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THE HERO IN YOU

Have you ever been shaken out of your complacency? Or maybe you have witnessed something so horrific that you could no longer treat it as a nightmare, as though it never happened?

There have been many heroes who have gone before us who were shaken out of their complacency and drawn into a battle they didn’t necessarily want to fight. They were ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary feats simply because they saw an injustice and refused to sit silently. Following are just a few examples of some real heroes…

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was an African-American civil rights leader who led the resistanceimages1 to segregation using non-violent methods. He could not ignore the injustice being served to blacks, nor could he wait on someone else to step up and fight the battle of the races. God raised him up to be a great man. He was Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” in 1963, and one year later was the youngest man in history to earn the Nobel Peace Prize. God had  a willing vessel in Dr. King and much was accomplished through his courage.

imagesEsther was a young Jewish girl who suddenly found herself queen of Persia. When she discovered a plot to extinguish all the Jewish people living in Persia, she had the courage, at the risk of her own life, to save an entire generation of Jews by confronting the king. Today she is remembered as a powerful instrument in the hands of our mighty God, simply because she refused to remain silent about the killing of innocent people.

Take time to read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, William Wallace, Harriet Tubman, and William Wilberforce. All heroes who risked their own lives so others could live.

Looking back on these people’s lives, hindsight is 20/20. They are known as heroes today, but undoubtedly numerous people who knew them then, called them “zealots” and “Jesus freaks”. I’m sure they were told on more than one occasion they had “lost it.” Can you hear their family and friends warning, “Okay, now you’ve taken it just a little bit too far. The authorities are involved, so it’s time to back off and save yourself. You can’t go to jail, you can’t lose your life.” And I’m sure they heard, “This is not God’s will for you!”

I imagine they probably contemplated these cries repeatedly in their heads and questioned their own sanity. So many of these people, plus countless others unnamed, were in jeopardy of losing their lives. Some did become martyrs for a cause they refused to ignore.

These people seem larger than life to us. Because of the movies made about their lives, theimgres-1 monuments and memorials erected on their behalf, and stories we’ve read, we have a tendency to capture their images as extraordinary people with some kind of gifting you and I do not possess. In reality, they were ordinary people just like you and me. The only difference is, they understood the battle was theirs to fight. They were the ones willing to pick up the sword and charge into battle.

Thankfully, as Christians we possess the most powerful weapons. We are the ones with the call on our lives to stand up when everyone else is sitting down, gaining our courage from the all-powerful God who has our back.

When will we look at the abortion issue as a cause worthy of our fight? Yes, there are many causes that are worthy, but what cause is more gruesome, more devastating, and more horrific than the legalized killing of our children?

We look at our forefathers who justified slavery with such scorn. We read about our country’s history regarding slavery and then wonder how our forefathers could have ever acted with such horrific behavior. Will our children and grandchildren look back at us with disdain over this issue and wonder how we could have ever let decades of abortion continue?

As a Christian, this is our fight. We own it. We must take a stand for the issue of life! It will be that moment you find the hero that resides in you. When pushed into a battle, your strength, power, wisdom, and stamina will come forth and history will show you to be larger than life. As we look back on your efforts to fight injustice, history will judge you well. So my challenge to you today is to join this fight with us. Refuse to look the other way any longer and you will see the hero arise in you! images-1

Please comment below the injustices you wish to fight, and your dreams of how to accomplish their end. No idea is too crazy!

Crossing the Threshold

17135984132_f694fe1ab0_zShe walks across the threshold – perhaps the hardest thing she has done in years. I see the weight pressing down on her shoulders, like a thick dark cloud, no, it’s like a heavy yoke. The secret she has been carrying is apparent, it is clearly visible on her face and in the curve of her shoulders. I recognize this look, it’s obvious to me. I’ve carried the same weight before. I get up and hug her and welcome her like a long lost friend. We have met before but only briefly, not in person only by phone, however, we’ve already made a connection – we are connected by the sin of our past. I imagine that finally she feels a life-line has been thrown to her. Something, perhaps this class she is walking into, will pull her out from under the dead weight she has carried far too long.

This damaged soul has just walked across the threshold into my SaveOne class. Those heavy laden steps are some of the hardest she has ever taken.  She really doesn’t have a clue about the journey embarked on, but I do. And my soul smiles! Her life is about to change forever and I can’t wait to see it happen!

