Archive for the ‘Ministry’ Category

Anyone with an iPhone or Android has undoubtedly downloaded the game “Temple Run.” It is a fascinating, yet simple time-killer that has assassinated countless hours of productivity. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got yourself getting sucked in to the addictive nature of the game. However, while sacrificing hours on the altar of “Temple Run” trying (unsuccessfully) to beat my 5 year old’s top score, I realized that “Temple Run” also holds several spiritual truths that mirror the message of the gospel and the life of a believer. Since there are four gospels, here are four spiritual truths I found in “The Gospel According to Temple Run.”1. You’ve got to run for your life.

“Lord, I’m runnin’ tryna make 100!”

In “Temple Run”, the explorer is constantly being pursued by “demonic monkeys” who are waiting for him to make one false step. The moment the explorer stumbles, the monkeys pounce on him to “eat up his flesh.” In the same way, our enemy, the devil, is constantly sending his demonic forces on assignment to chase, harass, and attempt to destroy the believer. However, just like the explorer, we must keep running. We can’t afford to stumble. Every time we stumble we allow the enemy to gain ground on us. The interesting thing is that the demonic monkeys are not fast enough to catch the explorer on their own, they need his help. They need him to stumble in order for him to catch up. The enemy can’t catch you if you don’t allow him! That’s why he puts obstacles in your way. You’ve got to jump, slide and turn on the road to your destiny. It reminds me of the old song of the church that says, “Lord, I’m runnin’ tryna make 100 because 99 1/2 won’t do!” Keep running for your life!

2.  Don’t forget the coins.

The explorer can’t be so busy focusing on the demonic monkeys behind him that he misses out on the coins in front of him. Throughout the obstacle course there are yellow, red and blue coins. These coins represent the treasure of God’s word. They also represent opportunities; they can be used to purchase upgrades and aids to help the explorer on his journey. Likewise, every day, God blesses us with opportunities designed to aid us on our journey. However, if we are too busy looking at what’s chasing our back, we’ll miss out on the blessing that’s staring us right in the face. One interesting thing to note about the demonic monkeys in “Temple Run” is that for most of the game you can’t even see them. They are so far behind the explorer that they disappear off the screen. God doesn’t want you looking at what’s behind you. He wants you to focus on the opportunities that are ahead of you. The Apostle Paul says, “Forgetting those things which are behind…I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14). Don’t forget the coins!

3. Make sure you power up.

Force-Field of Favor

Throughout the maze of “Temple Run” several “power-ups” appear. The explorer has to leap to get them.  These represent the power of the Holy Spirit that is available to every believer. We just have to leap up and grab it. The Holy Spirit is our Paraclete. He is our Comforter and our Helper. He is like the Christian’s “power-up.” There are several power-ups in “Temple Run”, but my favorite is the magnet. When the explorer gets the magnet, he doesn’t have to maneuver to collect the coins…the coins come to him. That sounds a whole lot like the favor of God. When you have God’s favor, you don’t have to try to force your way into situations; God will make them come to you! The Bible says that God surrounds us with favor, like a shield (Psalm 5:12). In other words, He puts a magnetic force field of favor around us that just attracts the blessings, but you can only get it if you power up.

4. The objective is to survive.

There is no tricky secret or hidden motivation for the explorer in “Temple Run.” His only goal is to stay ahead of the demonic monkeys behind him and watch out for the obstacles in front of him. The goal is to stay alive – to survive. Similarly, our goal as believers is to keep surviving. Even though our situations may look bleak, we continue to survive. As Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones in the valley, we must encourage ourselves to live. Proverbs says that death and life are in the power of our tongue. Therefore, we must learn to speak life. You must tell yourself, “I will not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord!”

While there are at least four similarities between “Temple Run” and the life of a Christ-follower, there is one stark difference. The game has no end. The explorer can just keep running and running until he either gets tired and gives up or is eaten or killed in the game. He has to keep running, never being allowed to get any rest or peace. However, for the child of God, we are promised both rest and peace. God grants us opportunities to rest and even commands us to do so, and one day we will look forward to the ultimate peace of eternal life. Another difference is that, in the game, the explorer is running away from the temple. Of course, in our Christian journey, we must run TO the temple. So make sure you make that “temple run” this weekend and #Go2Church!

