How to Avoid Ministry “Burnout”

How to Avoid Ministry Burnout

Have you ever felt burned out doing ministry?

I’m a Pastor’s kid. Being involved in ministry from a young age through teen years and into my adult years, I feel like I’ve seen so much, both good and bad. I’m not a seasoned veteran, yet, I still feel like I can offer some words on this subject. My goal here is to encourage anyone who feels like they are burned out and want to quit. Why? Because I’ve been there myself! There are times I’ve wanted to run to the other end of the earth and just live under a rock for awhile avoiding people, ministry, and the responsibilities that come with leading.

I have watched families in ministry bloom and blossom. I have watched and experienced the toll that ministry can also take on a family if there are no boundaries in place. If you don’t stay close to God’s heart and cling to HIM, it can chew you up and spit you out. It can leave you broken and your family broken. I believe that there are practical things that you can do to protect yourself from ministry burnout and I’m going to share a few things I think work. These are things I’ve learned and have also OBSERVED from people I truly respect and admire!

how to avoid ministry burnout:

Remember the why.

Remember why you are in ministry in the first place. I hope that if you’re in ministry it’s because you feel like God has called you to do it. Whether that’s lead worship, lead children in children’s ministry, work on the logistical aspects of the church- go back to your why. WHY are you here? How did you end up here?

‘But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.’ 1 Peter 2:9

For me, I know that God has called me to lead. Whether that’s through worship or leading people, I know in the bottom of my soul, that I’ve been called to do that and it’s what God wants me to do. How do I know that? It’s what I’m passionate about. When I feel like running away, I remember the why. God’s called me to do it.

Remember the who.

This is the most important! Ministry for the sake of ministry is utterly POINTLESS! I am involved in ministry because I love Jesus. Because I love Jesus, I love people. Because I love people, I want to see people thrive in their relationships with Him. As a result, I can always go back to the fact that everything and anything I do is for the glory of God. Not man and not for myself. I’m not interested in building the name of Natalie.

‘So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. ‘ 1 Corinthians 10:31 

And another favorite:’

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.’ Acts of the Apostles 20:24 

Ministry is about Jesus. If ever you get to a point where it’s not about Jesus, I daresay run.

Create healthy boundaries.

This actually ties into a topic of rest. What I mean by this is create a perimeter around yourself. Don’t allow people access to you at every moment of the day. I don’t mean ignore an emergency, a death in the family, a serious issue: what I do mean is if it can wait then let it wait. An article I read here explains it even better than I can.

Prioritize your family.

This is where so many people and families get it so horribly wrong. They prioritize ministry FIRST over their family and over everything. If you can’t do ministry with your family, don’t sacrifice your family trying to minister to the world while they’re dying. My greatest regret would be that I poured my entire life out for others but neglected those closest to me (Jose, Micah, Josiah) and I’m determined not to live like that. I’ve experienced the effects of this and it’s not worth the amount of devastation that it leaves behind. Trust me!

But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. – 1 Timothy 5:8

Prioritizing your family means that you show your family that they are important and valued. Time with them is important. Set aside a specific day of the week that’s considered “sacred” family time. This means that nothing and no one interrupts it.

Prioritize times of rest.

This one is essential. Yet this is one of the top things that are neglected. Without rest, you will burn out quickly. The Bible often talks about the Sabbath, a day where people would take out time for rest and reverence to the Lord. I think it’s important that as people involved in ministry, you prioritize periods of rest so that you DO have something to offer the world. It’s important to know that people will take all that you are willing to give them until you are dry. It’s not their intention but it’s part of human nature. Unless you make rest a time of importance and schedule it into your busy schedule, you will feel dry, empty, and flat out TIRED.

Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

I am a big fan of getaways, small or big. If I have a break as a teacher and finances allow it, I always try to plan a 2-3 getaway where we can actually remove ourselves from our surroundings and take time together as a family. Times of rest don’t have to be dramatic and should be regular. Carve it into your day, week, or month. Find a way to include it in there.

Surround yourself with the right people.