By the end of the first class, the “Introduction”, we have all shared our deepest, darkest, most shameful secret of abortion. We are all becoming knit together by the similarity of our abortion story and the dissimilarity of the circumstances. Some of the men and women in the class have never told another living soul. It has been a successful unburdening. I am always amazed to see the power of transparency. I begin to perceive the heavy weight lifting off their shoulders! By the end of the first, introductory class, I have already witnessed an amazing transformation take place – the unbearable weight is lifting, the guarded countenance in facial expression is softening, the monotone inflection in the tone of voice is brightening. God is already doing His mighty work of unburdening these men and women who have carried the heavy yoke of slavery to their past. God is doing what He has promised. He is making the great exchange…”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 – 30

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And thus begins the 11 week journey to freedom called SaveOne! Over the next 10 weeks these precious children of God will learn how to be set free from the bondage of abortion and how to live in the fullness of victory Jesus Christ provided for them on the Cross of Calvary. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery”. Galatians 5:1

After experiencing healing by taking the SaveOne journey myself, I started the Salem Oregon chapter of SaveOne in September 2006. I have since offered 3 SaveOne classes each year and have seen many people healed and set free from a lifetime of suffering in silence. Now many men and women are empowered to tell their own story of restoration to help save one more person from living a life of guilt, shame, unforgiveness, anger, and depression. We, at SaveOne, believe it is these brave women and men, sharing the word of their testimony, that will bring about change in this culture of death and help to restore commitment to the sanctity of human life.

SaveOne is truly a life-transforming class. I am so blessed to be used of God, and humbled to be placed on the front lines of witnessing Him do His work of restoration in the lives of these precious yet damaged souls. …“This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!” Peace be to you all who are in Christ.” 1 Peter 5:12, 14

This post was written by the incredible Terri Nordone. She is one of our SaveOne chapter coordinator’s and one of my dear friends. I wanted you to hear her description of that life-changing moment we see so often in our classes. These moments are something we never tire of seeing, and never get used to being a part of because they are truly spectacular.

Please let us know if you would like to learn how to bring the SaveOne class to your church!

UP YOURS!

You know those words that are supposed to shut us up, written by a coward sitting alone in his parent’s basement hiding behind a computer screen? At least that’s what I always picture when I get comments meant to spew hate. Here lately these words have been coming in quite regularly on my blog. 

Crazy guyBeing vocal about a social injustice like abortion always attracts its fair share of crazies, but when I received this comment on one of my blog posts it made me chuckle. It simply read, “UP YOURS!” I guess the exclamation point was an extra jab to drive his/her comment home. What do I even do with this comment? What is it supposed to accomplish? Is it designed to make me feel badly about my words? Quash my passion to see abortion end? Was it supposed to make me believe I should be quiet? Did the author hit send and feel better about himself? Did he call up his friends and tell them what a tough guy he is? So many questions…

When someone is too cowardly to talk to you face to face, or have a civil debate about Braindisagreements, don’t give that person any brain space. You have more important things to do with your intellect than fill it trying to understand the motive behind such an unimpressive waste of words. 

You may be thinking I’m completely not taking my own advice because I have devoted an entire blog post to this one person’s comment, but actually I just wanted you to chuckle with me. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to brag on the people who have locked arms with SaveOne. 

There are men and women who have come alongside us who are like nobody else in the world. They see the need and the power behind abortion recovery. The SaveOne faithful support our efforts either through simply reading this blog post and sharing it; joining our efforts through financial giving; being a powerhouse to see these efforts come to pass through prayer; or they are on the front lines of this staff or as a SaveOne chapter leader, leading the charge to end abortion in their communities. Those who have locked arms with SaveOne are truly the catalysts for change in our world. 

Thumbs upWhen someone says UP YOURS to any of us again, let’s wear this insult as a badge of honor. A trophy telling the world, HEY we’re making a difference! People who love the message of death are not liking what we’re doing. Let’s do it more! Let’s do it bigger! Let’s do it louder! Let’s bring more people to the party and save more lives than we ever dreamed. Are you in? 

Thanks for locking arms with us. We love you faithful partners of SaveOne. We couldn’t do this without you. 🙂

Blood money, venom, elections, and hope…

For many politicians, standing on blood money has been their ticket to getting re-elected. They tout themselves as women’s rights advocates and repeat the same venomous lies poisonmindwe’ve been hearing since 1973. Unfortunately, the public’s minds are still being poisoned.

Abortion is an ugly business. Its a gruesome, bone-chilling procedure steadily occurring in our world today. So it’s no surprise the church has tried to keep her hands clean by sidestepping this issue and handing LIFE/ABORTION off to the political world to debate. It’s just easier that way.

Where has this hand-off gotten us? Can we honestly keep our collective heads in the sand and act as though God will not judge us for this? We can no longer vote for a pro-life politician and then pat ourselves on the back for doing our part in helping end abortion. Sure, voting for pro-life candidates is important, but it’s not our answer to ending this war against life. Promotion of meaningful candidates is undeniably a step in the right direction. I have campaigned for candidates too and it’s a wonderful, victorious feeling when your man or woman gets elected. But church…it’s not enough.

Politicians are not our only means to this end. They do not wield the power that holds the key to lock or unlock the answers to this dilemma. WE DO!

Yes, voting in elections is imperative but we can’t get so enraptured in the politics of abortion that we forget who is truly in control. We cannot wait on laws to be changed and overturned. We cannot stand by until the “right” administration is elected, or the “right” justices are appointed. When we rely on politics to save us, then we are giving them all control and power over issues the local church should be controlling. We can do something about the issue of abortion now!

To change laws, we must change minds first. We have to get the church on the right page. We must educate the church first and foremost as to the importance of dealing with the abortion issue. This task starts with you and your church. Courageously make a stand and let people know your church values life and will no longer tolerate what’s going on. Sure, people might leave your church and you will certainly offend some. Most likely people will appreciate your spiritual leadership and stiff backbone.

