Interviewing the Holy Spirit: Pastoral Redemptions

Discernment of the Holy Spirit is essential. This skill is one that we never master because there is always room for improvement. Still, it is important for Christians to have a baseline understanding on how the Holy Spirit speaks. If anything, to know how the Spirit does not speak. Otherwise, we may just make important spiritual decisions on our own, which we are sure to get wrong from time-to-time.

Unfortunately, it took two difficult pastorates for me to grow in the area of discernment. In fact, as I look back at one set of church interviews, it was clear that God was shouting to me, “DO NOT GO HERE!” Sadly, like many others, I had to learn through the hard path of experience. Continue reading “Interviewing the Holy Spirit: Pastoral Redemptions”

Church Interviews Are Like Speed Dating: Pastoral Redemptions

You have met the person of your dreams, and after knowing them a month, you are ready to marry them. Most people on hearing the last sentence would raise prudent caution. Friends would ask you to slow the relationship. They might even try to talk you out of the hasty engagement. It is not because they want you to ruin your happiness. No, like many in our culture they believe a rushed engagement is unhealthy and will lead to future unhappiness.

Similarly, many congregational churches use this “speed date” method to hire their next pastor. To be fair, not all congregational churches use this approach, but many churches and pastors reflect this “speed date experience.” It goes something like this: Continue reading “Church Interviews Are Like Speed Dating: Pastoral Redemptions”

Parsing About the Parsonage: Pastoral Redemptions

Once upon a time, it was thought that I lied to a church about moving into their parsonage. That is not exactly correct. While I failed to communicate my change of mind, I did not lie. These points and more I accept responsibility. More importantly, I am glad for God’s redemption ability despite challenging church leadership and my poor judgment.

As stated in a previous post, “The Church Parsonage is Not a Benefit,” but many churches believe it is an excellent tool to recruit ministers. In some cases, it still is a significant advantage. More and more pastors though are declining to live in them. Like many in their congregation, they want to build equity for their family’s future, which a provided house does not give. As a result, many churches are choosing to sell their parsonages. However, where I once pastored the expectation was still for the pastor to live in the parsonage.

The conflict over me and their parsonage began when a deacon on the Pulpit Search Committee asked

“Brother Mike, I got a question for you! Are you going to live in our pastorium?!”

On asking his question, there was at least one committee member who interjected against this deacon’s question. His objection centered on the previous pastor who experienced problems when he lived in the home owned by the church. Despite this committee member’s concern, the deacon reiterated with,

“Hey, our former pastor needed to get out. When you resign as the pastor, you need to exit the pastorium sooner than later. Besides, we are better than some churches. I know one church who had the water cut off the next day. We gave the former pastor more time than a day!” 

This scenario was a shock to my senses. Not only did I doubt the long-term benefit of living in any parsonage; the committee was admitting their checkered history with their building. Still, I had to give a response, so I said, Continue reading “Parsing About the Parsonage: Pastoral Redemptions”

Limited Texting: Final Thoughts

Today is Fat Tuesday, which is also the day that New Orleans and Mobile celebrate Mardi Gras since Mobile is where Mardi Gras originated. As many celebrate Mardi Gras, they will also participate in Fat Tuesday before a season of fasting begins. See the day after Fat Tuesday is Ash Wednesday when many Catholics (and now Protestants) choose at least one thing to fast until Easter. Personally, I have decided to “limit” my texting over the month of February. Therefore, today is the final day of my limited-texting lifestyle and here is my last assessment of my exercise.

1. Calling Is Now Preferred Over Texting. – There are times when texting is needed. For example, when my wife says, “Could you get some milk on the way home?” is better than a call. However, for more serious topics I prefer a phone call.

2. Relationships Matter. – By forcing people to call me, I’ve created deeper and better relationships with others. The best part of this is that it’s happened within my family. So the fact that I can say that I feel more confident in some of my family relationships due to phone calls over texts are a value I’ll cherish forever.

3. FLEXIBILITY & BOUNDARIES!!!!!! – Continue reading “Limited Texting: Final Thoughts”

No Texting: Mid-Month Reflections

My month of no texting in February is just about over. As I last reported, my goal changed from no-texting to limited-texting. Since making the change, a lesson I’ve learned is, the ability to say “no!”

We live in a society that loves to please others, even to a fault. Our texting communication is no different. Think about it, how often do we feel compelled or obligated to respond to someone’s text message? In contrast, how did you feel the last time you put off your reply to someone? How anxious were you? If so, then why do we place so much emphasis on texting? All of these questions beg this question: How can we then eliminate these negative emotions? How about saying, No!?”

Saying “no” is a lost art for our society. Personally, as I still struggle with determining who to say “no.” As I prioritize the text messages, I receive, I too am anxious. Still, I have learned to say “no” in a variety of ways: Continue reading “No Texting: Mid-Month Reflections”

28-Days Later: No Texting Experiment

imgresNo texting for 28-days that is my goal!

This announcement has brought curiosity from friends and family. Some wonder “how” I’m going to abstain from text messaging. Others want to know “why” I’m not texting for so long. Positively, I want to enjoy life and other people better. Sadly, I think texting negatively interferes in the following ways:

1. Texting is A Poor Form of Communication – It may be the worst form of communication. With emojis and abbreviations, the text lingo is constantly changing. This shift creates further misunderstandings between each other as the language is always changing.

2. Texting Loses Tone of Voice – We read texts towards our positive or negative biases, which the author may not have meant. The reason for our misinterpretation is that we can’t hear the author’s tone of voice. Yes, there are grammar rules to help infer one’s written intentions. Texting, however, is an informal means of communication where the problem only worsens.

3. Texting Increases Conflict – We’ve all had a fight over text. Since we don’t know another’s tone of voice our text arguments can escalate even more. Plus, too many people use the “lag-time” found in texting to manipulate the conflict to try to “win the argument” than solving it. They’d rather save face for themselves that reconcile with their loved one. If one were face-to-face, this approach might not be as tempting, while our reconciliations then become more affirming. Continue reading “28-Days Later: No Texting Experiment”

Art Is Spiritual Development

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

No matter our beliefs as Christians it can be tough at times to maintain a Christian mindset. Be it entertainment, sports, politics, or more; our society has plenty of distractions to take our minds off of Christ. As a result, these interruptions can keep us from loving God, loving others, and from fulfilling the Great Commission. There is, however, a solution.

The answer rests in our creativity, and there are many ways we can be creative. Traditionally, creativity is based in one of the arts: painting, music, theater and other applications are some examples. However, creativity is represented by other things too. No matter the activity, it’s important to discover the art we enjoy best and seek to grow as artists. The better our art, the more we’ll enjoy it, and we might find how our art both glorifies God and spiritually transforms us. Continue reading “Art Is Spiritual Development”