Archive for the ‘Discouragement’ category

Your Safety Comes First

February 16, 2012

Fire helmetI’ve been involved in volunteer Fire and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) since I was a teenager. This has allowed me a very natural way to become part of my community and I am currently serving our local volunteer fire department as the first assistant chief as well as being an EMT with the ambulance. It is often said in Fire and EMS that your own safety must come first. It’s very easy to focus only on the immediate problem at hand and forget about looking for potential hazards. It’s natural to look only at the victim trapped in the wrecked car and not see the live electrical lines from the broken utility pole lying nearby. It’s natural to see only the burning building and ignore the propane tank that could possibly explode. If I do not look for, and take action against, possible dangers, then I myself could become a victim. If I become a victim, then that means I cannot help whomever it was that I came to help. If I become a victim, that also means the resources that were intended to help someone else now need to be used to help me. If I want to be an effective firefighter, then I must make sure that my own safety comes first.

The same thing could easily be said for those of us in rural ministry. Our own safety must come first if we wish to help those around us. Obviously we don’t have to worry about live electrical lines or exploding propane tanks, but there are hazards that are just as real and potentially just as dangerous. Recent statistics show that approximately 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention within the church. These issues are very preventable, as long as they are recognized and dealt with properly. The problem is that we can sometimes be so focused on the crisis at hand that we do not realize the dangers and run the risk of becoming victims ourselves.

When we become victims, we cannot help those to whom we are called to help. When we become victims, resources that were intended to help others must now be used to help us. And unlike many instances in Fire and EMS, the consequences of us as rural ministers becoming victims often leads to negative eternal consequences for those we are supposed to help. It is paramount that we take the necessary steps to insure our own safety while we fulfill God’s call on our life.

None of us entered the ministry thinking that we would have a moral failure or burn out, yet it’s happening to 1,500 of us each month. Of course we never think it will happen to us, it’s always the “other pastor.” One of the first things we must realize is that we are not infallible. That the laws of life and ministry apply to us just as much as the next pastor. Over the next three weeks we will be taking a look at the big three safety hazards of pastors (moral failure, burn out, and contention within the church) and what we can do to effectively deal with these problems.

I know that the whole concept of “your safety comes first” seems to contradict what we’ve always been taught. I’m sure all of us have heard at one time or another the lesson on J.O.Y. Which, of course, stands for Jesus, Others, You. If I put my own safety first, does that mean that I’m putting myself before others? Not at all. I would argue that in order to consistently put others before ourselves that we must put our safety first. We must make sure that our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being is where it needs to be before we can ever hope to effectively serve others.

What about you? What potential dangers do you see in your ministry and what steps can be taken to avoid them? Leave a comment below.

Rural Resource – Tips for Overcoming Insecurity

February 6, 2012

Each Monday on the Rural Ministry Blog I post a book review, article link, website link, video, or any other type of resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today’s Rural Resource is a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Dan Rockwell.  Dan is a pastor and award winning blogger who has a passion for people and leadership.  His blog,  Leadership Freak, is a must read for anyone in a leadership position.  Although it’s written primarily for the business world, the principles taught can easily be adapted to Rural Ministry.

In this article Dan deals with a topic that virtually all Rural Ministers face – Insecurity.  I tend to be pretty confident in who I am and in what God has called me to do, however insecurity often rears it’s ugly head in my life.  When it does my effectiveness and motivation takes a serious nose dive.  If this insecurity is not quickly overcome, it can very easily cripple my ministry.  Dan’s article provides 15 great tips on how to overcome insecurity.  You can read the article by clicking here:

http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/15-tips-for-overcoming-insecurity/

In what areas have you felt insecure?  Are there any other tips you can recommend for dealing with insecurity?  Leave a comment below.

The Numbers Game

May 18, 2011
Image source – http://tinyurl.com/6xza7uv

Like most pastors I had very big dreams when I started at my church.  Sure, there were only about 12 regular attendees, but that would all change very quickly.  The Holy Spirit would show up and people would be coming in droves!  We’d have to have multiple services, a new building and a large staff.  Of course, reality was much different!  About midway through the first year our average attendance had grown to about 30 people, which was a far cry from the grandiose dreams I originally had.  I remember mentioning my disappointment about attendance to one of my denominational leaders, and his response really made me stop and think.  He asked me “How many people live in your town?”  I told him that the last census put us at around 230.  He said “I would do almost anything to have that percentage of my town!” (He pastors a church in a large town with a  population of  about 30,000)

The more I thought about it the more he was right.  Statistically speaking I had a little better than 10% of my town coming to church (okay, not everyone who comes is from my town, but you know what I’m getting at).  This means that most of us in rural ministry have far better numbers than the mega churches that get all the attention.  Of course, this is no reason to brag or to “think more highly of ourselves than we ought” (Romans 12:3).

I am not trying to belittle anything that any metropolitan church is accomplishing.  The point I’m trying to bring across is that just because our numbers are smaller doesn’t mean we are not doing as good of a job.  I believe that some of the most effective pastors in the world are found in rural areas.  We might not get the attention or prestige that urban pastors get, but that doesn’t mean we are inferior.  We are reaching large percentages of our communities for Christ, and for that we can hold our heads up high knowing that we are doing our part in fulfilling the great commission.

Have you ever felt inferior or second class because you minister in a rural area?  What made you feel that way?  Leave a comment below.

Announcement: I will be making some changes to the posting schedule of the Rural Ministry Blog.  Up to this point I have posted a general blog post on either Tuesday or Wednesday with the Freebie Friday post on Friday.  Starting next week I will be adding a resource post on Monday, moving the general post to Wednesday, and keeping Freebie Friday as is. The resource post on Monday will contain links to blog posts, articles, and video clips that I believe will be of interest to the Rural Ministry Blog community.  As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please feel free to contact me using the contact info link in the sidebar.  Blessings! – Harry Colegrove

Why We Do What We Do

May 10, 2011

Discouragement – we’ve all been there.  In fact, I recently read a statistic that stated that 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.  I’m not sure how accurate that statistic is, but I can certainly understand the sentiment.  There have been many times that I’ve found myself sitting at my desk wondering why I put up with it all.  Between the long hours, low pay, unrealistic expectations (both mine and my congregants) and church people with sometimes less than a proper Christian attitude, it can really get to you.  In moments like this I often wonder if I’m wasting my time.  But it seems that when these feelings come, God always brings along some encouragement.

One moment that sticks out to me happened last summer.  I had gone through a particularly stressful time and was sitting at my desk totally bummed out, and wondering why I was even still in the ministry. You could say that I was having my own little “Elijah pity party” (1 Kings 19:10) I noticed that the mail had just arrived, and in it was a card from one of my parishioners.  She wrote a great note of encouragement and included this statement: “I asked myself why I was so grateful for you, and then I realized that it’s because you brought my family to Jesus!”  In the card she placed pictures of our recent baptism service in which I had baptized her husband, brother, sister-in-law, niece, and father-in-law.  I sat at my desk and cried like a baby.  This was why I was doing it!  The sheer joy of leading someone to Jesus is worth all the hassle in the world.  Yes, the job of a pastor – especially a rural pastor – is a tough job.  In my opinion it’s the toughest job in the world.  But the rewards are great!  I’ve since put together a basic video of that baptism service and anytime I start to feel down, all I have to do is watch it and I am reminded of why I do what I do.  Here’s a link to the clip – I hope you enjoy it and encourage you to make one of your own.

http://www.facebook.com/v/1537268945627

Have you had any particularly discouraging times?  What do you do when you are discouraged? Leave a comment below.