LocalChurchWhen we avoid tough subjects because we are afraid of offending, and when we hand over spiritual issues for politicians to handle for us, we are giving away power God entrusted to us. We cannot allow the pro-abortion side of this debate to close our mouths about a topic that breaks God’s heart. The local church is the best-equipped entity prepared or knowledgeable enough to do something about this issue.

We can refer to Isaiah 1:15 and Jeremiah 19:4 to see what God thinks about innocent blood shed. When the local church finally takes a stand and reconstitutes the abortion/life issue as our own, then politics will follow us, and we will make abortion unthinkable before it becomes illegal! We don’t have to wait. We can do this now!

Don’t be left on the sidelines of the issue of abortion. King David is a great example of someone who chose not to stay on the sidelines. He could never have become the strong man of God he became by sitting on the sidelines. He entered the battle that was unwinnable and became one of the greatest examples for us to follow of bravery and courage.Lion

The church holds the power to take this issue back from the political arena, but we must wield that power before anything will happen. It will take brave pastors and courageous church leaders to step into an area where the battle for life takes place every single moment. That’s when the wind will be at your back and you will join the ranks of the heroes!

It Takes a Team…

TeamYou expect me to say nice things about SaveOne. It is after all, the non-profit I started 16 years ago. But did you know there is a whole TEAM of people behind me, beside me, and around me who love this organization almost as much as I do? They are creative, funny, smart, committed, loyal, and trusted, dear friends to me. Some of them have been with me all 16 years! I want you to listen in on what one of them has to say, because they inspire me and remind me why we do what we do. Becky states so eloquently…

“I have always been against abortion, but other than speaking out about it I did little to stop it. One day I realized I needed to do something…anything to make a difference. I knew my friend Sheila had this ministry called SaveOne, but I didn’t really know much about it. So, I decided to look into it and see if God wanted me to get involved. As I read the book, God did something pretty amazing. He showed me areas of my life where I was needing forgiveness and grace to move in and change me. I wept through much of the book. I was moved. I have never had an abortion, yet God used this book to change me. I had to get involved. I wanted other people to realize just how amazing God’s grace truly is.”

For years I have had people tell me if you have not had an abortion you cannot possibly help someone who has. Nothing could be further from the truth. The author here, Becky Gould, becky-gouldhas been a tremendous catalyst for countless individuals to experience healing after abortion. Read on…

“SaveOne is not about an agenda or a ‘do these things and you will cope’ type of help. SaveOne is a heartfelt, loving, grace-filled study that will truly dig deep and shine God’s love into a person’s life. It is so loving, yet so truthful. I found I simply could not argue with the logic and truth it shared. The first class I held I was blown away at how different my student was in the few short weeks of our class. God had touched her just like He touched me. I was hooked!”

I tell people all the time, the seat they sit in as a SaveOne chapter leader is addictive. You are literally sitting on the front row of God’s miracles. It’s easy to get hooked just like Becky did when God allows you to be a part, up close and personal, to a life transformed.

“But there is one more truly wonderful thing about SaveOne. We don’t only care about women. We care about men too. God’s healing and forgiveness are available to everyone. Men have been pushed to the side on the abortion issue. They have had to suffer in silence and isolation in a way we just cannot fathom. SaveOne empowers men to be who God created them to be. It has helped to heal many families as men found forgiveness and/or healing and began to walk in the knowledge they gained.”

How cool is it when the people around you buy into your vision? When I first started talking about including men in abortion recovery some people thought I was crazy. Now, helping men, women, and the entire family is not just what we do, it’s who we are. Families finding restoration through Jesus Christ is an every day occurrence at SaveOne. I love Becky speaking out about how unfairly men are being treated in this situation. The more Beckys, and healed fathers we empower to talk about this issue the bigger the army, the louder the voice!

“This study is powerful and I am so thankful I get to share it with others. I got involved because I want to make a difference. I want to help men and women find their voice and understand their testimony. We need to hear the stories of those hurt by this industry so we can keep others from making the same mistake. Through SaveOne and the power of God’s word we are able to help people find freedom and forgiveness, and help save babies.”

And that is exactly what Becky has accomplished through her years at SaveOne. She has saved many babies by helping those who know the truth of abortion get to the healing only Jesus Christ can bring. Those men and women in turn tell others the truth behind abortion instead of sitting in shameful silence. It’s a beautiful process and I couldn’t be happier that Becky is a valued and needed member of the SaveOne team. Thank you Becky for taking time to talk about the value of SaveOne in your life!

Thank you

Becky Gould is a regional chapter coordinator with SaveOne. She cares for every chapter we have across the great state of Tennessee. Her loving and passionate way about her lets the chapter leaders who are under her care know they are not alone, but rather greatly supported, cared for, and prayed over.

Becky would love to answer any questions you have about her job, so please comment below and she will be sure to get in touch with you.

