42 Posts Categorized as about "The Pastor's Home"

Watching the Kids

Eli was a great preacher, a seasoned priest. As the high priest, he was responsible, once each year, for entering the Most Holy Place and offering an atoning sacrifice on behalf of the nation. No one else had that privilege. He judged, he instructed the people in matters of worship, he gave counsel, and he devoted his entire life to serving in the tabernacle of God, ministering to the needs of His people. But he was also a passive, inactive father who indulged his sons (1 Samuel 3:1–18). Those boys of his were reprobates!

According to the law of Moses, priests were to burn the fat as an offering and take whatever didn’t burn from the altar. In this way, they were to receive only what the Lord provided. But Eli’s worthless sons defied God’s instructions and reserved the choicest cuts of meat for their dinner table.

Along with their audacious disrespect for the sacrifices of God, they were perverse men who took sexual advantage of the women who came to worship. And they did so without shame, within the sacred spaces of the house of God. And Eli knew it!

You would think that a genuine man of God like Eli would be outraged. Remember, he also served as Israel’s judge, meaning that his responsibility was to carry out justice on behalf of God. These rebellious sons of shameless lust should have been carried to the edge of town and stoned to death. Instead, they receive a mild scolding. How pathetic is that?

God has preserved these stories to leave us with enduring lessons. Fathers, listen up! Take heed! It has been my observation that Eli’s paralysis of leadership is not uncommon . . . even among those in ministry. As a father whose vocation is service to the Lord, I have intentionally sought to avoid the failure of Eli. I’ve often reminded myself: passivity is an enemy. I urge you to do the same.

Each one of us today must recognize that our family could very easily end up like Eli’s. Let’s face it: any family can come unraveled—an elder’s family, a pastor’s family, an evangelist’s family, a missionary’s family—even one whose father walks with God and faithfully pours his heart into a congregation. And that includes your family.

Please, my friend, do not be passive. It is an enemy.

                                                        —Chuck

Affirming Leaders

Good leaders are enthusiastically affirming. Paul writes,

You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children. (1 Thessalonians 2:10–11)

Ever spent a Friday night on hard bleachers, in front of the father of the high school quarterback? He’s his own cheering section. Why? He’s a dad! The kid on the field is thinking, “Dad, come on, knock it off.” But his old man is standing up there, yelling at top volume, loving every minute of it. There’s no question who he’s pulling for.

Perhaps you’ve longed for more affirmation from your father. Let’s face it; encouragement goes a long way in preparing a child for life. No one should be getting more encouragement from us than our own children.

Pretty convicting stuff, isn’t it?

Good leadership balances the tender nurturing of a mother with the loving affirmation of a father. Encouragement is like an oasis in a hot, barren desert. It brings needed refreshment to weary individuals whose souls are parched from time spent in the desert of self-doubt. There’s the desert of failure when we’ve tried so hard to succeed. There’s also the desert of no progress when we so want something to happen but it doesn’t. And there’s the desert of family rejection, abuse, and a thousand other arid, monotonous landscapes of life.

In those desert experiences, we all long for an oasis where we’re able to get a cool drink of water. Though it may not have come from your father, determine it will come from you. Give the affirming words of a father, who, in speaking, dips his ladle deep in ice water, and as he pours them out, they cool the spirit and refresh the soul.

Affirming leaders create loyal followers . . . in the church and in the home.

—Chuck

It Takes Grace

Sarcastic infighting. Negative putdowns. Stinging stares. Volatile explosions of anger. Doors slamming. Desperate feelings of loneliness. Awkward silence. Those descriptions portray the marriages in many homes and families.

And also, in many parsonages.

We are not immune, are we? It is possible that you have gotten to the place where you look for excuses not to be home. Or to be there as little as possible. It’s easy in the ministry to justify our absence, isn’t it? Even in our own minds.