YOU ARE WHO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH. Show me a man’s friend’s and I’ll show you who he is. These are sayings and cliches that you’ve heard before. The Bible puts it this way:

‘Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” ‘ 1 Corinthians 15:33 

When you are involved in ministry, people are watching you. There are many who are watching to see if or when you will mess up. Not everyone is cheering you on. It’s so important to make sure that you spend time with the right people. People who are toxic or are not a good friend will drain more life away from you. They will leave you burned out with nothing left to give. Protect yourself from that. Find people who will speak life when you feel like death. People who will bring out the gold you have within you.

Have mentors.

If you can connect with someone who has done ministry well, connect with them and learn from them. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? Listen to their stories and examples of success, failure, and how to do better. I personally love to talk to people who I admire who have a family they love, have a great marriage, and have a ministry that’s thriving and have LONGEVITY. Time is a great teacher.  Learn from the mistakes of others and the victories and use it to help veer you on the right path.

Most importantly, Prioritize your time with God. doing ministry does not equal spending time with God.

I think sometimes we equate being busy for God as an equivalent to actually spending time with God. THIS DOESN’T SUBSTITUTE YOUR ACTUAL TIME WITH THE LORD. You will quickly burn out if you are not connected to The Father.

‘But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. And they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.’ Isaiah 40:28-31 

Those that trust in God find NEW STRENGTH. They run and don’t get tired! If you get anything from this post, this is the most important thing. Trust in the Lord, rest in Him, and He will strengthen you so that you can keep running the race with joy.

Thanks for reading along! Do you feel like you’re burned out and ready to throw in the towel? Find rest, take time to seek and pray, and continue to fight the good fight of faith.

How to Avoid Ministry Burnout

Remembering What God Has Done.

‘But then I recall all you have done, O Lord ; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.’ Psalms 77:11-12

Tonight as I was listening to worship music and praying over people and situations, this verse popped up in my heart.

This Psalm is a really interesting one to read. The Psalmist is questioning everything:

‘Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude’ Psalms 77:7-9 

How many times have we asked these very same questions? I know I have!

  • Does God not even care about me?
  • Does He love me?
  • Are His promises true for my life?
  • Has God forgotten about me? Where is my compassionate God?

WHERE ARE YOU GOD?

I think this verse is so awesome because was see the humanity of the Psalmist. We have all been there at one point or another, regardless of how spiritual or Christian you are, at one point or another you’ve had a question for God. Perhaps you were diagnosed with an illness and don’t understand the why. Maybe you’re experiencing relationship problems and facing divorce. Maybe you have a terrible relationship with your parents or have never felt the love of a mother or father and want to know WHY. I appreciate how real this Psalm is but I love what comes next:

But then…

Whenever you see the word “But” in literature, it signifies a change, a turnaround, a change of thought. The Psalmist asks all of these questions but comes to a:

But then…

Notice he doesn’t stay in a place of questioning God. He pours out his heart to God and continues on:

But then…I remembered. I remembered everything you have done.

But then…I remembered the great things you did a long time ago and I can’t stop thinking about all of the awesome things You’ve done.

Some of us find ourselves in the questioning part of the Psalm and the scary part is that we stay there and never quite get to the “But then…” I so firmly believe that’s such a strategic ploy of the enemy. If he can get us to stay in a place of questioning God and never coming back to the conclusion that God is awesome and Has done amazing things, he will have succeeded.

So tonight my encouragement to you is this:

Remember.

Remember all of the things God has done. Recount them all. Write them down. Share them with someone. Praise Him for it.  Don’t find yourself in stuck in the doubt and the questioning to the point where you are blinded to all that God HAS done in your life.

 

A time of reflection. Tis’ the season.

I blinked, two months flew by, and suddenly we were in the month of December. Um, how did that happen?!

So much has transpired in the past few months. When I reflect on this year actually, I am pretty astonished at all that’s unfolded. Through the good, the bad, the ugly, the sad, the amazing: I can say I’ve seen God’s hand and His mercy at EVERY turn.

I’ll be honest and say that this year I haven’t been in a particularly Christmas-y mood. With the hustle and bustle of life, I’ve really been looking forward to the AFTER Christmas. The time where things get to slow down a bit and life takes its deep breath. So here I am, left to reflect on this year and what better way than to write about what I feel this year has taught me so far?