 

Top 3 Causes of Burnout…or at least they were my top 3

I have been amazed how much the subject of burnout has resonated with so many pastors, their wives, and people in general. I’m very happy my transparency made others stop and reassess where they were. I have people who have scheduled vacations, sabbaticals, and are releasing some things from their lives. But this is my last post on burnout. I got REALLY transparent in this one. I may revisit this subject again at a later date, but I feel it’s time to move on…Enjoy!

17135984132_f694fe1ab0_zThe Christian/Church world is really no different in many ways than the world outside the church. I know we all want to believe it’s different, but it’s really not. We are just providing a central location for people who are screwed up to come and try to get themselves figured out. The difference that makes the church world really cool in my opinion is you get to do this “figuring” with others who are on the same road, going in the same direction.

I just came off a 3-week sabbatical where I removed myself from everything and everybody. Many people much smarter than myself told me 3 weeks was not long enough and I believed them. So I made the most of every moment being very intentional in my thoughts and actions. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with no phone, no social media, no work, and no appointments. I was living in this temporary utopia and I was determined to make the most of it. I realized I needed this adult “time out” to process some things that have happened over the last 8 years since we planted a church.

Before we started the church Jack and I had experienced great success at the church before us, at the same time as building a very prosperous, successful business. I was building SaveOne and every year had been better than the last. I went into this church plant thinking it would be more of the same. Success, growth, new friends, great people, locking arms, and marching forward into this new area of success! Everything golden, everything lovely. Before we planted we talked to some dear friends of ours who had started a church about a year before us. We asked them to tell us what we didn’t know. I will never forget my friend saying these words to me, “You’ll make more enemies than you ever dreamed.”

Fast forward 8 years later and I was in a place of believing we had more people who hated us than loved us. I could have never dreamed of the amount of people we would tick off, sometimes just by our very presence. I could lay out for you story after story of the lies, the betrayal, the rejection, the anger, from people that we considered friends and would stickUntitled design by us through thick or thin. I became very disillusioned through this process to the point of fantasizing about moving to a foreign country, going off the grid, or moving to a remote cabin in Montana, growing all our own food and learning how to sew. You know it’s bad if I was thinking about domesticating.

So here I was, 8 years later. I felt finished. Depleted. Done. I had tried everything I knew to do to fix myself and nothing was working. I had watched my husband over the last year head up the construction of our new church building. It was so stressful on him I literally laid awake at night sometimes, worrying if he was going to die. Being a part of this process did not help me and where I was headed. We were both a mess and needed a break, so I had the idea of a sabbatical. The church was completely understanding and even recognized we looked tired. 🙂

Off we went into the land of burner phones and empty calendars. Even now as I write this I’m sitting in a cabin in the woods (not in Montana) soaking in the sun squeezing every last minute out of my time. And I’m seeing more clearly as to the cause of my distress. Here are the top 3 reasons my life led to burnout.

1. Stuffing. As a pastor’s wife it’s kind of an unwritten rule that we don’t step in and get in the middle of church conflicts unless they involve us. It’s hard though to sit by quietly and be the good little wife when someone is railing on the hubs unjustly. I believed I needed to be quiet, and in most cases I still should! But one thing I failed to do is deal with those unresolved feelings of anger, resentment, and betrayal I felt from these people. Many times we have made friends with people in our church. We have loved on them, visited them in the hospital, helped them out financially, loved their children, and did everything I know a church should do/could do and then the people left and talked badly about my husband, me, or my church family. I stuffed those emotions thinking I was being the good wife. Instead of pulling out how I felt and dealing with the pain before the Lord, I allowed these people into my mind and my heart to fester and become an unresolved wound. The way I have always handled conflict is, we talk and we get it worked out and we love each other again. But when the conflict isn’t with me, but rather with the church that I love, or my husband, who I love even more, I’m unable to do that. I have to find another way to deal with this pain and it is through releasing it to God. The people who leave us are not our enemies even though they may act like it. They may treat us and think of us as an enemy,  but they only become my enemy if I decide they are. The real enemy is the power behind their actions; a very real devil who wants to upset us and keep us in turmoil and distracted from the ministry He has called us to complete. Years of stuffing this type of pain led to many, many layers of hurt that finally toppled into an ugly mess. Now at the same time, not everyone who leaves does so in a negative way. There’s a way to leave a church and remain friends, confidantes, brothers and sisters, and there’s a ways to leave a church that doesn’t cause hurt, division, gossip, and betrayal. When someone you love walks out of your life, do not stuff those feelings down any longer. Pull them out, grieve the loss, forgive them, and move on to the people who God has put before you.

2. Guarding. In my mind I knew I needed to love people. But loving people, letting them into my life, getting into their lives, and working through the muck and mire together was what led to the pain I was feeling. Several of these people left me and I felt myself backing away, guarding my heart, guarding my actions, guarding my words, feeling suspicious of every move, and it led to me being guarded with God. If God called us to start this church, then why was so much pain involved in the process? The process was what I could not back away from. I had to stay engaged and love people regardless of how they love me back. Men and women have been brought into our lives for a season. If someone is standing in front of me who needs my help, I need to give it. I cannot expect their loyalty, their friendship, their commitment or anything else in return. I need to give of myself and allow God to do the rest. If God has brought them before me for this time then He trusts me to help them. He believes there is something I can give that will better their life. So instead of backing away to avoid pain and thinking only of myself, I have to dive into the process and embrace the friendship, and everything that comes along with it. Guarding myself leads to isolation and that is all the devil needs to strike; an isolated heart and mind.

