Shepherd Your Wife

Shepherd Your Wife

Although this post is written for pastors, the principles can apply to all husbands.


The Church is facing an epidemic involving pastors who fail to shepherd their wives. As pastors, our natural tendency is to love our church and ignore our families. We would not actually say this but it is evident by our actions and work ethic.

Pastor, if your marriage falls apart you are disqualified from ministry.

Someone once asked a pastor of a growing church how he balanced the demands on his time between his wife and his congregation. The wise pastor answered, “You either have to cheat your wife or cheat your church.” If you decide to cheat your wife because you have a savior complex and want to feel “needed” at all times by your congregation, you are NOT qualified for ministry.

Your church can have a large number of different pastors; your wife only gets one husband.

Before you think I am being too harsh, I will be the first to admit that I am talking to myself as much as I am talking to you. I consistently fail in this area and am eternally grateful for God’s grace and the love of my wife in the midst of my imperfections.

Here are five practical ways to make your wife a priority in ministry:

1. Commit to your wife a certain amount of evenings at home.
One of the disadvantages of ministry is that your evenings can quickly fill up with meetings and appointments if you do not diligently guard your schedule. In order to visibly show my wife that she is more important to me than my ministry, I have committed to spending four nights every week at home and only break this when I truly have no other choice. If you spend more evenings at your church instead of at your home, you need to re-evaluate your priorities.

Although this post is focused on shepherding your wife, these evenings are priceless in the lives of your kids. If you want your kids to grow up in bitterness towards the church, spend all your time at the church. On the other hand, if you want your kids to have a love and commitment to the local church, be sure that your evenings are open for them!

2. Publicly state your commitment to your wife.
When Ashley and I launched the Garretson Campus of The Rescue Church, I knew I needed to guard my time. Unfortunately, this knowledge took awhile to become application in my life. In order to hold myself accountable (and be sure my church has realistic expectations of me), I tell members of my church that my wife is far more important to me than my ministry.

If you “succeed” as a pastor but fail as a husband, you are a failure. On the other hand, if you “fail” as a pastor but succeed as a husband, you are successful.

3. Have another man in your life that will hold you accountable.
I met with one of my mentors (who is also a pastor) this morning for breakfast and he shared profound wisdom with me in regard to accountability. He explained that if you are a pastor with no real accountability partner, it is only a matter of time until Satan destroys your ministry. As a pastor, you NEED another man in your life that will ask you specifically about your marriage and family on a regular basis. If you do not have an accountability partner, it is only a matter of time until you reach a point of emotionally abandoning your wife in pursuit of ministry.

4. Be willing to quit.
When I say that my church can have many different pastors but my wife only gets one husband, I truly mean it. If my ministry ever reaches a place where my wife truly feels neglected and abandoned because of it, I will quit. If you are married, God calls both you and your spouse into ministry. If you feel that you are called to be a pastor but your wife does not support your call then you need to wait for God’s timing. If you are already in ministry but your marriage is close to destruction, you NEED to quit and seek counseling.

DO NOT FAIL AS A HUSBAND AND “SUCCEED” AS A PASTOR! (I know I already said it but it is important enough to say again!)

5. Pray with your wife.
I know many pastors will skip over this one and simply assume they are. I will be the first to admit – I do not pray with my wife as regularly as I should. Matter of fact, it seems that I am more willing to pray with a new person after church than I am willing to pray with my beautiful bride and that is a shame. Spend time not only praying for your wife but praying WITH your wife. When you approach the throne of grace together as a couple, you allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen and sustain your marriage.


Satan hates your marriage and wants to destroy it. How are YOU going to make your wife a priority in ministry? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Leadership Lessons from a Pastor

LeadershiCLUB

Pastoral leadership is one of the most difficult yet rewarding leadership positions available. On a daily basis, I have the opportunity to encourage people in their faith and exhort them to live according to Scripture. Yet, part of pastoral leadership is leading volunteers. Some say that leading volunteers is comparable to herding cats (If you are part of my staff, I don’t think this is true!) This makes it more difficult than leading a business because there is no financial incentive to encourage productivity.

