Pastors and Wives Share Your Burdens With Your Staff

share-your-burdens-withyour-staff

Today’s post is for those who are pastors and pastors’ wives… in my heart of hearts  I pray that this will be taken in the spirit of encouragement.

If you can name it and it has something to do with the church and its’ members then it can be a stress in the life of you and your family.  Any type of stressor can become a burden when you are unsure of how to deal with something…  or you are waiting in prayer for God to give you an answer so you can move on in faith. Church life definitely can come with baggage — that type of baggage that makes you want to stay in bed on church days  or hide in your office as service times begin. It is not uncommon for unwanted circumstances to come at you in waves and for you to feel inadequately prepared to deal with them in wisdom and a right spirit.

If I could have a heart-to-heart with pastors and their wives about church staff and faithful church workers I would say this: “Friends, don’t bear your burdens alone.” And then I would gently say, “Don’t discount your staff as being people who will not understand your burdens.”

Hey, I know I’ve never been a pastor’s wife (yet) and you can come up with an excuse on the reasons why you hoard burdens upon your shoulders, but please allow me to explain…

We have served beside others or communicated with peers and have seen people we loved keep us from comforting them. We could discern that the weight of the daily in’s and out’s of ministry were bogging them down and causing the spark in their eyes to dim to a depressive state of mind. Yet, for some reason when God brought us as comforters to their door with hands empty and ready to carry some of their load, they slammed the door on us. This left two families with burdened hearts (theirs and ours) instead of a common bond of brother/sisterhood and unity from sharing the weight in their hearts.

Allow God to send comforters to you,  who will be a blessing. 

Never assume that the only ministry family that is suffering and bearing the load of life and ministry is the pastor’s family. If you have church staff or you have laymen that are whole-heartedly invested in your ministry then they also carry the burdens of ministry and responsibility of meeting the needs of people on their shoulders. Sin in church members affects them and their hearts too, it can consume their thoughts and prayers also.

Others may never know the degree of weight you carry because the accountability of the pastor is greater, but remember responsibilities weigh on each person’s life. A burden is a burden. They may not know all the details of counseling sessions or the diligence required to do all things decently and in order while ministering as a shepherd (or shepherd’s wife). Do not minimize their heart’s burdens as insignificant in comparison especially when their burdens are linked to the same church family as yours.

The hands of ministry workers, staff, and volunteers are tied when you separate yourself in a class all of your own and elevate yourself to some level of never being understood because of a position. One person or couple should not be bearing all the burden alone. We are meant to bear one another’s burdens because it fulfills the law of Christ. Christ  took all sin of the world upon Himself as He died in our place, He understands the concept of bearing the burdens of others.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Church staff in specific situations can often bear a harder burden because of the pressure that is applied from the expectations of the pastor believing they will never understand. They may want to understand, and see how it burdens the pastor. They can recognize how sin puts a blanket on each ministry that is effected by imperfect choices. Do not discount them from being a source of help and encouragement! Most people are capable of genuinely being able to be compassionate in heart toward you. They can understand the behind the scenes knowledge that comes along with being closely involved in the work of the church and respect the need for keeping them in confidence.

“But, what if!?”

Part of bearing one another’s burdens is being humble enough to share. One worry is whether we are sharing our heart’s contents with those who are trustworthy and that is a legitimate concern.  Time can only tell you if you can trust someone. Keeping burdens upon our shoulders because of fearing what other people may say or do (without giving them a chance) is just that, fear. “What if they tell other church members what we’ve talked about?” It is always wise to use discretion in specific matters and to keep information private if it is required.

I feel like I have to make disclaimers all the time because in this world we live in. This message will not fit with every pastor/pastor’s wife and church staff situation out there. There are pastors and their wives who will continue to bear their burdens. There are staff members who will still struggle to feel as if they cannot connect with their pastor/pastor’s wife. Above all, do as the hymn by Charles Tindley  states, “Leave it there, leave it there. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there. If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out. Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”  God is our greatest burden-bearer. No amount of troubles overwhelm Him when we cast those cares upon His shoulders.