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We hear it all the time, “Pastor you really preached this morning. That was a GREAT sermon!” But, was it really a great sermon? How can we tell? Many times people make statements like this because the message addressed an issue they were currently dealing with. That’s one of the great blessings of the Word of God – it is living and it touches us right where we live. However, that leaves a great deal of subjectivity when it comes to analyzing the merits of the transmission of the message. Quite honestly, it is entirely possible to have a great message and a terrible sermon. The sermon is the vehicle the preacher uses to transport the message God has given to him or her, and the preacher must be careful not to allow the vehicle to get in the way of the message.

One of the opportunities the Lord has blessed me with is to serve as an adjunct professor at Carolina Christian College, where I teach courses in the field of homiletics. Homiletics is the art and science of preaching. Preaching is an art form. God uses all of who He created us to be in the preaching process. That’s why you will never find two sermons that are exactly the same – because there are no two people who are exactly the same. However, while preaching is an art, it is also a science. In other words, there is (or at least should be) some methodology to the preaching process.

It is extremely important for the preacher to engage in the process of regularly evaluating his or her sermon…because the congregation already is! For every person who says, “Great sermon, pastor” there are five who walk by thinking that it was the worst thing they ever heard. That should not discourage the preacher, but should inspire him or her to continually strive to improve and develop his or her craft. Preaching is a life-long call, and it involves a life-long process. Any preacher who is not seeking to improve his or her ministry is doing the congregation (and ultimately, the call) a disservice.

When it comes to evaluating the sermon, there are six key elements that form a rubric from the acrostic: PREACH.

Punctuality

One of the most important elements of a sermon is time. Great sermon content can be easily overshadowed by poor time-management. When it comes to time-management, err on the side of caution. Oftentimes, less is more. Of all the thousands of sermons I’ve heard or have preached I can count on one hand (with fingers to spare) the times I’ve heard someone complain that the sermon was too short. As the old adage goes, “The mind can only absorb what the behind can endure.” People in the audience no longer want to suffer through hour-long sermons of preachers proving how smart they are and how much they’ve studied. You don’t have to preach the whole Bible in one sermon. The good thing about Sundays is that they come every week. Save a little for the next one.

Relevance

As stated earlier, people are moved by the message when it speaks to where they are. The goal of preaching is  contemporizing timeless truths and make them relevant to the audience of today. This does not in any way involve changing the timeless truths, but it does involve packaging them in such a way that the audience can understand. It is, in essence, what Jesus did. Jesus used parables as a way of packaging the principles of the Kingdom so His audience could grasp them and apply them to their context. A perfectly constructed sermon that lacks relevance is merely a lecture. Preaching must connect with the audience.

Exegesis

Exegesis simply means exploring and interpreting the text. Far too many sermons have no biblical foundation. The Bible remains the road map for every good sermon. If the preacher does not follow the map, the audience is bound to get lost. Preachers must stay true to the biblical text if their message is to maintain any substance. The role of the preacher is not to preach his or her opinion but to preach God’s opinion, and God’s opinion is found in His Word. I’m very leery of preachers who consistently ignore the Word or just read it as a formality at the beginning of the sermon and spend the entire sermon talking about everything but that scripture. Good preaching is biblical preaching.

Appearance

You may be wondering what appearance has to do with a good sermon. The reality is that people see you before the hear you, and your appearance can either help or hinder the sermon. You never want your suit to get more attention than your sermon. Don’t be too flashy, and certainly don’t be too shabby. Your appearance must be appropriate for your audience. Also, for God’s sake, please use an iron. It’s hard for your audience to hear you talk about “a church without spot or wrinkle” when your clothes are full of them! Watch your appearance…because the congregation is.

Clarity

The greatest sermon has no effect if people don’t understand it. Sermons must be CLEAR in order for people to HEAR. Some preachers treat sermons like doctoral theses, but sermons are designed to reach the “least of these.” Like my pastor, Bishop Alfred Owens, always taught me, “We must always remember that we are feeding sheep…not giraffes.” The goal is not to be high and lofty in our preaching, but to preach with clarity and simplicity so the sheep can graze on the Word.

HEAT!

Preaching must be done with passion! This is not a matter of style, but it is a matter of conviction. The preacher must preach like he or she believes the message…or no one else will. When we preach with conviction…the message is convicting. The purpose of preaching is to produce a change. When we bring the heat, we are stirring the congregation toward positive change. Listless preaching leads to lifeless congregations. Preach with passion, and God’s power will manifest!

