What To Do When You’re Worried

The Cure for Worry

Earlier this week I posted Part 1 (A Game Changer for People who Worry About…Anything) of this 2 part series on Worry. You may want to read that before reading this one.

So, the obvious question is “Doesn’t everyone worry? Isn’t it just part of the human experience?”

Isn’t it just a Way of Life?

No!

2) Worry isn’t a Way of Life. In fact it’s the opposite of the life God wants us to live.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?“ Matthew 6:27 

Worrying doesn’t change the situation, it just causes you a bunch of stress and fear.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.- Corrie Ten Boom

Instead listen to this:

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. 1 Peter 5:6-9 (NLT)

Verse 6 says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God…”

Humbling myself under the mighty power of God…that sounds like what I do when I worship. I recognize my position and His power!

I believe you can worship away your worry.

When I worship, my attention is redirected away from what I see right in front of me to the object of my worship.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

There’s tons of context here but I want you to see the imagery of lifting my eyes off my worry and up to the hills to see the help coming.

Worship is a secret weapon for you. I realize not everyone is the same, but when I get worried, or stressed. When I’m facing temptation. Any number of things… I turn on worship music. It changes the atmosphere.

Taking that thought even further

Paul says this in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

No one can pray and worry at the same time.- Max Lucado

The translators of the Message say “Let your praise shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.” You have the power to turn your worry into worship. Telling God exactly what you’re worried about and focusing on Him, His goodness toward you, and His example of faithfulness throughout Scripture, history and your life.

Whenever you’re worried…worship!

Focus less on what has you down, and focus more on the One who can lift you up!

I’ve been praying for you this week!

A Game Changer for People Who Worry About…Anything

The Truth About Worrying

My son Cooper is 13 years old. I don’t know how much you remember about being 13, but it is a pretty tough deal. He has to deal with school, and tests, and his brothers and sister. He has to deal with his mom and dad who are constantly on him about something. He plays baseball against kids pitching pretty fast. He has friends, and then he has these girls he thinks are cute. It’s a lot to take in when you’re 13.

Cooper, as our oldest, is pretty cautious in general. He is also pretty nervous about trying new things. On his baseball team he hates to bat leadoff, the first batter in the lineup. He loves to bat 2nd. He needs to see another one of his teammates face the pitcher so he knows what to expect. He’s a very good baseball player, but almost every single game he walks up to me at some point to tell me how worried he is about facing this pitcher…even if it’s a pitcher he’s faced before.

Last year, when his school started their Standardized testing, I was driving him to school and he said, “Dad I’m worried about these tests.” I told him that I completely understood and that we would pray before he got out of the car. I also reminded him that he made good grades, is a good student and does really well picking up things he hasn’t learned yet if that happened, so not to be afraid. We prayed, but I could see as he was getting out of the car that he was still worried.

As his dad, I would have given anything to take away his fears and concerns but I couldn’t.

I would love to admit that worry is just something kids deal with, but we all know that isn’t true.

I asked a question on Facebook and Twitter a while back and got tons of great feedback. I just asked a simple question: “What do you worry about?”

Here were some of the public responses. I also got some private ones.

  • Not succeeding
  • Letting people down
  • Making decisions or taking risks
  • Getting older, unfulfilled dreams, children growing up
  • Career choices
  • The future
  • If you’re doing enough
  • Missing out on what God has for me

If I were to sum it up, the biggest things people seem to be worried about are success, money, health, family, and the future.

I realize there are probably things that you worry about that aren’t on this list, and that’s okay.

Jesus talked about worry in Matthew 6. Evidently He felt that it was important, because it’s pretty early on in His very first sermon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?“ And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-27, 33-34

He starts pretty specifically and sums up everything we could possibly worry about when He says, “Don’t worry about your life…”

It’s hard to be much clearer than that.

But when you hear that, you might think, “Well how am I supposed to do that? Isn’t worry human nature?”…

Well kind of.

I don’t want to pscho-analyze you, but I want us to dive a little deeper into our worry and see if there’s something there that Jesus might be speaking to.