Some of you will try to share their burdens with their staff and might be misunderstood or your “fears” may come true when a staff member unwisely shares your information with other people. For those situations I am truly sorry. You might be robbed of a blessing and I would suggest this: Keep praying. Be sensitive enough to share those burdens with someone you are close to so they can help you bear them (ministry friend, family member, etc.). Then, when the time is right and the Holy Spirit gives you a nudge, take a risk again somewhere in the future and share a burden. Share your prayer request, visions for the future of your church/ministries with your staff, and allow them to see the human part of your spirituality that needs God’s guidance.

Taking a risk here and there is part of the growing process. You may just find that your church staff will do exactly what you need and help carry that load and strengthen you in the process. Remember: You found beneficial qualities in their lives or you would not have hired them! The possibility of sharing these matters may allow you to see God work in His mysterious ways to take care of these burdens… we never know what God will do when we join together in prayer for the problems going on in our church. We may actually see victories against sin, repair in relationships, and spiritual growth but the benefit is that they are shared victories and growth instead of just personal.

Eliminate some of your stress by casting your cares upon the Lord and having enough confidence in your staff to be able to share matters that are on your heart. You need it, they need it, and Lord willing, growth will happen in the process. Your work and ministry is valuable, don’t bog yourself down if you can let others walk and work with you.

 

 

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Ministry Principles from Boaz – Part 2

Ministry Principles from Boaz Part 2

Ministry leadership principles can be learned from Boaz’s life and his character.  The presentation of his life is found in the book of Ruth, continuing in chapter 3 we can learn some other aspects of ministry that can make a difference in those we minister to.

You can read Part 1 about his example to ministry workers: learning about how to greet people, take care of the natural needs of your workers, learning about people, and inviting others to be included here.

More Ministry Principles from Boaz

Be trustworthy.

In Ruth 3:6-13 Boaz is surprised in the night when Ruth is lying at his feet. His reaction to Ruth coming in where he was sleeping was with concern and confidentiality. He was not angry with her for being there nor did he take advantage of her in a wrong way. He demonstrated his trustworthiness by listening to Ruth’s request as she asked him to be the kinsman redeemer of Naomi’s family. Within his ability he agreed to help her and instructed her that she go out secretly in the morning.

Boaz was not wrongfully hiding a secret sin, but protecting her virtuous reputation among the other people. This reminds me of when Joseph was of a mind to put Mary away privily because she was with child before they were married. I believe Boaz built trust with Ruth by taking care of a sensitive matter (to her) in a right way.

Trustworthy people find special blessings when they do not jump to conclusions or share private information with other people through gossip or publicly (in a sermon, lesson, announcement, or prayer request). Ministry is a place where we can easily find out about sins or pasts of people we work with, but the honorable thing to do is build trust by being trustworthy.

Embrace the spirit of adoption.

Boaz raises his own son, Obed, in the name of Elimelech and Mahlon so that their land would stay in the family. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead (Mahlon) upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.” Ruth 4:10 While it is his own son, his actions were in the spirit of adoption, raising him for another man’s sake, even though that man was already dead. (You can read more about the laws of redeeming in Leviticus 25 and 27.)

By salvation we receive adoption “…but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” Romans 8:15b,16  We can help the members of our church be included (as mentioned in the first article) by demonstrating our love and kindness to them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The best “church family” stories I have ever heard revolve around stories of Christian church members taking in a single person or another family and treating them like family. They may include them in their family meals, help them in special circumstances, spend time together outside of church, encourage and disciple them. The spirit of adoption brings outsiders into your  church family and creates a special bond at times that is greater than the relationship many people will have with their family members who may not be saved. It is a beautiful thing!

Keep in mind the spirit of adoption will never replace another person’s relationship with Christ. As ministers at times people can become too dependent upon their relationship with you, substituting your advice and counsel for building their own relationship with God or finding out what His will for their life is for themselves.  Point Christian people to God their Father, remind them as they struggle you may not know all the answers to their needs but to rely upon Him as their source of wisdom and strength.

Emulate Christ through your life

Character distinguishes Boaz from many other Biblical examples because nothing sinful or questionable was written about him. Boaz is regularly compared to Jesus Christ, as the kinsman redeemer of Naomi’s land. Christ is the Redeemer of our souls. Boaz in all of his positive attributes is often considered a “type” of Christ pictured in the Old Testament. It would be a worth striving to be like Boaz  to deal with every situation properly so that if a testimony were to be written about your life that no sinful thing could be mentioned.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate ministry leader. Boaz is a great example to us but he was only a man who loved and lived for God. We may use these specific examples in Boaz’s life to be able to help us emulate what Jesus Christ would want us to do in our ministry. God used Boaz in His plan to bring Ruth into the lineage of the family of David,  where Christ would, in the fullness of time, be born. He was able to be used because of his godliness.

