Entries in Burnout (20)

Wednesday
Apr252012

West, Pickled Priest and Perishing Parish

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Hal West, The Pickled Priest and the Perishing Parish: Boomer Pastors Bouncing Back. CrossBooks, 2011.

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry call

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

West offers encouragement from Isaiah’s vision of God, alongside his own seasoned insight, for boomer ministers (i.e. old enough to be “pickled”) to renew their call in a time when they, and those they serve, have lost their true sense of mission.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

Just as baby boomers comprise the largest generation in America’s history, they also represent the largest percentage of current senior pastors in American churches. Boomer pastors all over the country are struggling to transition from their roots in twentieth-century church culture to ministry and leadership in our challenging twenty-first century-and this transition must take place for traditional churches to be a relevant factor in world redemption.

In The Pickled Priest and the Perishing Parish: Boomer Pastors Bouncing Back, Senior Pastor Hal West, himself a baby boomer, offers essential insights and words of inspiration for pastors, leaders, and Christians who desire to see renewal and transformation in their churches, in America, and in themselves.

The challenges facing traditional churches and the boomer pastors who lead them are many-not the least of which are pastors’ ensconced perspective of their own spiritual formation, theological training, and experience. In his unique, conversational, and at times humorous tone, Pastor Hal West first offers proof through his own “pickled” perspective and then explores, with help from the lessons of biblical prophets like Isaiah and Nehemiah, how boomer pastors can and must bounce back.

Change is challenging, but in our day of cultural conflict, political corruption, and spiritual crisis, change is imperative. It falls to church leaders, regardless of their decades of experience in ministry and leadership, to approach transformation with an open mind and provide guidance, vision, and restoration to their churches and the souls they serve.

About the Author

Pastor Hal West is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary. He has served in South Carolina churches since 1978 and has served on various boards and committees at the local, state, and national level. This is his third book.


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Wednesday
Nov162011

Hoge, Pastors in Transition

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Dean R. Hoge and Jacqueline E. Wenger, Pastors in Transition: Why Clergy Leave Local Church Ministry. Eerdmans, 2005.

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

Based on a survey of 900 ministers from five denominations (United Methodists, Presbyterian Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and Assemblies of God), this book explains the seven main reasons why pastors leave congregational ministry:

  1. Preferred another kind of ministry
  2. Needed to care for children or family
  3. Conflict in the congregation
  4. Conflict with denominational leaders
  5. Burned out or discouraged
  6. Sexual misconduct
  7. Divorce or marital problems

The authors suggest ways to prevent departures and facilitate healthier transitions and bonding. This is a landmark study and an eye-opening resource for congregations in transition.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

Through surveys and interviews, this new volume examines the main reasons pastors in five Protestant denominations have recently left parish ministry and suggests ways to strengthen the pastorate for the future.

Based on extensive sociological research, Pastors in Transition summarizes the findings of the largest-ever study of ended ministries. More than 900 ministers, representing the Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church, were included in the study, and its results provide an unprecedented look at contemporary church life. Yet the book does more than gather facts and figures; its pages are filled with personal stories, forthright opinions, and concrete recommendations made by ministers who have left their pastorates.

About the Author

Dean R. Hoge is professor of sociology at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Jacqueline E. Wenger is a doctoral candidate and research associate at the Catholic University of America.


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Monday
Nov142011

Nouwen, The Wounded Healer

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Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. Image Publishers, 1979.

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This classic from the late Nenri Nouwen presents a hopeful model of ministry that compassionately identifies with the woundedness of human nature. This refers not only to the fallenness of those one serves, but also to the inherent frailty of the servant. These frailties are not cause for feelings of inadequacy and guilt, but are the conditions in which we experience God’s healing grace. We are thus “made strong in our weakness” to be a source of healing for others. While he warns against inappropriate, weak-boundaried levels of identification, he says ministers make their deepest connections with God and others through the shared experience of suffering – a suffering world, a suffering generation, a suffering person, and a suffering minister. In fact, he argues that outside of this sharing one cannot be a transformative influence. Ministers must think of themselves as fellow sufferers, not as professionals. Using case studies of ministers from a variety of faith traditions, he helps ministers look at their own and others’ woundedness through the lens of theology, psychology, and culture.

This book is dense in sections, and his cultural analysis is outdated. Its continued use after thirty years, however, attests to its enduring value in helping ministers derive hope and vision for their work.

From the Publisher

The Wounded Healer is a hope-filled and profoundly simple book that speaks directly to those men and women who want to be of service in their church or community, but have found the traditional ways often threatening and ineffective. In this book, Henri Nouwen combines creative case studies of ministry with stories from diverse cultures and religious traditions in preparing a new model for ministry. Weaving keen cultural analysis with his psychological and religious insights, Nouwen has come up with a balanced and creative theology of service that begins with the realization of fundamental woundedness in human nature. Emphasizing that which is in humanity common to both minister and believer, this woundedness can serve as a source of strength and healing when counseling others. Nouwen proceeds to develop his approach to ministry with an analysis of sufferings — a suffering world, a suffering generation, a suffering person, and a suffering minister. It is his contention that ministers are called to recognize the sufferings of their time in their own hearts and make that recognition the starting point of their service. For Nouwen, ministers must be willing to go beyond their professional role and leave themselves open as fellow human beings with the same wounds and suffering — in the image of Christ. In other words, we heal from our own wounds. Filled with examples from everyday experience, The Wounded Healer is a thoughtful and insightful guide that will be welcomed by anyone engaged in the service of others.

About the Author

HENRI J. M. NOUWEN (1932-1996) was a Catholic priest who taught at several theological institutions and universities in the United States. He spent the final years of his life teaching and ministering to the mentally and physically disabled at L’Arche Daybreak community in Toronto, Canada.


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Monday
Nov142011

Niebuhr, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic

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Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Marty, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic. Westminster / John Knox Press, 1991.