What do we think worry is?

1) We think worry might be a warning. We’ve heard those stories of someone who had a feeling or a premonition just before something bad happened, and so we convince ourselves that our “worry” is a warning that something bad is going to happen.

2) We think worry is a way of life. We think we are supposed to worry about our jobs and our future and our kids and…

So let’s address each of these thoughts about worry.

1) Worry isn’t warning. The reason I can say this with certainty is because Worry isn’t the voice of God. The voice of God is the voice of God. When I learn His voice I won’t mislabel it as worry! If God wants to warn me of something, He warns me of something. He doesn’t give me an obscure worry that causes me to doubt if it was His voice, and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with what I’m feeling.

Jesus told us about a helper we would have after He left the earth.

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:26-27

He said that the Holy Spirit is our Advocate. That’s someone who is on your side. Someone who is there to help you. And when Jesus said He was leaving the Holy Spirit for us, He said that it was a gift of peace for our hearts and minds so that we didn’t have to be troubled or afraid.

So worry isn’t warning. Warning is warning. If I’m unsure whether something is a warning I would ask 2 simple questions:

  • Is this a way God speaks (to me)?

Be careful not to interject that you think someone, somewhere, that one time felt something before something bad happened…has God ever specifically spoken to you this way?

  • How am I supposed to act in light of what God has warned me?

I believe if there isn’t a specific response that it’s just worry and not warning. A warning is “Get out of the way, a car is about to hit you”. A worry is “This is a dangerous world where bad things happen to kids.” There’s nothing I can do with that other than to just worry.

So worry isn’t warning. Warning is a warning.

 

Later this week I’ll unpack the 2nd part of our worries, and how we should deal with them.

Until then, try to evaluate your worry. Where is it coming from? What are the triggers?

Now spend a moment in prayer and thank God for clarity in the moments where He may be warning you, and ask for peace in the moments where you are worried!

Until next time…

 

 

5 Ways to Make Better Decisions

Immediately Improve Your Decision Making

Solomon told us that “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!” He went on to say that if you’re going to do anything else, “develop good judgment.”. Sounds easy enough, but you and I are smart enough to know, and have lived enough life to have learned that wisdom isn’t a given, and good judgement is often hard to find.

But you and I have decisions to make. We’re choosing things for our own lives that matter, and we’re making decisions as leaders that affect other people. So when we need wisdom to make a decision where do we find it?

The problem usually isn’t the things that we know we are supposed to do. Though we will fight it if we REEEEAALLLY want the other thing, if it’s a black and white issue, most people I know will eventually make the right decision. It’s the grey areas that we struggle with. Those decisions that don’t seem to be on the map. You know the map, right? “Turn right here.” “In 2 minutes get off this road.” Those amazing GPS apps on our phones have made it nearly impossible for me to drive anywhere without assistance. I just wish I had the same assistance when it came time to make decisions in my life and leadership.

So I want to give you 5 questions that I believe will help you make better decisions every time.

1. What does the Bible say about this issue?

If you don’t allow the Bible to speak into your life you’ve probably already skipped past this one. However, I believe the Bible to be an incredible source of wisdom. It even calls itself “a lamp” for our feet and a “light for our path.” There are a number of places in Scripture that you can find specific instructions to help guide the decisions that you are making. If you don’t know where to look don’t be afraid to look at the keywords in the back of your Bible or Google “What does the Bible say about ______?” Check several resources to insure that it’s valid. It’s not cheating. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and the Bible says “yes” or “no” then your next step is pretty simple. Just do what it says.

2. What is God saying to me about this issue?

I’ll start the same way this time that I started last time. If you don’t believe that God speaks to you then this may seem irrelevant. When I say “speak” or what is God “saying”, don’t get hung up on thinking about the audible voice of God. Perhaps you have heard God speak audibly. I never have. And yet God has spoken to me in many ways. Obviously I believe God speaks to me through His Word, which I talked about already. But He also speaks through worship, prayer, nature, circumstances, and more. You might call it an impression or a feeling. God promises that if we need wisdom, all we have to do is ask for it, and He will give it to us “generously.” 

