5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take The Pastor Job

5 reasons you shouldn't take the pastor job

Finding a job as a pastor is usually a difficult process, so when someone finally offers you one, it almost seems like a given that you should take it. However, there are some really good reasons not to accept the job offer.

Here are 5 important ones:

1. You’re desperate.

Desperation is an extremely powerful motivator. It also happens to be a really bad one. Desperation causes us to minimize the negative and maximize the positive giving an unclear picture of reality until we settle into the job.

Once reality does set in, the opposite tends to happen. We maximize the negative and minimize the positive leading to a really, really bad situation. It’s far better to settle down, stay calm, and trust in the sovereignty of God as he faithfully provides for your every need until you find the right position.

2. You’re just passing through.

Far too many pastors view job opportunities as a bridge to something else or something ‘better.’ Because of this, they’re willing to take a job they’re not passionate about or committed to. The result? Apathy. Frustration. Ineffectiveness. The list continues.

While most pastors practically experience transitional roles at some point in their ministry, going into a job with that in mind is a set-up for disappointment for both parties- the pastor and the church. It’s far better to wait for a role you could see yourself in long-term and commit to that. (*Qualifier- there’s nothing wrong with taking a job that offers future opportunities for advancement, just be content with the first role offered.)

3. You don’t fit the culture.

Culture is one of the most difficult things to understand, describe and recognize. It’s almost imperceivable until you immerse yourself in it. But culture matters. It really matters.

I was once offered a job at a church in a different city/state. The church flew us out for several days to interview, poke around and get a feeling for things. They offered the job which included a considerable raise, great benefits and a ministry ripe for growth. But, I declined their offer. Why? Because there was a clash of cultures. The things they valued, I didn’t value. The things they were most proud of were not that important to me. Great people. Great church. Different culture.

4. Your strengths don’t match the needs.

Every pastoral position requires a unique set of skills depending on a variety of factors: expectations of the leadership/congregation, the community the church is in, the size of the church, the development stage of the ministry, the culture (see above), etc.

All of these factors create a unique profile that can only be met by a unique person. The majority of jobs offered by churches are nothing close to “one size fits all.” Just the opposite, they require a fairly specific profile of personality, giftedness and experience.

5. You lack conviction for your calling.

Calling goes by many different names- passion, heart, drive. However you describe it, you’ve got to have it. Why is it so important?

Every pastor will inevitably encounter hard times. You will face obstacles and challenges. Every person called by God will find their self in a moment of opposition to their calling. (Moses, Joshua, Joseph, Nehemiah, Job, Jonah, Jesus, to name just a few.) Often, in those moments, the only thing you have to rely on is the fact that you have been called by God to complete that which he has called you to.

When you think about the position being offered, does it make your heart happy? When you consider the opportunity, does it make your brain race with possibility, does it fill your mind with exciting dreams? Most importantly, is there a sense that the very Spirit of God is leading you, guiding you, to accomplish and carry out His will?

From your experience, have you seen these to be true? What would you add to the list?

5 Reasons You Didn’t Get The Pastor Job

5 reasons you didn't get the job

“You didn’t get the job.” I don’t like saying it and would rather avoid it altogether. But… there are always reasons. Though they vary with the person and the situation, I’ve seen a few recurring issues so often, they need to be considered.

Here are 5 of the most common:

1. You can’t settle down.

I can’t tell you how many resumes I’ve seen that would better fit the life of a drifter. A year here, a year there. Always moving, never putting down roots.

I understand “things happen.” I even had a 9-month stint early in my ministry career. But when it’s a pattern, it points to bigger issues. Lack of commitment, the inability to work through conflict, impulsivity, etc. None of which you want in a pastor.

2. You didn’t ask the right questions.

In a first conversation with a candidate, I asked, “What questions do you have?” Their answer was, “None.” The conversation was over as well as the possibility of that person being a potential hire.

Questions tell me that you’re thinking things through. Good questions are even better. They show that you understand the nuances of being a pastor. They show an awareness that every church has a culture, a set of expectations and assumptions that must be carefully considered before making a move.