What 2017 taught me:

1. God is faithful.

When I can’t see what’s in front of me, I can trust that He has my back. When I don’t know what the next day will bring, I can trust that the author of my days has my life in the palm of His hand.

‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.’ Lamentations 3:22-23

2. My joy doesn’t depend on my circumstances.

There were parts of this year that flat out stunk! I’ll be honest. I found myself putting my joy in people, material possessions, wealth, career, etc. If any of those things faltered or failed, there went my joy right out of the window. God taught me that my joy isn’t dependent on whether or not I’m crushing every aspect of life or whether I can’t see the next step in front of me. This is my prayer for myself and for you!

‘I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13 

3. I can be happy with little. I can be happy with a lot. I’m not defined by what I have or don’t have.

I really struggled with this! When finances were tight I felt like my joy was threatened. My husband is in a profession that can fluctuate at times. When business was great I felt like I was slaying life, but I found it hard to be happy when things were slow or I had to stick to a tight budget. God REALLY challenged me this year on that and I felt like He was asking me to put my hope and trust in Him and not material possessions. For the better part of the year, I fought Him on this kicking and screaming. “It’s not fair…” I would think or “Okay God, I get that you’re trying to teach me something…can I have an A on this and move on?” I would think. The answer to that was a resounding NO. The secret was found in this verse:

‘Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. ‘ Philippians 4:11-13 

4. good friendship should be cherished.

The past few years and as I entered my 30s I think I recognize more and more what a gift true friendship is. I have had the blessing of experiencing this through a few people and a few solid woman who are like sisters to me. I have had people I thought were friends pass through or walk alongside me for a season and then be gone for the next. This has taught me that good friendship is worth holding on to and that if it’s a meaningful friendship, BOTH sides will hold on to it for dear life. If not, thank God for the season that He allowed them to be in your life and move on.

5. Hard circumstances will bring you and your spouse closer if you let it.

The harder things got, I think the closer Jose and I clung to each other. When you’re walking through things that are challenging, it can be super easy to turn on each other. My advice is this: don’t. Turn TO each other. Share. Vent. Encourage. Strengthen. Be real, honest, and open. Holding things in will do good for no one in the relationship. Whenever I felt like I just wanted to cry or scream, I would sit with Jose and tell him.

Sometimes I felt really bad because I didn’t want to make him feel bad (especially if it related to a financial stress or something like that) but at the same time, I didn’t want to carry my burdens alone. I found that we’ve endured a lot together that could have destroyed us. We’ve endured things that some couples divorce over (infertility, family issues, sick children, job loss, etc.)  but I think the only difference has been the fact that Jesus matters so much to us and we want to live a life that pleases Him and we have true love for each other. I know that I can be honest with him and he’ll hear me and vice versa.

6. being busy for god doesn’t substitute an actual relationship with god.

People love to talk about how busy they are. I do it sometimes! I’ve even whipped out the good ol’ Google Calendar for people who think I’m being flaky or trying to avoid hanging with them. I’ve also found that being involved in ministry, it’s ridiculously easy to get so involved in the ministry that you actually neglect your relationship with God. Busyness is not a substitute for authentic communion. Also, I have nothing to offer if I’m empty and haven’t spent time with the Lord or in the word. Relationship is everything.

7. be present.

In the age of cell phone technology, it’s super easy to replace actual conversation and true blue communication with it…IT’S NOT THE SAME. If you’re hanging out with friends, actually hang out with friends! This is a work in process but I do try to make sure that when I’m talking with someone, my phone is away or on the side and that I can learn to actually be present and in the moment and enjoy that person and that moment for what it is. Be present in the moment.

8. godly counsel will save you from a lot of headaches.

I learned that if I’m going to make any major life decisions my process should look like this: pray about it, speak and pray with my spouse about it, talk to Godly leaders and pray about it. I’ve written about it before. Talking to people we trust about some of our big decisions has saved us some serious heartache! For example, this year Jose got a job opportunity we weren’t sure about. On the surface, it looked like a great opportunity and a great fit but we lacked a complete peace about it. We spoke to our Pastor and he confirmed how we felt about it by just pointing out some valid practical points about this whole thing. We passed it over and God ended up bringing some awesome things our way that were a billion times better than the opportunity was.

9. parenting gets better and better.