The greatest sermon ever preached is undoubtedly Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in Matthew 5 – 7. It is the largest collection of red letters in the entire Bible. (In many Bibles, the direct words of Jesus are written in red.) In this sermon, Jesus begins by telling us a collection of statements about blessings and what it takes to be blessed. These statements are collectively referred to as “The Beatitudes.”

However, while Jesus begins his sermon talking about blessings, He ends it basically talking about cursings. It’s clear Jesus didn’t attend any seminars on preaching. He would have realized that His homiletic structure leaves much to be desired. Any preacher worth his salt knows you’re supposed to END with the blessings! Didn’t Jesus know that He was supposed to leave the people on a high note so they could shout, dance and praise so they would be ready to give more in the offering? *tongue planted firmly in cheek*

In any event, Jesus ends His sermon with a warning. He says in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” It’s from this warning that we derive the colloquialism “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” The message is clear: “Watch out for people who pretend to be harmless sheep when they’re really ravenous wolves.” The worst part of this warning is that Jesus is not telling us to watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing at our jobs, at school, or even in our families. He says we are to watch out for them in the Church! He says “Beware of false prophets.”

Sadly, today we don’t only have to worry about wolves simply infiltrating the ranks of the prophets. There are many who have also invaded our pulpits and call themselves pastors. I call them “Wolves in SHEPHERD’S Clothing.” It’s one thing when you can’t trust the sheep beside you, but how dangerous is it when you can’t trust the shepherd in front of you? Wolves in shepherd’s clothing don’t PRAY for the sheep…they PREY on the sheep. Wolves in shepherd’s clothing believe that the sheep exist to serve them, when the exact opposite is true. Wolves in shepherd’s clothing can preach with INTENSITY, but they have no INTEGRITY. They have CHARISMA, but no CHARACTER. We must beware the wolves in shepherd’s clothing!

The word beware simply means to “BE AWARE.” In other words, we must learn how to identify the wolves in shepherd’s clothing. How do we do that, when the express reason the wolves put on the shepherd’s clothing is to disguise themselves from detection? Jesus gives us the answer in Matthew 7. He says, “You will know them by their fruits” (v. 16) and “by their fruits you will know them” (v. 20). Focus on the fruit. There are four particular fruits that help us identify wolves in shepherd’s clothing.

Appearance

Now, I know you’re thinking, “How can I identify a wolf in shepherd’s clothing by his or her appearance when they are in disguise?” The reality is that no matter how great a wolf is at disguising himself, if you watch him or her long enough and closely enough, they will eventually show their true colors. There isn’t enough wool in the world to cover up all their fur. So look for the fur. Wool is soft and comfortable. Fur is rough and prickly. If a pastor is ALWAYS in a bad mood and treats people like they’re his or her servants instead of the other way around, it’s a good chance he or she is a wolf in shepherd’s clothing.

Aroma

Wolves have a distinctive scent. A wolf smells very differently than a sheep or a shepherd. While they may be able to “pull the wool over your eyes” wolves cannot hide their scent. Even if they pass the eye test, they can’t pass the smell test. Wolves in shepherd’s clothing usually carry an aroma of arrogance. They usually try to huff and puff and blow stuff down. Shepherds serve the sheep. Wolves try to subjugate the sheep. Shepherds should carry the fragrance of humility…not the aroma of arrogance.

Appetite

Wolves have a ravenous appetite. They are never satisfied; never content. They always want more. One of the ways to identify a wolf in shepherd’s clothing is by his or her appetite. If they’re “hungry like a wolf” chances are it’s because they ARE a wolf. This is the taste test.  You can tell a lot about a person by their tastes. What are they attracted to? If they desire things of the world more than the things of God, perhaps that pastor is merely a wolf in shepherd’s clothing. This is not to suggest that a pastor must be perfect – for none of us are. We all make mistakes. The difference is that a wolf in shepherd’s clothing has developed a lifestyle around his or her illicit appetites. We must beware.