3. People-pleasing. Don’t pass by this paragraph thinking this does not pertain to you. It does. Or it will. I have a tendency to remember the negative. You know that moment when I can have 999 people I just spoke to tell me what a great job I did and 1 say something negative and I go home and obsess about the negative. It’s the same with the church. People say some of the most unbelievable things to pastor’s wives and pastor’s. I mean stuff you just can’t even possibly imagine. I don’t know why the public thinks the wife is the dumping ground. The place to come and complain about the pastor, a problem they perceive with the church, critique her clothes, her weight, her money, her car, her children’s actions, well you get the gist. Remembering these hurtful words led to me altering my behavior, my clothes, my actions to please different people who had said different things. I never saw that as people-pleasing, I started out thinking I was helping the church and being a good pastor’s wife. But in the process somehow I lost myself. I ended up being this person I didn’t like very much because I was just bland, gray, non-adventurous, saintly Sheila. I allowed others to set the rules and I bent over backwards to follow everyone else’s rules for me. I’m recognizing this and I’m trying to work out of it. I’m still discovering the areas in which I have allowed others expectations to rule.

These three areas are what I have pinpointed as my demise a few months ago. I don’t like sounding so negative like being a pastor’s wife is all this and nothing else. The positive moments equal no other. Like when someone has been through a harrowing circumstance and they call for help because they trust you more than anyone else. That is a privilege that still to this day brings tears to my eyes. That moment never grows old. There are people who left a good, secure, church (the right way) and came with us to the unknown to plant a new church, and are still with us today. These people are our lifeline. They hold up our arms, they pray for us, they are trusted friends. I could write a novel on the moments over the last 8 years that I will treasure forever. What I know for sure is there will always be people I have to keep my mouth quiet about…there will always be people the Holy Spirit warns me to guard myself around…and there will be times I need to get over myself and please other people. This is life, and it’s not all bad.

Recognizing these things in my life, and their out of control state, has helped me pinpoint my turnaround spot. While on this 3-week adventure I read 2 books, “Leadership Pain” by Sam Chand and “When Words Hurt” by Warren Bullock. I would recommend both books, but Sam Chand says, “You’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain”. Those are incredible words of wisdom. Time after time there have been examples all through God’s Word of people who went through an incredibly hard, painful time that led to an incredible victory. Well, I know Victory is coming! I can’t say I am completely out of burnout. I don’t feel 100% myself again, but I know I’m going to get there. I’m working diligently about being in the moment. That’s just a freebie. One of the things I recognized is that I was constantly thinking about what I needed to do next, where I needed to go next, how much time I had at this stop, determining ahead of time how much time I would give a problem, etc. Right now this moment is pretty cool and I want to bask in it. It’s freezing on this porch where I’m writing, but the cold mixed with the bright sunshine feels too good on my skin to give it up. My dog is sitting at my feet, I smell the fire in the fireplace waiting for me, and as far as I can see in front of me are mountains yet to be hiked.

Sabbatical…YES PLEASE!

1“Almost everything works again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.” Words by Anne Lamott

If you have kept up with my blog at all, you know my husband and I took a sabbatical this year. First. One. Ever. It was wonderful, and I’m here right now to show you why you need to take one too. Sabbaticals are not just for pastors. They’re not just for people who are stressed out. A sabbatical is for YOU reading these words and let me tell you why…

Have you ever completed a “cleanse”? There are liver cleanses, colon cleanses, etc. We know we need these cleanses when stuff starts getting backed up. Don’t make me go into detail, but you know what I mean. It can get really gross, yucky, stinky, and clogged inside. It makes us feel bad and affects other parts of our bodies. Having a dirty inside can cause everything from bad breath, to acne, to hair falling out. One of the greatest cleanses you can ever do for yourself is go on an extended fast. It releases everything inside you. WATCH OUT! It’s the ultimate cleanse! 3

Often times we go on these cleanses, or fasts because of pain. We want the pain to go away, so we take necessary steps to rid us of pain. It’s the same with a sabbatical. When a person is in leadership, whether they are leading a church of thousands, or a corporation of hundreds, or a family of 2, there is pain involved. This pain may be mental, spiritual, or emotional. Sometimes we allow this pain to pile up and we become clogged. If you’re like me you start self-medicating. This “medication” can be watching TV, spending way too much time on social media, eating comfort foods, avoiding people, or (insert your 2“medication” of choice here). Escape becomes the means in which we try to deal with this pain.

If you can relate to anything I’m saying you may just be ripe for a sabbatical. You may be thinking everything will fall apart, I have too much to do, and all the other excuses we come up with. But God needs you to be the best you can possibly be. He needs you to cleanse/detox occasionally, and we do that by shutting ourselves off from the world.

