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Sticks and Stones…but Words Never Hurt?

Last week we noted that 51% of mainline pastors are thinking of calling it quits according to Barna! Obviously, that reality cuts deeply in this audience and spares few.

Remember the childhood proverb?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Well, they do hurt! They have an erosive effect. And, judging by a myriad of conversations, there’s been a cumulative effect on leading over the last 21 months.

One pastor simply said: “I feel like I’ve been leading with a target on my back.”

I promised you last week a weekly reference to the “flourishing in ministry blog series” from a few years ago. Take a look at “Flourishing in Ministry…It’s All About Relationships.”

Allow me to share some words of hope to you with Christmas just a couple days away.

When the shepherds heard the angels and saw the baby Jesus…they spread the word about it!

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Luke 2:17-18

Jesus is the Word. (John 1)

God spoke to us through Jesus!

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.

Hebrews 1:1-2

And after a sinless life, Jesus was sacrificed on a cross where He heard no words! And Jesus spoke into the silence: “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”

The ultimate silent treatment! No words. Punished for you. For me. 

And at Easter? Peace! 

At Easter? “As the Father sent me, so I send you.”

And maybe, for all of the leaders in this community who have been hurt by the words of others, come the words: “You are my beloved child with whom I am well pleased.”

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 

Romans 8:16

Make no mistake, we have our share of shortcomings.

I sometimes think back and wish I could coach my 40- or 45-year-old self to listen differently. To lead differently. To listen to the voice of the One and not be so concerned with pleasing others.

So, as Christmas is upon us, know that you are loved and valued in the PLI family.

Take advantage of the resources offered last week.

A request: 

If you value the work we do in training leaders for the sake of the mission around the globe and across the United States, would you join in making a year-end gift today? Your gift, large or small, will help us confidently invest in leaders as 2022 begins.

Two invitations:

Join us on January 19 at 10 am CT for a webinar with Rev. Paul and Beth Schuldt. They’ll share about why they almost quit the ministry, and how they kept going. Register here.

I went back recently and watched the announcement of our companion ministry Multipli. Take a minute to watch it again. Gail will encourage you! And, could I suggest that you put a reminder on your January 3, 2022, calendar to invite a dozen or so of your friends to check out Genesis Leader. So that the shepherds’ spreading the words of Jesus is not just Christmas preaching rhetoric, but they become the forerunners of lots of good news tellers who grow from lacking competence and confidence to being fearless impact makers!

Investing in the people of God for the mission of God is fundamental to addressing the malaise of the day.

4 Responses

  1. Arik Johnson says:

    I enjoyed that message… for quite awhile now I’ve been meditating on the reality that, while all opinions are valuable, only One really ever matters. Living to please the Lord (and impress oneself) seldom fails to garner recognition from your peers. Maranatha! And peace in the New Year.

  2. Brian Edward Downs says:

    Dear Friends:

    Thank you for this correspondence. It was very encouraging during a period of transition that my congregation is going through along with me and a dedicated staff and leadership. I will be among the 51% by the end of February not by sticks or stones but by a broken heart and damaged mind. I suffered an irreversible heart attack (coded 4x for over 48 minutes) two days after Easter in 2020. Though I returned miraculously to serve as Senior Pastor by August of the same year…over time I realized that the demands for ministry will cost me more than I am able to give. therefore, I will transition (exit) from the ministry and seek to serve in other ways. I was hopeful to travel out to Best Practices this winter but will not be able to make the trip. I do keep in touch with the BP emails and have enjoyed the encouragement they deliver. As a pastor, I am in a good place, the people here have been amazing. And my colleagues and staff…exceptional. I must be among the blessed and fortunate pastors. No sticks and stones here….I am being showered with the mercy, grace, compassion, and love of Jesus daily. Thanks be to God! Brian

    • Gail & Jock Ficken says:

      Brian. Thanks for sharing your powerful story. So appreciate the difficult journey and celebrate the embrace of the congregation.

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