3. You don’t know who you are.

A popular church staffing website allows individuals to identify the kind of ministry position they’re willing to be hired for. It’s common for a job-seeker to list a dozen or more.

There’s something noble about a willingness to “Go anywhere. Do anything.” However, it’s concerning when a person thinks they could effectively be a campus/teaching/small group/youth/missions/worship pastor, etc. and do it well.

I’m much more confident in a candidate who says, “This is the position God has called me to.” than one who says, “I’m open to whatever.”

4. You didn’t pay attention to details.

On more than one occasion, I’ve been given a cover letter addressed to a different church.

Not paying attention to details has a way of exposing that a person has a tendency to be hasty or careless. Did you proofread? Any typos? Did you ask someone else to look things over? Details matter. They tell me you care enough to do it well and get it right.

5. You lack experience.

Far too many resumes have a gaping hole in their experience section. I’m not expecting the kind of almanac found in the history of a seasoned veteran, but I do want to see something.

I want to know that you invested in something. I want to know that someone invested in you. I’m looking for increased responsibility, progress, promotions and achievements. (It’s not unreasonable that a college graduate would already have several years experience.)

Have you been responsible for hiring a pastoral position? If so, what have you seen? Are you, or have you been, a candidate seeking a pastoral position? What do you have to add to the discussion?

On a related side note, Expedition Church is looking for a high-capacity youth pastor to be a part of our exciting ministry. Click the link for more details: http://www.expedition.church/youthpastor.html

Don’t Be the Church Everybody Wants

grocery cart
I was pushing my cart down the grocery aisle when I encountered a person who occasionally attends our church. After a quick, “Hello” he asked, “When are you going to start a Wednesday night service?”

Immediately I replied, “Never!”

I’m not sure if it was the lack of pause before responding or the response itself, but clearly this was not the answer he was hoping to hear. I tried to take a moment to explain the rationale behind my answer including some positive alternatives, but the conversation was clearly over.

As I processed over the next several minutes, God gave me some empathy. This man, at some point in his life, had an experience that created a perceived value, a fond memory, or both. I can’t question that. I can’t deny his experience. It was his.

But… my clear, definitive, abrupt answer was for a reason. It is formed by a truth church leaders can never lose sight of:

If we try to be the church everybody wants us to be, we will never be the church God needs us to be.

Let me explain.

There are as many expectations of what a church should be as there are people who are familiar with said church. If you regularly attend the church, you have expectations of it. If you irregularly attend the church, you have expectations of it. Even if you never attend the church, but simply know about it, you still have expectations of it.

One of the greatest dangers church leaders face is trying to please everyone… trying to meet everyone’s expectations. It simply cannot be done. What you get is decreased focus, increased ineffectiveness and general confusion.

I firmly believe that God has a specific calling for specific churches. Yes, there should be a foundational sameness in terms of belief and doctrine. There will be similarities in style and structure. But a church simply cannot be what everyone wants it to be.

What suggestions do you have for navigating this tension either as a church leader or a church attender?

Criticism: Constructive or Destructive?

Criticism can be a great thing. It keeps us from becoming myopic, helps us grow personally and often leads to recognizing and solving real problems. However, there is a significant difference between valuable ‘constructive criticism’ and a critical person who seems to only offer criticism that is destructive.

Criticism Pic

Criticism Pic

Here are three questions to discern between the two:

1. Are they willing to personally help solve the problem?

Critical people are all about the ‘hit and run.’ They are quick to point out what’s wrong, but there is a lack of willingness to be a part of the solution. If the problem is financial, are they willing to provide money? If the solution to problem requires time, will they rearrange their calendar? It’s one thing to say, “This is what’s wrong- you need to make it better.” it’s another to say, “This is what’s wrong and I will do whatever I can to help you make it better.”

2. How do they respond if you or others disagree?

No one is always 100% correct in their criticism. There will probably be parts where the person offering criticism is spot-on and other parts where they miss the mark. The question is whether or not they are willing to engage in a healthy dialogue about what they see. If there is no willingness to budge or to genuinely listen to another perspective(s), their criticism is less constructive and is more destructive.