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This classic was first published eighty years ago, but it remains one of the most widely recommended books to help young ministers find meaning in some of the mundane and discomforting realities of ministry. It is just as useful in helping seasoned ministers come down from the seat of judgment against the church’s “lousiness” and dwell incarnationally among the people. It is perhaps Reinhold Niebuhr’s most popular work, taken from his personal journals from 1915-1928 when he was 23-36 years old and pastor of a rapidly growing church in Detroit during its industrial boom. Even though it reflects Niebuhr’s youth and immaturity (by his own admission in the 1956 preface) and is set mostly in the post-WWI era, his poignant reflections have enduring value. Current culture is never as different from history as we like to think, so one could find freshness even today in the young Niebuhr. Listen, for example, to the realistic journal of a young shepherd learning to care for his flock:

“I am glad there are only eighteen families in the church. I have been visiting the members for six weeks and haven’t seen all of them yet. Usually I walk past a house two or three times before I summon the courage to go in… . Usually after I have made a call I find some good excuse to quit for the afternoon.” (3)

And then there is the humbling conviction he experienced when encountering the deep faith of one of the “unschooled” members of his church who faced death:

“The way Mrs. ________ bears her pains and awaits her ultimate and certain dissolution with childlike faith and inner serenity is an achievement which a philosopher might well envy. I declare that there is a quality in the lives of unschooled people, if they have made good use of the school of life and pain, which wins my admiration much more than anything you can find in effete circles. She thanks me for praying with her, and imagines I am doing her a favor to come to see her. But I really come for selfish reasons — because I leave that home with a more radiant faith of my own.” (189)

The effect upon Niebuhr, and upon the reader, is a taming of the cold cynical edge by the compassionate fires of faithful ministry.

About the Author

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) taught for many years at Union Theological Seminary, in New York City, as well as lecturing and preaching all over the country. The recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, he is the author of many books, including The Nature and Destiny of Man.


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Monday
Nov142011

Yancey, Soul Survivor

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Philip Yancey, Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church. Waterbrook Press, 2003.

Companion volume: Yancey, The Church - Why Bother?

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry Call

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This is a helpful volume for church leaders who need to reaffirm their calling, perhaps because of a period of burnout. Given the fact that burnout is rooted in disillusionment with the church that stems from deep disappointment in people, Yancey’s story is especially redemptive.

In this own struggle to arrive at a faith that could move him beyond plaguing disillusionment with the church, Yancey found 12 believers whose lives were especially instructive for him. From them, he garners insight into how to “survive” the church. The interesting piece is that although these twelve are widely recognized (see list below), their “true lives” are not as exemplary as one might think. Leo Tolstoy and Feodor Dostoevsky were psychologically unstable. Mahatma Ghandi solidly rejected Christianity. G. K. Chesterton was severely overweight. Henri Nouwen struggled with same-sex attraction and was very emotionally insecure. Martin Luther King was an adulterer.

Yancey does not gloss over their misdeeds of dysfunctions, nor does he derive a deranged joy out of revealing their faults. Readers should also beware of spiritual voyeurism. These are not within Yancey’s purpose. His purpose is to show that despite their fallenness, these companions helped him along his spiritual journey. This may inspire hope regarding their own “usefulness despite the earthenness,” and encourage a more gracious view of those whose troublesome behaviors have influenced their feelings.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

Philip Yancey, one of America’s leading Christian thinkers and author of more than a dozen books with sales of more than five million copies, returns for his most profound and soul-searching books yet. Soul Survivor is the story of his own struggle to reclaim his belief, interwoven with inspiring portraits of notable people from all walks of life who have succeeded in the pursuit of an authentic faith.

“I became a writer, I now believe, to sort out and reclaim words used and misused by the Christians of my youth,” says Philip Yancey, whose explorations of Christian faith have made him a guide for millions of readers. In Soul Survivor, he charts his spiritual pilgrimage through the influence of key individuals: “These are the people who ushered me into the Kingdom. In many ways, they are why I remain a Christian today, and I want to introduce them to other spiritual seekers.”

Yancey interweaves his own journey with fascinating stories of those who modeled for him a life-enhancing rather than a life-constricting faith: Dr. Paul Brand, G. K. Chesterton, Annie Dillard, Frederick Buechner, C. Everett Koop, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Henri Nouwen, John Donne, Mahatma Gandi, Shusaku Endo, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Coles.

Readers will find these inspiring portraits both nurture and challenge for their own understanding of authentic faith. Yancey fans will devour these new glimpses of how he has held onto faith while acknowledging with utter honesty its inherent difficulties. New Yancey readers will be drawn in by the theme of faith versus religion and drawn along a compelling narrative of signposts on a spiritual journey.

Soul Survivor offers illuminating and critically important insights into true Christianity, which will enrich the lives of veteran believers and cautious seekers alike.

Like many Christians, Philip Yancey has often felt kicked around, abused, and damaged by the institutional church. And like many Christians, he has found solace in reading about and getting to know some extraordinary individual believers. He profiles 13 of those believers in Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church. “I became a writer, I now believe, to sort out words used and misused by the church of my youth,” Yancey writes in the book’s first chapter. The church of his youth, which described itself as “New Testament, Blood-bought, Born-again, Premillennial, Dispensational, fundamental,” Yancey now describes as a frightening place where racism and bigotry were regularly preached from the pulpit. After graduating from Bible college, Yancey became a writer and chose to direct his attention to “people I could learn from, people I might want to emulate,” such as C. Everett Koop and Robert Coles. He also read widely and passionately—Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., G.K. Chesterton, and Annie Dillard, to name a few. Soul Survivor offers probing, honest profiles of 13 individuals who have “helped restore to me the mislaid treasures of God.” For most readers, these profiles will serve as starting points to explore the lives and minds of the individuals who have inspired Yancey.

About the Author

Philip Yancey is a journalist and writer who writes a featured column in Christianity Today. The author of more than a dozen books, including Reaching for the Invisible God and What’s So Amazing About Grace?, his last ten books have sold more than 4.5 million copies. He is the recipient of a Christianity Today Book of the Year Award, two ECPA Book of the Year Awards, and eleven Gold Medallions.


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Monday
Nov142011

Yancey, The Church, Why Bother?

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Philip Yancey, The Church, Why Bother? Zondervan, 2001.

