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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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Motivating yourself to get going and gain momentum is one thing, but inspiring others is another. It starts with your own motivation and continues with strategies that speak to your people. Use the following ideas to give those around you an extra boost of motivation:
• Communicate with Clarity. Before you try to motivate others to act, be sure you know exactly what to ask for. Then communicate it as simply and clearly as you can. After all, people cannot do what they do not understand.
• Be Committed to a Purpose. The one common denominator of all great people in history is that they believed in what they were doing. They were dedicated and committed to their vision and purpose. People will always be persuaded more by the depth of your convictions than by the height of your logic. So, to motivate others, always show them your commitment.
• Give People Recognition. Few things motivate us better than praise. When you tell others that they are doing a great job, it makes them want to work even harder to continue earning your praise. We all have a desire to feel needed and important. For that reason, recognition can be the most dynamic of all motivating factors.
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The expression of guarding the gates really has to do with guarding the mind. As noted in the previous message, John Bunyan wrote another classic although much less recognized than Pilgrim’s Progress entitled The Holy War which tells the story of Mansoul being captured and taken over by Diabolus because of the gates being compromised. That same plan is still being effectively carried out in our generation. People of every kind and status within the church have a responsibility to not let this kind of thing take place. This is especially true of those who are actively called into the ministry. If the shepherd can be toppled, the sheep will scatter.
It was explored how that study allows a man who serves a church to guard his mind. While that is a good measure to take up, there is another crucial “guard” that we have to recognize. It is the aspect of prayer. Of all the disciplines involved in a Christian’s life, prayer is the most difficult one to maintain conversely it can be one of the most joyous and powerful tools we can find in our spiritual arsenal. A preacher must maintain regular habits of communion with God in prayer. If a minister is not careful he can come to the place in which he will neglect his place of prayer because of his attention to the Kingdom. He may have all kinds of grand truths rolling through his soul because of the constant exposure to the Word. He can be so busy with various meetings, discipleship of new converts, and counseling of those who are in the throes of some dilemma of life, and obligations to duties of the organizational stripe, that he can entirely neglect his prayer life. In fact a minister is more likely to omit his praying than a new convert who has just come in to the church.
Diabolus loves to get the men involved in ministry to fall to the temptation of substitutes for prayer. Sermons on prayer, reading books on prayer, attending prayer conferences, and hearing sermons on prayer can never take the place of prayer. One can even come under the belief that church attendance, praise, singing, giving, and doing measures of physical labor at church can be a valid substitute for prayer. What soon happens is a tendency to resort to all of these things to move us into a position for revival without true heart-felt prayer.
Pastoral prayer is a great biblical concept and it has great authority. There is an ingredient of spiritual authority that comes to life when a pastor will discipline himself to prayer for his people. From the outset, I have to tell you that this is NOT an easy task to do. Prayer that is truly heart-felt and sincere rarely takes place (for me, perhaps not others) when we just decide to get on our knees and begin to pray. There has to be some stimulus of preparation that is involved in it. There are useful things that you will learn to use to help put your mind into a vein of prayer.
There are times when reading books on prayer will be very helpful to put you into a mindset of prayer. Some of the ones that I have regularly gone back to frequently and year after year are listed below:
E. M. Bounds Complete Works on Prayer—There are eight books in a single volume and are very rich and motivational toward opening my heart for prayer. The Necessity of Prayer, The Essentials of Prayer, The Possibilities of Prayer, The Reality of Prayer, Purpose in Prayer, The Weapon of Prayer, Power Through Prayer, and Prayer and Praying Men.
Leonard Ravenhill on Prayer—Ravenhill’s material is becoming increasingly rarer to find in bookstores these days. He was a staple for many of the preachers who attended the Deeper Life conferences scattered around the nation in the 1970’s. There have been times that I have read just a page or so of Ravenhill’s material and found it incredibly rich in preparing my heart and mind for prayer. Particularly helpful a [ read more...]
In his book "How To Increase Giving In Your Church", George Barna gives several key principles for effective stewardship. Our challenge is to create an enviroment and facilitate a mind-set in which people want to donate money to the church for the right reasons. The following are some guidelines toward achieving that outcome.
You are raising money for Life Transformation, not Organizational Survival. Your objective must be to advance the cause of ministry, not to perpetuate the survival of an institution. God can make great things happen in people's lives without an organization through which such ministry happens. Focus on the essential: Seeing lives changed for the glory and purposes of God.
People give to people and causes, not to institutions or programs. If you want to inspire people to become good stewards, help them see themselves as ministers. Their giving is a means of using their resources for the very reason they exist: to know, and serve God with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength. Encourage people to give to the church because it provides opportunities and means of helping people.