It’s important that this comes after searching the Bible because the Bible is a timeless revelation of God’s Word to His people. It has stood the test of time, and God will not contradict Himself by telling you something that doesn’t line up with His Word. So check the Bible, then check yourself.

3. What are the wise people in my life telling me?

If you are the wisest person you know, you need some new friends. Proverbs tells us to “walk with the wise to be wise.” I want to surround myself with people who have wisdom in a variety of areas of life so that I can lean into their wisdom when I’m attempting to make decisions. I have wise people in my life in the areas of finance, real estate, parenting, marriage, leadership, pastoring, and more. I lean on them regularly.

One of the greatest ways wise people can help me is to determine if what I’m hearing from God (#2) lines up with what the Bible says (#1). Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

4. What are the possible consequences (both good and bad)?

If you still don’t know what to do, make a pros and cons sheet. Put all the possible good results that could come from this decision, then list the possible bad outcomes. Look them over. Does either column make your decision easier or clearer? Count the cost, even if money isn’t involved. You won’t regret it.

Finally, if you still aren’t sure. You’ve looked in the Bible, listened for God personally, talked to wise people, and counted the cost, here’s the tie-breaker.

5. What would the wisest, Godliest person I know do, if they were me?

Try to remove yourself from the situation. To the best of your ability, take the emotions off the table. Zoom out and view the situation from the outside looking in. Now picture the person you believe to be the wisest, Godliest person you know. Maybe you don’t even know them well. Maybe you just see them from a distance, but you admire them and their ability to make decisions. If they were in your shoes, what do you think they would do? If you have a relationship, or access to them, perhaps even ask them that question: “If you were me, what would you do?”

Two closing thoughts:

First, don’t allow the fear of making a wrong decision cause you not to make a decision. I’m not talking about taking your time or waiting for more information. I’m talking about the “paralysis by analysis” that so many of us are guilty of. We don’t want to get it wrong, so we do nothing at all.

It’s like a friend of mine. When they are sick they refuse to go to the doctor because in their mind “no news is better than bad news.”

Avoiding it doesn’t make it better. When it comes to decisions, many times avoiding it makes it worse, the decision harder, and the cost greater.

Second, don’t let what you “want” to do in your head overpower what you “know” to do in your heart. We can all justify what we want to do. You’re looking for the right decision, not just your preferred decision.

You’re a leader. People are waiting on you to make decisions. Use the wisdom of God, surround yourself with wise people who can help you when necessary, and make the call!

I believe in you!

The 1 Thing People Need From You

You Already Have it

This post appears as an article in the October edition of Around Canton. I write several times per year for this local publication and always enjoy the feedback I receive. I wanted to share it here in hopes that it will encourage you too.

 

Several years ago my grandmother gave each of her grandkids a small book that she had written and bound. Each page was filled with stories of faith that she had personally experienced. There were stories of answered prayers she and my grandfather had prayed over the previous 50+ years. There were stories of wonderful sermons she had heard or church services she had attended. Each page was different, and very powerful. When she presented these books to each of us she informed us of her motive. It was her desire that while she was still able to remember the wonderful things God had done, that she would make sure her family knew as well. What a thoughtful and forward-thinking idea.

Perhaps one of the saddest verses in the Bible is Judges 2:10 which says, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” While that might not seem all that sad to you, keep in mind that the Lord had done some amazing things for Israel in the previous generation or two. He used Moses to lead as many as 1 million Hebrews out of the Egyptian bondage of slavery. They spent 40 years in the desert preparing to inhabit the land that was promised to their forefather, Abraham, 700 years before, all the way back in the book of Genesis. Upon entering the Promised Land they defeated enemies, inhabited new land, and established themselves as a new nation…and then they stopped telling their stories.

I can’t imagine that. These stories included frogs, locusts, darkness, water turning to blood, walking across a large body of water on dry land as God supernaturally rolled the waters back, defeating giants, and so much more. But eventually their children didn’t know.

