Pastor to Pastor: 4 Thoughts About Wearing Your Own Shoes

Pastoring is pressure.

In other news, water is wet and the Detroit Lions are disappointing.

There are a number of “pressure” statements that we as pastors hear. There are very few bigger pressure statements than this one:

“You have big shoes to fill.”

In almost 20 years of ministry, I’ve held 3 positions and I heard it in all of them (as I have followed some legendary youth pastors and lead pastors). In any interviews we’ve had, we were told that we could be ourselves. But through each ministry journey, we discovered the pressure of expectations that were connected to very loved pastors that preceded us. Even after 7 years of Lead Pastoring at Kfirst, people still refer to any one of the previous 3 Lead Pastors and say to me, “You have big shoes to fill.” Part of me doesn’t mind. I’m glad people appreciate my them. But early in ministry (and I’ll admit, early in this position) the added burden was stifling.

It was a previous associate pastor from our church who gave me a word that, to this day, am convinced was a direct word from the Lord. It took me a few years to comprehend it, but it was Brooks McElhenny, the brother of the pastor I followed, said to me,

“Be yourself.”

Two words that I’ve been hanging onto now for 7 years. They are two words I’ve wept over in my prayer closet after getting a nasty email or a cowardly unsigned note in my mailbox (side note: don’t EVER read unsigned notes…if someone don’t have the respect to sign the letter, the letter doesn’t get the respect of being read). They are two words that I have clung to when I am told that I’m not what people expected. Those two words have been the liberation I needed when I want to resort to imitating someone who seems to have more ministry “success” than I am having.

People connect so much success and moments to the monumental ministers in their lives. I believe we should honor them. We shouldn’t disregard their memories or their contribution to the Kingdom. But far too many present pastors are wearing the shoes of the previous pastor. Trying to live up to people’s legacies will cause you to live and die by people’s memories.

You feel you have to continue their story instead of the narrative God want’s to write.
You’ll live out their identity instead of allowing the Holy Spirit shape yours.
You’ll lose out on vision because you can’t get your eyes forward. You and the congregation keep looking back.
You can’t anticipate what God is doing next because you are trying to regain what He already did.

My word to you today: Wear your own shoes. When the previous pastor left, he wore his shoes.

Be yourself.

Being yourself doesn’t throw away what God has done. Put previous pastors in a place of honor not worship. Honor doesn’t mean shrines are built or displays are made. It doesn’t mean you must have them back at the church (though it’s not a bad idea, I’ve had Pastor Dalaba come back).  It’s how you speak of them. It is in the way you refer to them. We honor those we follow; We don’t worship them. All the glory and honor belongs to Christ and Him alone.

Being yourself  is a statement of stewardship not an excuse to never change. Be teachable and don’t stop growing. I love learning from both older and younger pastors. I want my life and ministry to continue to take shape.

Being yourself is a protection from trying to imitate others. Use other’s examples to sharpen you not so that you reflect them. God breathed into His Spirit into you to be an ambassador for Him not the preacher you idolize.

Being yourself is a guard against competition. Why? It makes you value the work of the Kingdom. And when you value the work of the Kingdom, it releases you to celebrate the work of the Kingdom in other churches. You’ll celebrate with other pastors instead of competing with them. 

I am not Pastor Pace. I am not Pastor Dalaba. I am not Pastor McElhenny. They left and so did their shoes. The shoes I wear, the role I play, and the pastor I am is who God made me and who God continuing to shape. 

Wear your own shoes. Be bold in being the minister God sent to your specific place. And when you are gone, take your shoes with you so that the next person can be themselves. 

I believe in you. I’m praying for you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

 

 

“What do you really do?” 10 things you shouldn’t say to a stay-at-home mom.

I’ve made the mistake. So have other husbands. Even friends, parents, in-laws, and random relatives have dropped these verbal bombs. For me, it’s as if as the words are leaving my tongue and I began to reach out to try to retrieve them.  For others, the phrases roll off the tongue with little regard for what they might do. And like most thoughtless comments, the damage is done before anyone can have the chance realize what has been said or to apologize for what’s been done.

After dealing with the issue of “rest” here at Kfirst, it is more than apparent that so many people are dealing with not being able to embrace the healthy habit of resting.  Perhaps, the most “unrested” group being our stay-at-home moms.  For years, ridiculous comments get thrown out to so many moms that put more pressure upon them as well as make them feel like less of a human being because they do not do what YOU think they should do.  

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Years ago, we (Anne and I) felt this was the direction we wanted to go for our family and made the sacrifices we needed to make it happen.  We don’t regret it nor do we guilt moms who have decided to work outside of the home either by choice or circumstance.  A mom, working in the home and/or working outside of the home are heroes to our families.  I honor and bless them.  But if a mom decides to be a homemaker…

…then there are 10 statements I’m going to ask you NOT to say to them. 

1. “Did you do ANYTHING today?” Never mind things were cleaned up AND destroyed three times over.  But thanks for noticing. 

2. “What do you do with all of your free time?” Free time? 

3. “Since you have so much time on your hands, you can do ___________.” There’s always the assumption that a stay-at-home mom has endless time, ability, and strength and she can add everything you want her to do for the school, church, neighborhood, and friends. 

4. “That’s all you did today?” It doesn’t matter if it’s from a friend or from her husband, It is a very close cousin to #1 but a bit more demeaning.  

5. “This place is a mad house…when is dinner?” By the time you say that, she may be picturing you in the oven instead of the roast. 

6. “What’s the big deal?  Take a nap when the kids do.” Of course if she does, #1 or #4 will be used. 

7. “Fine, I’ll babysit the kids for a while.” (***clears throat) You don’t “babysit the kids”…YOU’RE THEIR DAD!!!!

8. “I don’t see what the big deal is…the kids act fine for me.”  From the grandparents to “friendly” neighbors, any scrap of feeling like a competent parent has just been squashed.

9. “Being home all day would drive me nuts. I must have something to do outside of the home.”  It seems like well-meaning friend is saying, “you obviously don’t have the drive I have so I’m letting you know how motivated I am.”

10. “Oh you had time to run/workout/read/relax?  Must be nice.” In other words: breaks, meals, and just plain rest applies to everyone but the stay-at-home mom. 

To every dad (and I’d include grandparents): I admonish you to help foster a culture of rest for our moms.  There needs to be moments of quality time with you but they require quality moments of solitude.  Rise to the occasion without being asked. Be their hero and show your children what a Godly dad does for his kids and his wife. 

To every mom, whether you work in or outside the home, I speak a scripture into your life. 

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” – Isaiah 41:13

Every time you feel tired and weary, remember you are not abandoned by God.  He will hold you up.  He will strengthen you. Lean upon him and he will be your help.  

After months of trying to form this blog, I leave you the very first line I wrote when this blog was conceived:

I thank the Lord for our moms. 

Thanks for letting me ramble…