Below are three leadership lessons YOU should apply today; ESPECIALLY if you lead in the business sector:

1. Lead with vision.
Most of the people I lead in The Rescue Church are volunteers. This requires visionary leadership which is sadly lacking in many organizations. In the rat race of life, it is tempting to dangle financial rewards in front of employees in order to get results. This obviously does not work with volunteers – You MUST exercise leadership that goes far beyond monetary reward.

Successful leadership implements vision in every meeting; failing leadership begrudgingly offers financial security to gain loyalty.

At EVERY opportunity you should bring your people back to the vision of your company. Do NOT assume that people automatically connect their positions to the larger goal of your organization. It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to share your organization’s vision too frequently.

2. Lead with integrity and transparency.
Paul directs pastors to lead lives that are “above reproach”. The majority of leadership qualifications in Scripture have to do with inner characteristics instead of outer performance. Although Paul is speaking specifically to leaders in the church, it would be helpful to apply these characteristics to ALL forms of leadership.

According to 1 Timothy 3:2-7, leaders should have the following characteristics:

  • Faithfulness to family
  • Self-controlled
  • Respectable
  • Hospitable to strangers
  • Gentle
  • Agreeable
  • Not greedy

Hundreds of studies have shown that ethical businesses are more profitable over time than those that focus solely on generating profit. Therefore, lead the way by exercising integrity in all of your activities, even those that do not directly affect your company. You should invite men and women to hold you accountable to the standards you have set. As a leader, you should offer your way of life as a model for those who follow you.

3. Lead your staff relationally.
Pastors intentionally build culture within the people they lead. The relationships they build with their staff are organic and influential. Pastors truly desire to know and care for those that are under their leadership.

As a business leader, you should exercise shepherd leadership. Lead in such a way that your primary focus is on cultivating character rather than generating profit; if your staff grows in their character it is inevitable they will become more productive employees.

This can be as simple as taking a genuine interest in those you lead. If your organization allows it, ask if you can pray for the employee. Even non-Christians find this comforting and encouraging. Another way you can do this is by going out of your way to encourage your employees with occasional thank-you cards, free lunches, flexible schedules, etc.


YOU should lead with vision, integrity, and relationships. What other leadership lessons can be gained from leading volunteers? Let me know by leaving a comment! 

Four INCREDIBLE Websites

Four INCREDIBLE Websites

If you want to grow in your life, you need to enter into conversations with a variety of people. We do this best through relationships, books, podcasts and blogs. I feed both my soul and mind on a daily basis through a variety of different mediums. The four websites below have encouraged and strengthened me in both my faith and leadership.

1. Desiring God
Desiring God is the primary teaching ministry of John Piper. This website hosts many resources to help you grow in your faith. From free books to an “Ask Pastor John” podcast, there is something for EVERYONE.

The blog is excellent both in content and quality. There are a variety of experts who write about many different subjects. Each time I open up my browser to Desiring God, my mind is renewed by the solid teaching of Scripture. The content on this website WILL inspire you to desire God more than you currently do.

2. The Gospel Coalition
Similar to Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition hosts a large library of resources. There is a focus on ending “Theological Famine” with a plethora of ministry training that is offered for FREE!

The blog alone is organized into six different sections:

Each one of these sections is filled with helpful content from trusted people!

3. Michael Hyatt
As you probably guessed by the name, this website is hosted by Michael Hyatt. Hyatt is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Since then, he has helped people build personal platforms. He is a sought after speaker and writer at a variety of conferences and publications.

What is incredible is that Michael Hyatt gives away so many FREE resources. His blog and podcast is focused on helping YOU “Win at work. Succeed in life.” All of Hyatts content is written from a Christian perspective – I HIGHLY recommend Michael Hyatt’s website ESPECIALLY if you are a leader.

4. Jon Sanders
This website is hosted by one of my personal friends and someone I have the honor of working with. Jon Sanders is the Lead (and founding) Pastor of The Rescue Church; A multi-site church with four physical campuses and one online campus. There are many different resources on Jon’s website. You can watch past messages, read his blog, and even listen to the Small Town, Big Church podcast which I was featured on a few weeks ago!

I have learned A LOT from Jon personally and through his website. I highly recommend subscribing to his website, ESPECIALLY for the podcasts.