Articulation

The final test for wolves in shepherd’s clothing is the ear test. No matter how cunning and smooth of tongue a wolf is, eventually he or she will let out a howl. If we listen to many of the sermons preached in pulpits around the world, there’s a whole lot of howling going on. We must learn to listen for it. Jesus said that the sheep follow the shepherd because they know his voice and will not follow the voice of a stranger. Listen out for strange voices from the pulpit, and if it doesn’t sound like Christ or His Word…DO NOT FOLLOW!

These are just a few of the ways we can identify wolves in shepherd’s clothing: appearance, aroma, appetite and articulation. The key is that once we are aware of wolves in shepherd’s clothing, we must not allow them to continue to devour the sheep. True shepherds must not allow wolves into their pulpits – even if they can preach well and raise big offerings. If we don’t protect the sheep in our fold, the Master will hold us accountable. We also must protect the wolves from themselves. We must remember that even a wolf in shepherd’s clothing is not out of reach of God’s grace. Jesus ends His sermon with a warning for the wolves. He says, “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name?’…And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me.'”

I guess we need to tell the wolves that they need to BEWARE.

A package of Original Fruit Skittles.

Is this worth a child's life?

This blog post actually started as a series of tweets regarding the sheer injustice of the Trayvon Martin saga. However, I quickly realized that 140 characters were not nearly sufficient to capture the depth of feelings I have for this case. I have not been filled with such righteous indignation since the execution of Troy Davis.

Those who have followed this blog for a while know that I haven’t written regularly for some time now. However, this case has brought me out of my blog hibernation! The blogosphere, mainstream media and social networks are already buzzing with details regarding the case so I won’t bore you with details here. My goal is to simply add to the dialogue and share my response as a pastor, father, and young black man in America.

As I stated in an earlier tweet, the sad reality in today’s society is that kids are killed every day. We have become numb to it…almost expecting it. It should not be so, but that is the reality. The reason, I believe, that Trayvon Martin’s death resonates with so many is that, apparently, justice died with him. Whenever a vigilante, posing as a neighborhood watchman, can summarily profile, follow and fatally shoot an unarmed teen…AND NOT BE ARRESTED…there is cause for outrage!

George Zimmerman was told by a police dispatcher NOT to pursue Trayvon Martin, yet he chose to disobey that direct warning. There is no doubt that Zimmerman’s pursuit of Trayvon DIRECTLY led to his death. Simply put, if Zimmerman had not disobeyed the authorities, Trayvon Martin would be alive today. However, as senseless as this death is, the lack of response by the local police makes Zimmerman’s actions seem light in comparison. Zimmerman’s actions led to the death of one child. The Sanford PD’s refusal to arrest Zimmerman has the potential to lead to the death of countless others.

Additionally, the lack of justice in this case (at this point) further deepens the wound of a global community and further victimizes anyone who has ever lost a loved one to violence whose killer has never been brought to justice. Every day that George Zimmerman goes free, that fatal gunshot wound continues to pierce the hearts of Trayvon Martin’s parents and the people who love and support him. Justice must be served!

Mr. Zimmerman (and the Sanford PD) are standing behind Florida’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” law. This law is designed to protect citizens who respond to an imminent threat against themselves or others in an attempt to defend themselves. The fact that this law is being applied in this case would be comical if it were not so egregious. George Zimmerman was CLEARLY the aggressor in this case. He chose to follow Trayvon. He hunted and confronted an unarmed child and killed him in cold blood. His claim of self-defense is utterly ridiculous! Last I checked, Skittles have not been classified as a deadly weapon. What was he afraid of, that Trayvon would make him “taste the rainbow”?

The lack of justice in this case should be felt far beyond the confines of the Black community. This should enrage the HUMAN community. Whatever your color or creed, we must all unite to speak out against this and any injustice. Parents, pastors, politicians, people of faith….we must demand “Justice For Trayvon.” Perhaps someday a child won’t be considered suspicious because he’s walking down the street with his hoodie on…IN THE RAIN. But until that day, we must continue to do as the prophet, Isaiah admonished us. We must “cry aloud, and spare not.”

Cry a little louder…I still don’t think the Sanford PD heard you!

It’s Friday, and it’s time to  live up to the “humor” part that’s  promised in this blog. The 2011 NFL season has just begun. While there are millions of fans excited about how their city’s team will do this weekend, countless others are just as, or more excited, about the status of their fantasy team. For many NFL fans, reality is no match for “fantasy.”