For more years than I care to remember, I was so insecure and fearful it wasn’t uncommon for me to drill Cynthia with questions—petty, probing questions that were little more than veiled accusations. It is amazing she endured it. Finally, we had one of those famous showdown confrontations every married couple has had. (Yes, even pastors.) No need to repeat it, but she made it painfully clear that I was smothering her, I was imagining things she never even thought of doing . . . and it had to stop. Her words hurt, but she did the right thing. Thankfully, I took her seriously.

I went to work on this ugly side of my life. I confessed my jealousy to Cynthia. I assured her I would never again treat her with such a lack of trust. I asked God for grace to help, for relief from the destructive habit I had formed, and for the ability to love and give myself to this woman without all the choking conditions.

I distinctly recall how much an understanding of grace helped me. It was as if grace was finally awake in my life, and I could appropriate its power for the first time. It seemed to free me; first in small ways, and finally in major areas. I can honestly say today that I do not entertain a single jealous thought. Grace literally wiped that slate clean.

I’ve said for years now that my favorite place on earth is just inside the door of my home. I absolutely love being home. It is there I find maximum security and acceptance, fulfillment and accountability, responsibility and harmony, and honesty and love. Why? Because we are committed to the same common denominator: Grace.

·   Grace releases and affirms. It doesn’t smother.

·   Grace values the dignity of individuals. It doesn’t destroy.

·   Grace supports and encourages. It isn’t jealous or suspicious.

What does it take for us as pastors to be just as thoughtful and encouraging and creative with our wives as with those who sit in front of us on Sundays?

I have the answer: it takes grace.

                                                           — Chuck

Listening to Them

I’ll never forget one man’s criticism of me that helped me as much as anything I’ve ever heard.

I was about to graduate from seminary. I had completed the finest courses in theology, Greek, Hebrew, and homiletics—you know, I was fully prepared for life and ministry. (Yeah, right!) But I still had something essential to learn.

I’ll never forget this man’s words. He looked me in the eye and said, “You know, Chuck, you’ve got a great sense of humor . . . but it’s often at someone else’s expense.”

That stung, but it was true.

When you have a sense of humor, and you can add a little barb with a touch of cynicism or sarcasm, you can usually get a better laugh. But usually there’s one who’s not laughing down inside. That person receives the brunt of the joke. In years past, that person was my wife, Cynthia. My critic who had witnessed this in me cared enough to say something. In some ways, he saved my marriage.

For ten years Cynthia and I went through difficult, difficult times. She didn’t feel I valued her. It weakened my relationship with my wife, mainly because I wasn’t teachable. I didn’t realize what a treasure I had in this woman who was not only my wife but also my wisest counselor and my best friend.

In the years that have followed, I cannot tell you the times that I have been grateful for those times I listened to my wife. And I cannot tell you the times I have regretted when I didn’t.

Who else is more in my corner than the woman I’ve married? Who more than her wants to see me succeed? Who else has put up with sixty years of me? Nobody.

So why do I sometimes think she’s not in my corner? The adversary occasionally tries to convince me of that. And he does the same to you, I’m sure.

Don’t go there, guys.

Some of the brightest people on the planet are the people we’ve married. They know us better than anybody. We need to value them . . . which means, listening to them.

–Chuck

Disintegrating Families

The temptation of any child of vocational Christian ministers is to see the work of the ministry as just another thing, just another religious occupation. Breaking through the wall of “public religion” must be the intense responsibility of the parent-minister if his or her children are to understand that this isn’t big business, a slick profession, or an entertainment arena where Mommy or Daddy puts on a performance.

The key word is authenticity. Not perfection, for no one gets it right all the time. But being real. Admit your faults, own them completely, ask for forgiveness, be quick to give it, allow children plenty of room to fail, and let them see you live your life behind the scenes with love, grace, and humor. All of that takes time and effort, both of which will cost you productivity on the job. Consider it a priceless sacrifice . . . a permanent investment.

Disintegrating families have parents who refuse to face the severity of their children’s actions. Eli knew how horrible his sons had become, yet did nothing! I’ve seen parents in such denial that they cannot bring themselves to admit that their child has a serious problem with drugs or pornography or sexual promiscuity or stealing—behavior that most others would consider a red flag. Yet they act as though the crisis will resolve itself if given a little patience. Wrong.

