Tag Archives: encouragement

Party Afterthoughts

Xmas White Elephant 2012Last evening, my wife and I hosted our annual staff and spouses Christmas party (it could have been called the Epiphany party since Epiphany is tomorrow, January 6th). As we broke bread together and enjoyed a wonderful time of opening strange and bizarre” White Elephant” gifts, I felt a surge of pride and joy. How blessed I am to work with such talented, committed and compassionate people.

Many members of a congregation have an imperfect view of what working at a church is like. Some have a very pious view, that a church staff is engaged in Bible study and prayer all the time. Others may think that we are only really working on Sunday during worship and maybe also on Wednesdays when we have confirmation and music practice. A few may think we simply sit around and “shoot the breeze.”

First off, most of the staff at Resurrection is part-time, less than twenty hours a week. They are hard-working, trying to capitalize on their few hours for the sake of our mission. They recruit volunteers, plan events, communicate with members, organize activities. They plan budgets and try to do creative ministry with limited resources. They also see the “sinful” side of life as well. They often have to deal with the disappointments, stress and complaints that come in any human organization. As Paul states in Romans 12:15, we rejoice with those who rejoice, but we also weep with those who weep.

The staff also meets as a team to plan how we can be effective in the mission of Resurrection Lutheran Church: to call all people to a Vibrant Life of Faith in Christ. At our staff meetings we do study the Bible and pray for our members. This year the staff has embraced a team goal. Our team goal for 2013 is to creatively boost our Sunday average worship attendance from our present average of 286 to 309, a rise of 8 percent next year.

Staff photo

Back row: Brad Kolstad, John Keller, Larry Fredin; Front row: Betsy Hickey, Hannah Koehler, Sue Guck, Sarah Storvick. Missing: Diana Cammack and Becky Bennett

I am so thankful for the staff with whom I work. Like most church staff, they are not doing it for the “big bucks” (no one goes into non-profit work for huge salaries) but they feel called and honored to serve among God’s people at Resurrection. They know that much of their work will not be recognized or thanked, but still they give and give and give.

For those of you who read this blog and are part of Resurrection, I encourage you to discover specific ways you can say “thank you” to your staff. As pastor I receive many affirmations that rightfully belong to my co-workers. If you are a member of a different congregation, I encourage you as well to give affirmation and encouragement to the staff who serve in whatever congregation you worship. As Paul also wrote, Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing (I Thessalonians 5:11).

Lord Jesus, thank you for those who labor for the sake of your kingdom.

Nurturing Encouragement

This morning Seth Godin, a marketing guru and writer, wrote on his blog about “Turning the habit of self-criticism upside down.”   In it he wrote,

  When reviewing just about anything you’ve done with yourself (in your head), the instinct is to be brutal, relentlessly critical and filled with doubt and self-blame.

When talking to ourselves, what if we were a little more supportive?

I identify with this self-criticism habit and know others who do so as well.   It is so easy to find fault with one’s self. 

One habit that helps me turn off that “critical inner voice” is to provide encouragement and support to others.   To turn from inward to outward, to turn from self-criticism to praising others.

St. Barnabas the day after he split with St. Paul

My Biblical model for this is Barnabas, a little known early church leader.  He is first mentioned in Acts 4:36.  His original name was Joseph; he was Jewish religious official from the island of Cyprus.  On his conversion to faith in Jesus he sold a piece of property that he owned and gave it to the church.   He was quickly renamed Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” because he so freely support others.   He supported Paul after his rocky conversion.  Paul had first persecuted the church and the early leaders were skeptical of Paul’s conversion.   Barnabas stood by him as a kind of sponsor/mentor.  Barnabas accompanied Paul during their first missionary journey (Acts 13:2) and the great council in Jerusalem (Acts 15).  Then Barnabas was willing to split with Paul when Barnabas wanted to encourage and support John Mark in spite of John Mark’s spotty record.   Barnabas lived a vibrant life of encouragement and exhortation.

I have discovered my own need to have several “Barnabas” in my life.  My colleague and friend, Pastor John Straiton, has always given me passionate support during my ministry, both by prayer and encouraging words.  My friend Tim has kept my running and biking in spite of injuries and struggles.  And many members and friends of Resurrection have given me words of encouragement and support in my first months here. I am so thankful for these gifts.

How do you give encouragement to others or yourself?