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Pastoral Anxiety (via Kevin DeYoung)

Kevin DeYoung reflects on Second Corinthians 11:28 “apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”
Pastoral life brings what Paul characterises as “anxiety,” and DeYoung is at pains (as is Paul) not to be seeking pity, or to make out that this anxiety is worse that concerns that so many have as part of their daily lives.
Being a pastor is a wonderful calling.
But this anxiety is a constant companion. It doesn’t get left on a desk or worksite at the end of the day. It’s never completed.
This though, is normal.
And if you’ve got a disposition that gets a bit blue at times then it weighs a bit heavier sometimes than others.
Sometimes black dog Monday lasts through till Wednesday.

DeYoung wants to simply “encourage pastors to keep fighting the good fight and encourage congregations to keep encouraging their pastors.”

Read more at Ligonier.


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Benefits Of A Long Term Pastorate (via 9Marks)

9Marks has an article written by Ron Pracht, who has served one church for 45 years, 25 years of those as pastor.
In the article Pracht lists the benefits and negatives of a long-term pastorate.
Here are a few of the ‘benefit’ points that resonated with my experience:

  • Trust grows stronger every year you stay.
  • You learn to be open and confessional, personally and in your preaching, because you have failed, sought forgiveness, and displayed to the people you pastor what it means to intentionally follow Jesus.
  • You learn the importance of relationships and keeping them right before God. You have fought through difficulties and walked with people in success and failure—both yours and theirs.
  • You earn the right to lead significant change because of the relational investments you have made.
  • There is a depth of relationship with people with whom you have shared joys and sorrows, disappointments and successes.

Read the rest here.


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Pastors Must Be What They Want To See (via Jared Wilson)

Jared Wilson points out that pastors must model the pattern of life they long to see in the Christians they serve.
A plurality of elders in a congregation helps provide a broader balance of these qualities.
From Wilson’s article:

If we want our churches to be of one mind, to be of one heart, to assassinate their idols and feast on Christ, to be wise and winsome with the world they have forsaken, to be gentle of spirit but full of confidence and boldness, to be blossoming with the fruit of the Spirit, we must lead the way.
A pastor goes first. In groups where transparency is expected, a pastor goes first. In the humility of service, a pastor goes first. In the sharing of the gospel with the lost, a pastor goes first. In the discipleship of new believers, a pastor goes first. In the singing of spiritual songs with joy and exuberance, a pastor goes first. In living generously, a pastor goes first. In the following of Christ by the taking up of one’s cross, a pastor goes first. All I am saying is that one who talks the talk ought to walk the walk. Don’t lead your flock through domineering; lead by example.
The pastor ought to be able to say with integrity to others, as Paul says to Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13). It is not arrogant to instruct others to follow you, so long as you are following Christ and showing them Christ and giving them Christ. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ,” Paul says again (1 Cor. 11:1).

Read the whole post here.


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Ten Types Of Thinking That Undergird Depression (via ERLC)

This is an article by Brad Hambrick, published by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
These ten types of thinking are described as fuelling the depressive-anxious experience.
From personal experience they certainly resonate.
It would be helpful to understand that this is not a matter of identifying these in others and tell them to stop it.
Rather it is a self-diagnostic tool to help individuals recognise that which is unhelpful and unproductive in recovery and self-management.
It is also helpful for those who support sufferers about what sort of thought patterns not to encourage.

The list.
There are expanded explanations and ‘pay attention’ descriptions to help diagnose practical explanations of the thinking at work in the article itself:

1. Idealistic: Ideals are good goals without a sense of time.
2. Impossibly high goals: Impossible goals are either super-human or lack achievable pieces.
3. Personalization: Everything is not “about you.”
4. Emotional reasoning: When we believe our emotions are true in spite of facts to the contrary, this is emotional reasoning.
5. Catastrophisizing: This style of worst-case scenario thinking (i.e., “I’m going to die, fail out of school, be single forever, etc.) is very frequent at the onset of a panic attack.
6. Dichotomous thinking: “It is either great or terrible. It is clearly not great, so it must be terrible.”
7. Selective attention: We constantly filter our attention.
8. Superstitious thinking: In children or sports fans, superstitious thinking can be cute or entertaining.
9. Passivity: “If I can’t [blank], then I won’t do anything.” This is a pattern of thought that often causes people to cycle between depression and anxiety.
10. Equating worth with performance: This mindset requires “salvation by works alone” for you while allowing “salvation by grace” for everyone else.

Read the whole article here.


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Six Reminders On The Importance Of Pastoral Leadership (via Erik Reed)

Erik Reed developed a six item list to remind himself of the importance of pastoral leadership.
I’m conscious of building in preparation for those who will follow after me; and know that my role gets me a certain amount of trust and influence but only time and relationship will nurture deep trust and influence, so these two really stood out to me.

Remember the short life span of my leadership opportunity.
Someone is going to replace me. I am pastoring someone else’s future church. While recognizing this is sobering and humbling, it also motivating to lead well and courageously while I have the opportunity. I need to lead recognizing that I am a steward of something bigger than me.
Remember that my position gives me a seat at the table, but my actions determine the extent of my influence.
I am the Lead Pastor at The Journey Church. This gives me a seat at the table on leadership discussions and decisions. I have built in authority because of my position. But my position does not determine my influence, my actions do. This leads me to focus on what I do instead of where I am on the org chart. The most influential people are not always the ones with the most authoritative positions.

Read the whole post at Lifeway Pastors.


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The Long Game (via Erik Raymond)

Erik Raymond provides perspective on the up and down experiences of pastoral life.
It’s easy to slip into regrets about the past or apprehensions about the future.
It’s also easy to feel overwhelmed in the present.
Raymond’s counsel is realistic and grounded.

Play the long game and keep your chin up. Have the pastoral job description at hand and remind yourself of it. If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and focusing primarily on what we are called to do, then we can be safeguarded against pride in seasons of prosperity and despair during the difficult times. This will certainly free us up to rejoice in God’s sovereignty to make a people for himself—even by means of such unlikely materials.

Read the whole post here.


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Advice To Preachers (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam provides what is titled Advice To A Young Preacher, but his points are worth revisiting at any age or stage in preaching experience.

This one is challenging when producing sermons in a most individualistic age and culture:

Recognize that most of the Bible is actually addressed to God’s people, not to individuals. Even books such as Luke–Acts, Timothy, and Titus have wider audiences in mind. The gospel is not just God’s plan for an individual Christian’s life; it is God’s plan to create His own people for His glory. The Bible is addressed to God’s people, and we should use it for the same purpose. If you want to know how to preach that way, read Deuteronomy, 1 Corinthians, Hebrews, 1 John, or Revelation 2–3.

Read the rest here.