Companion volume: Yancey, Soul Survivor

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry Call

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

Philip Yancey journals his personal pilgrimage from skepticism and disillusionment about the church back to enthusiastic participation. He is painfully honest about the church’s imperfections, but is equally vindicating regarding her strengths as a place where people find God, minister to the hurting, reach out to unbelievers, and embrace each other as family and community. The opening paragraph from J.F. Powers underscores the paradox of congregational life: “This is a big old ship, Bill. She creaks, she rocks, she rolls, and at times she makes you want to throw up. But she gets where she’s going. Always has, always will, until the end of time. With or without you.” Yancey develops four perspectives that helped restore his belief in the church:

  • Looking Up“I used to approach church with the spirit of a discriminating consumer. I viewed the worship service as a performance. Give me something I like. Entertain me.” (24) A focus on God, whether in worship or mission, delivers one from a consumer relationship with the church that evaluates it as a mall of religious goods and services (music, sermon, etc.) that should satisfy the tastes and preferences of its customers. “What matters most takes place within the hearts of the congregation, not among the actors on stage.” (24)
  • Looking Around – A focus on the church’s radical diversity keeps fresh God’s vision for a human community united in Christ. “We are charged to live out a kind of alternative society before the eyes of the watching world, a world that is increasingly moving toward tribalism and division.” (38)
  • Looking Outward – A focus on the external mission of the church and its effect through the ages reflects the famous quote from evangelist Luis Palau: “The church is like manure. Pile it together and it stinks up the neighborhood; spread it out and it enriches the world.” (33)
  • Looking Inward – A focus on the amazing grace of God expresses a hope so radical it would truly change the world. Here Yancey says, “I left the church because in it I found no grace, I came back because I found grace nowhere else.”

One quote summarizes Yancey’s essential message:

Yes, the church fails in its mission and makes serious blunders precisely because the church comprises human beings who will always fall short of the glory of God. That is the risk God took. Anyone who enters the church expecting perfection does not understand the nature of that risk or the nature of humanity. Just as every romantic eventually learns that marriage is the beginning, not the end, of the struggle to make love work, every Christian must learn that church is also only a beginning. (99)

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

Philip Yancey asks the question that haunts many believers: Why should I bother with the church? From growing up in rural Georgia in a fundamentalist church to his experience at LaSalle Street Church in inner city Chicago, Philip reflects on the church, his own perceptions of it, and the various metaphors the Bible uses to describe it. Yancey’s own early church experience set his faith back by many years. In Church: Why Bother? he offers us a glimpse of his pilgrimage back to faith and to the church as a place of real community and spiritual vitality. This honest and insightful book will help you explore your questions about the place of the church in the life of faith and how to find spiritual connection and community.

About the Author

Philip Yancey serves as editor at Large for Christianity Today magazine. His books The Jesus I Never Knew and What’s So Amazing About Grace? were national best-sellers appearing on both the Publisher’s Weekly and ECPA lists. Both books also won the Gold Medallion Book of the Year Award. Yancey has written eight Gold Medallion Award-winning books, including Where Is God When it Hurts? Disappointment with God, and The Gift of Pain. He co-edited The Student Bible, which also won a Gold Medallion Award. He and his wife live in Colorado.


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Monday
Nov142011

Easum, Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

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Bill Easum, Put On Your Oxygen Mask First: Rediscovering Ministry. Abingdon Press, 2004.

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry Call

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

Bill Easum is not necessarily the best choice if you want pastoral sensitivity, but if you are in a period of ministry doldrums and are ready to be challenged into renewing your ministry call, this is direct soccer-punch toward that end. Although hard-hitting, Easum’s style usually does not irritate, but inspires and challenges. It is not just for ministers who need renewal. It can also help those who want to root the beginnings of ministry in something that is deeply transforming.

Easum’s purpose is to help ministers “rediscover that primal, naïve, original moment with God that left us feeling as if we could change the world,” or “discover for the first time the indescribable experience of feeling called by God to serve the mission.” He provides many exercises toward this end.

One of Easum’s constant refrains is that we have replaced mission with maintenance, and that maintenance is not adequate to sustain and empower ministry. He is especially hard on those who define their ministry primarily in terms of pastoral care:

“Pastors spend the bulk of their time visiting hospitals and shut-ins, doing the priesthood of all believers, going to meetings, writing sermons, counseling, arbitrating church fights, and at best trying to get a few souls to follow their lead. Such action is not what Jesus intended… . Making disciples who do God’s will is the bedrock passion of authentic Christianity. Pastors are called to equip God’s people. And God’s people are called to transform the world. Somewhere along the way, too many of us have lost this passion. In its place we put a desire to care for others and help them achieve whatever it is that they desire to do with their life and church. Like Aaron, we help them build a golden calf.”

Writers like Bill Easum have a unquestionable interest in helping churches and ministers reestablish their missional focus. They write engagingly toward that purpose, and deserve a hearing for all who share their passion.

From the Publisher

At the heart of this book lie two key ideas: First, you can’t give what you don’t have. It is imperative that pastors keep close to their call, close to their mission, and close to God. In other words, leaders must take care of themselves before they can do anything for anyone else. And second, the ministry of pastors is not to fulfill all the tasks of ministry themselves, but rather to equip others for their own ministry. This book is not for those who want “ministry as usual.” Rather, it is for those who want to rediscover that primal, original moment with God that left them feeling as if they could change the world—or for those who want to discover that call for the first time. For such seekers, this book can serve as a guide along their journey.

About the Author

Bill Easum has a thirty year track record of growing congregations in two denominations. His last church, which he pastored for twenty-four years, grew to the largest United Methodist Church in South Texas. The past twenty years, Bill has served as a consultant to congregations and denominations. In 1986 he founded 21st Century Strategies. Bill has personally worked in over 700 congregations, some of which are the largest in the nation, and has taught hundreds of thousands of leaders. Bill is the author of more than a dozen best-selling books.


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Monday
Nov142011

Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant

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Eugene H. Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness. Eerdmans, 1994.

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This was the third of Eugene Peterson’s work on pastoral theology. It was preceded by Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work (1980), Working the Angles (1987), and The Contemplative Pastor (1989), and followed by Pastor: A Memoir (2011).

