Spiritual Life of the Leader - Lesson 15

Crisis is an Opportunity For Spiritual Growth (Part 1/2)

A transcendent crisis is yearning for the “more than.” “Is life meaningful?” “Is God good?” Can I trust my life to God or have I been abandoned by God? An idolatry crisis happens when you run after a passion rather than pursue God. Each person in your sphere of influence is going through crises in their own lives. God can use a crisis to help something in us die so we can experience and share the light of Christ.

Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of the Leader
Lesson 15
Watching Now
Crisis is an Opportunity For Spiritual Growth (Part 1/2)

Crisis is an Opportunity For Spiritual Growth (Part 1)

I. Examples of Crises

A. Psalm 16

B. Teresa of Avila

II. Forced Detachment Crises

A. Death

B. Physical limitations

C. Relational conflicts and meltdowns

D. Addictions

E. Family trauma

F. Political and societal breakdown and wars

III. Transcendant Crises

IV. Danger of an Idolatry Crisis

IV. Ministry Crises

A. Resource crisis

B. Relational crisis

C. Sometimes ministries "ebb"

D. People in your sphere of influence are facing crises in their individual lives

E. Danger of profound fatigue

F. Importance of daily rhythms of life

G. Understand the true nature of crisis

V. Crucifying Epiphany

A. Directives in a Crisis

1. Idolatry must die

2. Is there something to which I have inordinate attachment?

All Lessons
Class Resources
  • Dr. Martyn has surveyed church leaders around the world to understand their responsibilities and pressures. He aims to use his experience to help them develop a model of ministry that encourages spiritual formation, discipleship, and worship in a healthy way. His class is comprehensive on topics such as spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles, and worship. Listening to this class could benefit anyone regardless of whether they have an official leadership position or not.
  • Christian activism is Christians seeking to be involved in the issues and needs of the day and time. Wesleyans in the 1700's in England sought to minister to people that others didn’t care about. To be called by Christ is to be called into the body of Christ. A biblical model is that every member is a full-fledged minister of the gospel without distinction between clergy and laity. 

  • Mysticism can be described as the direct communication of your spirit with the Divine Spirit as taught and illustrated in the New Testament as a fundamental part of Christian belief. Receptivity means that I am open to what the Lord is saying to me through the revelation of his word, the magnificence of his son and the voice of his Spirit which is consistent with the written word. The church was emphasizing what they were doing for God rather than on first listening to what God wants us to be and then acting. Union with our Lord must come before any type of donation or work (kenosis) for our Lord. (Download the complete text of the sermon by clicking on the link on this page or under the Downloads heading on the class page.)

  • Which do you love more, the Lord or the projects you are doing for him? Is your goal to exalt the Lord or build a personal kingdom? Essence of anxiety is whether or not you can trust God. The question to ask when you begin having feelings of self-pity is, “Is you life going to be defined by how you think it ought to go?”  The blame-shame mindset is that you are unhappy because there is something wrong with the people around you. When you experience these red flags in your ministry, you should recognize it as time that it’s possible that the Lord may be prompting you to make a change in your life.The Mary in you must rest at the feet of Jesus if the Martha in you is to do her work.

  • Essence is who the Lord has created you to be. Biblically, essence precedes existence as oppose to Sartre's teaching that man is no more than what he makes of himself. God has given us the capacity of reception, to be able to hear God’s voice and follow it. The spiritual life that God calls you to live is based on what you receive from God, not on what you do for God.

  • How do you determine if your motives are right in your efforts to serve God? The more gifts and talents we have, the more susceptible we are to self-deception regarding our motives. Resist the urge to make pleasing people your primary motivation. You will never please everyone and in the process you lose sight of focusing on pleasing God. When people have expectations of you that don’t match what God has called you to do, there are times when you must, “let Lazarus die.”

  • God wants us to be faithful to the kingdom and his son and fruitful according to his metrics. What’s the goal and what condition do our hearts need to be in to understand the goal? The Mary in us needs to rest at the feet of Jesus in order for the Martha in us to do her work. Think about when you experienced renewal and think about when you were blessed. When you have received God’s blessing, how has that resulted in demonstrating his hand of mercy to someone else? How are your activities balanced?

  • A canal simultaneously pours out what it receives. A reservoir waits till it’s filled then discharges water without loss to itself. Today, there are many in God’s church that act like canals. The reservoirs are far too rare. So urgent is the charity of those through whom heavenly doctrine flows that they want to pour it forth to us before they have been filled. They are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves. High mountain lakes have one stream out and water level relatively constant throughout the year. How is the water level staying constant in your life? Depletion results in erosion of presence, and results in just going through the motions. 

