Category Archives: Shepherd’s Care

Shepherd’s Care: The Jesus Pattern–The One We Need

Jesus had a clear pattern for his life and ministry.  Luke described it in 5:15-16, “Huge crowds gathered to listen and to be healed of their illnesses.  But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.” His pattern was a … Continue reading

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In-Sight: From Fear to Love

​This is the final “In-Sight” post for this year.  It resumes on Monday, January 7th.  Since I have written about love in the last two “In Sight” posts, I thought I would conclude the year with another one. __________________________________ For … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Time To Be Respectful

This is the final “Shepherd’s Care” post for 2018.  It will resume on January 4th, and the series about time and ministry will continue. _________________________ If indeed time is the precious commodity of our time, we must not only be … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Time To Pay Attention

​Earbuds may go down in history as one of the most insidious devices ever invented.  They draw us away from the world in which we are present into some other world. That other world may be a good one, but … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Time To Be With God

​In his book, ‘Working the Angles,’ Eugene Peterson noted that among all the expectations placed upon him by his congregation and denomination, there was not an expectation that he pray.  It was assumed that he did (and of course, he … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Time–the Inescapable Fact

​My conversations with pastors over the years have revealed that the feeling of not having enough time is a major cause of both frustration and freneticism.  The nagging feeling that there is too much to do and too little time … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Becoming Unnecessary

The title still stops me in my tracks: ‘The Unnecessary Pastor.’ [1]  It still cuts against the grain of my ego despite my agreement with the focus of the book and its effort to get us clergy off center stage, … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Small Churches?

​While in college and seminary, I pastored several small churches.  And after graduating from seminary, I was appointed to serve another one.  Like other small-church pastors, I was tempted to buy into the “bigger is better” view, but I am … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: From Impact to Investment

​Last week, we looked at what Eugene Peterson calls “the pastor’s question.”  It is the question that moves clergy from impact to investment.  It is a question churches can also ask to move themselves the same way.  Re-worded for the … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Pastor’s Question

​I have benefited from the insights of Eugene Peterson in many ways, but none more than from what he calls “the pastor’s question.”  He wrote the book, ‘The Contemplative Pastor’ to explore the question in detail, but here is the question … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Self-Care

​I cannot resume this series without moving quickly to commend the practice of self-care.  Ministry is a people-oriented vocation, and as we give substantial amounts of time and energy to the service of others, we can easily neglect to nourish … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Ministry of Small Talk

With this post, I resume the “Shepherd’s Care” category, with occasional posts meant especially for clergy.  The post below re-opens the series, providing an indication of the vantage point from which I will be writing this time around.  Previous posts … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Moving to NewPastors

Here’s the final reminder that the weekly (Wednesday) “Shepherd’s Care” post will now be found at the new blog:  NewPastors (www.newpastors.wordpress.com).  The first post in this new location will be Wednesday, February 6th.  NewPastors launches this Friday, February 1st at 1:00 … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Moving to a New Site

If you read the “First Day” posting on the 14th, you already know that the “Shepherd’s Care” weekly post will move to the new blogsite (NewPastors), when it begins on February 1st.  The first posting for “Shepherd’s Care” will be … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: On Hold for Now

The weekly “Shepherd’s Care” posting is still taking a break.  You’ll receive new information about it in the January “First Day” post (which is now scheduled for January 14th at 7:00 p.m.) and also on January 16th at the regularly-scheduled … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: On Hiatus

The weekly “Shepherd’s Care” posting is on hiatus for a while.  A larger discernment process is under way about ministry-related material, and the “Shepherd’s Care” category may merge into it. Each Wednesday, I’ll provide you with an update, so you … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Vision (5)

There is so much more we could say about visions and about visionary leadership, but I’ll conclude the present exploration with two closing comments…. First, some have mistakenly believed that visions can only come through the designated leader.  I know … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Vision (4)

Often in the Shepherd’s Care weekly posting, we have pointed to the necessity of character and integrity in ministry.  I want to use today’s post to connect that conviction with our exploration of vision. In My Utmost for His Highest, … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Vision (3)

The two preceding postings about “Vision” have nailed down the fact that the Source of every vision is God.  In fact, if the vision comes from us, we’re in trouble—because, if nothing else, we’ll attribute something to God that may … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Vision (2)

I think there are four key dimensions to a vision—not four separated visions, but four dynamics at work to produce an abiding sense of vision in us… First, a foundational vision.  We sometimes call it a dream.  We can see … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Vision (1)

We have come to the final category we’re using to explore the vocation of ordained/professional ministry. We spoke of the “ingredients” for vocational ministry:  values, call, and mission. We then moved on to look at the “integrity” for vocational ministry:  … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Morality

We’re exploring the subject of integrity as it relates to the vocation of ministry.  Clearly, we are doing little other than scratching the surface on huge issues that can make or break us, and our ministries.  But perhaps even a … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Bedrock of Character

We’re continuing our exploration of the ethical dimensions of vocational ministry.  If we give ourselves to “the virtues” (essentially understood as the fruit of the Spirit), those qualities of life produce character in us. Character is the word we use … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Necessity of Virtue

We’ve been looking at some of the key “ingredients” in a ministry based upon a vocational paradigm rather than a professional one.  Our location, values, humanity, and giftedness combine to give us a sense of mission. But “ingredients” are not … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Ingredients (2)