Written out of Peterson’s own experience of discouragement in the pastoral role in which he realized many pastors, including himself, give “lip service to the vocabulary of a holy vocation, but in their working lives more commonly pursue careers” that they can take charge of and manage. In the opening pages, he says

My impression is that the majority of pastors are truly good, well intentioned, even godly. But their goodness does not inevitably penetrate their vocations. Our actual work takes shape under the pressure of the marketplace, not the truth of theology or the wisdom of spirituality. I do not find the emaciated, exhausted spirituality of institutional careerism adequate. I do not find the veneered, cosmetic spirituality of personal charisma adequate. I require something biblically spiritual – rooted and cultivated in creation and covenant, leisurely in Christ, soaked in Spirit.” (4-5)

For help in finding this, Peterson turns to any unlikely place, the biblical book of Jonah, and weaves a strong practical theology of vocational holiness into the various movements of that story. We derive a kind of humility as we identify with Jonah’s failures and repeated disobedience and are both chastened and affirmed by God’s gracious dealings with him. Through this identification, we find our own road to Nineveh. Peterson believes ministers experiencing burnout usually have some issue with self-absorption, self-protection, and self-pity.

“The religious leader is the most untrustworthy of leaders: in no other station do we have so many opportunities for pride, for covetousness, for lust, or so many excellent disguises at hand to keep such ignobility from being found out and called to account.” (15)

This book will pierce deeply into these dark places of the pastoral soul, and help them emerge with a deeper and more enduring sense of call.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

In this book Peterson clarifies the pastoral vocation by turning to the book of Jonah, in which he finds a captivating, subversive story that can help pastors recover their “vocational holiness”. Peterson probes the spiritual dimensions of the pastoral calling and seeks to reclaim the ground taken over by those who are trying to enlist pastors in religious careers.

About the Author

Eugene H. Peterson, author of the best-selling contemporary translation of the Bible titled The Message, is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia.


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***For additional information on this resource, including reviews, click the bookstore links. Check the reference at page top or the links below for resource guides on related topics.***

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Monday
Nov142011

McBride, Living Faithfully With Disappointment in the Church

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J. LeBron McBride, Living Faithfully With Disappointment in the Church. Haworth Pastoral Press, 2005.

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry Call

LifeandLeadership.Com Summary

McBride is Director of Behavioral Medicine at Floyd Medical Center and Senior Minister of the First Christian Church in Rome, Georgia. He is also a medical educator at Mercer University School of Medicine, a licensed marriage and family therapist, a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and a Certified Family Life Educator. He has authored numerous journal articles, and this is his second book. The book includes ten chapters especially designed to provide substantive insight and genuine hope to faithful members of the church who face spiritual disillusionment during difficult congregational crises. Topics include idealism about the church; how churches function according to the dynamics of family systems; how a controlling family affects church dynamics; people who become codependent to the church; adjustment to belief structures within the church; addictive processes in organizations; the psychological danger zone of failed beliefs; how to recognize when to stay and when to move on to another church; considerations for someone in a denominational crisis; and the uses of spirituality and religion in psychologically healthy ways. This is an excellent resource.

From the Publisher

A practical approach to address spiritually crippling disappointment with the church!

Feeling disappointment with your church can be spiritually devastating. Living Faithfully with Disappointment in the Church gives you a theological and family therapy approach to disillusionment in the church that is practical and realistic. The author, an ordained minister and a psychotherapist, discusses with sensitivity and hope the problems and the ways to resolve issues of spiritual disappointment.

Living Faithfully with Disappointment in the Church uses a theological basis to lay a foundation of understanding, and then provides real strategies from a family therapy perspective to deal with personal disappointments in the church. The book sensitively discusses real problems with real examples of how church dynamics can unwittingly cause spiritual disillusionment within even the most faithful, even in diligent attempts to serve God. Honest, reverent, and from the perspective that each of us needs, the church to cultivate our faith, this book provides non-simplistic yet hopeful answers to the most difficult of problems. Find comfort in these pages.

About the Author

J. LeBron McBride PhD, an ordain minister is Coordinator of Behavioral Medicine at the Georgia Baptist Family Residency Program in Morrow, Georgia. He is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a clinical member and approved supervisor in the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. A member of several other organizations and author of numerous articles, he served as a parish minister, pastoral counselor, and family therapist. His background in theology, medical education, and marriage and family therapy has given him a unique perspective from which to write many of his books.


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Monday
Nov142011

London, The Heart of a Great Pastor

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H. B. London and Neil B. Wiseman, The Heart of a Great Pastor: How To Grow Stronger and Thrive Wherever God Has Planted You. Regal Books, 2006.

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry Call

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

London and Wiseman inspire the new generation of ministers as well as experienced servants to embrace the unique opportunities and joys God gives to those who accept the pastoral call. They discuss finding mentors, nurturing a sense call, maintaining support from one’s spouse and children, strengthening spiritual life through prayer and study of the Word, cultivating holiness (i.e. “growing a great soul”), building credibility, balancing pastoral duties with entrepreneurial interests, dreaming for the future while respecting the past, loving people genuinely, and many other dimensions that help one persevere over the long haul. Helps pastors measure themselves not by congregational size and success, but by willingness to serve, even if in the most humble of circumstances. Unlike some books on this subject, they do not suggest scaling down or becoming too realistic, but encourage ministers to keep dreaming. Using Paul’s analogy of gardening (1 Cor. 3) and Jesus’ analogy of bearing fruit (Jn. 15), they challenge ministers to put down deep roots, overcome obstacles, and take risks. They remind readers that God has a remarkable record of giving extraordinary blessings to ordinary people who fulfill the “holy assignments” of doing routine things in sometimes difficult circumstances. God “stands ready to fill ordinary places with his presence” and to “transform tough ministry assignments into gratifying kingdom adventures.” They also celebrate some of the unique perks of pastoring that are often forgotten. The book can be read in one day and will refresh any discouraged minister.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

The Heart of a Great Pastor salutes pastors everywhere - those wanting to take a fresh look at their ministries, as well as those just starting out. As the baton is passed to the ‘new breed of pastors,’there is a great need to help them count the cost of serving Christ and equip them with the tools, wisdom and encouragement from those who have gone before them. H.B. London, Jr., and Neil B.Wiseman bring their experiences and heart to pastors for such a task. To the ‘new breed,’ they ask: Do you have a mentor? Have you examined your unique call and place in society? Do you have buy-in from your spouse and children? Do you spend as much time in the Word and study as you do in the entrepreneurial pursuits of your ministry? Do you genuinely love people? Do you really understand how invested God is in you and how important it is for you to make it? Here is help for young pastors and their mentors to stay strong personally while taking churches to the edge of creative, imaginative newness for Christ while remaining safely anchored to the abiding and adventuresome gospel.