They say it doesn’t get easier. To that I say, yes it does in a lot of ways. I enjoy each year more than the last and each age has something special but I really love the older the boys are getting and how our family dynamic is changing! IT’S SO FUN!!!

10. the best is ahead of me.

‘That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”’ 1 Corinthians 2:9 

More than anything, I know the best is ahead of me. I don’t say that as a cheesy quote and I’m not saying that I expect life to go perfectly and for everything to go in my way. As a Christian, I feel like we always come out with hope and victory because our life is rooted in JESUS. Nothing can take this away from me and for that, I know my best days are ahead.

These are just some of the few things that 2017 taught me! I wish you an incredibly joyful Christmas! BE IN THE MOMENT! Enjoy time with your family!

Love,

The Lopez Squad

The Power of Community

It’s the night before church. As I’m sitting here thinking about how exciting it is to attend church and be encouraged with people who love Jesus, I am reminded of how many times I’ve heard the phrase: “I don’t need to go to church. I can have church on my own in my living room.” Yes, we are the church and the body of Christ. You can connect with the Lord anywhere, but biblically speaking it’s so essential to gather with other people who love Jesus and connect. I thought it would be great to write a post that focuses on the WHY when it comes to church and in general, the power in community.

No man is an island. At least, no man should be an island. As humans, we are wired to be people of connection and intimacy. Yet, do you know how many times in my life I’ve heard people say they don’t need anyone or don’t like to be close to anyone? Heck, when I am down in the dumps and going through something, my first fleshly tendency is to isolate myself from others. In the instances I’ve done that, I’ve NEVER thrived or done well. Do you wonder why that is? Read on.

Right from the opening scene in the Bible, the Lord recognizes that it’s not good for man to be alone and on His own. He sees this and decides to make a companion for Adam. Hi there Eve!

Then the Lord God said, “I see that it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the companion he needs, one just right for him.” Genesis 2:18
In the New Testament, we see multiple examples of community and how much power there was when people got together. It’s ALL OVER ACTS!
“And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity —” Acts  2:44-46 
There are so many examples of how important it was to be with other people, to encourage, to uplift, to share with one another.

Reasons why Community is so important:

1. it’s good for you.

The two verse above tell you how important God thought it was and still is: connecting with others is good for us!  So good that God gave Adam someone because He knew it wasn’t good for him to be a lone ranger. So good for us that in Acts, it’s all we see. People together, spurring each other on. They didn’t just throw around the phrase, “let’s do life together.” They actually did life together! What does that look like today? It means connecting with someone outside of Sunday services and it may feel awkward or strange, uncomfortable. It might mean putting yourself out there, not sure what you will get in return. If you are a person who is used to flying solo, I encourage you to step out of the comfort zone and try to connect with someone who will inspire you to be better.

2. it helps you avoid doing stupid things because it gives you accountability.

Accountability. What does that mean? It means someone can call you out on the carpet for how much of a mess you’re being and vice versa. I think this is good to have even outside of your spouse. Yes, I call my husband out all the time and he does the same for me when I need it! Outside of each other, we have pastors and Godly leadership who will let us know about ourselves. This makes us better people and helps us avoid stupid mistakes!

Proverbs 18:1 One who has isolated himself seeks his own desires; he rejects all sound judgment.

People who cut themselves off from others are looking after what they want and don’t want to listen to other people. In easy terms, it means you’re being selfish. I have found myself in this trap at times! It’s that phrase “I’m gonna do me! I’m pursuing what I want and forget about everyone else…pursuing my dreams…” you’ll basically hear a lot of me me me and my my my with something missing. That something missing is: What does God actually want from you? When you are tempted to say, “FORGET YOU WORLD!” be reminded of Proverbs. It’ll reel you back in.

3. it helps you slay life.

The verse that Jose and I used at our wedding was this one:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9,12 

Having people behind you will strengthen you and help you succeed! If you’re trying to do everything on you’re own, you become really vulnerable to attacks: spiritually, emotionally, and in so many ways.

4. it’s encouraging.

Having a solid group of awesome people is encouraging because you are constantly inspiring one another to do better and be better. Look at what it says in Hebrews: DON’T STOP MEETING TOGETHER AND ENCOURAGING EACH OTHER! Keep at it! Atta girl! Or boy! In fact, let’s think about how we can motivate one another to love each other and to do great things. I can dig it!

