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Showing posts with label Leigh Powers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leigh Powers. Show all posts

28 November

Carrying Thankfulness with You in Ministry

It was one of those Sundays when it seemed everything had gone wrong. I wasn't in the mood to worship--I just wanted to survive the next hour so I could go home and hide. Being thankful was the last thing on my mind. But then the praise team played the opening notes of "Count Your Blessings." As we sang and people called out their blessings across the sanctuary, my mood shifted. I had much to be thankful for--including our congregation.

Thankfulness should characterize our ministries. Paul directly told congregations that he was thankful for them and prayerfully thanked God for them in nine of his thirteen New Testament letters. Paul cultivated an attitude of thankfulness toward the congregations he served--even congregations he sometimes had a strained relationship with. He didn't shy away from correcting problems, but he chose to be thankful for the way God demonstrated his grace among the churches he planted and served.

We also need to choose thankfulness in ministry. Sometimes it's hard to do. Our brains are hardwired to hold on to negative information more than positive information. Researchers say it takes five positive comments to outweigh one negative one. Perhaps that's why the criticisms and the slights are easier for us to remember than the positive things about ministry. And when we let ourselves dwell on that negativity, it sets us up to become bitter toward our congregations.

Choosing thanksgiving cancels out that negativity, It forces us to be attentive toward what God is doing and how he is blessing us--even in the midst of challenging circumstances. In ministry, choosing thanksgiving allows us to see how God is at work around us.

This week, try beginning your prayers for your church by thanking God for them. Thank God for:
  • Lives that are being transformed
  • People who love one another well
  • Those who give generously to one another
  • Those who hold on to faith despite life's challenges
  • People who are willing to speak the truth
  • Those who faithfully serve
  • How God displays his grace and glory in your congregation
The list could go on, but perhaps this can help you get started. Write down your list of thanksgivings and look back at it when times get hard. Choosing thanksgiving puts our attention back on Christ and helps us love well in ministry.

About the author:
Leigh Powers is the author of Renewed: A 40-Day Devotional for Healing from Church Hurt and for Loving Well in Ministry. She is passionate about helping women find hope and healing by meeting God in his Word. You can connect with Leigh on Facebook or Twitter, or follow her at her blog, My Life. His Story (www.leighpowers.com).

28 March

A Prayer for Those in Ministry Transitions

We moved in February to a new place of service, leaving our small West Texas town for a bustling Houston suburb. We still have boxes to unpack and names to learn, but it's starting to feel like home.

I know I'm not the only one in the midst of a transition. Some of you are starting to feel the holy discontent that signals God may have something different in store. Some are hurting and looking for an exit plan. Others love where you serve but can't escape the quiet certainty that it's time to move on. And you may be at different places in your transition journey. Like us, maybe you are dealing with unpacking boxes and finding your way around your new home. Maybe you're in the midst of packing and garage sales. Or maybe you're still in the middle of sending out resumes and talking with search committees, trying not to be discouraged by one more no.

Wherever you are in your transition process, I want to pray a prayer of blessing over you:

For those who are hurting from a painful season of ministry, may God be the great healer of your hearts. He stores your tears in his bottle; he records them in his book. Your sorrow will not be wasted. May God turn your mourning into dancing; your weeping into shouts of joy. May he bring to you to a place of healing and freedom where you can serve him in joy.

For those who are grieving the loss of friends and family, of favorite hangouts and familiar roads, may God establish you in a new family of faith. Change always brings its own sense of loss--the way the sunlight slanted through your window in the morning; the way your favorite hymn sounded with familiar voices. May God comfort you in your sorrow and surround you with heart-friends. May God open your eyes to the blessings around you so you can greet the future with open hands.

For those on the road, living out of suitcases and boxes, one foot in the old and one in the new, may God bless you with laughter today. May he be real to you in the present moment--not a memory and not an item at the bottom of your to-do list. May he keep you safe as you travel and birth in your heart a vision for what lies ahead.