About the Author

NEIL B. WISEMAN is Professor of Pastoral Development at Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He served as a pastor for 20 years before beginning his current ministry of training pastors for a new century.


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Monday
Nov142011

Larson, Pastoral Grit

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Craig Brian Larson and David L. Goetz, Pastoral Grit: The Strength to Stand and Stay. Bethany House, 1998.

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry Call

LifeandLeadership.Com Summary

Ministers enter ministry with sincere motivations and high hopes, but then feel overwhelmed by many of the realities. For some, it is the daily monotony that may leave little time for the preferred tasks or relationships for which they are passionate and gifted. For others, it is the devastating “baptisms with fire” that shake their confidence. These and other pressures create doubt and deplete energy, often to the point that ministers want to resign from their church or quit ministry altogether. Larson reflects a realistic but hopeful picture of congregational life and provides both the challenge and vision ministers need to persevere.

From the Publisher

Sooner or Later, Every Pastor Needs What Makes a Good Pastor Great: The Strength to Stand and to Stay.

Pastors are maturing. Deepening. They want substance for their congregations and nourishment for their own soul. THE PASTOR’S SOUL series unleashes pastors to do what really matters. To step beyond skills. To give of their unique gifts. To minister authentically and grow in the intangibles of ministry like integrity and character.

A Groundbreaking Series on the Inner Life of Pastors

In this changing culture, pastors need dedication to do what God wants them to do. They need determination to accomplish their highest priorities.

Every pastor has felt the desire to throw in the towel to resign from a church or even drop out of the ministry. The press of day-in, day-out care for people can overwhelm the most noble reasons for entering ministry. A pastor’s own brokenness, sinfulness, restlessness, and self-doubts only compound the weight. Pastoral Grit examines honestly the spiritual and practical calamities that compel pastors to give up and offers realistic insight to help pastors persevere.

Pastoral Grit is honest, courageous, insightful, a candid account of what really goes on in a small fellowship of believers. While it debunks illusions, it is not in the least cynical or pessimistic. It’s soul-strengthening encouragement to do what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm-Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor is not in vain.

Dr. Vernon Grounds, Chancellor, Denver Seminary

About the Author

Craig Bryan Larson is pastor of Lakeshore Assembly Church in Chicago. He is a contributing editor of LEADERSHIP. He is author of Running the Midnight Marathon and Preaching That Connects. He makes his home with his family in Illinois. About the General Editor: DAVID GOETZ is associate editor of LEADERSHIP, a publication of Christianity Today, Inc.

David L. Goetz is editor of LEADERSHIP Resources, a division of LEADERSHIP (a publication of Christianity Today, Inc.), the most respected journal in America for pastors and church leaders.


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Monday
Nov142011

Anderson, If I Really Do Believe

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Lynn Anderson, If I Really Do Believe, Why Do I Have All These Doubts? Simon and Schuster, 2000.

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry Call

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

I have recommended this book to no less than 100 people personally, and have mentioned it frequently in my teaching and speaking. Lee Strobel also highly recommends it, and features Lynn as one of the interviews in The Case for Faith. If I Really Do Believe is an excellent resource for anyone who is weathering doubts, and quite valuable for ministers whose disillusionment about the church moves them to question their faith. In fact, it was Lynn’s own experience with recurring personal periods of uncertainty, even while in ministry, that led him to search for the insights he shares in the book. He dealt with unnerving questions:

Is the whole of Christian leadership a vast conspiracy of cover-up? Is the fraternity of Christian leadership, deep down, like the crowd who applauded the emperor’s new clothes? Is each one only feigning belief because he or she wants to fit in with the others?

He defines faith and what makes faith genuine, how faith comes and does not come. Next, he looks at the different forms of doubt, and how each contributes to the dark times of the soul. Then he discusses the journey of doubt, followed by five practical steps along the path to renewed faith. In typical Lynn Anderson style, the book reads like a conversation with a warm-hearted pastor, but feeds like a lecture from a seasoned scholar-churchman. I first read it as a burned-out minister, and I can recommend it out of my own experience.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

Faith is the most fundamentally important aspect of following Christ. Yet there are times in every believer’s life when the inevitable question arises in the heart and works its way to the soul: If I really believe, why do I have these doubts? The question may have been planted by tragedy or trial. It may have been ignited by rejection or heartbreak. It may even be as simple as an intellectual burr that can’t be shaken. If you or someone you know is asking this question, this book will bring help and hope to every heart in search of a deeper faith.

About the Author

Lynn Anderson has been in the ministry for over thirty-five years and currently serves as president of Hope Network, a ministry dedicated to coaching, mentoring, and equipping spiritual leaders for the twenty-first century. He received his doctorate from Abilene Christian University in 1990.

Anderson’s lifelong career of ministry has involved speaking nationwide to thousands of audiences and authoring eight books — including The Shepherd’s Song; Navigating the Winds of Change; Heaven Came Down; They Smell like Sheep, Volume 1; and If I Really Believe, Why Do I Have These Doubts?

He and his wife, Carolyn, live in Dallas. They are the parents of four grown children and the grandparents of eight wonderful grandchildren.


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Monday
Nov142011

Allen, Before You Quit

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Blaine Allen, Before You Quit – When Ministry is Not What You Thought. Kregel Academic and Professional, 2001.

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This volume emerged out of Allen’s experience of wanting to quit but feeling compelled to stick it out. He is both sensitive to the emotions of pastors who want to quit and tough-minded in leading them to reevaluate their call and commitment in stressful times. Allen is especially good at helping minister’s adjust their expectations, evaluate the roots of dissatisfaction, and honestly assess physical, emotional, and spiritual strength. This book is deeply biblical, spiritually convicting and challenging on the subject of God’s call.

From the Publisher

If serving God is so wonderful, why are today’s leaders exiting the ministry in droves? If serving God is so rewarding, why is everyone else’s church growing?

Ministry is wonderful when there’s encouragement and appreciation. Serving God is rewarding when the congregation is spiritually hungry and ready to change.