So the question for us is this: “What stories do you have that need to be shared with your children and grandchildren?” Unfortunately there will come a day when each of us will no longer be able to share these stories. So we must be intentional to share them while we can. It doesn’t have to be in a book. Maybe it’s a time of sharing after the turkey has been eaten and the table is cleared. Perhaps it’s just an email or letter written and sent. No matter what method you use, don’t put it off one more day. You have a story to tell, and someone needs to hear it.

3 Ways to Be a Better Pastor

It’s Easier Than You Think

Recently I found myself walking through PGA Superstore with a $20 gift card burning a hole in my pocket.  I looked for a new golf shirt or hat before wandering over to what can only be described as the golf “accessories” or “training tools” section.

There were club weights, extensions, form grips, “breakable” shafts, etc. There were shoes to help you feel the correct weight distribution and transfer. There were devices to put on your arms so you know when to bend your elbows and when to break your wrist. It was a bit overwhelming.

There was a young man standing there wrestling with which purchase to make when an older gentleman walked by and said, “Don’t waste your time.” To which the younger man asked “What do you mean?” The wise old man said “they only sell this crap to folks who are convinced they are just one “trick” away from being a Major champion. It’s hogwash. The only thing that makes you a good golfer is learning from your mistakes until you’re hitting more good shots than you are bad ones.”

WOW!

As I listened to this conversation take place I couldn’t help but think about all the Pastors I’ve met in my life. With very few exceptions they are walking around the “Pastor Superstore” looking for the next gimmick to add to their arsenal because they believe it’s the one thing they’re missing to finally becoming a good pastor or having their church grow.

Here’s the truth:

Most of the pastors I’ve met are already good pastors, but they’re still chasing the illusion that a good pastor does it better than they do.

In the world of social media you can’t help but compare your church to the churches you follow. Your sermons don’t seem quite as good as the 30 second clip from the megachurch pastor that’s been shared 11 billion times on Facebook since lunch.

And so you keep searching. You’re looking for that silver bullet. That sermon series where it will all come together. You’re convinced “if you build it they will come” so you leverage the future.

I’m all for creativity and marketing and more, but my prayer for you is that a wise old man or woman will walk up beside you at some point very soon and gently remind you that it’s all hogwash. I promise there is no gimmick that will turn you from a bad pastor into a good pastor.

So, in your pursuit to be a “good” pastor remember these 3 things:

1- God loves you no matter the size of your church.

    I know it seems like He would love you more, the more people you have, but that’s just not true. You just love you more when things are going well. God loved you before you were leading anyone. Force yourself to rest in His love for you. Find some friends that love you unconditionally as well. When you have a friend or three who love you but aren’t impressed by you, it will be easier to believe God could feel that way about you too.

2- God believes you’re the man or woman for the job.

When you had nothing to offer God called you. From the desert running from your past, or from the hillside with your sheep waiting your turn. The details aren’t as important as the truth: He didn’t have to, but He did. He has entrusted  His sons and daughters into your care. Love them well. He does.

3- There is no silver bullet.

My friend Matt wrote a book several years ago to remind us that the “Hail Mary” approach to church growth rarely works. Your church or ministry is most likely going to grow one girl or one couple or two families at a time. You aren’t a failure if your Egg Drop at Easter doesn’t result in 500 salvations.

Unless God grows the church we labor in vain. Could it be that your church is growing at the rate God knows He can trust you or your team with? Instead of getting frustrated about the rate of growth down the road, what if we asked God what He’s trying to develop in us ahead of the next season of growth in our church?

I have a friend who owns a few of those golf devices I mentioned earlier. Anytime I play golf with him he arrives early to warm up on the driving range. You would swear he owns stock in the Golf Channel. He has sticks and poles and weighted putting balls and practice clubs and metronomes and more. Something interesting happens though when we get on the course. All it takes is one bad shot and he’s a mental case. Because his confidence is not in his ability but in the gimmicks and when they stop working he stops working.

