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Why Do I Feel so Alone although I Minister to Others?
By: Dr. Fred Childs
Although you may feel like you are the only one, you are not. A large percentage of other pastors and ministers also feel isolated and alone even as they minister to crowds of people on a regular basis. The feeling of isolation or of being alone plagues many ministers and their spouses. This article identifies 12 causes and potential solutions. It also validates a few of the many needs for spiritual Fathers and/or mentors.
The vast majority of Christian leaders do not actually have a mentor or spiritual father in their life.
Each of the following topics could be a guideline for validating the need for a mentor in your life and ministry.
The Isolation of the Calling
If you truly have a calling from God you may be the only one with that particular call. Even a quick cursory review of the Bible reveals men like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Elijah, Jeremiah who felt the pain of isolation and solitude. They had no peers.
Elijah even stated once that he was the only one like himself, but God quickly corrected him by saying there were 7000 others similar to him. Your isolation may have many ingredients such as location, a unique but misunderstood calling, not relating to the people around you, and many others.
Regardless of the reason(s) for your isolation you need to understand that there is someone somewhere who can relate to you. It is your responsibility to climb out of your box of isolation. Of course, God always understands, but there are times you also need people. Just having someone to listen to you is not always enough. You need someone with wisdom and sage advice who can help direct you forward. Perhaps you need a mentor? The right mentor will help you use the isolation of the calling as an advantage to become more effective.
The Solitude of Alone Time
Solitude is a two-edged sword. Although it is healthy to have alone time for self, meditation, exercise, relaxation and prayer, it can also become a dark pit of separation and despair. You must not close out the essential people around you. Your family, staff, and peers each need the right amounts of time with you and your input.
If you do not have alone time in your schedule it is imperative that you work toward finding time for it. You must use your alone time wisely by assuring that there is some personal growth value associated with it. You must also establish some mind guards because an idle mind can wander into areas it should not go into. Always remember that the adversary may use your alone time to speak his deceits into your thoughts.
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Solipsism is the belief that nothing exists outside of your self. If you, while reading this article, believe that this article and everything around you are figments of your imagination, you are solipsistic.
Sounds strange? No, it is very real.
Engine Charlie Wilson, former CEO of GM, once said, “What is good for GM is good for America!” Engine Charlie was indulging in solipsistic thinking on behalf of GM.
Grades in school may be another example of solipsism. The purpose of school is learning. We create a surrogate indicator of learning: grades. Then we collude with each other to pretend that grades are an accurate indicator that learning has or has not taken place. We no longer even question the legitimacy of grades.
Another example is sweeps week. Twice a year there are weeklong surveys of TV viewership. The ratings during sweeps week are important because they determine what the networks charge for advertising. The solipsism is this: We pretend that the programs during the sweeps week are representative of the network’s regular fare and that the ratings during sweeps are indicative of something real.
Another example: The Discipline of Market Leaders, a book that made The New York Times list of best-selling books. This occurred because those behind the book were able to identify which stores around the country were used by The New York Times as their sample for calculating which books were best sellers. By buying up their book at these stores, they could artificially inflate the figures. The solipsism: pretending that The New York Times list accurately depicts the sales of books (and that the volume of sales of books is an accurate measure of what is worthwhile to read).[ read more...]
Has it ever happened to you? It happened to me again today. Someone said I said something that I didn’t. They did it to defend themselves and their lifestyle of sin. I guess they figured if they could make me look small, it would somehow make them bigger, or at least more righteous.
Several years ago, I realized that people will (dog) the Pastor or the church in order to make themselves appear better than the church. This way, when someone comes to invite them to church, they can use this as a way of saying, “your Pastor is no better than I am. Why should I come to your church?!” And boy if you did say what they said you said. Or if you did what they said you did, now they have every reason in the world to never come to church. As if by some miracle, you were as wise as Solomon and did everything perfectly.