What websites have you found helpful? I would love to check them out. Let me know by leaving a comment!

A Word to Young Leaders (Featured on a Podcast!)

podcast

I have the honor of being featured on the latest “Small Town Big Church” podcast with my good friend Chase Riber. This is a podcast hosted by Pastor Jon Sanders, the Lead Pastor of The Rescue Church. For more information on the podcast, you can read my review of it HERE.

Below is a brief description of this episode:

“In this podcast episode I interview Pastor Chase Riber and Pastor Tyler Ramsbey, two young leaders who serve on The RESCUE Church team. In the interview we discuss the topic of being young in ministry. What are some of the challenges? What are some of the advantages? I pray that this interview will encourage other young leaders to pursue their dreams of serving in pastoral leadership. I also pray that this interview will encourage older pastors to be committed to identifying, recruiting, and mentoring young leaders within their church.”

To listen to the Podcast and read the show notes, go here! – A Word to Young Leaders


Be sure to head to www.jonsanders.org to listen to other episodes, watch past messages, and read his blog.

The Ladder of Humility (Part Two)

Ladder of Humility - Part Two

This is part two of a series on the Ladder of Humility by Saint Benedict. If you have not read the first post, be sure to read it first by clicking below:

Ladder of Humility (Part One)


Step 2: Doing God’s Will (Not Our Own or Other People’s)

ladderofhumility

This second step of humility holds three assumptions we need to understand:

  1. God has a Will.

This is a basic teaching with radical implications. We live in the midst of a post-modern world. Essentially, there is no such thing as right or wrong. As long as it works for you, it is true for you. What is true for you is not necessarily true for me.

God has a will and your fruitfulness in your Christian life depends on obedience to it.

You do not need to have a mystical experience or visit a psychic (or even a pastor!) to understand God’s will. This subject is far more in-depth then I am going to take the time to explain here, and I highly recommend THIS POST from Pastor Jon Sanders. In essence, we can discover God’s will through seven different mediums:

  1. God’s Word
  2. Prayer
  3. Your spouse
  4. Seeking Godly council from others
  5. Circumstances (Open/Closed Doors)
  6. The viewpoints of others
  7. Feeling of peace
    (CREDIT: “How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life” @ www.jonsanders.org – Be sure to go there and read more in-depth how these seven mediums enable you to find God’s will)
  1. We can be led astray by our own will.

Solomon, one of the wisest people that has ever lived, wrote profound advice for us in Proverbs 14:12 – “There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death.”

An obsession with our will clouds our vision, ruins our future, and ultimately does not satisfy.

This debased desire has plunged even our spiritual lives into destruction. Our prayer times are filled with wish lists we want God to grant. Essentially, He has become the servant and we have become gods, expecting Him to bow down to our every whim and desire.

Instead of conforming our will to the Father in Heaven, we have attempted to manipulate and command God to adhere to our man-made plans.

  1. We can be led astray by the will of others.

By nature, we are slaves languishing under the cold chains of people-pleasing. We have allowed subtle contamination by the desires of other people to dictate how we live our lives.

I promise that you will not give an account before God on how you lived your life in light of the expectations of those around you. No, you will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and have to explain how you were too much of a coward to boldly stand for God’s will.

Why is it that we are terrified of displeasing mere mortals but flippantly disobey and ignore God’s Spirit when it comes to decisions in our lives?


Friends, seek God’s will and do not allow yourself to be led astray by “the way that seems right to man” because its end is death and destruction.

Three Books YOU Should Read

booksforblog

I love to talk about books (I’m a pastor and I work in a library, what can you expect?) At many of the staff meetings of The Rescue Church, I ask my staff what they are reading. I have learned through great men and women that Leaders ARE Readers!

I want to share with you three books that I am currently reading. I HIGHLY recommend each one of them:

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

I discovered this book roughly a month ago. I have been meeting with a pastor to be mentored in regards to ministry. I asked him for a list of books that he would recommend. Out of this list, I had him narrow it down to one that had impacted him the most. This is that book.

The tagline of this book is, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” Scazzero lays out the symptoms of “emotionally UNhealthy spirituality” and offers a remedy. Specifically, he shares his own experience of: avoiding conflict in the name of Christianity; ignoring his anger, sadness, and fear; using God to run from God; and living without boundaries.