  • The Lord desires that we live dispositionally. Important elements include loving God, living devotionally, relational strengthening, vocational serving (listening with the intent of following what I hear). Dallas Willard wrote, “If I am a disciple of Jesus, I am with him to learn from him, how to be like him." The primary calling of a pastor is to follow Jesus, within the calling of leading a church. 

  • The eight deadly sins are in the order that Satan uses to try to get us and in the order in which we need redemption. Gormandize means you are overdoing it and being a slave to flesh. Fornication refers to a wandering heart and seeking to devour others. Avarice is the love of money and sometimes is a fear of not having enough. Anger is a rancorous spirit. The spiritual cancer of depreciation is looking at the vast horizon of God’s goodness in his creation and my life and depreciating it, only seeing what’s wrong. Psalm 51:10-12, create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.

  • When you experience a difficult situation, how do you begin to turn your focus away from the negative and on to what God is doing? How do you respond when you are working closely with people that don't like you? What do you do as a leader when there is a person that is angry with you and disagrees with how you are leading?

  • The sin of acedia is, “I don’t care anymore.” The sin of tristitia is sadness, wrongly processing suffering and loss, allowing the soul to close in on itself and refuse instruction from God. Tristitia is neither a result of other people or of our outward circumstances. Satan wants to get us off the track in stupid presumption or in sinful carelessnenss. God redeems the hurt that evil has done.

  • In the early church passion was seen as something that controlled you and out of control and leading you astray, not a positive motivation. John Cassion described vainglory as passion to take pleasure in our own qualities. The danger is that we take credit for what God is doing. In pursuit of being popular, we often sacrifice who we are at the core. Pride is the original vice from which all others spring. Pride can develop into functioning atheism. The cure for pride is to have the humility of Jesus in our heart. 

  • Is there a sin that's not deadly? To what extent can you worry about something before it becomes a sin? What does it take to overcome gluttony? The minute you make an exception for yourself, you either presume on the grace of God or break a known law of God. Admit what you are feeling and submit it to God to have faith in him in the situation, then do your part.

  • Instead of gluttony, we see temperance. Temperance means living a balanced life. Chaste love is extending love to others, not preying on them. Poverty of spirit rather than greed. Cultivate meekness to deal with anger. You have been forgiven much so you should be willing to forgive others much. Cultivate faith, hope and love to deal with hopelessness. Cultivate humility to deal with vainglory. Evangelism in the first 300 years a result of the quality of the lives of disciples as they lived in a hostile environment. 

  • A transcendent crisis is yearning for the “more than.” “Is life meaningful?” “Is God good?” Can I trust my life to God or have I been abandoned by God? An idolatry crisis happens when you run after a passion rather than pursue God. Each person in your sphere of influence is going through crises in their own lives. God can use a crisis to help something in us die so we can experience and share the light of Christ.

  • To feed the 5,000, the disciples had to rely on Jesus because they didn’t have the resources. Jesus walked out on the water to comfort the disciples with his presence. The disciples thought they were going to die a terrible death. If you choose to think your situation, the church and others are hopeless, it results in ego desperation, or hopelessness. You see what’s wrong, you think you have exhausted your resources and you see no way that it’s going to get fixed. If you allow the crisis to take you into the life of Christ and dependence on him, it will not destroy you. 

  • It's important for us to understand how our relationship with God is affected by being born at a certain period of time and in a certain society. The vital is the physical dimension of the human life. Vitalism is where your physical pleasures become the priority in your life.  Functional is the roles, tasks and responsibilities we take on. It’s a problem when we allow our roles and responsibilities to define us, which is functionalism. Transcendent is the longing for the “more than.” Pneumatic/Ecclesial level is the capacity the Lord has given each of us to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit, God’s voice. When ambition gets separated from the leading of the Spirit, it can become self-promotion. Functional Transcendence is you using the things of God for self-gain.

  • It's important to keep Christ at the center of who you are. Interiority includes memory, intellect, will. Augustine says will is most important.In addition to our personal thoughts, we exist in community with others who are submitting their lives to the will of Christ. The Lord has placed us in a certain place and time and wants you to live a life of obedience in that context every day, not just one day a week. The Father is seeking to form your life into the image of Christ as you were meant to be. Through our experiences, God forms you into a unique person. On the relational side, this results in compassion for others because we love others with the same love we experienced. God gives us confidence that he has given us the gifts and resources we need to live out the calling he has given us. Competence that our ministry will be effective. Our courage comes from trusting in the strength of the Lord. Community, the work of God’s Church is a work done with others. Confirmation comes internally from God and externally from the community of faith. 