Repeat donors must be both inspired and persuaded. Great fund-raisers know how to identify the soft spot that inspires people to give generously. Eliciting such support is more than just finding a "hot button"; it initials penetrating both the head and the heart of the donor. Your goal should be to create a stewardship mind-set. You do not want to have to start from scratch every time you need money; you want to build on a foundation you have worked hard to develop, one that is based on trust, integrity and mutual benefit.
There is no substitute for absolute integrity. None! Honesty, transparency, accessibility - these are the characteristics on which a great stewardship campaign - and genuine, life changing ministry - are based. Integrity is not something to be fooled with. lose it and you will pay a major price for an extended period. Once the people's trust has been violated, the relationship cannot be restored until many years have passed and the donors who were hurt by the infraction are gone. Ministries cannot outlast that era.[ read more...]
Despise not the day of small things.
How do you build a church?
First you build a man. – Thou are Peter and upon this rock will I build my church. If Peter did not mature, the church would not grow.
· God has chosen to build his church upon people.
· He has chosen to use your life to build His church in the village you are from.
· If you do not grow, your church will not grow.
· This is why it’s important for you to study God’s Word.
· If you do not pray your church will not pray.
· If you do not have a genuine love for God, then your church will not have a genuine love for God.
· If you do not have compassion on the lost, your church will not have compassion on the lost.
· Your church will become a reflection of you.
Don’t be so quick to blame your people if they are not bringing someone to church with them.
· Don’t be so hard on them if they are not reaching out to their neighbors.
· Realize that a church most often, does what they see their pastor do.
· If you want your church to grow, be a soul winner yourself.
· If you want your church to reach out to others, be someone who reaches out to others.
· By your example, teach them to reach others.
· By your example teach them to win the lost.
Then you begin laying a foundation.
· You invest in some people to stand beside you.
· This time of building is not glorious.
· This time of laying a foundation is not one that gets the attention from everyone around you.
· Other Pastors are not going to stand up and take notice when you are building the Church’s foundation.
· But understand a building can be no larger than the foundation,
· And you cannot build upon something that is not there.
You will not have a strong stable church that is growing if you do not have a strong stable foundation to support it.
· So you begin to invest yourself in some good people whose love for God us unquestionable.
· Some people who will stand beside you, no matter what comes against the church.
· Some people who know your vision for the church and are willing to allow their lives to be built upon.
· You build that foundation. You build that foundation strong.[ read more...]
Based on surveys of more than 15,000 people, the following traits were selected as the key to effective leadership:
· Being honest – 87%
· Being forward-looking – 71%
· Being inspirational – 68%
· Being competent – 58%
- Honest people have credibility – and that’s what gives leaders the trust and confidence of their people. High credibility leaders foster such things as greater pride in the organization, a stronger spirit of cooperation and teamwork, and more feelings of ownership and personal responsibility. What are some of the other characteristics of credible leaders?
- They do what they say they will do. They keep their promises and follow through on their commitments.
- Their actions are consistent with the wishes of the people they lead. They have a clear idea of what others value and what they can do.
Too often people are afraid to budget because it seems to be more trouble than it is worth. However, a budget is not a nervous breakdown on paper. It is an organized and systematic manner of controlling income and expenses so a person can recognize danger areas in their financial life before they happen.
Too many Christians find themselves in financial hardship. Why? We belong to the body of Christ and we have God on our side. If heaven is his throne, the earth his footstool; if He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, then why are his children struggling and finding it difficult to “get by” in this affluent society?
The secret to getting ahead is not from “have luck in the stock market” or “making that once in a life time investment” or even in “receiving an inheritance from a wealthy family member”. It is defined as time!
All the investments and inheritances one can attain will not be the solution if you don’t take the time to plan and protect. People must take the time to discipline themselves to have a written plan that will provide the guidelines of scheduling money in and out of the home, thus providing a means of protection from financial disaster.
A Christian should expect their finances to be in better shape than that of the average person in the world. Christians have the backing of the God of glory and His Word! One of the first things a Christian should do is take the time to investigate the scriptures concerning their financial situation. Notice some scriptures that give us guidelines for planning, preparation, and protection of finances.[ read more...]
Through out the years I have had many people tell me of their love of fishing. I, myself, however have never had the patience to cast a line into the water and wait for a fish to bite on to it. If I can't cast the line into the water and catch a fish within 30 seconds and then go home I can't see the fun in it.
Our fast paced and 'microwave' society appears to have the same mentality to life in general that I have to fishing. Desire for instant gratification is the norm. Whether it be business, career, or even spiritual matters, most society looks for the quick fix. 'Lose weight fast with no effort', 'Get rich quick' and similar mindsets have even worked their way into church growth seminars.
