-are-dying-at-home-and-in-hospice-but-they-are-also-getting-more-intense-hospital-care/#645203a75f99

 

“Aging Congregations May Be Churches’ Biggest Concern.” Insights into Religion, religioninsights.org/articles/aging-congregations-may-be-churches-biggest-concern.

 

“End of life End-of-Life care.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 23 July 2016, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/basics/endoflife-care/hlv-20049403.

 

Nichols, Hannah. “The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 23 Feb. 2017, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.php.

 

https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index/Medical-Euthanasia-and-Extraordinary-Support-to-Sustain-Life

 

Maybe you saw it coming, or maybe it hit you out of nowhere like a Mack truck into a brick wall at 90 miles an hour…The ministry you were living and breathing, has come to an end. It may have been abrupt- a new senior leader came in and several (or all) of the staff leaders are gone. Or the congregation voted, and out of nowhere, you are now just OUT.

The change could also have been a long time in coming; a ministry on life support, just waiting for that new ministry position, feeling and sensing things coming to an end- and then at last- the finality of announcing that you are moving on.

Bottom line: This is a time of transition. And there is a ministry loss involved (the loss of one before a new one comes).

Whether or not you knew this was coming, we are rarely “prepared” for a ministry loss. We all hope to be at our church “forever”, and yes, we’ve all heard the stories of “He was at that church for 47 years and died in the pulpit” but the reality is this: MINISTRY POSITIONS END. And most of them will NOT last; only a very small percentage of ministers get to stay in one place more than 5 years. There is a lot of debate as to why that sad fact exists, but my purpose here today is not to tell you how to AVOID transitions in ministry. Almost all of us will have to deal with one or two along the way. I want to encourage you and give you any small insight I can to go THROUGH a transition WELL.Transitions are tricky- and involve some level of pain. As a staff pastor at a very large church, I saw countless staff come on board, leave for new ministries, or be let go, or have their positions eliminated. Some knew what was coming and others did not. I have also left positions and taken new ones a couple of times in my own ministry career- and I know first hand how difficult that can be!

So here are a few things I have learned (sometimes the hard way) during my own ministry changes and losses and from other pastors who have survived more than I ever will. Directly following a ministry loss/transition:

  1. DO- give yourself some time to process the enormity of the loss. You have to allow yourself time to grieve. Many pastors have likened their exit from a church to a death- the death of something they loved very very much. Ministry is like NO other job on earth. You cannot understand if you haven’t lived it. It’s not just a JOB, it’s your whole life. And the people of that church become your FAMILY, your support system, your counselors, your prayer partners. So when a minister leaves a church for whatever reason, they not only lose their source of income, their security- they also lose their place to attend church, their close friends, their support system, etc. They lose their entire way of life. And if you have a spouse and/or children, this adds another loss- watching them grieve as they say goodbye as well. It’s also the loss of your hopes and dreams that you had for that ministry and that church- you are grieving the loss of the good that was, and the loss of a future that now will not be. Your whole heart and soul was tied up in those dreams. In a “normal” career, if you leave your job, your family will likely stay in the area, in your own home, with their current friends, in their usual school, with the support of their church family and friends. A pastor may lose it all when their church position is gone. Many times the church will bar pastors and staff from attending the church after they resign or are let go, to “assure loyalty to the new staff.” The loss for the minister and their family can be all encompassing, involving a move to a new city, new church, new schools, new friends… Many pastors say they have had to go through all five stages of grief- shock, anger, sadness, bargaining and finally acceptance.
  2. DON’T- rush yourself into a new ministry position too soon. Many pastors do this because they need the source of income. But you have to let yourself grieve. And don’t stuff your feelings down; you’re going to have to acknowledge them sooner or later. And it’s not fair to carry that on to the next place of ministry and carry out your grief (or anger or mistrust) on that poor group of unsuspecting people. If you can remember back to when you were dating, you may remember cautioning someone, “Don’t take the first person you see right after a breakup. Avoid the rebound person!” That advice holds true after a ministry “breakup” too. Your judgement may be clouded while you are grieving. You may not be hearing God clearly right now, and may inadvertently jump right from the frying pan into the fire. Which leads us to –
  3. DO wait on God for clear direction as to your next steps. He hasn’t forgotten you. He will tell you what to do. God called you so one person or one church cannot UNCALL you. When he called you into ministry, He didn’t turn to ask anyone’s permission, and He doesn’t need their permission to use you now. His gifts and calling are irrevocable. He still has a ministry for you- a future and a hope. Don’t settle.
  4. Don’t believe the myth, “If I don’t jump into a new ministry seamlessly, I’ll never work in ministry again.” That is simply not true. Remember that God opens the doors you are supposed to be in. Wait for His right door.
  5. DO find a great support system. You may have lost some of your best friends and supporters. You need safe people to talk to. You need to be able to rely on your extended family, friends and ministerial colleagues at this point. The key here is to find SAFE people to talk to who will give you wise, loving counsel and let you talk/grieve. Your network of minister friends and colleagues will be invaluable to you when you are ready to take a ministry position again.
  6. DO go for counseling if you can. There should never be any stigma on getting wise confidential help from a professional counselor.
  7. DO take a vacation. Take care of YOU. Get healthy. Work to improve yourself. DON’T just sit there. Go to a conference. Finish that book you’ve been planning to write. Go finish that degree. You cannot improve what happened; but you can improve YOU.
  8. DON’T just talk to anyone who wants to talk to you about it. It’s not okay to try to destroy the church, ministers and ministry at the church you are leaving- regardless of how it went down. And some people are NOT safe to talk to. They just want juicy gossip, and perhaps drama. They aren’t going to help you heal, in the end- they’ll just pour salt on the wounds. These are the kind of people who want to come tell you everything that is happening at the church you just left- who said what about you, what your replacement is doing wrong and how they took down your beloved jungle set in kid’s church. You do not need those conversations when you are trying to grieve. I heard one pastor’s wife tell her best friend, “I love you Amy. But if we are going to stay best friends, we cannot talk about everything going on at First Church right now. I need some time to heal. Our friendship has to be more than my former church.”
  9. DO forgive those who may have hurt you. The Bible says that we must forgive others as Christ forgave us. Not because they deserve it – because they probably don’t. But for Jesus’ sake. And for our own sake! We may not FEEL those feelings right away; but we make the DECISION to obey and forgive and the feelings follow later. Don’t let a ministry loss come between you and your Savior. Know that Scripture tells us that God DOES vindicate in His time, not ours. Forgive and leave them to Him. You still have work to do.

How about you? Have you been through a ministry loss/transition? What helped you get through it? What tips can you give others for surviving and then shining in a tough time between ministries?

Love from the bottom of my heart- Trishablog

Has your life/ministry jumped the track? Gone off the rails? Have you ever agonized over the  questions, “God how did we get here? How did things go so very wrong?? This isn’t what I thought or imagined? What about Your promises? Can anything good ever come of this?”

Major life detours can take many forms- a death, a loss of a job/ministry, breakup of a relationship, marital issues, career shift/change, health set back etc. Most of the time these life detours are so traumatic because our journey is not what we expected. Somehow we got American culture mixed up with Scripture, erroneously thinking that a Christian’s life is supposed to be a smooth direct line,  continually getting better and better at lightening speed. When life does not meet up to these expectations (which it won’t) we left asking questions like, “God, did I really hear You? God did you really speak to Me? Did I do something wrong to get here? Did I blow it somewhere so badly that I have ruined God’s overall plan for my life? How could God let this happen? Can He be trusted?”

If you have ever had a major detour in life, and if you have ever asked any or all of these questions, know that you are not alone. In fact, you are in great company with some of the greatest heroes of the Bible.