  • If you are following Jesus, you have a role as a leader. If a spiritual leader does not understand what their task is according to scripture, then their spiritual life is not going to have the focus the Lord wants them to have.  Worship is a response of the love that has been shown to us. Worship involves our all aspects of us and is enabled by God’s Spirit. We worship God because of who he is. By looking at Jesus, you see who God is.

  • The Church needs you to present what Scripture says, not your own ideas. Worship means to kneel before someone out of respect or honor. We owe it to God as an act of service to sit at his feet and worship him. Spiritual worship is to place our physical bodies at God’s disposal. Are we leading people to worship God, or just providing religious goods and services to them? Solid biblical teaching is important. Structure follows purpose. We are failing to dig down into the revelation of God and let the revelation of God set the compass. If you are not careful, your program sets your agenda.

  • Movements in worship: 1. kneeling in acts of loving worship. Kneeling in submission before God to acknowledge that you are dependent on him. 2. Exalting God by declaring his worthiness 3. Receiving God’s life symbolized by the sacrament of communion. 4. Empowers us and encourages us to go out and serve. We participate in the fellowship and life of the Trinity. We need to immerse ourselves in relationship to God and let that inform and empower what we do so that our worship service is more than creating an experience or transmitting information. Be explicit about your purpose in worship and include prayer.

  • The elders fall before the throne, they worship the Lord and they cast their crowns before him. Falling before the throne represents an acknowledging of God as absolute deity. What is going to happen in the future tells us what we should be doing now. When we fall down before the throne, our heart condition is inward humility and submission to the Lord. Then they raise up and exalt the Lord by proclaiming his worth. Inward love results in proclaiming what is right, good, just and holy. Taking of crowns is an outward expression of placing everything we have under the Lordship of Christ and an inward movement of total abandonment of everything we are to God.

  • The call of Jesus to, “follow me” is the call to redirect everything in our lives. A disciple is one who seeks to fulfill the will of the father by actively following Jesus the Son while continually depending on the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength. Faith is my trust in Jesus as well as the content of the Gospel. Practice is putting it into play. Catechism is the content of the faith, and catechesis is how you express it. Cheap grace is not biblical because it allows for justification without ensuing discipleship. Primary purposes of the church are to proclaim the Gospel, worship and make disciples. In addition to knowing the content, you must live it out. Clergy need to learn how to make and train disciples. Laity must be fully committed full-time ministers of the body of Christ.

  • Movements that are necessary for the church today to fulfill what God is calling them to do. For the clergy, 1. moving from pastor as the primary minister to each believer fulfilling their calling as full-time ministers in their spheres of influence; 2. Moving from preaching only to not only appropriate sermon preparation time but also discipling a core group; 3. Moving from a priority on numbers to staying with a process that results in mature disciples; 4. From solo leadership to team leadership. Discipleship should not be optional. Old Christendom model is breaking down but confusion on who and what we are called to be. “Is my first aim to make disciples, or do I just run an operation?” For the laity, 1. From going to church to being Church; 2. From expecting benefits from Christianity requiring no sustained effort to being intent on being disciples; 3. From being passive observers to full-time ministers. Primary purpose of leader is to equip the people of God to do the work of God.

  • The sermon is a critical part of the discipleship process. The “through” movement is the process of the “from-to” movement. Each of these steps must be contextualized to your situation. We are aiming for maturity in Christ. As a leader, you love the whole but you only disciple the few. Don’t neglect public proclamation but don’t see that as the end of your ministry. Daily pray, read scripture, weekly services, small groups acts of service, fasting, giving. Discipleship is helping people integrate the word of God into their lives.

  • Tozer says we don’t have the right of choosing Jesus as Savior and postponing our obedience. Dispositions are something that’s part of your daily life. Christian disciplines help us to love God and love our neighbor. Encourage people to seek God’s direction for where he wants them to serve. The biblical model is that mature Christians will live as disciplined followers. Make it a goal for pure love to fill your heart and govern your words and actions.

What do you think the priorities should be for a leader in the Church? How do you cultivate your personal spiritual life in a way that keeps you emotionally healthy and helps you avoid choosing sin? What is your measure of success for your church? How does that compare with a biblical measure of success? What is a disciple? What should the process of discipleship look like? What principles can you learn from the way Jesus interacted with his followers that will help you to encourage spiritual formation of the people in your sphere of influence? What are sins that people in leadership have commonly struggled with over the past 2,000 years? How do you recognize them in your own life and what are some practical ways to avoid them or repent and recover from them? What is the essence of worship? How do you live your life so you are worshipping God authentically in everything you do? How do you lead worship in a group setting in a way that encourages others to worship authentically? 