I believe Jesus understood this. Mary and Martha would have blamed Him for their brother’s sickness and death, but the fact of the matter was it was their own lack of faith that allowed their brother to die. And for their lack of faith, Jesus wept. Adam himself wanted to blame his wife for his own sin. As much as Eve did play some part in tempting Adam, the real one at fault was no one else but Adam.
I’m sure if you have been in ministry long at all, you have counseled people only to have them use your good counsel to try to destroy your character and reputation. Personally, I refuse to allow other peoples sin to affect me. When they want to make excuses and bring my name into the situation, I have decided to quickly turn the conversation around and allow light to come into the problem. “The real reason there is a situation, is you have had an affaire, not that I counseled you or did not counsel you about this.” I think you get my thinking here. There are several examples I could give.
“My brother would have lived if you would have been here Jesus”. No, he would have lived if you would have prayed for him to live. Why bring my name into your faithlessness. “My family would have stayed together if the Pastor would have spent more time with us.” No, your family would still be together if you would have slept in your own bed. “I’d still be in the church if that Pastor wouldn’t have offended me with his preaching.” The only thing that is offended by good preaching, is sin. Why don’t you confess your faults and be healed instead of blaming the Pastor for your unrighteous lifestyle.[ read more...]
Ever had one? One of those days where you wish you would have stayed in bed? I had one last week. Well, actually I had two of them in a row. My boy Jeremy had just gotten the cast off his arm from the break he received when he fell out of the tree 2 months ago. So, Thursday evening, we decided to take our dirt bikes out and go riding. We had ridden about an hour when Jer flipped his bike on a jump and it landed on his foot, thus breaking it. So to the house we go to get a few things before we head to the emergency room. Before we leave the house though, we should let Molly out. Molly is our 5 pound Maltese. The baby of the family. She is almost ready to come into the house when the neighbors dog comes over and mauls her. She wasn't hurt badly, only bruised and frightened, but we don't have time to comfort her because Jeremy is needing to go get X- rays. This has turned out to be a very bad day.
I wake up Friday morning, thinking, O. K. the worst is behind us. It's a brand new day, right?! Wrong. All I did was turn my head and sneeze. That's all. But now my neck has gone into a spasm and the vertebrae are out and I can't move my neck in any direction more than an inch without causing excruciating pain. So I lay on the bed for an hour. Unable to move. (6 days, and 2 chiropractor appointments later, I'm still in pain.) Boy this is starting out to be a bad day. Unable to get an appointment with a chiropractor, I suffered though a very painful day at the computer, with set back after set back on site development. Finally after a long, frustrating, painful day, my wife and I (still suffering) go to bed hoping tomorrow will be better.
Two hours later the phone rings. It's Kristi, our 17 year old. She was driving back from church camp, a 2.5 hour drive from Indianapolis and fell asleep at the wheel. All she could tell us was that she was in a wreck. She didn't know where she was at and the car is totaled. We asked her if anyone had stopped to help her. "No". "Do you see any road signs?" Frantic and in shock, she replied in tears, "No, I don't know where I'm at." I cannot tell you how fearful my wife and I were. Not only were we not able to tell the police where she was, but we really did not know her condition since she was in shock and unable to tell us very much.
Guessing her time of departure and the approximate distance in the trip, I called the State Police and told them the situation and to look for her on Route 65 between Rensselaer and Lowe, about a 60 mile stretch. Amazingly the phone rings 10 minutes later and the fire department has found her 1 mile off the exit ramp from Rensselaer To our relief she is bruised, but ok. God really had his hand on her. She hit the guardrail at around 65 MPH, completely destroying the guardrail and totaled out the car.
But God is good isn't He! At the end of a second very bad day, I got to hold my baby girl in my arms and thank God for keeping her from certain death. Holding her, I realized that by all rights, we should be in a hospital room seeing the worst.