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 

5. you have someone else to carry your burdens.

This is probably my absolute favorite part when it comes to community: people who will not only walk alongside you when stuff hits the fan but will actually help you carry that heavy load. In times of my life when I felt like I was riding full force on the struggle bus and things in my life were hard, messy, and flat-out awful, I knew I could carry some of my burdens to dear friends who would not just say, “It’s going to be okay” but would actually bear that burden with me. They would cry with me. Sit with me in silence. Laugh with me. I could share it with them knowing that they would pray for me and help me. This has made all the difference in so many of my life circumstances.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” Galatians 6:2-3 

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Can you see the power in COMMUNITY?! Can you see why it’s important to get together with others and actually do life with them? Yes, the phrase can be cheesy but I think it’s important.

When people see me at this stage in my life, I hope they see someone who not only loves community but enjoys bringing others together. For me, this is so important, because I know what it was like to isolate myself when things weren’t going great in my life. It was easy to want to be around people when things were amazing! Who doesn’t want to share when life is fabulous? But when I was going through, my first instinct was to isolate myself and to revert to my introvert ways. I am actually a natural introvert. Ask my parents, look through my childhood pictures. Now though, I like talking and getting to know people. I will ask you questions others are probably afraid to ask.

There is so much amazingness in community and people and if you aren’t experiencing that in full force, pray about it and ask God to help you. Reach out to others. Give people lots of grace. Find a church. Plug in. Find your people. And connect.

 

 

Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos.

My Pastor has been bringing some really powerful truths to our church. For the past month, he’s been doing this awesome series called, “First Things First.” We are on week two of the series and some of the words he spoke felt like a big slap on the face. Not in a bad way, but in a way that shouts: HEY YOU! FIX THIS AREA OF YOUR LIFE.

As I thought this message over, I felt really convicted and challenged as I wrestled with the question of whether or not I’ve been prioritizing God in my life.

  1. Is the Bible the first thing I read?

  2. Is He the first one I talk to (prayer?)

  3. Is He first in every area of my life?

When I answered these questions truthfully and also somewhat begrudgingly, “Well, mostly…” I didn’t like what I saw.

This morning when I felt like stress was trying to strangle me before I even hopped out of the bed, I thought of Psalm 23. I decided to read it.

 “The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalms 23:1-6

As I read the words, I felt stress release its ugly grip. I felt peace as I reminded myself of some powerful truths from this Psalm:

  1. God’s got me. I have everything I need.

  2. I can rest in Him. He is my peace.

  3. God gives me new strength on the daily.

  4. He shows me where I need to go and what I need to do.

  5. When everything goes to hell and I can’t see the light, fear has no place. He is with me.

  6. God has my back. I can cry to him and He’ll comfort me.

  7. He pours out His blessings over me in the face of people who hate me or don’t want me to do well (hint – these are not always clearly seen enemies).

  8. My life OVERFLOWS with blessing.

  9. His goodness and love literally chase after me and will continue to do so as long as I’m alive.

  10. I have eternity with Him.

If you are going through what feels like a trial or just a really tough spot in life, I encourage you to read Psalm 23. This is a Psalm you have heard a million times. You have probably read it so many times, BUT I challenge you to read it with fresh eyes, a fresh heart. Read it out loud. Feel His peace calm you in the middle of a torrent and remind yourself of the promised rest that comes with knowing Christ.

xo – Until Next Time

 

How To Be a Godly Leader According to Proverbs 16

Godly Leadership according to proverbs

I love learning about leadership and how to be a good leader. More importantly, I love learning about how to be a Godly leader.  As a teacher, a worship leader, and a part of the pastoral staff at our church, I constantly want to learn how I can be a better leader and a more effective leader. I love to talk to other leaders and soak in wisdom and listen to their experiences and mistakes.

