Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Not sure if you are doing a good job at work? You are not alone.

As a chaplain for businesses with Marketplace Ministries, I get to talk to a lot of employees and hear their issues and concerns. Recently one shared that she was very stressed out about her workload.  As I asked a few more questions one issue surfaced that may have been the source of her stress.  She explained that she never really knew whether she was doing a good job.  She just went about her job everyday trying to stay on top of everything.  I could tell that she had very high standards, maybe a little bit of a perfectionist in a job that was difficult to measure success and impossible to be perfect.  She explained that although the company had yearly reviews, she had never received any sort of commendation or even a pat on the back.  The review process mostly focused on what went wrong and the mistakes that were made. 

The conversation sparked an interest in finding out how typical her experience was. I began to ask employees in other companies whether they felt much satisfaction and reward from doing their job and how much positive feedback they received from their supervisors.  I was surprised that most of those I talked to said they received little to no positive feedback and they didn't feel much of a sense of accomplishment in their job beyond a paycheck.  One confided that he just tried to survive until the weekend when he got a couple days off.    

I asked a company's CEO the same question and he confided that it was really difficult to measure success in his job on a daily basis. So, to get immediate satisfaction he would go home and do tasks like chopping wood for firewood. It gave him a sense of accomplishment that he didn't receive at work.  Isn’t it sad that he couldn’t feel good at the end of a day about the work in which he had dedicated his life? 

We are created to be responsible. (Genesis 1:26). We all feel better when we have responsibility and when we take care of what we are responsible for.  And we are happiest when we feel we have done a good job.   Watch this Andy Stanley video concerning our need for fulfillment in our work.  We all have a great need for fulfillment in our jobs and this was confirmed in my informal survey of employees. Almost all said it was extremely important having a feeling of accomplishment and knowing that they were appreciated for the work they did. 
I'd love to hear from others about their work experience.  

As an employee;
  • How often do you receive praise or positive feedback?  
  • How valuable is it to you to get a pat on the back?
  • Does receiving positive impact motivate you to do better?
As an owner, manager, or supervisor;
  • How valuable is it to have employees who are happy or fulfilled in their work?  
  • How do you measure success beyond the bottom line?  
  • How often and how well do you acknowledge your employees or church volunteers for a job well done?
  • How do you celebrate success?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So You Want To Be A Super Pastor?

I have never seen a pastor preach in a superman's outfit, but for many it would be appropriate.  Pastors are often looked up to and expected to be supermen, able to evangelize hundreds of thousands to the Lord, motivate thousands to live righteous lives, counsel hundreds off the brink of despair, shepherd the flock 24/7, break down the Word to help us understand it with remarkable clarity, and visit each and every member when they are in the hospital.  

After all, pastors are super righteous and super spiritual.  They are what we all aspire to be.  The sad truth is, that is what the church has been led to expect.   The problem is, this is a lie and the bigger problem is that pastors oftentimes perpetuate the myth.  The congregation is eager to put the pastor on a pedestal and many times the pastor is willing to climb up there.  

It's not just a problem that the pastor is a poser, leading others to believe they are something they are not, but also that the pastor has to then work to keep up the charade.  This brings an inordinate amount of stress to a job that is stressful already.  It also affects a pastor's spiritual and emotional well being and sets up the pastor for a moral failure or spiritual and/or emotional meltdown.

You see this manifested when a pastor feels as if he is the only one who is able to do the work of the church.  After all, I am super pastor and if I don't do the job, then it won't be done quite as well as it should be done.  The pastor does all the preaching, baptizing, and teaching.  I recently attended a worship service where the pastor led the worship, made the announcements, welcomed the guests and then preached a 45 minute sermon.  What happened to equipping the saints for ministry?

It's understandable that pastors to want to prove themselves to their new church members and so they take on almost everything in their young church, sometimes by necessity.  I've counseled several church planters who were on the verge of a mental and physical breakdown between year 1 and 2 because they were doing so much without much help.  They each shared with me that they felt like they were carrying the church on their shoulders and in reality, they were! When you put yourself on the pedestal and become super pastor, the rest of the flock will be more than willing to sit back and let you do everything.  The ministry won't grow past what you can do or control.  So the stressed out pastor, who is at the end of his rope, knows the church is stagnant and needs to grow but knows he can't add anything else on his plate.  He sees no way out except to give up and close the church.

What's the answer?  Resist the urge to be regarded as super pastor.  Don't allow your congregation to put you on a pedestal.  Be real in your preaching and transparent with your leaders. Be transparent and share your hurts, habits and hangups.  We all have them and by being honest and open, your congregation will be able to identify with you better. You'll be more appealing to those who are searching.  Sure, you may scare away the super righteous ones.  But, like Jesus, those shouldn't be the target of our ministry.  

I counseled each struggling church planter to go to their leadership and church and share how you feel. Admit that you can't do it!  Because you can't do it without God and without the assistance of your church members.  Tell them you desperately need their help.  In every case, when the pastor honestly shared how he felt to his members, the church was excited to step up and help. There was even a sense of revival in some of the churches as a result of the pastor's honesty.  

I quote from the movie, The Devil's Advocate, "Pride is the devil's favorite sin."  It has brought down many men and many good pastors. It can be so subtle but It may be the biggest stumbling block for young pastors trying to grow a church. So many believe they must emulate their super pastor of their past. Recognize your pride for what it is, resist the temptation to put on a cape, and release your members for the ministry.  Train, equip and mentor your leaders and you'll find that many can do the ministry much better than you.  That is the way to grow a healthy and dynamic church and avoid the burnout that so many fall prey to.  

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