These are a few of the questions that Dr. Martyn poses to begin a conversation regarding the subject of the spiritual life of the leader. As a pastor for more than 20 years, Dr. Martyn asked and answered these questions in the context of loving and serving people personally. As part of his current position of teaching future pastors at Asbury seminary, he and some of his colleagues have conducted extensive surveys of church leaders throughout the North America and the world to get a better understanding of the responsibilities and pressures that church leaders face every day. His goal is to be able to understand biblical principles and use his experience to help leaders develop a model of ministry that helps them develop their personal spiritual life and give them a model to disciple and encourage the people they work with in a way that is healthy and encourages their faith and practice. 

Whether you have an official leadership position or not, you will benefit from listening to this class. It is one of the most comprehensive classes on spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles and worship that you will ever hear. If you listen and reflect on each of the lectures from beginning to end, you will be glad you did. 

Dr. Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of a Leader
Crisis is an Opportunity For Spiritual Growth (Part 1/2)
Lesson Transcript


[00:00:00] Okay. Welcome back. And let's let's take a look now at why in the world with people like and talk in terms of, oh, blessed crises, you know, that's so countercultural to anything we've ever thought of. Blessed crisis. Give me a break. We don't see anything blessed about a crisis. You know, you can look at. And I think it would be very good for us to look at biblical illustrations of crisis. And what I what I'd like to do is, is start out in the Old Testament, go to the Psalms, if if you wouldn't mind, and go to what's called a messianic psalm. And that is talking about our Lord and what he went through. But go to some 16. Psalm 16 is one of the great songs in it. It begins with this word Protect Me, O God. For In You I take refuge. Now you start unpacking this word. Protect me. It's just going to open up a whole world of meaning. Your translations could start out. Preserve me. Oh, God, I don't. So as that's what. Okay, So, yeah, could be preserve me. Oh, God. Well, what if you're preserving something? You're holding it together. You're keeping it from. From just flying apart, literally. Think about in Colossians 117, where Paul was writing in him, all things hold together. So if you back up from this Psalm 16, part of what's happening here is there is a major crisis unfolding in the song Masslive, which was, of course, I think prefiguring in some way what was what Jesus went through. Just think about Maundy Thursday, the the night of the Last Supper, and Jesus is in the garden praying and and the stress of his life was so great that the minor capillaries ruptured in his body and great sweat drops of blood come out.


[00:02:53] I mean, there is some fairly serious stress when the minor capillaries rupture and blood oozes out because of stress. So David saying, hold me together, Lord, live life threatens to tear me apart. So is that not a good place to begin in terms of understanding crises will put it in plural, because most of us not only have a crisis which is singular, but we will have crises, plural. And we're fairly assured that for those in ministry, you are truly blessed with quite a number of crises. Teresa of Avila was pondering about all of this stuff and all of the hardships she had to go through as a leader. And she, Teresa of Avila, I think, is kind of seeing a kindred spirit with Martha. But anyway, Teresa of Avila is complaining to God, to God, since you treat your beloved like this, it's no wonder you have so few friends. So. So we we love that kind of frank and forthright thought. So crises, crises threaten to tear us apart. They are real. Now, sometimes I think actually I should qualify that by saying there are many imagined crises where we allow our own insecurities to run uncontrollably and our own fears and was not a real crisis at all. But let's let's look at what are real crises and. Gives some definition to them. So think about in your own life. Think about a recent crisis. And so you'll be able to put it in the category here. And I'm assured I'm not going to be able to get all of the categories. But let's talk about the types of crises that are called forced detachment crises. Now, what in the world is a forced detachment crises? Well, it's something like this when death comes along and there is not a thing you can do about it.


[00:06:06] So that's the worst of four detachment crises. So someone dies. There is death, which really points out the the greater issue of finitude, meaning that I am a finite creature, at least in this phase of our lives in Christ, we have beginning and we will have an ending. Now we affirm in Christ that the ending is just the beginning. That's when the when the great eternal story truly begins to unfold. We find ourselves with physical limits. Now, what I mean by physical limits? I know that I have for decades. I mean, for decades I would I would jog, run, sometimes jog, jogged. Who knows how many thousands of miles. But I got to a point in my life where to keep on jogging would mean I'd have to do knee replacement. And I just made the decision. No, I just had to stop jogging. I can walk and thank you, Jesus, that I can still walk. So we're going to walk. And but that's a physical limitation that set in. Then there's all sorts of relational. Conflicts and meltdowns. I mean, let's just shorten his relational meltdowns. Right now in the United States, there's a television commercial where a young woman is throwing all the stuff of her either husband or boyfriend. Who knows it's not a Christian commercial. Throw them out the window and they're crashing on the concrete below. Well, it would be safe to say that was a relational meltdown. So these things are very real and they're very real in the church, too. I know that one of the things that that was a deep, deep pain into my life is when I would serve people and love people and be gracious to them, in fact, and in some instances and actually be sacrificial in my service to them.