Turn off the TV.

Get rid of the junk food.

Put your phone on airplane mode.

Take yourself to the corner in time out.

What God has called you to do is way too important to complete halfway, less than excellent. When you don’t have much time, (I know a month long sabbatical is unreasonable for some) then you must be intentional. Spend every day with progress. Grab hold of God and don’t let go until He blesses you, each and every day. Feed yourself good food or fast. Don’t lie to yourself and say you will not pay attention to your phone. Back away from your phone and all social media. Airplane mode is your friend. Get a little burner phone and only give that number to a couple of people. Let your mind rest, let your soul rest, let your emotions rest, let your heart rest. You will be amazed what is released when you stop putting junk in.

You may not be able to rid yourself of all pain during a sabbatical, but you will be able to see it from a different perspective. I read a book titled, “Leadership Pain” by Sam Chand while I was away and it showed me how pain will always be in my life as long as I’m dealing with people. I have to make friends with the pain. Pain is necessary for growth. When God allows me to experience pain He is breaking me out of a plateau, readying me for victory, stretching me to live more, love more, experience more. When I try to avoid this pain, self-medicate this pain, or end the pain then I end growth. God can only take me as far and as high as the pain I can endure.

Let’s look at a sabbatical as a cleanse, or a detox. You’re cleansing your emotions, your spirit, and your mind by removing all the junk and only putting good stuff in for an extended period of time. I promise you won’t regret the results.4

 

Please let me know if you decide to go on sabbatical and I will be praying for you during the time you are away. I cannot encourage people enough to do this for themselves, their families, and the ones they lead. The world will continue to spin without you. At the same time the world will spin better if you are the best you, fully rested and ready for your task at hand.

Snagging the Pass Through- guarding yourself against burnout

Snagging the Pass Through

Before I ever experienced jet lag I would hear people talk about it and thought they just meant they were really, really tired. What was the big deal? (insert eye roll here) Then I went to Europe for the first time and came home tired. I didn’t know how tired until I face planted in my lunch the next day. I dragged myself to the car, having to concentrate lifting my foot as high as the curb. I kept my eyes open long enough to crawl in my car, and I slept for 2 hours in a crowded parking lot. I realized jet lag was more than tired. This was beyond my control!

Burnout is much the same. I think of burnout this way. There’s a dark recess of your mind that is the end of you. The bottom of the rope, the last step before the cliff, that moment just before you fall asleep…the end. That place is a different spot for different people. Some people have a deeper reserve and can take much more of what life can throw at them. Others have a shorter fuse and reach their spot of depletion sooner. Either way, burnout takes you to a tired that sleep doesn’t fix.

I found that dark recess in my mind I didn’t know existed until now. Burnout. I feel stupid and weak admitting I was there. The lack of admission was part of the reason I got there. Because I feel stupid and weak admitting I have this breaking point and I let my actions and the actions of others break me.

Being in ministry means being about people. Honestly, I like helping people. I don’t say that to make myself seem all humble and servant like. If you know me you know servanthood does not come naturally to me. Being bossy on the other hand does come naturally to me. I like helping people realize stuff. I am addicted to that moment when a girl sitting in front of me has the realization she can walk in total freedom from the past bad choices she has made. Or that moment when my husband and I are working through marriage problems with another couple, and they realize sticking it out is far more rewarding than being a quitter. There’s no drug, or alcoholic beverage that tops the exhilaration of seeing someone turn around and change their behavior for the better. I’m addicted. I admit it. I love seeing people be happy and work out their problems and I LOVE that I get to lead people to God’s Word and watch their lives unfold.

There is this turning point though, when you are in the business of helping people, that often times you start taking in information only to pass it back out. You hear a great sermon, a wonderful song, a cool quote, and you think I could use that in a blog post. I need to tell my pastor wife friend about this podcast. I need to share this book with my friend who needs to hear this. I need to Periscope the sermon so this other person can hear it who is at home with a sick child. And before you know it everything you take in is getting passed right through you to other people. Even your morning devotions become note-taking sessions for others. Nothing is sticking, nothing is getting snagged for YOU!

During this season of burnout and comeback my husband Jack and I went to a different church. We wanted to go someplace we could just go in and sit down and go to church. We haven’t done that in something like 14 years. It was an amazing feeling. I had forgotten how much I love God’s Church and His people. Now keep in mind I was reading the book, “Leadership Pain” by Sam Chand while I was on sabbatical. Guess what the whole sermon was about that morning? You guessed it. Leadership pain.

God definitely had something for me that morning, but instantly I started the pass through. I thought of my friend who needed to hear a certain quote. I thought of all the people I knew who I wanted to hear this sermon. It was an incredible message. But I was in the middle of the pass through thinking of all the people I could minister to from this sermon when God so sweetly showed me…maybe it’s just me who needs the ministry right now. He showed me how it was all right to let these words from Bishop Walker at Mt. Zion resonate with me and only me for that moment. Tears filled my eyes and I allowed myself for the next hour to just sit and soak it all in. I did not want to miss one moment God had for me. I stopped the pass through and I snagged every morsel taking notes as quickly as my thumbs could type.

