Encouragement for Pastors and Those Who Care for Them

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29. The Dreamer

If you’ve listened to the previous two episodes, you know that I have issues with the expectations that American corporate leadership culture has placed upon pastors. Some fit easily within the roles defined for them, they become growth visionaries and ministry strategists. As my dad, a carpenter used to say, “they fit like they growed there.”

But many of us don’t fit. Not in the way we are supposed to. And that is okay. I want to free us from those expectations. But once freed, what then?

In this episode I invite pastors to dream. Freed from the cultural expectations what might your vision, your real, deep, heartfelt vision for ministry be? That will be what will make your heart flourish in ministry.


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EPISODE NOTES

Notes and resources relevant to this episode:

Harrison Scott Key, Congratulations, Who Are You Again?: A Memoir, (United States: Harper Perenial, 2018), p. 87.


Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

28. The Planner

I know that though I write with pastors in mind, not all of you are pastors. I’m actually glad for that, and particularly as we address the idea of just what the pastor is to be.

Christian culture, we noted last time, says that we are to be visionaries who lead our churches to growth. While there is some way in which we are visionaries, the way it is framed tends to cause us to become more managers and strategists than shepherds.

I want to free pastors to be more the pastor than, as we consider in this episode, “The Planner.” For that to occur, the expectations of both pastor and congregation need to change.


Thanks for listening. You can help support this podcast by dropping a few coins in our tip jar. Thanks!

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Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

27. The Visionary

Mike Cosper’s Christianity Today podcast, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” has been both fascinating and troubling.

One of the themes of the podcast is the corrosive impact of the American love affair with growth. Size validates everything and covers a multitude of sins. And no matter how easy it is to mock Mars Hill Church, that conviction never goes away.

This idea that Pastors are supposed to grow churches will occupy us for a few weeks.

I should add that Cosper closes out his final episode with Over the Rhine’s “All My Favorite People Are Broken,” the song with which we open every episode of Greatheart’s Table.

What can I say? It’s a great song. I’m glad others think so as well.

Welcome to the table as we consider the pastor as “The Visionary.”


Thanks for listening. You can help support this podcast by dropping a few coins in our tip jar. Thanks!

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EPISODE NOTES

Notes and resources relevant to this episode:

James Emory White, “The Two Kinds of Church Leaders: The Rancher-Shepherd Divide


Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

26. Groupies vs. Mentees

Thanks for checking in here at Greatheart’s Table. One of the things that I love about the metaphor of a ‘table’ is the way it suggests conversation. Obviously, direct and immediate conversation cannot happen, but I’m very interested in your responses, your questions, your pushback even, to what I say. My email address is in the show notes below, and I’d love to hear from you.

This week’s episode is in response to a question generated by my previous thoughts regarding Christians as groupies. The question was a good one which has let me to consider the difference that exists between “Groupies and Mentees.” I’d love to hear what you think.


Thanks for listening. You can help support this podcast by dropping a few coins in our tip jar. Thanks!

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EPISODE NOTES

Notes and resources relevant to this episode:

The print version of the referenced episode is here.
The audio version is here or wherever you find your podcasts.

“Mentee” is indeed a word meaning, not surprisingly, “a person who is advised, trained, or counseled by a mentor.”

I once was in the same room with John Stott, but so were twenty thousand others at the Urbana Missionary Convention in 1978. I don’t think he noticed me.

Those who attract groupies thrive on gaining and keeping followers. Mentors, distant ones included, actually thrive on losing them. In the wonderful streaming television series Ted Lasso, the generous and insightful Leslie Higgins observes that “A good mentor hopes you move on. A great mentor knows you will.”


Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

25. Run, Pastor, Run

One of the goals we have here is to take pressure off pastors to perform. We want pastors to feel free to love their people and use the gifts they have for God and his kingdom without the unrealistic expectations that have encrusted ministry and made it impossible for most of us.

As such we don’t want to add responsibility to an already over-crowded set of expectations. But what if there were something we could add that in the long run would make the whole more doable? That would be something worth doing, and so this episode is titled, “Run, Pastor, Run.”


Thanks for listening. You can help support this podcast by dropping a few coins in our tip jar. Thanks!

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EPISODE NOTES

Notes and resources relevant to this episode:

Letters of Samuel Rutherford (United States: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1984), p. ii.

The Podcast with Adam Alter is here.
Psychologist Alter is Professor of Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business and the author of the book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2.


Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

24. Futility Is Resistible

I have spent the past several episodes talking about staying and leaving ministry and I wasn’t going to say anymore. But given my own experience of futility, joined with the publication of a couple of intriguing essays in The Atlantic, I wanted to make sure that I had taken seriously the current pressure on ministry. My heart here is to express that contrary to reason, and to the Borg, “Futility Is Resistible.”


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EPISODE NOTES

Notes and resources relevant to this episode:

Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (United States: Scribner, 2015), page 244.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/10/church-pandemic/620496/

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/10/evangelical-trump-christians-politics/620469/

References to Elijah come from 1 Kings 19.