[00:08:48] And then they just leave. They just walk away and leave that that local fellowship where you feel that you feel at any time where you've been in a loving friendship, ministry, relationship with someone working relationship, and then it just goes it just flies apart. It's it's it's gone. You see these types of detachment crises when you're having to deal with addictions. You see it in the midst of disasters. I've been in India behind a major typhoon, right behind a typhoon and seen devastation such as I've never even imagined could take place. And of course, when these natural disasters roll in, people's lives are completely disrupted. You see it in all sorts of family trauma. Certainly you see it when there is a political breakdown and you see it in the midst of wars and fighting. Goodness gracious. So any time there is any time of political unrest or even political meltdown, where there's there's a disruption, it just simply goes through an entire nation right now. And our globe is in the midst, even as this session is is is being filmed. A lot of political dynamics shifting and not for the best for for Christians at all. Not for not for the best at all. So political unrest. National and international conflicts. Literally, we see what I would call today societal. Undoing or meltdowns. We wonder about the foundations Shaky. What do we do? Oh, Lord, when the foundations shake. And what do we hear in reply? The Lord laughs. The Lord laughs. Now, these are forced. These are things that one individual really. You either flow with these things or you get rolled by them and we'll we'll talk about that. Now, there are also transcendent crises or transcendence now. Now, please understand my language here.


[00:12:13] My language is a crisis of of yearning for the more than in life. Now, did not the Lord create us with that yearning and hunger against and cried out Our hearts are restless. So Lord in his books, in his autobiography, Confessions. Our hearts are restless. What? Until they rest in you. So there's this transcendent longing, a deep longing. For the more than. And this longing will will work itself out actually through most of our lives. So we're longing over issues of who am I? Hal For us as Christians, where we're longing, you know, where do I fit in? Where am I called to? Where do I serve? Who do I serve with? These are transcendent issues for us. Ultimately, you know, in a crisis, we're going to come down in this transcendent business and we're going to we're going to ask some fairly serious questions When crisis hit, is life meaningful? It's a huge issue. And the deeper one underneath it, the truly deeper one underneath it is this is. God. Good. And of course, the inference there is, can I trust my life to the goodness of God? Can I abandon my life to God or have I been abandoned by God? That's what these crises are bringing up. All of these things, whether it's a forced attachment or a transcendent crisis. Now, I also think this keep rolling it. I think just from covering the the deadly sins that we've been covering. I mean, if you were to boil all of this down to a single phrase, any of those deadly sins are going to lead to what of what I think we could call an idolatry crisis. So what's in idolatry? What's in idolatry crisis? Well, you just run after any passion, namely the deadly sins, any of those deadly sins or any any sin listed in the word.


[00:15:29] And what we're doing is we're bowing down before something other than the Lord God. And he loves us enough, Remember, He loves us enough to bring about what Augustine called to intervene with this severe mercy. All right. Now, there are also I think there are ministry crises. You're you're a leader and you're out there on the front lines. And have any of you who are in Christian ministry now not been through some type of crisis? I mean, name it. Send me a send me a letter. And I would say if you do, send me a letter saying you hadn't been through a crisis yet, I would say, My dear son, my dear daughter, buckle thy seatbelt. Thy crisis is on its way. So there's all sorts of ministry issues. I mean, ministries all over the world are are stressed financially. How am I going to have the resources? So, you know, these things will really come down to resources. Resources. And then you can probably follow this out really quick. You already have what's the next great crisis in any kind of ministry? First, he starts with in our resource crises, relational crisis. You know, see how they love one another? Oh, wait a minute. See how they go for each other's throats at times. Just like fighting siblings. So resources and relational. Now, even beyond that, I do think there are also times when when the Lord simply allows ministries. They may have flowed forth and goodness for a while and seen a lot of blessings, but then they ebb and, you know, we rejoice when when the seashore brings in all sorts of good things on the beach. And we can be thankful for that. But, you know, some sometimes they ebb back.