Tonight when I was doing my study, I was reading through Proverbs 16. I’m doing a Bible Reading Plan where you go through Proverbs and Psalms multiple times throughout the year. Because I’m in my second round of reading through Proverbs in order, I like to switch through different versions. I decided to read through Proverbs 16 in The Message version and imagine my delight when I came across verse after verse with clear guidelines for leadership. As clear as night and day. I thought I would share. Being a leader is a huge responsibility and healthy leadership is really important. How do you know what healthy leadership and most importantly, BIBLICAL leadership should look like? Look at the word of God. Let’s take a look.

Here are some guidelines of what a Godly Leader Looks like According to proverbs 16:
  1. “A good leader motivates, doesn’t mislead, doesn’t exploit.” Proverbs 16:10

A godly leader will be a person that is constantly motivating you and challenging you. Good leaders will call out the best in you, and will also hold you accountable and be truthful. I love how it says they won’t mislead you or exploit you. In other words, a good leader shouldn’t USE you. If a person is only interested in your talents and abilities but doesn’t care about you as a person – run. You will see this if they drop you like a sack of hot potatoes once you are no longer useful to them.

2. “Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds; sound leadership has a moral foundation.” Proverbs 16:12

Godly leaders should have a solid moral life. This means they should hate evil. They should hate it enough to call it out. Also, if you are a leader you should be living a life of morality on and off the platform. Who cares if you can fool people when you can’t fool God? #moralitymatters

3. “Good leaders cultivate honest speech; they love advisors who tell them the truth.” Proverbs 16:13

Leaders should speak TRUTH and should love to hear TRUTH. Honesty is important as a leader. This means you have to be willing to speak truth, even if it hurts, even if it’s unpopular. On the other side of it, you should be able to listen to advisors and people who will do the same for your life. I’m extremely wary of people who refuse to listen to others and think they have all the answers. The Bible speaks repeatedly in listening to godly counsel from others, so as a leader – take it to heart and if you’re under leadership that won’t listen to others, that’s not biblical or wise.

4. “An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives; you’re smart to stay clear of someone like that.” Proverbs 16:14

Intemperate means a person who doesn’t have control. A godly leader should be self-controlled. A person who flies off the handle and lacks restraint is a person who can bring many lives to ruin. I have personally known people who have no control and who literally have ruined relationships, jobs, and anything good that was going for them. This doesn’t mean that a leader has to be 100% perfect. Trust me, it’s quite the opposite. But if a person is consistently living of a life that has zero control – stay clear!

5. “Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives; they’re like spring rain and sunshine.” Proverbs 16:15

Probably my favorite verse in this chapter. This goes along with the previous verse: a person that’s good tempered will add to your life. They will strengthen your life, energize it, add to it. A Godly leader will do just that – invigorate, strength, and add to the lives of those around them. Unhealthy leadership is a leader who drains the life from those around them. Instead of spring rain, they are more like clouds and storms. Ask yourself if you are bringing something to the table that adds to the lives of those you have the opportunity to influence and impact.

This is just what Proverbs 16 had to say about leadership. The Bible has a plethora of crystal clear guidelines on what leadership looks like according to a biblical standard. As a leader, we need to adhere to these standards. As a person under leadership, know the word and know what God looks for in leaders. I wanted to share because I loved how The Message wrote so clearly about it. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts!

 

How to Trust God When It’s Hard

Have you ever been in a season of your life where your future seems so uncertain? You are trying to look a few steps ahead but can’t even see what’s in front of you? You feel anxiety creeping in, doubt screaming in your face, and fear threatening to consume you? Maybe you find yourself in a situation you simply don’t understand? How do we trust God when it seems hard?

I’ve been there! I’ve said the words, “God – I want to trust You. But it’s hard.” Yet, I recognize that true peace and freedom is ONLY found in complete and total surrender and trust to God. And it’s not hard.

The question is – how do we do it? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Commit to prayer.

Coming to a place of trusting in God starts with talking to God. Make this a part of your every day life by inviting God into every aspect of Your life. I used to run to my comfort zones when I was stressed out about things and made turning to God secondary, or sometimes the last resort. It was “easier” to distract myself with other things – mindless entertainment, hanging out with friends, shopping, etc. Yet, the end result of that was pain for me because it always left me desensitized and apathetic.

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

Commit to prayer when you feel like running or turning the television on. Have an honest and open conversation with God – He hears you, He cares.