3. What is the ‘spirit’ of their criticism?

When someone is offering criticism, it is often difficult to know their intent. One thing you can do is trying to listen ‘between the words.” What is the nature of the criticism? What is the heart in which it is being expressed? For criticism to be truly be constructive, it should be given with the goal of helping the recipient improve and be more successful, not to belittle or humiliate.

We all have given and received criticism. What advice would you add that may help criticism be less destructive and more constructive?

Water or Gasoline

People seem to fall into one of two categories… water or gasoline. Being able to discern between the two is important when building teams, discerning friendships, raising a family and even choosing a spouse.

Water or Gasoline Donovan Christian

Every arena of life is filled with ‘flare-ups’- challenging situations that have the potential to harm organizations and relationships. While some of these are preventable, most are not. The key, however, is not the prevention of these difficult situations, but the response.

When a ‘water’ person sees a flare-up, their instinctive response is to put water on the flame, thus reducing its destructive potential. Conversely, when a “gasoline” person sees a flare-up, their response is to douse it with flammable liquid. The result is just as we would expect, a difficult situation becoming more difficult… a small problem becoming a big problem… a contained flame with flickering embers becoming a raging inferno.

Water extinguishes. Fuel feeds. “For lack of wood, the fire goes out…” (Proverbs 26:20). It’s that simple.

One additional word of caution/encouragement. Water and gasoline are both contagious. If the initial response to a problem is with water, expect the bucket brigade. If it’s gas- pyromaniacs of the word unite. So… carefully guard the first response knowing this will determine much of what follows.

Which do you tend to be? Water or gasoline? How have you seen this to be true in your life situations?

Two Key Questions for Team Members

Anything Something

Anyone who has ever been part of a team knows that they can be great, awful or anything in between. The primary factor determining a groups quality, is how each member interacts with other members of the team.

I’ve found that there are two simple, yet profound questions that can greatly contribute to a team’s health and effectiveness. We can call them the ‘anything/something’ questions.

Is there anything you need?
Is there something I can help you with?

One of the primary reasons a team breaks down is because team members become self-centered. They become focused on the completion of their own task and indifferent to the tasks of others. Our two questions are the remedy.

Making headway with your own assignment? See if you can lend a hand on someone else’s. Did you complete your own project? How can you help a team member complete theirs?

If your role on the team is one of support, you will become a hero to your supervisor by asking the questions often. “Is there anything you need?” followed by, “Ok. That’s done. Is there something else I can help you with?

Try it out. Ask the questions. You will be amazed at how much better your team becomes when you do!

How have you seen or experienced this on your own teams?

Thankful for Gift or Giver?

Gift or Giver

Thanksgiving Day is a welcome respite from the typical unthankful, hurried, disconnected lives most people get caught in. Even the most critical, thankless person will often find pause, even if for just a few moments at the table, to express thanks.

While thankfulness in any form is healthy, there is a significant difference between being thankful for the spread of food and being thankful for the one who provided it.

Our thankfulness can actually be quite selfish.

It goes something along the lines of: “I like to eat. I like to eat good food. I am thankful I am eating good food.” The locus of the thankfulness is easy to see: I, Me, Self. So, my thankfulness has actually become self-centered. The reason that I’m thankful, the basis of my gratitude, is the fact that I’m getting something I want.

The better alternative shifts the focus. It puts less emphasis on what I’m getting and re-focuses on the provider. We might call this “selfless thankfulness.” Yes, I may be getting something I want (a great meal), but I am primarily grateful that there is someone in my life who loves and cares for me enough to provide me with something good.

The application in our relationship with God is profound.

If I am only grateful when I’m getting the things that I want (ie. finances, relationships, etc.) then my thankfulness will ebb and flow depending on whether I believe my needs are being met. If, however, I start with the truth that there is a great and good God who never changes, my thankfulness will not only be steadfast, it will be properly directed where it should be.

What is the focus of your thankfulness? The gift or the Giver?