Ministry is not so nice when disappointment, heartache, and even tears destroy your spiritual equilibrium. You are battered and close to beaten. You long to taste the thrill of spiritual victory in your ministry, but instead are all too familiar with the agony of defeat. What do you do when you want to walk away, throw in the towel, even give up the ministry ghost?

Beleaguered servants of God need Blaine Allen’s heartfelt insights and Scripture’s biblical principles as they come face to face with some of the toughest issues of ministry -confrontation, gossip, critics, and burnout-and seek to make a decision based on sound thinking and the Holy Spirit’s leading.

About the Author

Blaine Allen (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary; D.Min., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) vowed he would never stand before an audience again after a second grade disaster. It’s ironic that he is now a pastor speaking publicly at least three times a week. He loves his current pastorate in central Mississippi, but his ministry has not always been this peaceful. Blaine has seen the ugly side of ministry and been forced to survive the spiritual shoot-outs, emotional bullets, stubborn-as-a-mule church boards, and the ‘this church ain’t big enough for the both of us’ mentalities.


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Monday
Nov142011

Iorg, The Painful Side of Leadership

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Jeff Iorg, The Painful Side of Leadership: Moving Forward Even When It Hurts. B and H Books, 2009.

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry Call

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This is not a book on conflict, change, or ministerial burnout specifically. Instead, it is a collection of hard-earned pastoral wisdom on how to deal with the difficult and painful aspects of pastoral leadership. Iorg is a seminary president who writes out of his vast exposure to the circumstances faced by ministers. Although generic in nature, it is full of insight, and would be a good text for young ministers in training, or even for seasoned practitioners who need to rove minds with another experienced minister about how to handle a difficult set of circumstances.

He begins by discussing the reality of sin and the various ways it is expressed in churches. He then offers specific problem areas that are a part of any leadership experience. Before that, however, he offers a set of general strategies for leading through difficult times. He then takes on specific circumstances such as dealing with disappointment, resolving mistakes, coping with loneliness, and living in the spotlight. The next section looks at painful relationships, including understanding and handling criticism, managing followers in conflict, and terminating someone from a ministry team. The last section discusses painful choices such as taking a courageous stand, leading a significant change, modeling a challenging commitment, and moving to a new position. The final chapter develops the theme of hope as gift of God to hurting leaders.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

Christian leadership is often likened to the peaceful image of a shepherd leading his sheep. But the truth is that sheep tend to wander toward trouble, and shepherds don’t always handle the challenges of their job with grace and ease.

The Painful Side of Leadership encourages and equips Christian leaders with biblical insights to better manage painful ministry circumstances, relationships, and choices. Author and seminary president Jeff Iorg writes candidly throughout to those who may feel beaten up by their mistakes, their critics, or having to make unpopular decisions. His insights are framed with chapters about why painful things happen to Christian leaders in the first place and the hope that God always provides when a leader is hurting.

About the Author

Jeff Iorg is president and chairman of the faculty at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds degrees from Hardin-Simmons University, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Iorg and his wife Ann have three children and live in Mill Valley, California.


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Monday
Nov142011

Cordeiro, Leading on Empty

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Wayne Coidero, Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion. Bethany House, 2010.

Referenced in: Strengthening and Renewing the Ministry Call

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

Coidero writes out of his own three-year experience of ministerial burnout and his recalibration that radically changed his lifestyle, values, goals, and calling. He offers many of the same insights expected of texts on this subject, with the difference that it comes from his experience. It is not a difficult or lengthy read, and as a companion volume, is a valuable illustration of how one experiences the journey through burnout.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

Are You Leading on Empty?

It was a balmy California evening. I had gone for a jog before I was to speak at a leadership conference. I still can’t recall how I got there, but I found myself sitting on a curb weeping uncontrollably. I couldn’t tell if it took place suddenly or gradually, but I knew something had broken inside. I remember lifting my trembling hands and asking out loud, “What in the world is happening to me?” I had been leading on empty. That incident began a three-year odyssey I could never have imagined. It was a journey through a season of burnout and re-calibration that would radically change my lifestyle, my values, my goals, and even adjust my calling.

Are you leading on empty? If you’re a church or ministry leader, you probably identify with Wayne Cordeiro’s experience of being overwhelmed by the demands of ministry. At times you may find yourself depleted of energy and longing to escape the constant pressure.

In Leading on Empty, Wayne Cordeiro candidly shares his experience with the hope that it will encourage others headed down the same path. He was able to get back in touch with his life, get back in proper balance, and allow God to reenergize his spirit in a way that propelled him forward to greater levels of service. Learn from his experience how you can continue a fruitful ministry. Better yet, take advantage of Wayne’s helpful advice early on and avoid burnout altogether.

About the Author

Wayne Cordeiro is senior pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii, one of the nation’s fastest growing churches. Pioneered by him, it has grown to over 12,000 in weekend attendance since 1995. Wayne is an author, songwriter, and highly sought-after conference speaker. His books include Doing Church as a Team, Attitudes That Attract Success, and The Divine Mentor. His speaking takes him around the world. He is a church planter at heart and has helped to plant 83 churches in the Pacific Rim. Wayne and his wife, Anna, have three children and live in Honolulu.


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Monday
Nov142011

Hiltner, Ferment in the Ministry

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Seward Hiltner, Ferment in the Ministry. Abingdon Press, 1969.

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

Although written in the late 1960s during a time that the ministry profession was under harsh criticism from many angles, Hiltner has enduring value. During this period, ministry was charged with having become a softened slave of the “Establishment” and thus impotent in shaping the issues inherent in the Vietnam conflict, race riots, Kennedy and King assassinations, growing economic injustice, etc. He conceded that some of the criticism was just. He lamented, however, that those who acquiesced to the critiques as if every point had theological merit actually demonstrated more “failure of nerve” than humility. For these reasons, he did not describe this situation as a “crisis” or “breakdown.” Instead, he chose the analogy of “ferment” with reference to wine-making, where ferment is an intermediate phase of a process aimed toward a stronger product. Certainly if the bubbling and agitation go on endlessly, the result is useless. But if the agitation is stopped in time, the result may be very good.