2. Commit to His word.

Commit to reading the Bible every day. Replace checking your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and all of the like with opening the YouVersion Bible App. The more you do it, the more habitual it will become. Seek HIS truth. If you are in a place where you need answers or guidance, there is no more solid place than the Word of God to start with.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – Psalm 119:105

God’s word will give You clear direction and guidance.

3. Commit to spending time with people who will build your faith.

I learned this the hard way. The worst thing you can do when you are struggling with trusting God is to surround yourself with people who are in a similar boat. NO.

Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you. – 1 Corinthians 14:33

Surround yourself with people who will speak life, encouragement, and faith over you. Spend time with people who will remind you of all that God has done in Your life. Go out for coffee for a friend who will pray WITH you and remind you of God’s wisdom and promises.

4. Commit to remembering what God’s done in Your life.

I recently heard in a message, “Sometimes you need to recount the victories.” It resonated in my heart because it’s something that God reminded me I need to do! Take a minute to remember all of the amazing things God has done in your life. You’re still breathing aren’t you? There are times where we look back and can so clearly see God’s hand of protection over us, perhaps we remember His clear guidance or direction on a topic. REMEMBER these things. The same God that’s taken care of you then, is the same God watching over you now.

Our Lord, I will remember the things you have done, your miracles of long ago. – Psalm 77:11

Sometimes I read through my prayer journal and am amazed at how many prayer’s God has answered. It’s encouraging!

5. Commit to worship.

I was listening to a worship song and the singer said, “Don’t let fear steal your song.” Those words landed on my heart with a thud. I was so worried and letting anxiety consume me, that I didi just that. I stopped worshipping God and started focusing on my problems. When we worship God, we take the focus off of ourselves and onto HIM. We take the focus off of our problems and worries and onto HIM. I don’t know what worship looks like to you, but to me it’s putting on some worship songs and sitting on the floor, listening, praying, singing…walking around. I look at these songs as more than just a song – declarations they are. Of my total trust in Him.

6. Commit to surrender.

This means that we let go our fears and worries and we literally give them over to God completely. We recognize that we have no control and God has all of the control. We recognize that at the end of it all, God opens the right doors and closes the wrong ones.

Surrender to God All-Powerful! You will find peace and prosperity. – Job 22:21

A surrendered life is a peaceful life.

7. Commit to trusting Him.

Wait, is this a trick  Nope. It’s not. How do we trust God when it’s hard? We trust Him. Even when it’s hard. We just DO. We know He holds our time in His hands, our life in His hands. We know that if he cares about the birds, how much more does He care about us? We know we can trust Him. So trust Him.

Thanks for stopping by and reading a topic that’s been so close to my heart lately because God has been working with ME in this area. Until next time!

 

 

 

Why Giving is SO Important

livinggenerouslygraphicLately, God has been teaching me about giving. Through different people, through His word, through different sermons, through hard life lessons.

The conclusion that I’ve come to is – GIVING IS ALWAYS GOOD. GIVING IS RIGHT. BE GENEROUS.

We reap what we sow. It’s a biblical principle. Check it out:

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Why should we give? Why should we live lives of generosity?

  1. The bible tells us to.
  2. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.
  3. God is able to bless us and make sure we have all we need. *Note that needs and wants are different!*

We DO NOT give because…

  1. We want something in return.
  2. We feel forced and want to check it off the list.
  3. We want the pride, affirmation, accolades that come with giving.

We don’t give with an attitude either. “Okay, God. I’ve given so this is what I want…” God is not a genie. If you want a genie, check out Aladdin. We give to others because God has given to us so freely. First, we have salvation and it’s something completely FREE. God loves us and we don’t have to earn His love. We can’t buy our way into heaven or into His promises. But when we give, we are so richly blessed.

We should give AT ALL TIMES, even when it’s really hard!

But my spouse lost his job. We are really tight right now.

GIVE.

But I am single parent struggling to make ends meet.

GIVE.

But I’m going through a really hard time in life right now.

GIVE.

I’m speaking to this because I have been there. We have been in situations where we have been on one income. We have been in situations where we have watched the lives of our children flash before our eyes. We have been in situations where people have hurt us. Nonetheless, I have experienced the overflow of God’s blessings every single time without fail when we have been consistent in giving. We have always experienced his provision. We have never been without what we have needed.

