I’ve Had the Wrong Motivation …

My focus has been fine, but my motivation has been off. I was burdened for a good thing, but the reason for my burden was blurred. I think I have had the wrong motivation.

In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus said “…The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

I have focused on “the workers are few”. So, I have prayed as Jesus instructed “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers”. That is the appropriate prayer and I am going to keep on praying it. But, I now believe that my motivation for this prayer has been wrong. My motivation has been that we don’t have enough people working (serving). We don’t have enough people, but I have been stuck on that fact. I have been praying about that fact and my motivation has been to get more people to work/serve. That is a good thing to get more to serve/work. So what is wrong with my motivation?

Look at Jesus’ words from Matthew 9:37 again. “…The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” What jumped out to you?

For me, the thing that jumped out was that “the workers are few”. That is true. But I was skipping over why we need more workers and it is not just because we don’t have enough workers. The reason we don’t have enough workers is because “the harvest is plentiful”!!!

We need more workers because there so many people who need to be reached and so many people who will respond to Christ if only someone would show them and share with them.

I need to keep praying for more workers, but I need to pray because I am brokenhearted over how many are lost. My prayer needs to be more passionate, praying for more workers because of the people who are in need. My motivation can’t just be to drag more workers out and about. My motivation needs to be for the souls who are, as Jesus said in Matthew 9:36, “…harassed and helpless”. I need to have compassion for them as Jesus did and plead for more people to serve/work on their behalf. Not because I want to be able to report that I have more people working/serving. But because I care so much for the harvest and the people who are in need and will likely respond to the good news if someone who cares will simply come alongside them and love them into the kingdom.

I want to keep praying and pleading for more servers/workers. But I want to always do it with the motivation of the harvest, not to fill spots on an organizational chart.

Are you praying for more servers/workers? What is your motivation?

 

Dennis

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3 years is a long time …

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Well, duh! Of course 3 years is a long time.” Or maybe you are taking a long view of things and thinking 3 years isn’t so long when compared to a lifetime or compared to eternity. 

Let me put my statement of fact that 3 years is a long time into perspective. In the last 3 years I have moved 2 states away to become pastor of a different church. I have since added another church and am currently pastoring 2 churches. Also I have had the joy of welcoming 2 new grandkids, 2 bright, beautiful, lively girls were born into our family in the past 3 years. My daughters and their families have both moved, one of them 2 states away and one of them across town, all in the past 3 years. A lot can change in 3 years because 3 years is a long time.

Why am I bringing up the fact that 3 years is a long time? Yesterday I drove my son and 2 of my grandsons to the airport where they boarded a flight taking them to Kenya. Actually they are returning to Kenya. Just over 3 years ago my son, daughter in law and 5 of my grandkids headed to Kenya where they have been serving as missionaries. They have been back in the states for 5 weeks. All of them were with us for 10 days when they first arrived and my son and 2 of his boys were with us for 4 days again. My daughter in law will be taking my oldest grandson to college in a couple of days. Then next week my son flies back from Kenya and I will pick him up along with my daughter in law and their 2 youngest kids. They will be using our home as their base for 5 weeks while they speak at a few churches and see some friends and family. Then they will get on a plane and head back to Africa to begin serving in a brand new ministry in a different county. 

The greatest adjustments will be for my son, daughter in law and their kids. They will be scattered across 2 continents and 3 different countries. I have been praying for their adjustments to this new reality. In fact I began praying for their adjustments almost a year ago knowing it would be difficult for all of them.

Yesterday as my wife and I hugged our grandsons there were tears, at least there was in our eyes. As we walked back to our vehicle to begin the 3 hour drive home I said, “That was a lot harder than last time, because now we know how long 3 years is”. You see, I know that 3 years is a long time.

When we dedicated our son to the Lord we committed to raise him according to God’s Word and we agreed to embrace God’s will for his life. We still embrace that commitment. We didn’t know how long 3 years were back then, but we do now. I am thrilled that all of my kids are serving the Lord and I am excited that my son and his family are being obedient, even if it means that they (remember that includes grandkids) are more than 16 flying hours away. But there are moments that are not easy. Yesterday was one of those moments.