There was even a point in Peter’s ministry that his wife quit his church because she did not trust his leadership. Whether you are in ministry or not, you NEED to read this book because ALL of us are emotionally unhealthy in varying degrees.

Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster

This book is a modern classic, originally published in 1978. When it comes to disciplines, celebration is usually not a word we would use to describe them. Foster writes about a variety of classic Christian disciplines that have been practiced for centuries by believers seeking to be transformed by God’s Word and Spirit.

To give you a snapshot of this book, here is a quick summary:

“Dividing the Disciplines into three movements of the spirit, Foster shows how each movement contributes to a balanced spiritual life. The inward Disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study offer avenues for personal examination and change. The outward Disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service prepare us to help make the world a better place. The corporate Disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration bring us nearer to one another and to God.”

I promise that you will be challenged, convicted, encouraged, and transformed if you study this book with a humble and teachable spirit!

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Hands down, this is the best devotional I have used. Chambers was born in 1874 and died in 1917. The fact that this book is still extremely popular is a testimony to the timeless truths that Chambers shares. As a devotional, the book is divided up by dates with short readings for each day of the year. Every morning, you will find my Bible, a highlighter, and this book on my desk.

By reading this book side-by-side with Scripture, you will be encouraged to fix your eyes on Jesus Christ, kill indwelling sin, and love people with profound compassion. If you have never used this book as a devotional, or even if you have, READ it!


Now I want to ask you the same question I ask those on my staff: What books are YOU reading? What should I read next? Leave a comment and let me know!

Peter Pan Syndrome

Never Grow Up

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

There are times (more than I would like to admit) that I HATE being young. The fact that my age group tends to spend their days getting drunk, having sex with anyone/everyone, and playing HOURS of video games does not help. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have realized that 18 seems to be the new 12. NO ONE wants to grow up… I feel like my generation is in a screwed up version of Peter Pan.

What I love about Scripture is how practical it is. As a young pastor in ministry, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and looked down upon. Paul writes to a young pastor named Timothy and gives him five ways to set an example while he’s young. This applies to you EVEN if you are not a pastor. This is some rock solid advice.

  1. Set an example with your speech.

What are young people known for? Probably NOT speaking with wisdom and intelligence. Unfortunately, the vast majority of young people seem to breath vulgar and disrespectful language.

If you are young, people are EXPECTING you to be like that.

Prove them wrong. Speak life and not death. Be an encourager!

  1. Set an example with your conduct.

Once again, young people are known for getting drunk and being stupid (occasionally on video). DO NOT give into that stereotype. Be the type of person that when people ask your age, they are visibly surprised when you tell them BECAUSE of your maturity and conduct.

Set your eyes on eternity and pursue the joy that is found in Jesus. I can speak from firsthand experience when I say it is FAR BETTER than living for the next high!

  1. Set an example with your love.

If you are married, a great way to do this is by treasuring and cherishing your wife. I got married when I was 19 (which is considered almost crazy in our culture). My goal is to place my wife above EVERYONE except God.

Another way you can set an example in love is by serving people. Unfortunately, our generation is known as being self-centered and lazy. PROVE this wrong!

Put down the controller, get off the coach, and serve someone for FREE.

  1. Set an example with your faith.

This one applies ESPECIALLY to Christian teenagers and young adults. Most of us grew up in youth groups where Jesus nor the Bible were taught. It seemed that the focus was more on drinking soda out of a sock and less on worshiping the Living God. As a result, many people abandon their faith when they graduate high school.

Do NOT be that person. PURSUE the things of God! Yet be careful that you are known NOT by how much you know, but instead by how much you actually live it out.

Knowledge puffs up, love builds up.

Let your faith be the fire that enables you to set an example in speech, conduct, love, and purity.

  1. Set an example with your purity.

This one is completely counter-cultural to popular culture today. We are told to live our lives “young, wild, and free”. Have sex, look at pornography, and fantasize in your mind; everyone is doing it so you should join them.

PLEASE do not give in to the culture on this issue. MAKE WAR against sexual immorality. Every time you are tempted, God WILL provide a way out.