In the 5th chapter of Luke we read the account of Simon Peter and the other fishermen who had spent the entire night fishing without catching a thing. The important thing to realize with these men is that their entire living depended on their catching fish. Theirs was the day before guaranteed salaries, sick pay and profit sharing bonuses. After a disappointingly long night of hard toil they were still open to do what Jesus asked of them. The first request was easy enough, set out from shore and allow Him to speak to the crowd from their boat. (Luke 5:3). The second request ". . . launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a drought." (Luke 5:4) was more difficult to do. It required faith. They had not slept since the day before and had worked all night. No doubt they stayed awake and listened to the anointed preaching of the Rabbi. They were tired. But they believed the Lord. Though weary and discouraged, their act of faith was rewarded with a great catch.
Sometimes situations seem impossible. In the gospel of Matthew we read about such a situation. Jesus, when faced with the issue of feeding the great multitudes said to the disciples "They need not depart, give ye them to eat." (Matthew 14:16) The disciples knew that their possession of five loaves and two fish would not feed their own group, let alone the multitude that stood before them. However, with the same trust in Him that they had in the fishing boat, they offered what little was at their disposal, allowing the Creator of the universe to multiply it. Though the situation seemed impossible, their act of faith resulted in the feeding of close to twenty thousand people.[ read more...]
Put It In Writing
The written word is persuasive. A spoken word is quickly forgotten, but put the same words in writing and the phrase is instantly given new credence and respect. For that reason, putting it in writing is a wise practice. When everything is written out, you're able to see clearly what needs to be accomplished, how it will be done, and what your responsibility is. By putting it in writing, you're making a commitment.
Putting it in writing will also motivate you and keep you on track. By writing down your goals you make a commitment to them. Written goals urge us to action and determine direction.
Decide for yourself what your goals are and when and how you wish to reach them. Then after you have written them down, keep them in a place that is in plain view throughout each day. As you accomplish each one, cross it off! As you do, allow yourself some personal gratification. There is therapy in seeing a long list of goals accomplished.
A things to do list will ease the mental stress of the day. Often our minds are more on thinking of what needs to be done rather than on what do do to get something done. It is easier to set a pace for the day when you have a written list. Plan your day by allowing yourself an allotted amount of time for each item. Write that time next to each item. Don't let other people or situations keep you from accomplishing each task.[ read more...]
As the attack of Mansoul continued by Prince Emmanuel’s troops, the second captain came to the Ear Gate. The first attack had come from Captain Boanerges who was absolutely confident in what he had to say. Captain Conviction, whose main assistant was Mr. Sorrow, was just as confident but his attack on the Ear Gate came in a bit different manner. Their uniforms they wore were pale and their insignia was the book of the Law that issued a flame of fire. He said to the inhabitants:
‘Hear, O Mansoul! Thou, O Mansoul, wast once famous for innocency, but now thou art degenerated into lies and deceit. Thou hast heard what my brother, the Captain Boanerges, hath said; and it is your wisdom, and will be your happiness, to stoop to, and accept of conditions of peace and mercy when offered, especially when offered by one against whom thou hast rebelled, and one who is of power to tear thee in pieces, for so is Shaddai, our King; nor, when he is angry can anything stand before him. If you say you have not sinned, or acted rebellion against our King, the whole of your doings since the day that you cast off his service (and there was the beginning of your sin) will sufficiently testify against you. What else means your hearkening to the tyrant, and you’re receiving him for your king? What means else your rejecting of the laws of Shaddai, and your obeying of Diabolus? Yea, what means this you’re taking up of arms against, and the shutting of your gates upon us, the faithful servants of your King? Be ruled, then, and accept of my brother’s invitation, and over-stand not the time of mercy, but agree with thine adversary quickly. Ah! Mansoul, suffer not thyself to be kept from mercy, and to be run into a thousand miseries, by the flattering wiles of Diabolus. Perhaps that piece of deceit may attempt to make you believe that we seek our own profit in this our service; but know it is obedience to our King, and love to your happiness, that is the cause of this undertaking of ours.
‘Again I say to thee, O Mansoul, consider if it be not amazing grace that Shaddai should so humble himself as he doth: now he, by us, reasons with you, in a way of entreaty and sweet persuasions, that you would subject yourselves to him. Has he that need of you that we are sure you have of him? No, no; but he is merciful, and will not that Mansoul should die, but turn to him and live.’
Captain Conviction comes in and takes a different but just as effective method of preaching to Mansoul. Where Captain Boanerges relied on authority, Captain Conviction relies on passion and fervor. Notice how that he confronts them with their sin and their rebellion against God. He also establishes the fact that they have sold out their allegiances to a king who is far less superior to what King Shaddai had been toward them. He tells them that their actions are going to cause them increasing misery as time passes on if they do not respond to the gospel call. He tells them that they are to humble themselves before God because this is their only way of escape.
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