The key to all of this is to be obedient. To remember that a commitment to serve and follow Jesus sometimes means that many things change. But God is still God and He is still watching over my kids and grandkids. I comfort myself with the knowledge that God loves my kids and grandkids even more than I do. 

But for today the tears are spilling from my eyes even as I smile and I keep thinking, “3 years is a long time”. But I also remember how sweet the reunions are after 3 years.

Here’s hoping that you are following the one who loves you so much that He gave his life for you no matter where it takes you. God is still God and he is greater than 3 years, no matter where you are for those years.

Dennis

Is this your spot?

Where is your spot? You know that place you where you always end up. As a pastor I can tell you where the “spot” is on Sunday mornings for most regular attenders in my church. There are a few who end up in other spots from week to week. But most of them have the same spot each time they attend. The good news is that I know if they are in attendance or not just by looking at their spot. The bad news is that sometimes someone new arrives before them and lands in their spot. Watching the reaction of those who are displaced from their “spot” is an interesting study in the art of adjustment.

My favorite memory of the need for adjustment was in the first church in which I was the lead pastor. We outgrew our building and the small lot on which it stood. We had to relocate and build a new facility. In the new  building, we used movable seating in our worship space. Nearly every week this couple sat in the second row, on the left side of the center section. If they were in attendance, which was 98% of the time, you would find in their “spot”. One Sunday we rearranged the seating. There had been a Saturday evening wedding and the seating had been changed to have a center aisle and therefore only two sections of seats. Rather than make everyone do the extra work of rearranging I said to just leave it that way for Sunday morning. This meant that there was no center section. When this couple entered the worship space they walked to the second row and then stood in the center aisle looking rather perplexed. He then turned to her and said “Well now where do we sit?” 

This change of circumstances were more than he could handle that morning. The good news is they found a seat and were not upset. They didn’t leave the church and they didn’t complain to me. I loved that couple, but that was a humorous moment. Most of us have our “spots”, don’t we?

First row, second seat in from the center aisle of the west center section. This has become my spot. Where is your spot? This is where you will find me nearly every Monday and Friday morning from 5:30 am to 6:30(ish) am. This has become my spot. 

This isn’t always my spot. Sometimes my spot moves as I walk through the rows of chairs. Sometimes my spot is kneeling at the altar. Sometimes my spot is on the floor in front of that seat on the first row. At home it is nearly always the brown recliner in our front room. Sometimes sitting and sometimes kneeling. That has become my spot. Every other week my spot is at a table with 4 to 8 other pastors sharing and praying. Do you have a spot?

The spot isn’t sacred. I won’t even be upset if you are in my spot, as long as you are participating.

There is nothing special about my spot(s) but special things have been happening in my spot(s).

The special things are because this is where I often pray. I am also a walking pray-er. I especially love to walk around and through the sanctuary and the rows of seats praying.

What I have discovered is that more important than the location of my spot is what I am doing in that spot. There is something to having a spot, or two, but what takes place there matters more. The more consistent I have become in my times of prayer the more I am changing, growing and seeing God move. Interesting how that works. The more often I pray. The more consistently I pray. The more I read the Bible and the more consistently I read my Bible. Then the more God seems to work in and through me.

I love getting to my spot(s) no matter what day it is, no matter which spot I happen to find myself. I look forward to getting to my spot(s). I approach them with anticipation. 

The big revelation is that my spot is wherever I meet with Jesus. Whether in prayer, reading the Bible or in worship. What matters most is that I meet with Him. The place isn’t what matters most. What matters most is that when I am in my “spot” I meet with Jesus, listen to Him, talk with Him and then go and live for Him.

So, where is your spot?

Here’s hoping that you find some “spots” to meet with Jesus. My prayer is that when you are in your “spot” that you hear how much you are loved and that you are never alone.