Don’t be that guy. Love God. Love people. Trust God with the rest.

You’re doing better than you think you are!

 

I Know Why You’re Disappointed

What You Can Learn from Middle School Basketball Tryouts

I’m all for evolving, stretching yourself and constantly trying to improve, and goal setting is a huge part of that process. So how is it possible to set a goal, reach the goal and still be disappointed?

My son recently tried out for the 7th grade basketball team at his school. His one and only season of organized basketball was in 4th grade, but when it came time to sign up he decided to give it a try. Before the tryouts he explained that the coach described the process as daily tryouts, beginning on Monday, with cuts at the end of each day beginning on day 2. He said his goal was to “just make it to Thursday.” He felt that making the team was unrealistic given that he hadn’t played much basketball, there would be nearly 50 boys trying out, and most of his friends have played basketball for the last several years. So we supported him and held out hope that he would make the first few cuts.

Wouldn’t you know it, he actually did pretty well early in the week and as he got in my car after Tuesday’s tryouts he told me that 21 boys were cut, but he was in the group invited back the next day. As I asked for a rundown of the day’s tryout he concluded his description with this line: “You know dad, I think I could actually make the team!” The amount of excitement in his voice was matched by the caution in mine as I responded, “that’s awesome, Cooper. I hope you do.” Then I added my obligatory parental disclaimer, “But if you don’t make it, it’s okay. Remember you just wanted to make it to Thursday, and you’re halfway there. Just keep working hard.”

Wednesday came, and he was invited back for Thursday.

Thursday evening I parked my car on the curb in front of the school and waited…

As he walked out of the gym I could see it on his face.

Disappointment. Embarrassment. Frustration.

He got in the car and the floodgates opened. I prepared my comments, but he didn’t want to hear them. He hadn’t made the team and his 7th grade world was CRUSHED!

 

Cooper made it to Thursday and was still disappointed. Why? Because early results opened up new, better possibilities that were previously unthinkable. Thursday is a great goal until you realize you were one day from making the team.

Exceeding your goal of losing 10 lbs can be disappointing if the scale shows a loss of 14.9 and you focus on missing out on 15 lbs.

Maybe you’re a pastor who set a goal of 500 people on Easter Sunday. Before leaving the church you got the news: 595 in attendance! You should be thrilled, but all the way home all you can think about is how close you were to 600.

You set a goal of 10 new sales leads this month and you ended the month with 12. Instead of cake you’re wallowing in your morning coffee because the guy who shares your cubicle set the new company record with 17 new leads.

Disappointment can often be the result of unmet, unrealistic expectations you set for yourself.

 

It can also be the result of giving your heart to new possibilities before taking the time to celebrate present successes.

Are you disappointed?

If so, is it because of unrealistic expectations, or

is your original successful goal no longer enough due to comparison or success in the process?

Go buy a cupcake, celebrate what you’ve accomplished and set a new goal!

Disappointment is Dumb!

No Judgement Monday

How to Handle the Day after the Day

I just read on social media where a Pastor friend of mine commented about how motivated he is to get work done on Mondays…not me!

I’m a pastor. So Sundays are a pretty big deal! I, along with our staff, work all week long to prepare for Sunday when guests and regular attenders will show up at Canton Church. Some of them will be “checking out” a possible new church home. Others will be in search for God to help them make sense of their present circumstances. Still others will be there because it’s “family” and they’ve found belonging here.

No matter the reason, we do our best to prepare for their arrival. Kids curriculum is prepped. We order any supplies that are needed. The band prepares for the songs they will lead. Graphics and videos are created. I prepare to preach. The building is cleaned. We are ready!

Sunday comes…

And then Monday comes.

 

The best way I know to describe how Mondays feel to me is this: imagine the day after you throw a big party for a friend or family member. Maybe after you gave the best man speech at a wedding. The day after you gave a big presentation at work. The day after you hosted an open house while trying to sell it.

