Old Paths, New Power, Part 4

Chapter 4: Overcoming Weapons of Mass Distraction (p. 71-83)

I often say the devil does not have to destroy a Christian leader; he only has to distract him. Page 71

John Piper explains our struggle this way: Ministry is its own worst enemy. It is not destroyed by the big bad wolf of the world. It destroys itself. One survey of pastors asked, “What are the most common obstacles to spiritual growth?” The top three were busyness (83%), lack of discipline (73%) and interruptions (47%). Most of these interactions and most of our busyness is ministry-related not “worldly.” The great threat to our prayer and meditation on the Word of God is good ministry activities. Page 71-72

In a New York Times article, writer Paul Vitello reported, “The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension, and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while the life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could. Page 72

Krejcer states, over 70% of pastors are so stressed out and burned out that they regularly consider leaving the ministry. Thirty-five to forty-percent of pastors do leave the ministry, most after only five years. Page 72-73

In the early 21st-century, our increasingly complex information society now temps many pastors with a much newer distraction: the almost never-ending stimulation from the latest apps, tweets, posts, and text messages. Page 73

Pastor Carrie Nieuwhof writes, Leadership is inherently difficult because it requires a leader to take people where they don’t naturally want to go. So you have a choice as a leader. You can focus on leading people, or focus on being liked.

When you focus on being liked, you’ll instinctively try to please the people you’re leading. And when you do, you’ll become confused. Pleasing people is inherently confusing because people don’t agree. One person wants it one way. Another wants another way. And soon, you’re bending over backward to make everyone happy, which, of course, means that in the end, you’ll end up making no one happy, including yourself. It’s actually a recipe for misery for everyone. Page 74

The Acts 6 example has already informed us of three priorities that were held inviolable by the apostles: (1) prayer, (2) the ministry the Word, (3) empowering others to guide major ministry efforts. Page 75

Martin Luther said it this way:
“It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business in the morning and the last in the evening. Guard yourself against such false and deceitful thoughts that keep whispering: wait a while. In an hour or so I will pray. I must first finish this or that. Thinking such thoughts we get away from prayer and into other things that will hold us and involve us till the prayer of the day comes to naught. Page 78

A return to the old paths requires robust clarity and sustains conviction around clear biblical priorities.… Once these priorities are clarified, communicate them to family, board members, staff, and even the congregation. Page 82