If you have children who are young, you have those around you who are impressionable. Now’s the time to make your most important investment in them. If you wait until they’re as tall as you, you will have already allowed them to sow seeds of self-destruction.

If your children are nearly adults, take responsibility for your part in their poor choices, then do whatever is necessary to save them. Because you’ve waited so long, there are few options that don’t have grave consequences. So consider the long term, and do what you must.

It is never too late to start doing what is right.

—Chuck

A Christmas Intervention

Did you feel the tightening squeeze this time of year brings?

On top of an already demanding schedule of preaching, teaching, counseling, and calling, you had to add Christmas parties and programs, a creative Christmas series that you’ve never preached before—and still another eloquent sermon for the Christmas Eve service.

Such a schedule has a tendency to turn us into Scrooge-like characters, doesn’t it? (We secretly think: Humbug!) Work, work, work . . . nothing and no one will get in our way.

May I assume the role of one of old Scrooge’s ghosts for you? Let me escort you to your home. Peer into the window. Look closely. Is your chair empty at the dinner table?

Okay, that was a cheap shot.

We in ministry don’t like to talk about it, but too many of us sanctify workaholism. And the holidays can be the busiest time! We can allow ourselves to be so involved in “the Lord’s work” that our family is neglected. And I do mean “we.”

This may sound like heresy, but we have to learn to adopt the attitude: “I’m more committed to my home than I am to my ministry.” Try saying that out loud. I doubt any pastor’s final words will be—and I know mine won’t be—“I should have put more time into studying supralapsarianism for that sermon on election.” No way! But I will regret not spending more time loving and laughing with my wife, children, and grandchildren.

Are you feeling adequately guilty yet? Me too. So let me suggest some positive things for us to consider. Here are six rewards that represent huge dividends for yourself, your family, and even your ministry if you make your home your priority. You will enjoy:

·         the sustained cultivation of a great character

·         the continued relief a clear conscience brings

·         the increasing personal delight of knowing God intimately

·         the rare privilege of becoming a mentor

·         the priceless treasure of leaving an unforgettable legacy

·         the crowning reward of finishing strong

It took three ghosts and a sleepless night to convince old Ebenezer Scrooge that work without regard for others amounts to foolishness—and a wasted life.

I have a pastor-friend whose wife often tells him, “I don’t want your presents as much as your presence.” Let’s give ourselves to our families today, okay?

—Chuck

Make or Mar Your Ministry

I don’t think the Lord gives mates to us pastors to frustrate us.

God gives a pastor a wife for life, knowing full well that it will take time to cultivate that relationship. In fact, when we give our time to our spouse, we are demonstrating devotion to Christ. I don’t think we’re missing out on anything God has for us to do at the church.

A passage we’ve read many times—maybe even preached—also applies to those of us who are engaged in ministry:

One who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. (1 Corinthians 7:33–34)

Unfortunately, we live in a day in which people think if our activity is not at the church, it lacks devotion to Jesus. As pastors, we can believe that lie if we don’t continually guard against it.

One of my cherished mentors, Dr. Howard Hendricks, once made a tremendous statement: “Your marriage will either make or mar your ministry.”

It has taken years for me to get my arms around that significant statement . . . and I’m still learning the truth of its implications.

Does spending time with your wife take away from your time with God and your work for God?

In a word: Yes.

And it should.

—Chuck

Accepting Others

I spent the first ten years of my marriage trying to make Cynthia into me. I can’t think of many things worse on earth than a female Chuck. And I’ll be honest, it almost broke us apart. We didn’t though, because she stayed and stuck it out.

I'll never forget when Cynthia said to me, “I don’t want you to keep telling people we’re ‘partners’ because we’re not partners. I bear your children and I cook your meals, and I clean the house, but I’m not a partner.” Then she added, “You’ve never accepted me for who I really am.” I said, “Yes, I have.” She said, “No you haven’t.” I said, “YES, I have.” She said, “NO, you haven’t!” And I got louder and she got louder, and she finally walks away in tears. And I was left with the dishes. While doing those dishes I thought, She’s right.