I’m incredible sensitive on Mondays. I’m not normally a sensitive guy, much. But on Sundays I really do try to be as vulnerable as possible. Both in my preaching and in relationships with others. Preaching isn’t performance for me. It is unpacking God’s Word and trusting the Holy Spirit to change hearts and lives. I want to sincerely empathize with those I’m praying with. I genuinely want to know how you’re doing when I ask “How are you doing?”

So on Mondays I’m thinking about everything I said, everything I did, and regretting a good bit of it.

Corrie is much the same way. Most Mondays she’s trying to follow up with some of those she talked to in the lobby. She’s making sure someone reaches out to the “new family” who had trouble at Kids Check-in. She texts some folks she didn’t see the day before.

After leading worship in multiple services, or coordinating volunteers in multiple environments, or troubleshooting a leaking toilet, or any number of other things, most of our staff has a similar case of the Mondays.

Coffee is usually on constant drip around our office. There are a lot of “low-maintenance” wardrobe choices. More hats than hair gel. More joggers than skinny jeans.

 

 

So Corrie and I created a new phrase for our team: “No Judgement Monday.” It’s not a get out of jail free card. We still work, and work hard. There are things to be done, and we get them done. But any decision that doesn’t have to be made on Monday is pushed to Tuesday. I try to let someone else choose where we are going to lunch.

 

Don’t misunderstand me. I love my job. I wouldn’t want to do anything else. But Mondays are the worst day of the week for me.

It’s amazing though what happens every week. Tuesdays are like Mondays except completely different. Our team works like they’ve been shot out of a cannon. They seem more motivated. Productive. Inspired. Energetic. And can’t wait until Sunday!

So, if you’re having a rough day, just remember there’s no judgement here.

I’ll pray that tomorrow comes soon for you too.

What about you? Is Monday rough or are you super motivated?

#NoJudgementMonday

Dear Student Pastor

From a fellow sojourner

Trevor Hindman is the Student and Volunteers Pastor at Canton Church. He has been on our staff for 5 years, and part of our church since the beginning. He is one of the most faithful servant leaders I’ve ever known and an amazing young leader. He writes to other student pastors below.


Dear student pastor,

There is an old joke that floats around churches that any time something breaks the lead pastor can just blame it on the student pastor. As the student pastor at Canton Church whenever I hear this I tend to just laugh and roll my eye, but let’s be honest student pastors, we all know that in some way there is going to be some truth to whatever is being said. We work with the rowdiest, craziest, breaking stuff bunch that walks through the doors. And not only that we do it on Wednesday where we get to feel “large and in charge” because it is OUR service night!

But how do you handle these situations? No, I don’t mean how do you handle it when they actually have broken something (just go ahead and put 50% of your student budget towards repairs and you will be good to go), I mean how do you handle the relationship with your lead pastor? In reality joking about things being broken around the church is small in comparison to what some of the conversations that you are having. Or worse, not having. Let’s be honest student pastors, we often times are wondering what our pastor is thinking, does he trust me, does he think I am doing a good job, does he regret hiring me, does he wish he didn’t hire me, do I like working for this man, does he really care about me, and you insert the other thousands of questions you ask yourself about your lead pastor. What if joking about you getting blamed for breaking things isn’t the pastor showing a lack of trust in you and what if it really is a joke?

I have been really fortunate to spend the entirety of my time in ministry serving under the direct leadership of a really good man. Pastor Jeremy Isaacs has taught me a ton about how to serve the church and the people of the church well. I know it is not everyone’s story, but it is my story, I am fortunate enough to consider my pastor and my boss one of my best friends. And through that relationship there are 3 truths I have learned about serving a lead pastor well.