It truly was a wonderful feeling. So many of us in ministry want to see our church family succeed. We deeply want the best for them, so we get in this state of pass through not retaining any of the wisdom and knowledge we hear from others to teach us, lead us, and help us grow. We eventually become empty; nothing more than a slot machine. Put in a quarter, pull the lever, out comes the advice.

It’s okay to keep the pass-throughs going. But take time to snag some for yourself. Or better yet, snag the whole thing for yourself; let it steep for a while; then continue the pass through. I challenge all my pastor friends, counselor friends, pastor’s wife friends to notice how often you go into pass through mode. The next time you realize it, stop and think about what you’re hearing or reading and how it can apply to YOUR life first, and you will take a step in guarding yourself against burnout.

I also would love to hear from you. Those who have suffered from burnout and recovered. What was your strategy? Comment below and let’s keep this conversation going. As I have seen from my last post on this subject, I am not the only one going through this. Thanks so much for taking time to tell your story!

HOW TO TELL IF YOU ARE ON THE BRINK OF BURNOUT

My pastor husband and I were walking down the familiar halls of the hospital. We were visiting a lady from our church who had a non life-threatening illness and had to be put in for a couple of days. As I stood by her bed I felt an old friend surface. I was aware of what I felt, but it made no sense to me. Why in the world would I feel…jealous?

I went back to my office that day wondering what the heck was going on? Why would I feel jealousy toward a lady in the hospital? As I picked apart these feelings trying to get to the root, I realized how odd this was. Most women are jealous of Victoria’s Secret supermodels, but no, I’m jealous of a woman laying in the hospital. Suddenly it hit me why! She was stopped. She had an excuse to stop. No one expected anything from her. She didn’t have to answer as to why she wasn’t at work, why she couldn’t make an appointment, why her house wasn’t clean, why she couldn’t pick the kids up at school, why she didn’t get the newsletter written in time, why she didn’t make that bank deposit. The why’s stopped and I felt jealous of her, and a little embarrassed at myself. Okay, a lot embarrassed.

At that moment I looked at my life and wondered where my mind was. I was healthy, and instead of thanking God for my health I felt jealousy toward someone wishing for theirs.

I can’t imagine even one of you reading this blog relating to what I am saying, and that’s all right. I’m just being totally transparent here and allowing you in to the far out way my mind thinks sometimes. After telling myself I needed to slow down, get some stuff off my plate, live in the moment more, blah, blah, blah. I promised myself I would and I did for about a nano second.

Fast forward two years and my husband has me hauled into the car and on our way to the emergency room thinking I’m having a heart attack. I’m scared, he’s scared, I’m wondering if I’m really having a freakin heart attack at 48 years old! I go through a battery of tests, and as I’m laying under one of the machines I hear God clearly speak into my mind these words,

“Is this what you want?”

My tests came back great. I had a healthy heart! But I knew God was trying to get my attention. I needed to slow down. I needed to get some things off my plate. I needed to work through some of the hurts and betrayals suffered at the hands of “friends”. I needed to be more present in the moments of my life and not constantly thinking about the next meeting, the next plane to catch, the next whatever was thrown at me. I desperately needed to make some changes to get some of the stress out of my life, but what? Will the world fall apart without me? Will people be lost and wondering in the wilderness if I’m not there to lead the way? Will the world stop spinning? I was afraid to find out. I went back into my life and made a couple of changes. Those changes relieved a little pressure, but only for about a minute this time.

Those of you who know me know I’m wound pretty tightly. I’m easily excitable, I have a flair for the dramatic, and everything is larger than life. I started noticing months after the ER scare that I didn’t “feel” things like I used to. I know that sounds a little cheesy, but when you’re used to feeling things big, when you don’t, it’s noticeable. I wasn’t excited about great news. I didn’t get teary-eyed at what used to make me cry. I didn’t feel love for people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I wasn’t sad when someone was no longer in my life. I didn’t care when I saw certain injustices. I noticed that my anger level was quicker and louder than it used to be. My tears now came at moments that made no sense. I didn’t know what was happening to me. It was like someone turned the light off and I was groping in the darkness trying to find the switch to turn it back on.

I started making sure I took a day off, I started trying to get rid of stressors in my life, I started praying a whole lot more, but nothing was working. I was completely numb…scrambling. I kept trying to make the changes I had made before but this time nothing was changing. I knew it was probably just menopause. Isn’t everything menopause’s fault? I knew I would snap back eventually, but I wasn’t, and I didn’t.

Fantasizing about moving to another country, going off the grid, or retreating to a mountain hideaway in Montana seemed like a nice option. I’ve never even been to Montana, but if it was good enough for Gus and Caw it’s good enough for me.

