God’s preacher Jonah wasn’t happy with his assignment to proclaim the Word of the Lord to those wicked Ninevites. He was so unhappy about it he rebelled against God’s command by going the opposite direction from where God wanted him to be.
Those of us who preach are often ultra-critical of Jonah. We talk about how he deserved to be swallowed up by that great whale. How in the world could he not want the people of Nineveh to be saved? How in the world could he not want to proclaim God’s saving message to everyone?
Before we jump on Jonah too much we need to look in our own mirror. Is it possible that we are more like Jonah then we would want to admit? My guess is that there are some preachers who are reading these words who have a deep understanding of what Jonah was thinking. There are probably some of you reading this who feel you would rather be swallowed by a whale than preach to those terrible sinners this Sunday?
So, months ago Melanie asked me to join her on a conference she had in Phoenix. It was rare – VERY rare – but I didn’t have anything in the way of making the trip. Little did I know the worst winter storm and coldest temps Tennessee had seen in years would correspond with the trip. So while temps in TN are single digits and roads are icy we’re “stuck” in AZ where today it was 82 and sunny. I think I’ll travel with Mel some more! But even in the lovely weather we have scoops coming your way!
First some ways you might want to help some brethren:
1. We are doing a minister’s salary study. We’ve tried to keep it super simple and WE WILL NOT KNOW who completes the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/minsalsur
2. There is a TOTALLY volunteer non-profit in Nashville that is in need of a simple web-presence. If you can help text or email: 615 294-1453 or TheJenkinsInstitute@gmail.com
Now for scoops:
Enjoy our newest FREE webinar!
I love Freed-Hardeman University for so very many reasons. I love that I “found” Melanie there. I love that I got a degree from that good place that is like a “license” to preach most anywhere I’d want to preach. I love that they value substance over style. I love that they freely host a week long reunion for preachers open to anyone every year. I love that it is isolated enough to keep a degree of innocence about it. And I love that I get to spend time with my family and my Family of preachers each year there the first week in February. On Tuesday, my brother Jeff and I got to get to be a part of a first in FHU’s 79 years of Lectureships. They began what they called “Collaborative Conversations” – Jeff and I were honored to dialog before a great crowd in Loyd Auditorium on “Fostering Healthy Relations Among Ministers.” As we worked back and forth on the material in the weeks and months heading up to this lecture I wrote down a line that bounces around in what’s left of my soft tissue: “the weight of the pulpit.” After using that term I want to take a few lines and unpack it’s meaning.
Late ’13 my son Andrew asked if I had read the book “One Word That Will Change Your Life.” He said I should and I did and it is very neat. It’s a short and simple read with a powerful concept – most of you would probably benefit from reading it yourself.
Over the last four or five years as my speaking calendar has grown increasingly crazy (and yes, I know and understand, because I lived it, that many of you would love to have that issue and I realize I am blessed) I heard a couple of folks talk about some of the guys who I so greatly admire and long to be like that sometimes they were not at their best. Now, I remember that these guys “not at their best” are still ten times better at presenting than I am. But I also was being slapped in the face with the reality that preaching on Sunday a couple of times, and then five or six other times during the week, with other duties and opportunities and travel included I was finding myself living without any margin. Cramming for each upcoming lesson and feeling anxiety about the very thing that was my greatest desire to do and be – preaching – a preacher. I felt like I was constantly scurrying and I needed to have peace about that – WOW! Therefore, in selecting my one word for 2014 I landed on “Prepare.” I got a decal for the back of my phone, I made it my computer screen background, I prayed about it and was faced with it continually. And it worked. It forced me to budget my time better, to think further out in the future. And I will carry this word forward as these words compound.
As preachers we are often called upon to pray for people during the most difficult days of their life. Maybe you’ve been called upon to pray before a High School Ball game, a special ceremony in your area, or even in the halls of some government meeting.
We always consider it an honor when we are asked to pray for others. But what about our prayers that are not a part of our “assigned” work? What about our personal prayer life?
It seems that one of the most crucial times for us to offer up petitions and requests to God is before we preach. Do you talk to God before you talk to others? May I encourage you to pray today about tomorrow?
Pray that God’s Word will change hearts and lives. May we never forget that the power is not in our abilities, our knowledge, or our charisma. The power is always and only in God’s life-changing Good News (Romans 1:15-16).
“Evaluation.” I cringe when I hear the word. Even though I am a STRONG believer in evaluating. I do it every day, every week, every month, every year: I’m constantly evaluating something. Personally, relationally, professionally – constantly watching for hints of where I can be better. So why do I hate preacher evaluations.” It’s got to be past experience.
My experience tells me that most every action/requirement/weird thing a leadership does in it’s dealings with ministers is a reaction to something in the past. i.e. Office hours, had a guy who slept in all the time or didn’t prepare well. And as painful as they might be – I also believe we need honest encouragement to improve from those who love us.
A few things upfront: I have been blessed at every congregation I have worked with but there is no such thing as perfect on this earth. So don’t believe either that I am whining or bellyaching or throwing anyone under the bus OR that I have it perfect and you’ll never have the honor of working this a great church. Dad taught us years ago that to a large degree working with a local church is what we make of it – you can see and feel how you choose to about any specific situation. Now, let’s go.
If I’m not praying out loud (one of my favorite things when I drive alone), or on the phone (hands free of course), or listening to a sermon podcast or The Bridge on Sirius then I’m listening to sports talk radio. It’s the easiest thing of the five options above. Sort of mindless and rarely of much benefit but every now and then someone will drop an ounce of gold into my mental pocket.
Earlier this week Jesse Palmer was being interviewed. Palmer played quarterback in college for Florida and in the NFL for the Giants before turning to broadcasting. He is now one of the main on the air guys at ESPN. And this season they’ve struck gold with he and the iconic Brent Musburger.
In the interview Palmer was asked: “What has it been like working each week with Brent Musburger?” I loved his answer. “Every time we go live at the start of a game and Brent says ‘You are watching live as…’ I had to pinch myself to know if I wasn’t dreaming.”