We can complain about the neck spasms, dog fights, broken bones, and bad days at the office, but when it's all over we really just need to stop and thank the Lord for breath. Thank Him for our children. Thank Him for a job, any job. We would complain about the old junk car that we are driving, but we need to notice the old lady walking home from the grocery store with bags in her arms and a long walk ahead of her. How blessed we really are.[ read more...]
The Bible says in;
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The final verse of Acts, chapter two, ends with two phrases that really catch my attention:
· Having favor with all the people.
· The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The last phrase ,"added daily to the church", is our goal, yet it cannot be accomplished without first having, " favor with people." You will never grow your church unless you have favor with people. You will never win people to Christ unless you first win peoples favor. One of the reasons that Jesus was so successful and had so many people following Him was because He had favor with man.[ read more...]
Only those leaders who act boldly in times of crisis and change are willingly followed. (Jim Kouzes)
Within the church, God has placed men and women who love to see growth. It is what keeps us to our tasks. The lack of increase can kill the joy of our calling so we lean forward looking for any type of progress we can possibly measure.
Growth however, requires change. Going from where we are presently to a place of increase requires seeing what most people are not able or willing to see. Seeing change before it happens is called a vision. Few people are capable of a vision as most would rather stay in a climate that is comfortable. Comfort however can cause one to never imagine anything better. A Pastor or congregation who is comfortable with an attendance of 90 will never see a crowd of 300 because they are not desperate enough to make the kinds of changes it would take to gather that kind of increase.
Change means leaving a place that is familiar and going to a place that is unfamiliar. Few churches are willing to follow even the most seasoned pastor into a place of unfamiliarity. Here is why so many of our churches stagnate numerically. This is why the average church in America only runs about 85 people. Even in cities with populations in the hundreds of thousands, churches often find it hard to get over the 100 person hump.
Change requires casting a vision. Within the church it requires faith in the leader who is casting a vision of a place of revival we have not yet seen. As Moses of old preached of a Promised Land that was ahead, the current day Preacher must be willing to stand in a desert of nothingness and promise something far better than the status quo. As Joshua shouted, “Let’s cross over this river!” present day church leaders must be willing to look at obstacles as opportunities for miracles instead of places of failure.
No walled city ever came down without some great leader first standing far out front of the crowd and saying it could be done. No bridge was ever built nor building raised where some imaginative mind did not first dream it. No church ever grew exponentially without first, the Man or Woman of God casting the vision for it’s growth.
Where are the End Time revivalists who would tell our generation “Jesus is Coming”. Who are the men and women who will affect the kind of change necessary for a great Later Day outpouring? Where is the Pastor who will stand in a dormant church and declare “Revival, Growth and Increase”?[ read more...]
A crucial issue for today’s church is communication. At the heart of the Christian faith is the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Yet today this message is one of a multitude of messages people are bombarded with daily. Furthermore, the “audience” has changed drastically. Today, the church faces the increasingly difficult task of communicating sacred meaning to a secular audience.
Here’s a check list of things to consider when it comes to evaluating what you’re communicating today as the church amid the rising tide of secularism:
- Keep it simple. Simplify everything from the bulletin to the sermons. You will communicate better with secular people.
- Translate please. Secular people don’t understand the theological jargon we use. You can simplify Biblical terms without sacrificing their integrity.
- Timing is everything. Time is the new currency. Communication must be concise. If people lose focus because of time, they lose the message.
- Take nothing for granted. The average churchgoer often takes for granted the things new people may not understand. The answer? Define what terms mean.
- Define non- negotiables. Some language and practices simply can’t be changed. Define the non-negotiables and then clarify their meaning.
Are you about to crash and burn because your personal life doesn't measure up to the expectations of the ministry? Here are three warning signals to watch for.
1. Anger. Anger usually results when we feel that we have lost control of a situation or circumstance. Many times we instinctively know that some area of our lives is out of control. That is when we become less tolerant of those around us.