Each year, before the start of the season, fantasy leagues hold their draft to determine which players will end up on which fantasy teams. The goal is to draft the most productive players to help you win your fantasy league. Each league has a scoring system for individual and team statistics. For instance, in some leagues, quarterbacks get 1 point for every 10 yards passing and 6 points for every touchdown. Those scores are added up each week and the fantasy owner with the most points wins.

Fantasy leagues have created an added element of fun each week as fantasy owners battle for bragging rights in their respective leagues. This got me thinking about what it would look like if someone ever developed a “Fantasy League of Preachers” and developed a scoring system where you could “draft” a preacher and keep up with his “stats” throughout the year. You compete with other people in your league who draft their own preachers, and, just like in fantasy football, the team with the most points at the end of the season – wins.

Let’s say you could only “draft” 5 preachers, and the scoring system looked something like this:

  • 10 points for every appearance on a national television broadcast
  • 5 points for speaking at a major conference (e.g. Woman Thou Art Loosed, COGIC Convocation, etc.)
  • 3 points for every other speaking engagement
  • 1 point for every YouTube view

I’m sure some of you could come up with much better metrics, but if we were holding a “Fantasy Preacher Draft” today, who would be your top 5 draft picks? Bear in mind there are some preachers who may never make a national TV broadcast but are YouTube sensations. Just like in fantasy football, the “stars” get you big points, but it’s often the unexpected “little guys” that make the difference between winning and losing. There’s also always a “breakout” star who seemingly comes out of nowhere to light up the league. The person who drafts that player ends up looking like a genius. 🙂

You are now on the clock. Tell us who your top 5 draft picks would be in the “Preacher Fantasy Draft.”

DISCLAIMER: This is all meant to be in fun. Please save the comments about the sanctity of the preaching ministry. God loves to see you smile. 🙂

Preaching Without Notes

No podium? Where do I put my paper?!

Over the years, I’ve been asked about the pros and cons of preaching without notes. Most notably (pun intended), people ask about the process of preaching without notes and how they can learn to do it. At the onset, let me state that preaching without notes is not for everyone. It is largely based upon how a person thinks, processes and communicates information. Having said that, however, I do believe that  every preacher should have at least one sermon in their heart that they could preach with or without notes if called upon at a moment’s notice. That’s a part of our call to be “instant in season and out of season” (II Tim 4:2).

Before I address a few practical ways to begin the journey toward preaching without notes, it’s important to clear up a few misunderstandings about preaching without notes.

Preaching without notes does NOT make you a better preacher.

Some of the greatest preachers use notes…some of the worst do not (and vice versa). Preaching with or without notes does not make you a better preacher. A bad preacher with notes will probably be worse without them, and a good preacher will not improve his or her preaching by simply dumping the manuscript. My pastor is a great preacher who’s been preaching for nearly 50 years and has always used a manuscript. They key is to find what works for you.

Preaching without notes is NOT the same as preparing without notes.

Some believe that preaching without notes is a shortcut, while, in actuality, the opposite is true. Preaching without notes still requires the discipline of writing a manuscript or outline.  It also requires extensive study. The preacher who preaches without notes must not only study the text intently, he or she must study his or her notes about the text carefully. Preaching without notes is not for lazy preachers. In fact, there is no place in ministry for preachers who are lazy and unwilling to “study to show [themselves] approved” (II Tim 2:15).

Preaching without notes is NOT about MEMORIZATION…it’s about MEDITATION.

You have to spend time WITH your notes if you want to speak WITHOUT them. If we rely on memorization we can fall prey to the demon of forgetfulness 🙂 Preaching without notes is not about memorizing your manuscript or outline verbatim and then reciting what you have memorized. It’s about meditating on the Word and marrying the message so that it becomes a part of you. There’s a reason the psalmist hid the Word in his HEART and not his HEAD. When the word is in your heart, the heart pumps it to the rest of your body. If it’s just in your head, you can forget it and lose it altogether.

To be sure, preaching without notes requires practice. It is through the discipline of practice that one can reach a comfort level to preach without notes. Here are a few practical tools to aid in the practice process.

Master your manuscript.