Giving should flow from a heart that is willing and pure. If you are ever in a place or even a church where people are guilting/coercing/begging you into giving, RUN! It needs to come from a heart that wants to be generous because in the end, YOUR HEART IS WHAT MATTERS THE MOST. If you give with a crappy attitude, you might as well not give. I think motive matters greatly.

Can I give you examples of how God has provided for us through challenging times?

  1. When the boys were sick as preemies and I had to take a longer maternity leave without any disability, God used a blogger friend to supply a case of expensive formula Micah needed just when we ran out. Formula landed on my doorstep from TEXAS. During that time we also received random checks in the mail, hand me downs from others, even a check from the mortgage company. God took care of us.
  2. At the end of my school year, after my long maternity leave, I had a crazy check come in (by the thousands) that was completely unexpected to the point where I e-mailed my HR director asking her about it. She explained how it was rightfully mine, even though I couldn’t believe it! I don’t even remember her explanation, all I remember is being so grateful.
  3. When my husband left the only job he ever had for over ten years, God opened up a door for him with a job where he eventually became a real estate agent, which has been a huge blessing for our family.
  4. When my husband was in a sudden transition between brokerages, God used someone anonymous to supply us with a $500 grocery gift card and $250. This is all without us asking or even announcing it (our Pastor mentioned it at the end of a Sunday service, our church responded by being generous…anonymously! We are grateful to be part of this kind of church.)

HE HAS ALWAYS TAKEN CARE OF US WITHOUT FAIL. Everything I have I owe to Him. Therefore, I can give to others and live generously!

The Bible tells us this story of Jesus sitting down in the temple watching everyone give. All these rich people are throwing in tons of money. Then, all of a sudden, this widow comes up and she drops in two coins only worth a few cents. Jesus points her out and says, Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

This tells us Jesus isn’t impressed by a monetary amount. You can’t buy your way in. This woman gave from the depths of her heart because she literally gave all that she had. Jesus essentially says, “Hey guys! This widow here? She nailed it. She gets what it means to give.”

I want to be like her. I haven’t always lived generously, but I have come a long way and want to continue to grow in this.

Look out for part 2 – What Giving Looks Like, where you’ll find practical applications and ideas/thoughts on how to give. 

 

 

God’s Grace in parenting.

 

God'sgrace

Some days I feel like  I need an extra dose of God’s grace when it comes to parenting.

Do you ever have moments where you are impatient with your little ones? Annoyed? Frustrated? Visualize me answering this question with my hands up, jumping up and down, all while shouting, “oooohhhh MEEEEE! YES! YES!” Am I alone in this?

Do you ever have days where sometimes your impatience or annoyance shines through? Or when you want to shout back, “NO, I DON’T WANT TO SHARE!” and throw an adult tantrum towards your toddler? Or maybe even a time where you have snapped, blown a fuse, or had a melt down? I have a feeling I’m not alone. Because after all, we are parents. And if you are a parent of multiples, you probably feel this even more so.

Right now the boys are at an age that I actually LOVE, but there are also some things that I don’t love. For example:

  • Tantrums – I get it. You don’t want it. Geeze.
  • The word no on speed dial and repeat – I’m convinced one of my boys has selected that word as his favorite in spite of his rich vocabulary of other words that are more magical and wonderful than the dreaded “no.” YES. How about that kid?!
  • Pickiness – grilled cheese, pizza, eggs. All of the ingredients for a well-rounded diet in the eyes of my toddlers. One of my guys will actually smell it, stick it in his mouth very briefly, and then say “No. I don’t want it.”

And in these moments where I want to scream, pull out my hair, or curl up in a corner and cry. I need His grace. Outside of these moments, I still need His grace. Parenting my boys is TOO PRECIOUS of a job to do without it. I need it daily.

Every day I reflect and think – “Wow. God chose ME to be the momma of these two precious guys. He knew that I would have what it takes. That I would have what these boys needed from a mom.”

I am overwhelmed by the privilege and honor it is to be a mother and to have a job that is so important: molding and shaping these guys into men of God who love Him relentlessly. And I am thankful for God’s grace to do it.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. – Ephesians 4:7

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. – 1 Corinthians 12:9