Are You Deceived? The critical difference between hearing and doing.

Modern day Christians have mastered the art of hearing.

We live in a time when we have more access to hearing the truth of the Bible than any other time in history. Beyond the typical Sunday sermon, we have Bible studies, small groups, conferences and seminars. Add to these online sermons, television sermons, books, blogs, podcast and smart phone apps.

Let me be clear, I am not against any of these things. To the contrary, I am a proponent. I personally utilize them and encourage others to do the same.

My concern is this, many Christians have confused the good act of hearing with the better priority of doing.

Hearing Doing donovanchristian.com

James warned us against this when he said, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

How do we deceive ourselves? At least two ways. First, by believing that hearing is the main goal… it simply is not. Second, by thinking, “Because I am engaging with the truth of Scripture, I am growing, changing, applying… living it out.”

The truth is, there is no correlation whatsoever with the amount of our hearing and the degree of our doing. Because of this, a person can be a Bible scholar, able to quote verse and reference, understand Hebrew and Greek, and bear little resemblance to Jesus in their character and lifestyle. In fact, hearing is a great disguise for doing.

Doing is the priority. Application is the key. Life transformation is the goal.

I have said this before and it’s worth repeating. If most Christians heard nothing more from Scripture and simply started doing what they already know, they as individuals, their communities, and our world would be radically transformed. However, as long as we deceive ourselves into thinking that hearing is the objective, we will be content in our own self-deception.

What have you been prioritizing in your own life? What ideas do you have to keep “doing” as your focus?

7 Questions for Campers Coming Home

This is the time of year when thousands of young men and women will head off with their church youth group to experience camp. It is well spent time that creates lasting memories and often serves as a catalyst for significant spiritual growth.

Camp Sign

When our kids return home and stumble out of the bus/van, we have the unique opportunity to take part in and continue their experience.

The first order of business… peeling the clothes off your middle school boy, incinerating them, and dragging him into the shower. After that, here are seven questions to ask your camper.

1. What did you learn about yourself?
Camp shakes things up and puts campers in environments that force self-discovery.

2. Who did you spend time with (fellow campers and adults)?
Camp relationships are both significant and telling.

3. How did it help being away from TV/computers/phones/video games?
Modern-day life is filled with distractions that keep us from hearing from God.

4. What did the speaker talk about & how can you apply it?
Good camps have a theme and the speaker will encourage practical life-application.

5. What did your counselor or youth group leader say that had an impact on you?
Adults make it a point to speak into the lives of their campers.

6. What did you learn about who God is?
God is not more present at camp, campers are just more aware of His presence.

7. What did you learn about what God wants for your life?
Many major life decisions have come as a result of a camp experience.

A few bonus tips to keep in mind:

  • Limit questions that can be answered with a “Yes” or No.”
  • Give plenty of time for answers and don’t be afraid of silence.
  • Have the conversation away from phones/TV/computer/etc.

The Key to a Lasting Marriage

Marriage anniversaries are a big deal. They represent important milestones and signify the blessing of having held true to a promise.

I’ve had the honor of knowing several couples who experienced the privilege of celebrating fifty years of marriage. When I have the opportunity, I do some investigating to see how they accomplished such an admirable feat. They all have a common theme.

Older Married Couple

I can tell you what I’ve never heard, “It was 50 years of bliss. We made it this long because it’s been so easy.”

Instead, what I have heard time and time again is, “We hit a couple of spots where it seemed like it was going to end, but we worked through it. It was hard. It was painful, but we fought for our marriage.” That is the key to making a marriage last.

Here’s an important truth we all need to remember: Many of today’s best marriages were yesterday’s worst.

Most (if not all) healthy marriages today, at one point (or several points) were on the brink of failure. They had moments of intense counseling, arguing, crying, sleeping on the couch, and painfully hard conversations about ending the relationship. But the truth of 1 Corinthians 13:7 shined through because, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

What is the key to a lasting marriage? It is not having an easy marriage. It’s two people committed to working through the hard times, knowing that the best times are yet ahead.

How have you seen this to be true in your own marriage?

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