[00:18:26] There's just a been in flowing in the United States right now. For instance, there are a number of locales where you see huge growth in terms of of of the gospel being effective and people regularly coming together, being in small groups, really finding their way in Christ, in committed community. And we rejoice in this. But also in the United States right now we see in a number of cities a huge retreat where you can go into geographic areas where I'm telling you, it's a rare thing to find a solid congregation. The same thing in Europe. In England, there are some amazing congregations in Europe and England. I've been in some of them. But all in all, Christianity is not moving forward so much, at least numerically in Europe and in and in Asia right now. So there are times and it takes a great deal of discernment to figure out where we are, but simply a time when ministry ebbs and we're wondering, okay, Lord, what are you doing? Because, you know, we've got equations. Equations mean I'm faithful equals things grow. Well, that's a little bit tricky because life, the life of the gospel always brings growth in Christ. However, it's back to that dashboard issue that we talked about earlier in this teaching, and that is what dashboards in my use. What are the metrics? What are the statistics here? I'm faithful. Listen, sometimes fidelity to the gospel may mean that the actual number of people you're dealing with will decrease. There was a time, for instance, in Jesus ministry, you know, he looks around at his disciples after the hard teachings, and he said, Well, we'll you guys to leave me. So we've got to be really, really, really careful with our equations for success.


[00:21:13] Anyway, You won't be in any kind of ministry long way where there won't be a major crisis. I served in a beautiful location in Albuquerque. My wife and I served together in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a wonderful church, St Stephen's church. And I walked in one morning, early one morning into that beautiful church up in the northeast heights of New Mexico. And the city sewer system backed up into that beautiful, beautiful church. Now, friends does have to be careful on tape what one says here at this point. But it was not a pretty picture at all. And talk about a crisis. Any time you have to have a hazmat crew come in in suits, too, and start stripping out all the furniture, all the wallboard. Oh, my heavens. There will be crises that you'll have to go through in ministry. They'll be forced. They will. They'll come through our own longing for the more than they'll come if I enter into idolatry. The Lord loves me too much. They'll come through ministry. Now, guess what? You know, all this time I've kind of been. My influence has been. Well, these would be the type of crises that we as leaders will go through. Well, gosh, that's just the small part of what's the deal with ministry. You're dealing with a whole flock of sheep and they're going through all of these. So it's like you've got your crises that the Lord allows to unfold in our lives. But now multiply that times. So how many people are you shepherding at this point? And then that you get to you get to you get a realization then of the huge load that he and he kind of pastor carries. Listen, on a normal day in pastoral ministry and this would be so important for you elder boards listening to this for any kind of supervisory board, listening to this on a normal day in pastoral ministry, it's not uncommon for four, five, six different people.


[00:23:58] Not uncommon at all to come in with devastating issues in their lives. I mean, devastating crises. And my heavens, they're seeking God's Word through the man of God, through the woman of God. And I'm telling you, that's why the Lord places the woman of God in the man of God there. But no one can bear up under this type of load. Day in and day out, week in and week out. Year in and year out. It will collapse the best of human beings. Only Christ himself had the capacity to take all of that and absorb it on the cross where it was. Now only Christ has it. We are under shepherds, we are under rowers. We're rolling down on the bottom of the deck. You know, we're we're we're servants in that way. But we don't have we don't have that. You know, I remember being profoundly fatigued in ministry. Now, pastors, I need you all to pay real close attention here. You talk about a major red flag when you get that profound fatigue stuff going. Then what happens is you see people come in with problems and you just want to run the other way. It's like, I can't handle somebody else's issue here. You know, it's just too much. Now, all of that, of course, in the pastor's life points to the major need for rhythms, healthy rhythms of life, including daily Sabbath. What I mean by daily Sabbath, you've got to pull away daily to get refreshed. Daily to be with our Lord, daily to to have appropriate rest, exercise, nutrition, weekly, Sabbath. If God said he works in, if he worked six days and then took the the seventh off, then who am I to supersede the Lord God? No way.


[00:26:28] So I'm taking we're called to take that Sabbath. There needs to be regular regular built in times away so that so that as a leader you can get perspective, so you can have batteries recharged, then most certainly vacations. In working with pastors, one of the things I do is say, and you gave your cell phone number to every member of your church while you're going on vacation. Are you crazy? Can you not trust the Lord God to cover you while you are gone? So no pastors, look, when you're gone, you're gone. You don't want your little kids coming back like my little kids did. So, yeah, every time we go on a vacation, Dad had to end up doing this first or that. Thank God. You know, a lot of my ministry was before any of us had a cell phone, and you couldn't be omni available. But what I need you all to hear on the availability. Is not healthy. And I need those of you who are congregants who are listening to this, to church members, say, you want your pastor omni available. Are you kidding? The Lord God Almighty is omni available to you, not your pastor. Get get a grip here. Be realistic. So omni availability is a sign of sickness. And don't ask a pastor to to give his cell phone number out whenever he or she's on vacation. Know that that's not going to. That's not going to work. And in real world pastors, you need to you need to hang that phone up sometimes on the availability. You lay it down. You turn it off. You let Lazarus die. Sometimes I know that can sound cruel. Now, pastors, you will get in a crisis if you do not understand the true nature of crisis.