We began a process that took four years to break that habit in me. It involved some serious counseling that we both sought . . . and it was very helpful. It just about wiped me out, though, realizing how true her criticism was. I did very little encouraging back then. I had picked the people I liked, and those were the ones I spent time with. The others I just used.

It was years later at a gathering with some friends from our radio program that someone asked Cynthia, “Why don’t you say some things about the broadcast?” She walked up and said, “The best part about this is that Chuck and I are in this as partners.” In that wonderful moment her statement brought a knot in my throat. She hadn’t said that word, since she had said it to me on that cold kitchen floor many years before. I finally came to realize the importance of accepting my wife. 

I often remember Peter’s words to us as husbands, and how our lives at home affect our effectiveness as pastors. I’ve emphasized the result of obeying Peter’s words: “Live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

She has a different temperament than you and a different way of thinking. Most wives do, you know; that’s why the marriage works. I invite you to make a serious study of the fourteenth chapter of Romans. It sets forth an absence of legalism. It underscores the enjoyment of freedom, the appreciation of diversity, a non-controlling lifestyle. It’s all about accepting people as they are . . . and it also applies at home.

I’ve often found it easier to be more accepting and encouraging of the people in our congregation than my own wife. Maybe it’s the same for you too.

—Chuck

Get Involved

Eli participated in his sons' godless behavior. We know this because Eli got fat on the food his boys had stolen from the altar (1 Samuel 3:19–21).

As for Samuel, the boy who heard God's voice, the closing words of this episode tell us that the sleepy, spiritual indifference that had lulled Israel into complacency was about to come to a screeching halt. A man of action was on the scene, and Israel's spiritual drift was about to end. Even as a little boy, he not only heard the Lord, but he obeyed His voice.

As you ponder all of this, especially as you evaluate the condition of your family, remember that hearing the truth isn't enough. Action is the ticket. Only on the rarest occasions does the Lord bless someone for merely listening to Him. Faith is an action. That means His blessings lie on the other side of obedience. According to Scripture, knowledge alone puffs up, but with action comes humility (1 Corinthians 8:1). Besides, problems like those of Eli do not solve themselves. They multiply and intensify with the slow and silent passing of time. A pastor’s home is not immune to any of this.

If you have reached the conclusion that your family is in danger, choose to do something rather than nothing. Refuse to be like Eli. In the end, after achieving public success in ministry, God considered Eli a failure at home . . . and judged him for it.

 Don't go there.

—Chuck

Affirming Leaders

Good leaders are enthusiastically affirming. Paul writes,

You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children. (1 Thessalonians 2:10–11)

Ever spent a Friday night on hard bleachers, in front of the father of the high school quarterback? He’s his own cheering section. Why? He’s a dad! The kid on the field is thinking, “Dad, come on, knock it off.” But his old man is standing up there, yelling at top volume, loving every minute of it. There’s no question who he’s pulling for.

Perhaps you’ve longed for more affirmation from your father. Let’s face it; encouragement goes a long way in preparing a child for life. No one should be getting more encouragement from us than our own children.

Pretty convicting stuff, isn’t it?

Good leadership balances the tender nurturing of a mother with the loving affirmation of a father. Encouragement is like an oasis in a hot, barren desert. It brings needed refreshment to weary individuals whose souls are parched from time spent in the desert of self-doubt. There’s the desert of failure when we’ve tried so hard to succeed. There’s also the desert of no progress when we so want something to happen but it doesn’t. And there’s the desert of family rejection, abuse, and a thousand other arid, monotonous landscapes of life.

In those desert experiences, we all long for an oasis where we’re able to get a cool drink of water. Though it may not have come from your father, determine it will come from you. Give the affirming words of a father, who, in speaking, dips his ladle deep in ice water, and as he pours them out, they cool the spirit and refresh the soul.

Affirming leaders create loyal followers . . . in the church and in the home.

—Chuck