Paul the Apostle- Jesus promised Paul at Paul’s conversion that God would use Paul powerfully, to minister widely and preach for Him. But right away, Paul was rejected in church after church (they were afraid of him due to his past). Instead of walking into leadership at a growing mega church, God’s Spirit took Paul in the WILDERNESS for 3 years. God was training and shaping Paul in that wilderness. But even after Paul launched into itinerant ministry he was rejected, thrown out of churches, stoned, beaten, arrested, shipwrecked etc. I know it must have been very difficult for Paul to sit in a Roman prison for years. Wouldn’t he have wondered what God was up to? How do you minister in a prison? But Paul (through the Spirit) wrote 2/3 of our New Testament in that prison cell. And through his trials, Paul was able to share the gospel with some of the most influential leaders in Rome!

Moses- Moses had been a prince with incredible potential. Then he was forced to flee into a WILDERNESS. And God kept Moses there, tending sheep until Moses was 80 YEARS old! Then when Moses started his ministry, Pharoah refused to listen or cooperate, the people were not too willing or grateful, and the obstacles were numerous. And then God brought Moses and the people into the WILDERNESS. They did not get to go straight into the Promised Land. God decided to develop them in the wilderness for 40 YEARS. Moses dealt with constant complaining, rebellion and infighting.

Joseph- He was famously given wonderful promises by God. But before Joseph saw God’s word come true, Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely accused, arrested, betrayed numerous times and imprisoned for many years. I would have been tempted to think that I hadn’t really heard God, or that God had forgotten about me. But Joseph could not have handled the position God had for him, without the developing he received in those unfair, unjust situations. He had learned that God could speak through dreams, he had learned how to organize and administrate, he had learned to systematically plan ahead. And God used Joseph to save an entire region from certain starvation.

Elijah- Before and after this champion of God faced off against 400 prophets of Baal, he spent a LOT of time alone with God in a WILDERNESS.

Jesus- Immediately after being baptized, Jesus launched His new ministry, not with a dazzling budget, but with 40 days of grueling temptation in a WILDERNESS.

What about YOU? Has God given you a promise? God gives us promises because we are really going to need them. We will have a dark time, when you will be tempted to forget in the dark what you heard in the light- and that promise could be the lifeline that you cling to in your own WILDERNESS. Faith, remember, is the evidence of things NOT seen. If you already have all you wanted, you don’t need a promise or faith. We fast paced Americans sometimes only care about the DESTINATION and getting somewhere GREAT fast. But God cares more about what we will BECOME in the waiting. Here are 3 things to remember if your life has taken a detour:

  1. Don’t look back. We get tempted to wish for things to go back to how they were when “they were good.” We may long for, attempt to go back to, a time or a ministry that is gone. Our mind glosses over all the things that were really wrong during that time. We start to act like the Israelites begging to go back to Egypt. God is NOT a fan of His children always trying to go back (Lot’s wife). We can appreciate the good about what was. We can cherish those memories. But God has much more in store. You did not ruin God’s plan for your life. Your are not that powerful or awesome. God may have planned this “detour” all along. It’s time to leave Egypt behind and press on into the Promise.
  2. Develop as much as you can in the desert. God develops His champions in the WILDERNESS (David, John the Baptist, John the Revelator etc.). If you find yourself in a scary unexpected desert, it’s time to listen for that still small voice, notice that burning bush and even entertain an angel or three. God often gets our undivided attention by removing the distractions. Yield to the moving of the Holy Spirit; wait on Him as long as it takes. He will move that glory cloud on when it is time. While you are in that desert, seek God, learn a skill (Joseph), be faithful and work hard.
  3. Determine to wait on God. Delay is NOT denial (Abraham and Sarah- Isaac). A detour is not defeat. Again, it may only be a detour from a human perspective. Determine to let go of control of your life. God really does order our steps. And as long as we hold on to Him, He really does “work all things together for good for those who love God.” God doesn’t use anyone powerfully until He has thoroughly developed and tested them first. He is teaching us to trust Him fully, and to give up OUR plans and OUR timeline. He is the pilot and we do not get to back seat drive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have you been in a wilderness of unexpected twists and turns lately? What is God developing in you during this time? What skills are you pursuing? What has God been speaking to your heart? What promises of God do you need to dust off and hang onto tighter? From one “desert wanderer” to another, God bless your ministry and all you are becoming. This detour will not define you, but it will refine you and refuel you to what He has been planning all along. God bless- Trisha

 

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