[00:28:47] Now, of course, when a parishioner has a genuine crisis and you're there, then you need to be responsive to that. But the truth of the matter is, genuine crises that need our immediate response are not quite as common. This is as what we would like. Yes, I know. I'm sounding like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth here. These are real. These happen. These these do need to be addressed. So one of the issues here to avoid a huge crisis is that I encourage pastors to have times of study on a daily basis where you do not answer the phone. You ask your congregation, you tell them, say, look, I really for me to be God's representative for you, I've got to have times away way. I've got to have Times Square where I can truly be in the study of God's word. Now, if it's a true emergency, I'll lay that down. But if not, can you wait? Here's the deal. Here's what I say. Ask your congregation. Congregation. If you give me the morning's. I'll give you the I'll give you the rest of the time we need. If you give me the mornings, I'll give you the rest of the time. Now, at the same time that I say that, I also need to say any pastor who's out six and seven nights a week is going to end up in one of these major crises, you know, six and seven nights a week. Are you kidding me? So, you know, there's a lot of issues here we've got to address. Don't make your pastor be at every committee meeting. That's not good stewardship of the woman of God or the man of God. The people of God can run committees.


[00:30:53] That's another reason why I love Eugene Peterson's work. He turned a lot of the stewardship, a lot of the management of congregation over to the people of God. You got to figure out a vocation. Otherwise, what is true? What's my big rock here? Otherwise, you're going to end up in one of these in one of these messes. Now it's personal. Just a little bit longer before we before we take a break. So Psalm 16, it feels like it's going to tear us apart. Now, I think there's a there's a word here and it's it's it's a word I love and it's a word I owe to Susan Muto. And it's is it's the word crucifying epiphany, crucified epiphany. Now what in the world am I talking about with a crucifying epiphany? Well, let's define terms. Crucifying. Something. What? Something. Die. Something dies. Epiphany. Epiphany. What is epiphany? Well, it's a biblical term. It's a New Testament term. You can look it up in the song of Zachariah. Epiphany is the light of God. Is the light of Christ. It's the showing of Christ that is made known in the dawning of the day. The epiphany is the goodness of God that comes to us. So I would you to get a hold of these. It seems like, well, how can something die and then goodness come from it? Well, that's kind of going to be the whole point of these crises. You hear what I'm saying? Normally, when these things unfold, the Lord is seeking to bring about a purification in our own lives, something we're holding on to. Now, let's qualify first, let's let's be let's make a qualification. Any pastor who's through long enough has had to go out in major work with major tragedies.


[00:33:35] So in the first congregation I served, I had a precious, precious little elementary girl who absolutely was an adorable child, would always give me a hug and and blessed me and blessed everyone around her. One night I get a frantic call around 10:00 at night. And of all things. That little child who lived out in the country had run across to a firecracker, stand run across a highway. And then on her way back, running back, she did not see a car. She was hit and killed, broke our hearts. And there I go out into the country, there's this child laying on the highway covered in a sheet, and there's her mother down there by her. Now, at that point, a pastor says nothing. All I could do was help gather the mother and with other people, walk with her up the hill to her house. So I am not from a theological tradition that would say that that that type of death was the perfect will of God. Nor am I from a theological tradition, nor do I believe that's a part of classic classical, historic Christianity that would say that God was punishing that family. This child was this child was a blessed, sweet little girl who loved Jesus. So it was a tragedy. And God took her home. I mean, God God allowed the accident happened, but was God the cause of it? Absolutely not. I do not believe God is the cause of evil. So in this kind of in this kind of a thing, the child is what died. And it's going to take a long, long time to see the light of Christ come even in that setting, even in that situation. And all I can do at that point is to walk with the family, reflecting to them the firm confidence that in the Kingdom all will be well and that child's life was not lost and they will be reunited and it will be soon.