Outward bursts of wrath are easy to detect. Another expression of anger is harder to recognize, but it needs to be viewed as a "red flag" of a troubled heart: sarcasm.
Anger turned inward often comes out in the form of sarcasm. This form of anger is veiled in humor and it may seem harmless, but it has a detectable "edge" to it. It subtly fires darts of hidden criticism.
In Ephesians 4:26-27 we read, "Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil" (NKJV). This scripture is not giving us a license to entertain the emotion of anger. Rather, it is saying that we must deal with this damaging emotion before the day ends. If we don't, we will give place to Satan.
2. The Elijah Syndrome. A second symptom of spiritual bankruptcy is what I call the "Elijah Syndrome". We first see it demonstrated in the life of Elijah himself. The syndrome is displayed in the infamous church service described in I Kings 18:21-40.
But in I Kings 19:9, we see that in not time at all, Elijah went from basking in the blinding light of God's glory to cowering in the corner of a dark cave. He became imprisoned by despair. When we are facing any kind of difficulty, one of the most effective lies Satan feeds us is that no one can understand what we are going through. "No one else has it as bad as I do," we think.
As a result, we begin to cut ourselves off from those who can offer us wise counsel. We are then left to our own distorted reasonings and perceptions.[ read more...]
It began with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Acts chapter two, but was continued and maintained, in part at least, by the giving and sacrifice of the first century church!
The bible says that they gave their all and laid it at the Apostles feet. They sold houses and land, possessions and goods, and parted them to those who had need of them.
Were these new, born again, Christians giving of their all, simply out of faith, or was there some precedent that had been set by the words and actions of the Jesus and His disciples?
Obviously, these Christians did not yet have the New Testament writings to refer to...but they were there in person when Jesus taught, instructed, and acted as their example in all things.[ read more...]
Home Friendship Groups (Cell ministry), are gaining greater and greater interest as we hear the success stories from those who have ventured into this ministry. The largest and fastest growing churches in the world are churches with HFG's.
10 years ago, the Lord began to speak to me about a model of ministry that to my knowledge, no one was doing at that time. (little did I know) Often, I would look over the congregation and notice people who were faithful to church services, but because of a lack of available positions in the church or their inability to find their own personal ministry, they weren't doing much for the Lord. I also noticed that many visitors and new converts were coming into the church and going right back out since they had no one to befriend or disciple them. As much as these churches had great evangelistic efforts, there was no clear cut program or ministry that was designed for the purpose of retaining new converts.
A short time later, my wife and I began a new church in Chesterton, IN. Within a year, I became very frustrated. I was attempting to model this young church's government and ministry after the larger well established, management driven churches I had been a part of. About that time, I began to hear about Cell ministry. I even found some books which told of the tremendous success of Yonggi Cho's church in Seoul, Korea and Rick Warren's church in Saddleback, CA, as well as several others.
It wasn't long before the Lord directed me to Pastor Anthony Tamel's church in Oak Creek WI. I attended their New Wineskins seminar and wept as they showed me that God was changing my paradigm for church evangelism and discipleship.
With their help and training, we soon brought HFG's to our small church in Chesterton and watched as the Lord transformed peoples lives to both disciple and become discipled through HFG's.
After 6 years of pastoring the church in Chesterton, I began to feel the Lord direct me to turn the church over to the man who assisted me. With that, I heard God tell me to not take another church right away. I felt that the Lord was directing me to make myself available to help teach and train other churches, in the area of Home Friendship Groups.
After discussing this burden with two area Pastors of larger churches, they both asked me to come there and help them train their leaders and raise up HFG's in their church. Both churches now have young, successful HFG ministries.
I have spoken at several churches on the subject of HFG's and have worked very closely with other pastors who have or are in the process of raising up HFG's in their local church.
Home Friendship Groups are very much like early Apostolic evangelism. It's entirely more reflective of true Apostolic ministry than most of today's church structure that is management driven at best.[ read more...]