1. Believe that your pastor believes in you.

If they are willing to hire you, pay you, and let you shape the hearts and minds of impressionable teenagers then they trust you and believe in you! Don’t assume that every time your pastor “gets onto you” that it means he has lost faith in you. Your lead pastor is in your corner. He may give you every terrible job at the church that he doesn’t want to do but it isn’t because he doesn’t like you, it means he is trying to grow you (or maybe he just doesn’t want to do it). I am the student pastor at my church and let’s be honest, like most student pastors I also do a ton of other things. I am (self-titled) our churches IT Director! Sounds pretty fancy, right? I can promise you it is not my favorite job title! Over the last 2 months if it could break it has. I literally know how to re-program a commercial printer and give it a brand-new IP address. I can rebuild a firewall, and a whole lot of other nerdy things that 2 months ago I couldn’t do. Now I don’t believe that Pastor Jeremy just threw this on me because he doesn’t believe in me enough to give me “real tasks”. Its growing me. It is teaching me better time management. It teaches me better people skills. Please student pastors, start at a place of believing that your lead pastor believes in you. It will save you tons of hours of lost sleep, stress, and a lack of relationship with him.

And lead pastors, you have to be honest with student pastors. I think that the insecurity of the middle schoolers rubs off on us sometimes. You need to tell your student pastors every once in a while, that they are doing a good job. Tell them that you believe in them! And pastors, don’t be afraid to have the hard conversations when we do mess up to tell us we lost a little bit of your trust and we need to work hard to earn it back. You being honest with us in those moments tells us that you believe in us enough to help us grow when we blow it.

2. Be honest about your future.

I have watched so many student pastors view their current position as a “stepping stone” on their journey to being the next Jentezen Franklin. Student pastor don’t go into an interview and tell the pastor of a church searching desperately for someone that will be the student pastor for a least 2 graduating classes that you want to come to this community and put down roots to be here for 20 years when you really just hope this gets you a little closer to landing that job at the mega church right down the road. I’m not saying that every student pastor is called to be a “lifer” because not everyone is, but what I am saying is to go in and be honest with your pastor. If you want to be a lead pastor someday tell him that. And this doesn’t just apply to student pastors that are in the interview process. This applies to student pastors that have been at a church for 5 months, 5 years, or 25 years. Talk to your pastor about your dreams and ambitions. Talk to him about what you might want to pursue in your future.

And lead pastors, give them opportunities to dream with you. Make you student pastors feel like they can tell you they would love to be the lead pastor of a church someday without feeling like you are looking for their replacement tomorrow because you don’t feel like “their heart is here anymore”. Now I am not saying that when someone can’t decide whether they want to be here anymore or not you don’t help love them out the door. But, the student pastor that says in 3 years I want to start praying about pursuing new adventures you encourage them and believe in them and pray with them. Pastors your office should be the safest place for a student pastor to dream about not being at your church. Because if you don’t allow them to dream in your office without you making them feel like they are abandoning God for thinking about leaving you than I can promise you that they will find somewhere to dream and someone to listen that can be excited with them about that dream.

3. Serve your pastor’s family well.

As I already mentioned I have an incredible relationship with my pastor. That relationship carries over into his family as well. I love the Isaacs. They have been good to me and I am thankful for what they mean to me and my family. But take the relationship out of it and the fact that I really just like them as people. When I agreed to work for Canton Church I agreed to be the student pastor sure. But I agreed to so much more than that. I agreed to serve this body of believers, so when someone is at the hospital, sure they are not a student, but I may go see them. I agreed to serve this community, so I go and put pine straw out at an elementary school on a Saturday morning with some volunteers. But I also agreed to serve Pastor Jeremy and his family. Student pastors I think we all feel some weight and stress of the church. We do a lot of things for the church. But nothing that we face has near the same level as what our lead pastor feels daily. Part of our role is to support the lead pastor. Make his life easier any chance you get. I have picked his kids up from school, driven him all around the southeastern United States, helped him do home projects, stay late, get here early, told him to not come to something so that he can spend time with his family, and as many other things that I can do to serve my pastor well. Student pastors God has called you to serve where you are for a reason. Serve God first and foremost, serve the church and the community, but serve your pastor and his family. Don’t kiss butt just to get recognition, but if you truly serve your pastor well, I promise you it will be pleasing in the eyes of God and it will go a long way in giving you and your lead pastor a great relationship.