[00:36:23] With most of these things, though, that are forced detach or with many of these things that are forced attachment crises, particularly the ones that are brought on by myself, where I had some kind of action in it or some kind of involvement in it. Then the crisis itself, we'll have directives coming out of it, major, major directives so that it can turn into a crucifying epiphany. Now, what I mean by directives, directives are how the. Holy Spirit is actually involved in this thing, trying to redeem, trying to restore, trying to bring repentance, trying to get people back in alignment with his will directly. So what would be the directive? Well, one thing is idolatry. Has to die. That's the directive. If I have gotten myself into the crisis, if I've contributed to it through sinful activity in my own life, then it's got to die. So you can run out their whole stream of things so that to the light of Christ then can replace idolatry with what we want the US to be on. We talked about the true worship. We want worship of God to be what leads and directs our lives as we are grounded then and bought back in to a complete reliance on the living word and the love of the written word to where it's becoming who we are. Now, if there is a if there is a force detachment crisis where, hey, my, my idolatry didn't have anything to do with this at all, like an act of war or any kind of physical, finite, limited limits or a natural disaster, then there's still directives coming out of this. And the directives are you've got to have discernment and ask, okay, Lord, what are you doing here? What? What? What's happening? Are you showing me, for instance, that my physical possessions.


[00:39:19] Are not ultimate. Are not ultimate. In other words, if I've lost. House, home, clothing, all of that. I mean, there's real grief in that, but. But am I going to take any of those things to heaven anyway? So are you showing me things that I have been taught? Here's the word inordinate attachment in order, not attachment or attachment. Have I been holding on to anything too tightly? My own status in a local church, for instance. So you get down here in these ministry crises and the thing starts to ebb. And lo and behold, I start thinking poorly of myself, and I start making equations. Well, if I was a good leader, this wouldn't happen. So these inordinate attachments say I am pudding and I can either be putting kind of ultimate meaning in people, events or things. You see what I mean? See what I'm saying? An inordinate attachment is putting too much meaning. In other words, I define myself by what I drive or I define myself by the clothes I wear. Lord, God save us from that kind of nonsense, or I define myself by the size of ministry that I lead. And if I'm inordinately attached to these kinds of things, if I'm inordinately attached to the position I hold. Well, for heaven's sakes, what's going to happen when when those positions change or when. When the whole sort of forces beyond what I can control sociological movements, you know, change all of those dynamics. Does that mean I'm less a diminished person? So the crisis is saying, wake up, wake up. I am not defined by the size of my congregation or my ministry. Now, for for for you listening, I want to repeat that again, because the culture, both secular culture and many Christian cultures will tell you the exact opposite.


[00:42:06] Let's say again, I am not defined by the size of the ministry I lead. Does that mean God's against large ministry dealing with thousands of people? Heavens no. God loves people. But not everyone's going to be in that kind of a ministry. And besides, as we've talked about before, a large ministry has great pitfalls in it for the leader. I'm not defined by the programs. I'm not defined by numbers. So any kind of a crisis that comes in, says Ora Jesus, once again, you're reminding me my ultimate value is found in what you have done for me on the cross, in who the father says I am as one made in his image and in your image. Paul talked about the image of Christ within us, and my ultimate meaning is the fact that I am a part of your body. Jesus, Literally, you're the head. I'm literally a part of it in me. When you look at the end, what's coming at the end? Whew! It's a big wedding and the whole church gets placed in the feminine side. We are the what? The bride? Yeah. And the bride is meant to be presented and will be presented. How? Pure and spontaneous to the bride. Groom. Now, listen. That's the ultimate value. And nothing can strip that away from us. And so God allows these crucified epiphanies in our lives sometimes that we think with Psalm 16 one is just going to destroy us. There's going to be no value in life. There's going to be no meaning. I mean, why go on after that? Crucifying the epiphany. What does a crucifying epiphany ask for? What does a crucified epiphany call forth? Well, actually, I think at this point. I need to have you take a break so that you can start processing this issue about Christ.


[00:44:48] Is that how you you've looked at him in the past, how you've hated him, how you tried to run away from him, how you've tried to insulate yourself from them, how you fought against them. How did how did you handle the last crisis? And some of you really actually are possibly young enough to where you haven't gone through a major life crisis. And by no means do I want to scare you off from the faith. God doesn't take everybody through a terrible, awful wringer. You know that. That doesn't have to happen at all. But there will be crises. That's to be a human being, is to enter into crises and to be in the body of Christ is to, uh, to carry some of that same suffering that Christ himself carried. So as you break process out with your group process, what? What's this? What have I looked at this and what is this business of crucifying epiphany and how is it speaking into my life? Now be courageous here. Don't back off of of looking into these types of issues. May the Lord bless you as you contemplate it means you move in union with Christ and try and get the mind of Christ. What Paul said is the mind of Christ about these things. A man.