He suggested that the criticisms of the ministry were more like ferment, as conditions which if thoughtfully evaluated could develop into a “vintage vat” of fruitful ministry. Toward this end, he sets for an unapologetic defense of the nature of ministry through separate chapters on the functions of preaching, administering, teaching, shepherding, evangelizing, celebrating, reconciling, theologizing, and disciplining. Volumes such as William Willimon, Pastor, addresses the same issues in a more current context, but Hiltner still enjoys wide use on this subject.

The book is available through the bookstore links to the right, but the complete text is also online.


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Tuesday
Nov082011

Willimon, Clergy and Laity Burnout

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William H. Willimon, Clergy and Laity Burnout. Abingdon Press, 1989.

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This is one the most recognized titles on the subject. Note the scope is not limited to burnout among “professional” ministers but also others in the church who are looked to for leadership. In the first chapter, Willimon describes the factors contributing to burnout, those that are unrelated to the nature of the church (i.e. matters of life itself) and those that are related to the life of the church (e.g. the work of the church is never done, unclear standards, needy people, lack of professional respect or status, poor time management). In the next chapter, he suggests the minister should take charge in creating an environment that helps members of a congregation know the strength of a balanced life, and model this life himself. He suggests that the road through burnout is not through soft-pedaling, but through appropriate leadership challenges. In the third chapter, Finding Meaning in Ministry, he offers churches several ways to affirm and support their minister. Motivation, he says, arises from meaning, and that meaning is nurtured primarily through a strong sense of theological self-awareness as a servant of Christ, that what one does is intrinsically worthwhile. This goes back to his first chapter where he contends “that the phenomenon of dissipation and disengagement, which we commonly call burnout, may arise from a lack of meaning rather than a lack of energy.” (25) Willimon is a good shot in the arm for beleaguered ministers.

About the Author

William H. Willimon is Presiding Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, Birmingham, AL area, and Visiting Research Professor, Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC.


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Monday
Oct242011

Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry

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Andrew Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry: Serving in the Hope of the Risen Lord. IVP Academic, 2010.

Prequel: Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This is a companion volume to Crucifixion of Ministry, both written by Andrew Purves, one of today’s most respected pastoral theologians. It builds upon the resurrection as a theological basis for renewing one’s hope and sense of calling.

Operating from a Reformed heritage that is deeply respectful of the authority of Scripture and the historic Christian faith, Purves reasons from the events of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, especially as they are played out in the tradition of Holy Week – Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday, and then to Easter Sunday. Even for those whose faith traditions do not observe the Christian calendar in this way, the combination provides a very helpful perspective on the nature of ministry. Purves describes it this way:

In my previous book The Crucifixion of Ministry, I used the intentionally shocking imaging that God kills our ministries when they get into the center of things. Our ministries are not redemptive; only the ministry of Jesus is redemptive. So our messianic pretensions are killed by God. In this sequel I will look at the resurrection of ministry. God raises up our ministries on their proper ground in the ministry of the resurrected and ascended Jesus, and we minster therefore in the joy and hope of his life. Through the Holy Spirit binding up into union with Jesus, we share in both his resurrected life and his resurrected ministry. (11)

In contrast to this, Purves says “many of us are stuck in the mood of ambiguity and powerlessness of Holy Saturday,” the day after the crucifixion and just before the resurrection. It is a time of “almost” ministry, when we know the challenges of ministry (crucifixion) but experience the relative darkness of not knowing what God may do next. He continues:

The contrast between ministry in the mood of Holy Saturday and ministry if the mood of Easter Sunday is illustrated by the comparison of Jesus’ disciples before the Easter appearances and after the ascension. …Consider the following contrasts: inward-looking self-preservation versus expansive, outgoing evangelism; return to the old days versus a new, hitherto unimaginable future; grief versus joy; doubt versus praise; fearfulness and hiding versus courage that goes public, defying the judicial injunction to remain silent (Acts 4:18-20); disbelief versus conviction; confusion versus clarity. In sum, “God help us,” versus, “Hallelujah, Jesus lives.”

Practically, for ministers who are in the discouraging throes of their own conditions:

The contrast is between ministry focused on ourselves – missional timidity and ecclesiastical maintenance that protects and preserves what we have, with a vague though uncertain hope for continued life – or ministry that bursts forth in creative, overflowing desire to tell the world, ‘Jesus is risen! Imagine the astonished newspaper headline: ‘Church Affirms that Jesus Is Alive, and Lives Believing It’s True.’ It is the differences between ministry without power, because everything is left up to us to do, leaving us anxious and exhausted, and ministry filled with joy and hope because the Lord not only lives but also reigns and acts in power for us. (17)

He warns, however, this is not simply another mechanism for encouraging the beleaguered.

Clearly then the resurrection of ministry is not first of all about new life for our ministries. Neither is it a metaphor for getting ministry kick-started again because of a newfound attitude or program of ministry renewal. I am after something much more radical than these proposals, worthy and legitimate as they are, no doubt. My argument is that the resurrection of ministry is first of all about the resurrection of Jesus’ ministry. Because Jesus is raised, he not only has a new life but his ministry has a new future. Jesus raised and ascended, with work to do, is the basis for joy and the ground for hope, as much with regard to ministry as it is with regard to faith. (18)

This is an excellent pastoral theology in the spirit of the resurrection. I recommend it not only for those who wish to build a theology of ministry based on historic Christian faith, but also for those whose discouragement or burnout need fresh infusion of how the central events of the death and resurrection shape Christian ministry.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

Many who go into ministry with expectancy and optimism find instead discouragement and regret. Is there a hope for renewal, for a new taste of God’s grace in serving his people?

With Christ, Andrew Purves reminds us, we move beyond ministry in the mood of Holy Saturday to ministry in the mood of Easter Sunday. And there we find the true basis of hope in ministry. Purves, a seasoned teacher of practical theology, offers a profound look at the nature of spiritual service that gets beyond superficial critiques and simplistic techniques. He points to true, deep joy and hope as we share in Christ’s continuing ministry.

  • Provides a trenchant analysis of the nature of ministry
  • Gets below the superficial critiques and moves beyond simplistic techniques to joy and hope for sharing in Christ’s ministry
  • Makes a valuable preparatory resource for students starting out in Christian ministry
  • Offers a source of spiritual renewal for those currently in ministry and facing burnout
  • A companion volume to Purves’s Crucifixion of Ministry

About the Author

Andrew Purves is professor of Reformed theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books, including Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation and The Crucifixion of Ministry.