Though “the Borg” is a Star Trek reference, it has an older provenance. The phrase shows up with reference to the Roman Empire in the movie Ben-Hur. Messala says to Ben-Hur, “Persuade your people that their resistance to Rome is stupid. It is worse than stupid, futile!”

I believe that Edith Schaeffer develops this image in her book Affliction: A Compassionate Look at the Reality of Pain and Suffering (United States: Baker Books, 2012).


Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

23. Pack It Up and Tear It Down

Hi! Thanks for once again pulling up a chair to Greatheart’s Table. I can’t see you, but knowing you are out there is a wonderful encouragement.

I’ve been addressing questions touching upon longevity in pastoral ministry. If you’d care to comment and add your voice to the conversation, I’d love to hear from you. You can do so using the email address in the show notes.

In this post, the final of three playing off language lifted from Jackson Browne’s album “Running on Empty” we consider a question not often addressed for pastors. When is it time to “Pack It Up and Tear It Down?”


Thanks for listening. You can help support this podcast by dropping a few coins in our tip jar. Thanks!

EPISODE NOTES

Notes and resources relevant to this episode:

Mary Gauthier, Saved By a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting (United States: St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2021), p. 24.

Michael E. Osborne, Surviving Ministry: How to Weather the Storms of Church Leadership (United States: Wipf and Stock, 2016).

“. . . to live is Christ …” – Philippians 1:21

“When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.” (Acts 9:23-25)

Song lyrics as well as the titles of these posts are taken from Jackson Browne’s songs “The Load Out” and “Stay.”


Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

22. Just a Little Bit Longer

Hi! Thanks for joining us around Greatheart’s Table.

We’re currently considering the question of pastoral longevity, which may sound rather dull to most, but it is a question never far from the minds of most pastors I know.

If you find this helpful, please review us and encourage others to listen in. You have no idea how meaningful and important that is.

In this middle post of the three, we explore the question of why it is, when pastoring can be so messy, that we stay. Continuing to riff off Jackson Browne, I’ve titled this one, “Just a Little Bit Longer.”


Thanks for listening. You can help support this podcast by dropping a few coins in our tip jar. Thanks!

EPISODE NOTES

Notes and resources relevant to this episode:

Initial quote is from Eugene Peterson, The Pastor (United States: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011), p. 314, 315.

My reflections here are idiosyncratic and anecdotal. More deeply studied and quantified insight on pastoral sustainability can be found in the superb books Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving by Bob Burns, et. al. and Michael E. Osborne’s Surviving Ministry: How to Weather the Storms of Church Leadership.

Lyrics quoted are from the songs “Stay” and “The Load-Out” from Jackson Browne’s album “Running on Empty,” the title of which, ironically, is resonant of pastoral experience.


Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

21. Oh, Won’t You Stay

Welcome back to Greatheart’s Table.

As this is published three times each month, on the first, second, and fourth Mondays, there are occasional gaps that allow us to catch our breath. I appreciate your patience.

With this post, I begin what is a three part series on pastoral longevity. Whether you are a pastor or not, I hope you find the content helpful. If so, please subscribe to and review the podcast, but even better, encourage others to listen in as well.

We begin by considering why pastors are tempted to leave their churches, in a post entitled, “Oh, Won’t You Stay.”


Thanks for listening. You can help support this podcast by dropping a few coins in our tip jar. Thanks!

EPISODE NOTES

Notes and resources relevant to this episode:

The REAL story of King David on which this story is adapted is found particularly in 2 Samuel 15 and 16.

On pastoral inner voices, Sinclair Ferguson notes this:
“The children of God hear the whispers of the Evil One: ‘Look, you have sinned. You have broken God’s law. You are under condemnation. You are not qualified to be a believer.’ Nor, surely, is there a gospel minister to whom he has not added the words, ‘. . . far less fit to be a pastor.’”
The Whole Christ (United States: Crossway, 2016), p. 133.

David’s song is from Psalm 55:6.


Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

20. Uncommon Sources of Sermonic Wisdom

Though this episode is tilted toward those of us who preach, it nevertheless touches upon resources in which we all can delight. Gather around the table and consider what I call “Uncommon Sources of Sermonic Wisdom.”


Thanks for listening. You can help support this podcast by dropping a few coins in our tip jar. Thanks!

EPISODE NOTES

Notes and resources relevant to this episode:

Timothy Keller and Edmund Clowney, “Preaching Christ in a Post-Modern World,” class notes from Reformed Theological Seminary, 2001, page 41.


Podcast music provided by Over the Rhine, and used with permission.
Intro: “All My Favorite People” / Lyrics
Outro: “Called Home” / Lyrics


Thanks for joining us at The Table.

To find our more about Greatheart’s Table, visit us here.

You can email us at GreatheartsTable@gmail.com.

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