Focus on God, not on being a pastor

 Pastors and Christian leaders commonly think, “I have to act like a clergy at all times?” Wherever a pastor or Christian leader is at the store, church, home, with family or in town, they feel that they have to act as a clergy/pastor persona. Part of this is absolutely true. Once you decide to go into ministry, you put yourself and family under fire and your house is a glass house. All that is true.
This is what I like to call the Pedestal Syndrome. It is frustrating, we (as ministers) tend to put on unreal expectations on our own self!  In reality we are human too. We are not perfect people. Worse, we feel guilty for not meeting those unhealthy expectations. Next this can provoke, a “fake” you….you never really feel free to relax and be yourself, because we feel you “have to be pastor.”
Do you remember the call to ministry in your life? Think about your sense of God’s call in your life. What passages in the Bible  describe that call? What was your experience life when you knew that you were called? Which biblical figures/characters do you relate with?  Where were you? Put yourself in that place for a moment. What Biblical passages come to mind in regards to your calling?  Recall those Scriptures that really encourage you, even today in your ministry. Write about this experience. It is important to not censor your writing in the process. You are not trying to compose and essay on the call. You are simply writing without stopping for 10 minutes or so. Then go back and read what you have written and see what that evokes in you. if you need to look something up quickly in your Bible that is fine also. Meditatively and prayfully just write, free-flowingly…Don‘t throw away what seems irrelevant. Save it and see what God does with it later.  
Here are some ideas to boost your spiritual thought this week:
Option 1- One practice that can strengthen your own spiritual life is the silent meal. This is frequently practiced in monasteries. There is a freedom in not being expected to speak and interact with others. It offers you an opportunity to draw within yourself.This can be practiced even at a fast food restaurant. Order an inexpensive meal, choose a table, and enter into a time of silence in the midst of the cacophony of the world around you. As you sit down at the table, before you unwrap your meal, begin your prayer time. Begin with prayers for all those who had some part in preparing the meal before you, taking that as far back in the food process as possible. There was someone who has raised the animal or planted and cared for the vegetables that you are about to eat, who prepared the paper, designed the package, etc.
After about ten minutes of prayer, begin to slowly unwrap your simple meal and occasionally take a bite or sip of my drink as you continue your prayers. As much as possible, pray with your eyes closed and your mind totally focused. You might pray for people or situations in your ministry, or pray for colleagues that you know are having a difficult time. Prayer for at least one-half hour from the time that you sit down at the table.
Option 2- Take short periods of time in the beginning. Determine to take a half-hour break in which you will explore how Scripture can speak to you about the attributes of God. Use a concordance to identify some adjectives that praise God. Gather up several of them and then spend some time exploring the nature of God through these adjectives. That might come in the form of a word study or it might be in the form of contemplation around one or two of these adjectives. Whatever your approach,, the purpose is to focus your attention on the wonder of God.

The time limit of one-half hour might even serve the advantage of intriguing you so that you want to set aside another half-hour at another time to continue the experience. Discipline yourself to avoid thinking of how useful your work might be for a sermon, a class, etc. This is time to place yourself purely in the presence of God in a loving way. However you go about it, keep some notes on how it makes you feel. If one aspect of the Sabbath is to step outside of the normal pace of life to nurture relationships, this is a way to begin with a short Sabbath experience of loving God.
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Coaching through Scripture Introduction

The Bible is a powerful tools of the Christian faith.

Did you know that the idea for the word “coaching” springs from an ancient Biblical Model called “mentoring?” 
Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. 
Psalm 145:4 – One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. 
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. 
2 Timothy 2:2 – And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
The Bible is an encouraging tool for discipleship and a tool for coaching! The Bible even encourages us to use the book for these tasks! 
1 Corinthians 9:24
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
This can be used to help with goal setting and in trying times to realize that life is a race, think big picture.
1 Timothy 4:8
8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
This one is awesome, it is a great reminder that we are spiritual beings with a physical bodies and emotional minds. This is the topic of  a book I am currently writing a manuscript.
1 Peter 5:5-7
 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Can You hear Him?