The ingredients of our mission include more than geography.  They include bearing witness to the two great commandments:  loving God and loving others. As I have understood this more and more over the years, it’s amazing how both the message … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The “Ingredients” of Our Call

Over the years, I have found Acts 1:8 to be useful in periodically reviewing my calling.  Last week, we shared the three levels of calling, but those levels must be lived in various “locations”—Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Call and Mission

When we are in touch with our values, our humanity, and the centrality of God (via gifts and graces), we may begin to sense “where” God is leading us, and “what” we are being called to be and do.  In … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Call and God

We did not speak last week of the call and humanity because it’s more important than the call and God.  We spoke of it, because we are tempted to skip over the human factor and make our call exclusively “supernatural.” … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Call and Humanity

Our exploration of personal and congregational values is one way of showing that God uses our humanity to communicate His call upon our lives.  As Parker Palmer has put it, God takes our lives seriously; so must we. Every aspect … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Congregational Values

As those engaged for the spiritual leadership of communities, we can never limit our understanding of values to those that we hold personally.  We must realize that we move into communities that have corporate values. Sometimes we learn this the … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Vocational Perspective (5)

One of the maxims of the spiritual life is that God uses everything and wastes nothing.  Parker Palmer has said essentially the same thing in his book, Let Your Life Speak, when he writes that God takes our lives seriously, … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Vocational Perspective (4)

I want to spend another week on the relationship between vocation and location, sharing with you a mistake I made early on in my ministry—a mistake that I continue to see made all over the place today.  It is the … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: A Vocational Perspective (3)

Living vocationally is not something abstract or detached.  When our ministry is rooted in God—when belonging to Jesus and listening to him is our primary understanding of vocation, we find that one of the first things he tells us is … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: A Vocational Perspective (2)

The word “vocation” comes from the same root that give us the word “vocal.”  The simplest way to understand vocation is to realize that someone else is speaking.  This puts us into an immediate listening mode. One of the biblical … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: A Vocational Perspective

I’ve decided to make the next theme what we might call “Practical Formation”—a comparatively loose arrangement of postings, all of which have a bent toward helping shape our ministries in a down-to-earth way.  I want to begin with what I’m … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: “Messy Ministry” (2)

Beyond the usual wear-and-tear of messy ministry, we have to also factor in the inevitable loss of “heroes.”   Even those who have significantly influenced us will eventually let us down somehow or other.  And whether we like it or not, … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: “Messy Ministry” (1)

I’m glad to read that some of you have benefitted from our extended exploration of “the downward spiral” which I originally picked up from Dr. Archibald Hart.  If you want to track more of his thinking along similar lines, I’d … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Ancient Vigil

We’ve spent five weeks looking at “The Downard Spiral”—the journey from vitality to anxiety, which can overtake those of us in spiritual leadership.  I thought it would be good for us to see that this tendency is not new.  In … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Downward Spiral (5)

If we do not tend to burnout, we fall to the final level in Dr. Archibald Hart’s “downward spiral”—depression. To briefly summarize, we move from Stress (“I can handle it”), to Fatigue (“I cannot handle it”), and then to Burnout … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Downward Spiral (4)

If we do not deal with fatigue we spiral downward into burnout. I misunderstood burnout for a while.  I thought of it as a loss of ability, but that’s not what it is.  It is a loss of interest.  We … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Downward Spiral (3)

If we do not acknowledge and deal with stress, we move downward to the second level, fatigue. Instead of feeling energized and sufficient, we feel drained and depleted.  The trouble is, by the time we pay attention to the fact … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Downward Spiral (2)

The first step in the downward spiral for Archibald Hart is stress. So much has been written on this subject that we may feel we’re experiencing information overload, but please don’t bypass today’s posting in favor of your previous knowledge. According … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The “Downward Spiral” (1)

Being part of a loss-prone vocation puts us on what Hart called “the downward spiral.”  We must spend time looking carefully at what this is. Generally speaking it is the degenerative experience (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social) that occurs when … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: A Loss-Prone Vocation

You may notice that I occasionally refer to Dr. Archibald Hart in my writing about ministry and stress.  Dr. Hart taught for many years at Fuller and was a great help to countless clergy in my generation.  I believe he … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Missing the Way

We make a mistake in thinking that “hurry sickness” (Archibald Hart’s term) is a modern phenomenon.  About 3,000 years ago, Solomon wrote, “he who makes hast with his feet misses the way” (Proverbs 19:2). “Busyness” is a state of mind, … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Violence of Activism

In his classic work, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Thomas Merton captured the essence of the problem when we violate the pace of grace… There is a pervasive form of violence…activism and overwork. (p. 86) These words were written more … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Pace of Grace

I want to return to a theme I’ve noted previously, but this time I want to spend an extended period of time in relation to it.  The theme is “Renewing the Pace of Grace.” The phrase ‘pace of grace’ came … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: I Am My Spirituality

Today, we conclude our examination of a few selected “I am” statements that shape our lives and ministries.  The point of the past few weeks has not been to be comprehensive, but rather to illustrate the fact that (as Henri … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: I Am My Selections

We are continuing to look at a few of the key elements that shape our lives and our ministries.  We have considered the roles that personhood and location play.  Today, we turn to the shaping power of our choices. None … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: I Am My Situation

One of the mistakes I made early in my ministry was to unintentionally think that all places are pretty much alike.  We had experienced some really good things in one church, so when we moved to the next one, I … Continue reading

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