Student Pastors, keep doing what you are doing. Keep loving students and teaching them how to have a relationship with Jesus. I know you feel overwhelmed at times but know that your lead pastor is right there praying for you and fighting for you. He is in your corner. Believe that your pastor believes in you, be honest about your future, and serve your pastors family well. Even though it probably is your fault that something got broke last week, know that if you do these things it is all going to be ok.

Trust your pastor. Respect your pastor. Serve your pastor.


Trevor and his wife Lauren live in Canton, GA.

I’m Afraid to Ask you to Buy My Book

The Challenge of Self-Promotion

I realize the irony of this post. By writing what I’m writing you think I’m being passive-aggressive, but I PROMISE I AM NOT.

The easiest example is my recent book. This summer my brother Jason and I  released a new book called “Toxic Soul: A Pastor’s Guide to Leading without Losing Heart.” Jason has done a great job promoting the book, selling the book and getting the word out. If I’m being honest, I have not been an equal partner in the effort. It’s not because I don’t believe in the message of the book. I believe wholeheartedly that every Pastor I’ve ever met would benefit from this book. Not because I wrote it, but because I believe in the commonality of our struggles and the solutions or ideas that Jason and I collected and/or wrote.

But it’s not just about the book. I struggle to share the podcast of sermons I’ve preached at my church. Again, I believe the messages were God working in and through me for the sake of others. I’m sure I have friends on various social media platforms who would benefit from the messages. And yet, I struggle to share the links each week.

I serve as a coach for pastors but struggle every semester to advertise for the group sessions.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

There seems to be 3 groups of people in the world:

Confident Promoters

It seems that the most successful content creators among us are confident when it comes to promoting their product or service. I’m not saying they weren’t insecure at first, but they don’t seem to struggle with it anymore…or they’re just really good actors.

Insecure Promoters

I’m probably in this group. We promote, when we have to, but we second guess ourselves the whole time. We hope people don’t misinterpret our motives, but we’re sure they are.

Prayers

Sometimes I find myself here too. While every group prayers that their content is advantageous to those who find it, this group is just not going to promote themselves. They have resigned themselves just to pray that it will find it’s way into the right hands.

When having this conversation with someone not too long ago they asked me this question: “Do you believe the content will help people?” My answer was “yes.” They then asked me this question: “Then aren’t you being unfair or insensitive to withhold information from them that may help them?”

I guess sometimes I am. And yet I’m still paralyzed by my fear of self-promotion.

I’ll second guess this post. I’ve edited it more than most posts I write so you won’t misunderstand me. But some of you will.

But here goes nothing…

Here’s my brother’s blog post promoting his new book, (written with me) 😉

It’s the best I can do for now!

Join the Toxic Soul Launch Team

Get free stuff and help us spread the word

I’m excited to announce my new book, “Toxic Soul: A Pastors Guide to Leading Without Losing Heart” will be released on July 11.

Written with my brother Jason Isaacs, “Toxic Soul” is a book for pastors and church leaders. We’ve spent our life around pastors. As fourth generation pastor’s kids, it’s not a stretch to say we’ve probably met close to 10,000 pastors in our lifetime, and sadly many of us serving in ministry are jaded and disheartened. We are angry, lonely, depressed, discouraged, bitter, confused, cynical and hopeless. We lost the joy of our salvation somewhere in the process of working for God.

That’s why we’ve written this book, to help find healing for your toxic soul; to recover your passion for ministry and overcome discouragement and defeat. The book also includes insights and stories from some our friends and mentors, including Matt Keller, Sam Chand, Dave Willis, and more.

Here’s where you come in.

New books are written every day, the challenge is spreading the word. We believe “Toxic Soul” will help every pastor and church leader who reads it, and our desire is to get a copy into as many of their hands as possible. That’s why we’re assembling a launch team to help us get the word out.

As a member of the launch team you will receive a free digital or paperback copy of the book, but in return, we are asking you to help us promote the book and write a review on Amazon before the release date. If you are interested in joining the launch team please click the link and fill out the short form.

I Want To Join The Launch Team