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Sunday
Oct232011

Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership

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Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry. IVP Books, 2009.

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

I recommend anything by Ruth Haley Barton. She is the author of several excellent volumes, including Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation and Invitation to Solitude and Silence. This one, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, is an excellent, contemplative look at the importance of maintaining the “soul” of one’s leadership. The focus is on the life of Moses.

This book is good for those who are on the verge of burnout, or who if not burned out, are caught up in a flurry of activity that has left their inner lives malnourished. Here are a few highlights:

A leader who was raised in a punishing environment where there is an inordinate emphasis on “being good” and behaving develops perfectionist tendencies that keep feelings of shame and inadequacy at bay. The longer this perfectionism remains unacknowledged, the more likely she is to hurt herself and others with unrealistic expectations and ideals. (50)

A leader who has lived with significant emotional or physical deprivation in childhood may have developed a scarcity mentality that causes him to be stingy and ungenerous. The emptiness he experienced may also result in narcissistic tendencies, which as expressed in an insatiable need to be in the limelight or to be associated with a person or an organization that is in the limelight. Eventually others tire of his self-centered approach and no longer want to be around it. (50-51)

Solitude is the place of our own conversion. In solitude we stop believing our own press. We discover that we are not as good as we thought but we are also more than we thought. (51)

God’s call on our life is so tightly woven into the fabric of our being, so core to who we are, that to ignore it or to refuse it would be to jeopardize our well-being. If we were to try to compromise or to live it only halfway, we’d run the risk of plunging into emptiness and meaninglessness. (74)

The soul of leadership begins with who we are - really. Not who we think we are, not who we would like to be, not who others believe us to be. God’s call includes (yet is not limited to) the particularities of our life, our heritage, our personality, our foibles, our passions and deepest orientation, and even our current life situation. Being called by God is one of the most essentially spiritual experiences of human existence, because it is a place where God’s presence intersects with a human life. Our calling emerges from who we really are - in all the rawness and sinfulness of it as well as in all the glory and God-givenness of it. (76)

When people start to fix blame on the leader for all that is going wrong, the loneliness and disillusionment can be blinding. And yet this is one of the predictable patterns we encounter in leadership. (140)

Any leader who cannot endure profound levels of loneliness will not last long. (163)

This kind of loneliness - being in a position where we must take total responsibility for ourselves and for what God is calling us to do not matter what others are doing - is an absolute truth of leadership. (164)
It is easier to belong to a group than to belong to God. (164)

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

“I’m tired of helping others enjoy God.” “I just want to enjoy God for myself.” With this painful admission, Ruth Haley Barton invites us to an honest exploration of what happens when spiritual leaders lose track of their souls. Weaving together contemporary illustrations with penetrating insight from the life of Moses, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership explores topics such as

  • Responding to the dynamics of calling
  • Facing the loneliness of leadership
  • Leading from your authentic self
  • Cultivating spiritual community
  • Reenvisioning the promised land
  • Discerning God’s will together

Each chapter includes a spiritual practice to ensure your soul gets the nourishment it needs. Forging and maintaining a life-giving connection with God is the best choice you can make for yourself and for those you lead.

About the Author

Ruth Haley Barton is a spiritual director, teacher, author and retreat leader trained at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation (Washington, D.C.). She is cofounder and president of The Transforming Center, a ministry to pastors and Christian leaders.

Educated at Wheaton College and Northern Seminary, Barton has served at several churches, including Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Her books include Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Sacred Rhythms, Longing for More (all InterVarsity Press), An Ordinary Day with Jesus: Experiencing the Reality of God in Your Everyday Life (with John Ortberg, Willow Creek Resources), Ruth: Relationships That Bring Life (Shaw) and a series of articles called The Transforming Leader in Christian Management Report.


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Thursday
Oct202011

Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus

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Henri J. M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections of Christian Leadership. Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992.

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LifeandLeadership.com Summary

Discouragement in ministry often comes from a minister’s perceived inabilities or failures in the quest to be relevant, popular, and influential. In this classic of Christian devotion, the late Henri Nouwen treats each of these quests as serious temptations that must be overcome by God’s healing grace. The book emerged out of Nouwen’s own experience. He writes:

After twenty-five years of priesthood, I found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with burning issues. Everyone was saying that I was doing really well, but something inside was telling me that my success was putting my own soul in danger. I began to ask whether my lack of contemplative prayer, my loneliness, and my constantly changing involvement in what seemed most urgent were signs that the Spirit was gradually being suppressed. It was very hard for me to see clearly, and though I never spoke or only jokingly so, I woke up one day with the realization that I was living in a very dark place and that the term “burnout” was a convenient psychological translation for a spiritual death. (10-11)

Nouwen recounts his own prayer for clarity of God’s call, which was answered when he received the assignment to move from Harvard University, where he trafficked among the best and brightest, to L’Arche community, a place for mentally handicapped people. In this obscure setting, he learned to face his obsessions with significance. Using the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ temptations, he helps ministers battle the temptations to be relevant (“turn these stones into bread”), to be spectacular (“throw yourself from the temple and let the angels catch you”) and to be powerful (“I will give you all the kingdoms of the world”). He suggests spiritual disciplines appropriate for each temptation, interlaced with stories from his own experience.

From the Publisher

Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Nouwen offers a counter definition that is witnessed by a “communal and mutual experience.” For Nouwen, leadership cannot function apart from the community. His wisdom is grounded in the foundation that we are a people “called.” This beautiful guide to Christian Leadership is the rich fruit of Henri Nouwen’s own journey as one of the most influential spirtiual leaders of the 20th century.

Henri Nouwen undertakes to talk about Christian leadership and provides a profile in stark contrast to worldly values. His ideal leader is a praying leader, a vulnerable leader, a trusting leader, one who voluntarily chooses a life of downward mobility.

About the Author

Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932–1996) was a Catholic priest who taught at several theological institutions and universities in the United States. He spent the final years of his life teaching and ministering to the mentally and physically disabled at L’Arche Daybreak community in Toronto, Canada.


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