Every beginning preacher should start out using a full manuscript. A manuscript involves putting the entire message on paper and using that manuscript to deliver the message. Manuscript preachers must master their manuscript and not allow the manuscript to master them. Many preachers are slaves to their manuscript and pay more attention to the paper than the people. No one wants to see the top of your head for 45 minutes! Establish and maintain good eye contact with the congregation. Engage and connect with your audience. Don’t just read your manuscript…deliver your message.

Get in line with an outline.

Once you have mastered your manuscript you can move to the next phase – using an outline. Remember that preaching without notes is a weaning process. I do not recommend jumping straight from a full manuscript to preaching without notes. An outline is a good bridge to use to travel across to “No Note Land.” When using an outline, I recommend writing out full sentences instead of fragmented thoughts. These bullet points serve as springboards for the message that you have studied and hidden in your heart.

Let go of the net.

Once you have become familiar and comfortable with the process of preaching using an outline, it’s time to launch out and begin preaching without notes. At this stage, however, I do recommend that you still take the outline to the pulpit – with the intentions of not using it. Keep the outline tucked away in your Bible or someplace it is readily accessible. This way it serves as a safety net in case you find yourself in trouble. After doing this a few times, let go of the safety net. Leave the outline at home and preach what God has placed in your heart!

A few years ago, I was on my way to church to celebrate my Pastoral Anniversary. Customarily, this is the time of year when the church pauses to honor and appreciate the work and ministry of the Senior Pastor. While this should have been a time of rest and relaxation for me, I found myself in a semi-depressed state. I had been dealing with several challenges in my personal life, as well as in the ministry, and, quite frankly, I was in no mood to celebrate. In fact, prior history had taught me to expect at least one major crisis to creep up during the week of my anniversary.

Can I get a tow?

As I drove to church pondering these thoughts, I noticed something out of the ordinary on the side of the highway. A huge tow truck had broken down and was stuck on the side of the road. The instrument designed to help others when they were broken was now broken itself. I immediately began to think of myself and other pastors and spiritual leaders who have devoted their lives to helping the broken. Many pastors serve as “spiritual tow trucks” helping to transport people in their churches and communities from brokenness to healing. But what happens when the tow truck is in need of a tow? Where does the pastor go when he or she is broken down on the side of the highway of life?

Recent revelations of indiscretions and failings amongst prominent men and women in the pulpit only serve to highlight the need for all clergy to have a safe place where they can go, be open and transparent, and, ultimately, be healed. While there is no excuse for sin, we must be careful that in our haste not to CONDONE sin in the pulpit, that we CONDEMN the servants in the pulpit. Pastors, like the parishioners in the pews, are human beings with flaws and faults. It is imperative that we do not flaunt the flaws of others nor magnify their mistakes.

While the individual is held personally responsible for his or her actions, we do all hold a corporate responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all – including men and women of the cloth. Clergy and congregations must provide mechanisms for the pastor to find healing when he or she is broken. The Army sends wounded soldiers home, but most pastors are required to heal while still on the battlefield!

The highway of ministry is littered with broken down tow trucks of pastors who, for whatever reason, were never afforded the opportunity to heal. While it is important that we provide mechanisms for these broken down tow trucks to be towed to safety, it is even more important for us to provide preventive maintenance to ensure that no pastor finds him or herself in need of a tow.

While many in the pulpit and pew hold a “Physician, heal thyself” mentality, there are some things that require external assistance. Even doctors have to go to the doctor sometime. Every pastor needs a pastor. Additionally, every pastor should invest the time and money in seeing a professional counselor. Many pastors spend a lot of time engaged in the counseling of others, yet never receive counseling themselves. As a Nationally Certified Counselor with a Masters in Pastoral Counseling, I was required to go through counseling. When you spend so much time dealing with other people’s issues it is often difficult to deal with your own. Counseling helps.

In addition to counseling, many pastors and spiritual leaders simply need rest! The vast majority of pastors are overworked and overwhelmed. Many do not have the luxury of a sabbatical or retreats, but these are essential aspects of a healthy spiritual life. Like that old tow truck, if we don’t take time to REST, we will eventually RUST.

Those of us who have ever been towed back to health by one of these “spiritual tow trucks” must do our part to ensure that they never find themselves broken down on the side of the highway of life. An African proverb states that, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Similarly, it often takes a collaborative effort to tow a tow truck. Clergy and congregation, pulpit and pew, must work together to ensure each other’s collective mental and spiritual well-being. When done correctly, it probably looks something like this.