Conclusion

We may not always be able to strive to be a Boaz with no sinful thing ever mentioned about us. We mess up! We’re not always friendly, trustworthy, aware of the needs of those we minister to but God has a plan for us to continue in our work for Him. God knows that people will frustrate us and we won’t feel like embracing the spirit of adoption or including other people especially after we have been hurt. When those times come in your life, then go to the Bible and glean from its pages and learn from the Master of ministry. Keep building your relationship with Him so your service and leadership can continue to make a difference!

 

Ministry Principles from Boaz

The best type of ministry leadership training includes principles we learn from the Bible. What does God have to say about leadership?

Boaz, from the book of Ruth, is an exceptional example of a great leader. Specific circumstances and reactions in his life help us to see how we can practically apply his leadership qualities or principles to ministry.

Ministry Principles from Boaz

Boaz is first introduced in Ruth chapter 2, as he was a family member to Elimelech, Naomi’s husband who had died. Ruth, the Moabitess, had been married to Naomi’s son, Mahlon. After his death, Ruth makes a life-changing decision to leave her family and all she has ever known to go with Naomi back to Bethlehem, Judea (chapter 1). Upon their arrival Ruth sets her mind to go immediately to work for their livelihood. She found a place to gather grain in the  fields during the harvest time. Widows were allowed by law (as God’s provision) to gather grain in the corners of the fields and pick up any other leftovers on the ground outside the sheaves in the fields. Ruth “happens” to begin gathering grain in Boaz’s fields.

Ministry Principles From Boaz

Greet those who serve with you.

Boaz blessed his servants when he saw them.   “And behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.” Ruth 2:4

Shake hands, say hello with a smile, give your “servants” in ministry a welcome! Acknowledge they are present and encourage them in the name of the Lord.

Take care of the natural needs of those you work with.

Boaz provided water for his servants to drink and meals for them in the middle of the day. Boaz tells Ruth, “…and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.” Ruth 2:9  and “…At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.” Ruth 2:14.

Food and drink are one of the best ways to take care of hard-working people. Provide meals and even rest for those who are laboring with you in ministry for special work days, etc. If  at all possible make it worth their while by taking care of their natural needs.

Be understanding, serving church members (including church staff) and their families may get sick or need a personal break from working in a ministry because of their health or spiritual needs. Arrange a way to help them continue to grow in their walk with the Lord and rest a while.

Learn about the people in and around your ministry.

Boaz learned about the type of person Ruth was. “And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been showed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.” Ruth 2:11,12

Make good use of your time by learning about those who are around you! Making conversation and listening to people will help you find out all types of things about them. Ask others about them (no gossiping!) and find out the good things you can do to be able to minister to them.

Ministry Tip: Make notes of what you are learning about others to help you remember their birthday, favorite foods, relatives, and any other type of information. This may sound weird in some respects but if you’re prone to forgetting specifics it may be an aid to help you minister more effectively.

Invite outsiders to be included in your regular church life.

Ruth, as a Moabitess, could have easily been overlooked or ostracized for being a foreigner in Boaz’s fields in Israel. She probably had some significant differences in appearance or dialect but Boaz made sure she was included in the meals the servants shared. See Ruth 2:14, (written above).

Make it your job to personally include people who are different. This could include: race, financial status, appearance, etc.

Invite them to services they do not attend, functions within the church (Bible studies, fellowships, prayer meetings), or be hospitable and have them in your home. Including people makes them feel loved and accepted in your church family. Inclusion, not a clique type of inclusion, creates a bond that will help people to grow in the Lord and in their fellowship with the other Christians in your church.

 

These three principles were a part of who he was that made him a great leader, I’m not sure he calculated every conversation to meet a specific leadership criteria but rather just was genuinely a person who cared deeply for God and for others and thus made a difference. May we be people who live our lives out to serve others as an extension from our relationship with God and this job we do in ministry touch people’s lives for eternity!

In the next article we will cover more principles that Boaz included in his life, so stay tuned for Part 2.