Right after an amazing display from God himself, Elijah is in a crisis. In 1 Kings chapter 18, God proved himself to be the only true God against Baal. Not only did God of Elijah merely show up, it was pure mockery of an absent Baal. Elijah leads the way with faith. After watching the poor prophets take up half of the day crying out to Baal, Elijah prepares his altar with three times as much water around the alter. And in a matter of moments upon praying to God, the entire altar is set ablaze and even all of the water is dried up! Talk about an amazing sight! Then Elijah, guided by God’s power and command slaughtered the prophets of Baal. 

The contrasts between 1 Kings 18 and 1 Kings 19 are sharp and startling. Earlier, Elijah is bold and courageous, victoriously facing all kinds of odds with the chapter concluding, “the hand of the Lord was on Elijah.” Elijah experienced God’s supernatural strength to do the extraordinary. But in chapter 19, we find Elijah fearful, running scared, exhausted, depressed, and wanting to die.

In the section before us we see the cause of the change in Elijah. King Ahab tells the notorious Jezebel what Elijah had done. She reacts with vengeance and threatens Elijah’s life. Elijah runs for his life down to Beersheba in the desert in the southern most part of Judah. Leaving his servant, he continues another day’s journey further into the desert, crawls under a scrubby tree and, in deep depression, asks God to let him die.

It is in this state of spiritual depression that we find Elijah. Elijah’s depression is the result of a “perfect storm”—the convergence of several common causes. The first factor is what we might call unrealistic expectations. Re-read 19:4 – “I’ve had enough” means “That’s the last straw—I can’t take any more.” It is easy to get in trouble by letting legitimate spiritual desires turn into expectations that go beyond what God actually promises. This happens most often by expecting that key people in our lives will make good decisions about God. Of course we desire that they do this, and we pray to this end. But God has never promised that our desires or prayers (or even God himself) will overturn people’s free will. I have been devastated by expecting family members to turn to Christ—only to suddenly harden again and back away. I have counseled Christian friends about their wrong attitudes, watched my counsel sink in—only to see them revert back to the same wrong attitude. When things like this happen, they are bound to make us sad because we care about them. But when we base our emotional security on people’s choices rather than God’s faithfulness, the result is serious depression.

It is at this very time when Elijah most needed his support most, that he left himself totally isolated  (juniper tree; cave). But it is here where he meets God again. He is waiting to hear from God in BIG ways….(let’s read):

1 Kings 19:11-13 (HCSB) “11 Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
James 1:19 (NASB) “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak…”

After a very eventful season of life where God showed Himself in big ways, Elijah just needed to rest and hear God in a small still voice, in a gentle whisper. This ties into the series of self-care. Especially as Christians, we must rest. We must be able to hear God in all of our business and busyness. We must take time to truly meditate and listen to God’s voice. If we are on top of the world or if we are depressed. If we are stress and busy or bored and feel meaningless. In all situations, we need to build on our strong foundation and cornerstone, which is our relationship with God. He is our strong tower. 

Self-care in the Bible

The last several Fridays, I have continued the topic of Self-care. Today, as a Christian life coach, I address self-care from a Biblical angle. Let’s think about what Jesus did in the Bible.

While Jesus did spent a lot of time with his disciples and in teaching. He also had time everyday alone where he spend in prayer (Mk 1:35, 14:23, Lk 5:16, 6:12,13, 9:28,  Mt 14:32, etc). He modeled what it means to have an intimate relationship with Jesus and he modeled the principle in Psalm 46:10 (NIV) which says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Another concept to realize is that our bodies are important:

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 (ESV) asks “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ” We need to take care of our bodies.

Finally, a key principle from a Biblical perspective is in regards to the Sabbath, a day of rest for the Christian. The Christian is called to keep this day of rest, holy (Ex. 16:23, Is. 58:13, etc).
Is this still true for in the New Testament?

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)
Does it have to be Sunday? Not necessarily. John Piper puts it this way (2013):

“Now I think that the principle in the New Testament (Rom. 14 particularly) is that God ordains that one day in seven be restful. I think that’s a creation ordinance for our good, for our health.”
The key is on the importance of rest, God even had a day of rest after Creation, we too need to rest in order to be our best the rest of the week!

References:

Piper, J. (2013). What does it mean practically to keep the Sabbath Holy?
Retrieved from http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/what-does-it-mean-practically-to-keep-the-sabbath-holy