I finally confessed to my husband through tears that I wasn’t sure ministry was for me anymore. I didn’t feel tough enough, and I was experiencing flight mode. Burnout is ugly. Trying to explain burnout to someone who has never experienced it, is like trying to explain the level of tired associated with jetlag. You think you understand it, but then when it hits it’s like a 2X4 between the eyes and you just know, yep that’s jetlag. Well burnout is the same way. I knew that’s where I was, and I needed to get healthy. I felt myself retreating. I knew I was headed in the opposite direction I was supposed to be going but I couldn’t get myself turned around. I always thought burnout was for those people who never rested. I arrogantly believed I was immune because I took a Sabbath. Burnout was for “other people”. I realized I was those other people.

There’s a line in a movie spoken when the main character, Michael, is upset because bad people had done bad things to him. Another character, Hyman, looks at Michael pointing his 80-year-old crooked finger in his face and chokes out angrily, “THIS…IS THE BUSINESS WE’VE CHOSEN!” I think of that line now as I realize ministry is not pretty, it’s not easy, and it’s not for the weak. It’s a place where bad people, myself included, rid themselves of bad things. Others get caught in the crosshairs at times and have to learn to deal with the shots taken. Yes, this is the business we’ve chosen and will continue to choose as long as God will have us.

Over the next few weeks I am going to be writing about burnout and the symptoms, causes, and solutions I experienced and am still working through. I hope you will bear with me, as me and God work through this openly. I know what I am learning is not just for me. There are others reading this blog, I believe, that will see themselves in these symptoms and hopefully be able to stop burnout in its tracks.

Have you ever suffered through burnout? What was your response? What did you learn in the process? Please leave your comments below. Your response may just be what I and others are looking for. Thanks!

Your Child’s Crisis, 3 Ways to NEVER Respond

I had a very wise man say to me one time,

“When your child comes to you in crisis, they will always remember the first words you speak.”

I have never forgotten those words. My husband and I have both been very cognizant of the moment when our boys have had to tell us bad news, or a mistake they made. We want to always err on the side of love when it comes to our kids. When we don’t know what to say we just speak love until we find an answer together. Words are very important. They can speak life into a situation or they can speak death.

My friend who spoke those words to me was explaining the moment his unmarried daughter came to him with the news of her pregnancy. He knew whatever words spoken first would be what she always remembered. He could have completely broken down the relationship with harsh words, or he could become her hero, all in those first few seconds. He easily became her hero, and she turned to him throughout her pregnancy. He loved her during that difficult time in her life, assuring her life was going to work out just fine. Because of that love and acceptance he may have easily saved his own grandchild’s life.

Becoming the hero is not always the goal in some households. Take my friend for instance who got pregnant at 22, was unmarried, and making some pretty bad choices for her life in those days. When she told her father of the pregnancy he said three things to her that she will never forget…we can learn many things from this father’s response.

1. “You are an embarrassment to me.”
Now I don’t know about you, but even on my best day I would not want anyone saying these hurtful words to me, much less a parent! At the moment she needed to feel loved and accepted by the one person who was supposed to be her hero; he turned against her for the mistake she had made. I’m not glossing over her actions, but there she was, trying to make a good decision finally after years of poor choices, and it wasn’t recognized. She may have very well been an embarrassment to him, but how much of a difference could he have made in her life with a positive remark instead of further degrading her?

2. “I don’t want you at my church because I’m so embarrassed.”
If you are like me, your mouth is hanging open. I can’t believe a parent would say these words either. My friend wasn’t breaking down the doors of any church in those days, but at this point she sure wasn’t going to now. To hear her tell the story, she felt so dirty and it backed up the lie in her head that even God didn’t want her. At a point in her life when the doors of the church, and back to God, could have been flung open for her return to Him, they were sealed tighter than ever by these painful words. Don’t ever send the message that your child has to “straighten up” before he or she is welcome in God’s house.

3. “You are no longer my daughter.”
There is never a time in a child’s life when they should hear these words. Our kids deal with so many mixed messages in society, their family should be the one place they can always turn to no matter what. Our kids have to know that as parents they hurt us with their mistakes at times, but not one action they ever take can make us love them less. My friend was shown conditional love. That statement told her as long as she stayed in step, met her father’s expectations, then she will still be able to receive love from him. What message did these words send this young girl about God’s love? A father has a great responsibility to model God’s unconditional love to his children.

These 3 statements may never cross your lips. Your heart may be hurting for this young girl too, thinking about what kind of parent would speak these words. Allow your mind to think about where you may be showing conditional love to your child; or wanting him/her to hurt like they hurt you; or saying those things that hurt instead of heal your child’s perceptions of God.

We have to lay the groundwork before the crisis to make sure our child turns to us at that moment. In the case of an unplanned pregnancy, how many of our sons and daughters have had abortions because they know, “my dad would kill me” or “it would crush my mother to know I did this”. So our children are continuing on in the mistake by choosing abortion, instead of knowing they can turn to a parent who will be their hero in that moment of crisis.

Don’t wait for your child’s crisis and respond out of hurt and anger like this father did. Start today being the hero in your child’s life. You just may be saving the life of a future grandchild in the process.

Do you have an example of the first words spoken to you in crisis; good or bad? Are they words you have always remembered? Comment below with your example and how you responded to it. You just may help others along the way.