Dennis

Burstrated? It is a word, trust me …

I am burstrated. That may not be a word that is familiar to you, but I know it well. As a pastor I am often burstrated. I find it hard to express how I feel, or how I am dealing with some situations so I create words to help me describe what I feel. Usually I just keep the words to myself, but I thought it was necessary to share one of my words with you as I attempt to give a word picture of the heart of a pastor. 

Burstrated is the combination of the words burdened and frustrated.

I often feel burstrated. It happens when I am overwhelmed with a burden for the situation someone is facing but I am also frustrated. The frustration might be because I can nothing to fix things. I like to fix things, not objects, my wife wishes I liked to fix objects, but I like to fix things in relationships and in personal situations. The problem is that I cannot always fix things and it makes me burstrated. Sometimes the frustration side of feeling burstrated comes from knowing that this is the umpteenth time that the person has something to contribute to the problem. When that is true I have a lot of other emotions as well and I want to scream but I usually just settle for muttering to myself. This does not diminish my burden for the person or the situation, in fact it likely increases my burden for them.

The heart of pastor is never neutral when someone in his sphere is in a bad situation a pastor’s heart breaks. When people are hurting, even if they have contributed to the pain a pastor’s heart breaks. Frustration is sometimes mixed in, but it doesn’t change the fact that the pastor’s heart hurts along with you and for you.

The heart of a pastor rejoices when those in their sphere of influence choose to follow Christ and when those people are blessed the pastor’s heart nearly bursts with joy.

The heart of a pastor is heavy with concern and fear when people around them are beginning down a path that will likely cause them pain. This is also when the feelings of being burstrated rise up. As the pastor is burdened for the person and choices being made and frustrated because it seems that there is nothing they can do at the moment.

As I pray for the services tomorrow, I am burstrated. My heart is breaking for some people in very difficult situations. My mind is battling frustration over some people who confess a desire to follow Christ but keep making excuses instead of changes. My heart is breaking over seeing so many people nod in agreement to the message of a song or the sermon and then walk from the building live in opposition to that with which they were just agreeing. I am frustrated at my failure to say the right words or to show them by my example that there is a better way.

The heart of a pastor is never neutral and it is very likely that your pastor is wrestling with the burstration today.

Just some food for thought on this Saturday.

Dennis

Sometimes You Just Gotta Make Some Noise …

I walked into our local public library, I heard her and then I saw her and then ….

A while ago my wife and I had the joy of having 3 of our grandchildren stay with us for a few days. The range of their ages are 8, 5 and 3. Those are ages of great energy, noise, laughter, emotion and joy. I absolutely love being around my grandkids

I noticed that my grandkids often ran to wherever we were going. Even when they walked they would mix in a few hops and skips. Their energy seemed boundless at times. Did I ever have that much extra energy?

I walked into our local public library, I heard her and then I saw her and then …

It was not just the extra energy that changed our house while my grandkids were here, it was the noise volume. It went up several decibels. Some of the noise was laughter, some of it was loud talking attempting to get someone’s attention and sometimes it was just loud yells of joy for the fun of it.

I walked into our local public library (as in no loud talking, no running and never ever any yelling allowed), I heard her and then I saw her and then …

You are very likely smiling as you read of these noisy exploits of my grandkids. I will confess that I am smiling as I remember and type these thoughts. You are smiling as you picture children of these ages and imagine the smiles, the energy and the noise. I am smiling because they are my grandkids and I always smile when I think of my grandkids.

But there is something else isn’t there? If you are thinking anything like I am your question is along the lines of “When did I stop living life with this kind of joy and when did I stop making noise just because life is good?”

I walked into our local public library (as in no loud talking, no running and never ever any yelling allowed), I heard her as she yelled “Grandpa” and then I saw her as she came running across the library and then … without worrying about where we were she launched herself into my legs and gave me huge hug.

Jeremiah chapter 20 verse 9 says, “…his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

Here’s to hoping that you and I get a little bolder and make some noise. Here’s hoping that we don’t allow circumstances, fears, worries, or just the passing years to stifle our voices. Here’s hoping that you take a moment to yell this week, to tell someone about the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. Bonus points if you choose to yell during a worship service!

Dennis