For those joyfully serving and yet sensing it is time to move on, may God bless you with good goodbyes and open doors. May every moment count. As you have shepherded people through your season with them, may you continue to shepherd them well as this season draws to a close. May you end well, faithfully loving both your people and your God. May God give you anticipation and joy for what lies ahead.

For all living in the in-between and the unknown, may God help you face the future without fear. May his peace ride sentry duty around your heart, assuring you God is already preparing you and your family for what is to come. May God set before you open doors; may he give you clarity and confidence in each decision you face. For God is not waiting around the next bend; he is with you guiding every step. May you rest beneath the shelter of his wings.

How has God been with you in times of transition and change?

About the author:
Leigh Powers is a pastor's wife, Bible study and devotional author, freelance editor, and mother of three from Houston, Texas. She is passionate about helping women find hope and healing by meeting God in his word. You can connect with Leigh on FacebookTwitter, or follow her at her blog My Life. His Story (www.leighpowers.com).

04 October

Dealing with burnout? You aren't alone.

Megachurch pastor Pete Wilson’s recent resignation from Cross PointChurch in Nashville renewed attention on the topic of pastor burnout. Saying that he was “tired” and “broken” and “leading on empty,” Wilson told his congregation that the best thing for him to do was to step aside from Cross Point leadership.

Wilson’s words had a familiar ring to them. It wasn’t so long ago that my husband and I went through our own journey with burnout and depression. It was one of the toughest seasons in our marriage. His burnout was brought on by a lack of boundaries and unrealistic personal expectations. I was struggling to parent two young children without being caught up in his emotional turmoil. Things finally came to a head when I slapped the number for our state convention’s counseling line down in front of him and told him if he didn’t call, I would. He made the call, and our state convention helped provide us with counseling and needed resources. Slowly, we climbed our way out of the pit.

If Pete Wilson’s words sounded familiar to you too, know that you’re not alone. Burnout is more common in ministry than we’d like to think. Conflict in our congregations, inadequate training, financial stress, poor boundaries, unrealistic expectations, and the sense that the work of ministry is never done can all create burnout-ripe conditions. Maybe your husband is struggling with burnout. Maybe you are. Either way, you aren’t alone. And there is hope. Here are four suggestions for pastors and pastors' wives struggling with burnout:

1. Get help. 

Many denominations offer counseling help for pastors and their families. Take advantage of those resources. If counseling help isn’t available through your denomination, try calling the Focus on the Family Pastoral Care helpline or check out CareforPastors.org.

2. Practice Sabbath.

 It can be challenging for ministry families to practice Sabbath, but it is essential. Rest is an invitation to enter God’s presence and allows us to participate in re-creation. Take a day off. Turn off the cell phone. Get out of town if you need to. Regular Sabbath practice is one of the best defenses against burnout.

3. Cultivate relationships. 

We need people in our lives who care about the state of our souls. For some, this may be a family member or close friend. For others, it may be a spiritual advisor. Find a person who listens to your soul. If you don’t have anyone in your life that fits that description right now, make it a matter of prayer. Ask God to reveal to you who he has placed in your life that can be a soul-companion.

4. Create a spiritual covenant.

Finding a goal to work toward can help you move out of burnout into health. A spiritual covenant can be one tool in helping you define and work toward meaningful goals. How are you doing in terms of your spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, and worship? Are you keeping Sabbath? Tending to your physical health? Developing relationships? Growing in your vocation and training? Draw aside for an hour and prayerfully consider each of these components. Ask God to help you set a goal or two in the most important areas—not for the rest of your life, but maybe for the next six weeks or so. Decide what you will do to achieve these goals. Share your covenant with a friend, and reevaluate in a few weeks to see your progress.

If you’re dealing with burnout, you’re not alone. There is hope. Share your experiences with burnout in the comments, or connect with our message board community to talk in a private and secure setting.  

About the author:

Leigh Powers is a pastor's wife, Bible study and devotional author, freelance editor, and mother of three from small-town West Texas. She is passionate about helping women find hope and healing by meeting God in his word. You can connect with Leigh on Facebook, Twitter, or follow her at her blog My Life. His Story (www.leighpowers.com).

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