Being young may honestly suck at times but God has called YOU to live out 1 Timothy 4:12. Which one of these do you find the hardest to live out? What are some good resources YOU recommend? Let me know by leaving a comment, I would love to hear from you!

Small Town, Big Church (Rural Ministry!)

ruralministry

Being in ministry can definitely be tough at times.

Pastors NEED encouragement and teaching. Something that I have noticed in the Evangelical world is that the vast majority of teaching geared towards pastors has a focus from a Mega-church perspective – which definitely makes sense. If you are the pastor of a church with 2,000+ people, you are going to have a much larger platform than a pastor of a 100-person church.

Don’t get me wrong, mega-churches are not evil and small churches are not automatically holy.

I pastor a campus of The Rescue Church and our vision is to plant healthy church campuses in small communities. I am a pastor in a town of about 1,200 people and I am always searching for solid resources that apply to rural ministry.

I want to invite you to check out Pastor Jon Sander’s podcast “Small Town Big Church”. Jon is the senior pastor (and founding pastor) of The Rescue Church and I have the honor of working alongside him. He has 10+ years of experience in rural ministry and I believe this podcast would be extremely helpful; ESPECIALLY if you are a pastor or church leader in a rural setting.

Check it out here!

God Chooses Weak People.

151_2

Check out the Message that inspired this post by clicking HERE!

Have you ever faced a challenge and felt COMPLETELY inadequate and unprepared?

I have felt this way for the past eleven months (and still do). I have the honor and privilege of pastoring The Rescue Church in Garretson, SD. I remember having many conversations with my wife leading up to launch, explaining how I thought I was the wrong guy for the job. I’m not the best leader. I’m not the best counselor. I’m not the best speaker. And I’m definitely not the best pastor.

Why the heck would God choose ME to help lead His Church?

When I got to Garretson this morning, I sat in the sanctuary and looked out over all the chairs and equipment. Eleven months ago, I thought all of it was impossible. I never would have said that out loud, but in the quiet times the enemy whispered lies into my ear.

If you have ever felt this way, I want to encourage you with a Scripture that has spoken deeply into my heart and situation. The Apostle Paul writes this to a young church in Corinth –
“Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world – what is viewed as nothing – to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in his presence.” 1 Cor. 1:26-29

If you feel foolish, weak, insignificant, and despised you are in the BEST position to be used powerfully by the Living God.

Be of good courage today if you are overwhelmed by what God has called you to do. He has purposely chosen YOU for His purposes so that HE receives all the credit. I discovered that God chose me to plant His Church in Garretson precisely because there is no possible way I could do it in my own power.

God chooses people who seem to have nothing to offer SO THAT when God paints a beautiful picture with that person’s life, HE receives the credit and glory – not the brush.


What about you? Leave a comment about a time when you felt inadequate yet God STILL showed up in a powerful way THROUGH your weaknesses.

Now ALL Glory to God… [Garretson Update]

IMG_20141005_180636

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” – Ephesians 3:20

I am sitting here in awe at the power of God.

The past couple of weeks have been both exhausting and rewarding. Our team in Garretson has experienced intense spiritual warfare as we came closer to holding our first public service; I now understand why.

If you don’t think Satan is real, try venturing into a new town to help establish a community of committed followers of Jesus Christ.

We have officially launched; this is a great milestone. Not only did we have every ministry in place (Worship Service, Rescue Kidz, and Nursery), we had 75 people join us!! Honestly, I told God I would be happy if there were 40 people there. Due to my lack of faith, I thought I was setting myself up for disappointment if I believed God for anything more. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. (Take this as encouragement that God can accomplish infinitely more than YOU might ask or think too!)

Below are some pictures of the night!

**By the way, if you live in the area we would be honored to have you join us on Sunday nights at 6pm. Our building is right on Main Street, you can’t miss it!

View from the Coffee Bar
View from the Coffee Bar before the service.
Media team getting ready!
Media team getting ready!

 

Rachel Kuphal leading worship (She did AWESOME!)
Rachel Kuphal leading worship (She did AWESOME!)
View of the Lobby
View of the Lobby.
Lobby full of people!!
The Lobby full of people!!
My beautiful wife hanging out in the Nursery!
My beautiful wife hanging out in the Nursery!