Get free email updates as I write new articles:

Giving the Gift of a Blessing

When I was a fairly young believer, my father-in-law (who was also my Pastor) led us in a study of Gary Smalley and John Trent’s The Gift Of The Blessing. We talked then about how frivolously we throw around the words “blessed” and “blessing.” We even follow up a sneeze with “Bless you.”

But in Scripture, the idea of a “blessing” was filled with meaning. God said that all who treated Abraham and his descendants well would be blessed. The patriarchs reserved the “blessing” in their culture for a formal event in which they would pass on a word of promise about the future. And God Himself gave orders to the priests in Numbers 6:22-27 to pronounce a blessing on the people on His behalf:

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them, ‘The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to You; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.’ So they shall put my name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

~ Numbers 6:22-27 NKJV

God obviously had more in mind in this message than a mere tradition of saying words after a sneeze. It is filled with meaning. We need to expand our understanding of what it means to bless someone, and here is how I would define it:

To bless someone means to be God’s hand or God’s voice in someone’s life, communicating to them the value that God places on having a relationship with them, and to do that which leads them into a greater understanding of and intimacy with God.

This may include believing and communicating positive promises about their future with our words. It may include the physical element of a pat on the back or a hug. It may also include sharing the gospel with someone who needs to hear it in order to lead them into a relationship with Jesus. To bless someone is more than a mere wave and a smile. It’s an intimate exchange in which we act as God’s priests to others, conveying His desire and will for their peace and joy to be found in a relationship with Himself.

So the assignment is simple. Go bless someone today – through your words, through an act of service, or by sharing your faith with them.

Everybody Needs Encouragement

We live in rather uncivil times. We’re a divided nation in a divided world. In times like these, the world needs a volunteer army of encouragers. It’s one of the best ways to show love. Paul said, So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT)

Encouragement isn’t empty flattery. Being fake helps no one. Speaking words of affirmation isn’t about the needs of the encourager but about the encouraged. Encouragement is about acknowledging the truth about someone, ultimately to remind them of God’s goodness toward them. And encouragement needs to happen at multiple levels. Some need a simple greeting of encouragement while others need the healing of encouraging counsel.

You will never lack a target when you’re looking for someone to encourage in the world in which we live. So take up the challenge today, turn your attention outward, and find someone to encourage.

5 Ways to Encourage Another Leader

Linking HandsEveryone needs a Paul and a Timothy (or several of each). That is, we all need to be learning from mentors and mentoring learners. There is always someone ahead of us and always someone just behind us. It is the role and responsibility of a leader to give another leader a lift.

So how can we, in a practical way, give another leader a lift?

1. Call a fellow leader on the phone and mentor them without even telling them you’re doing it. Just ask them a ton of questions about how things are going in their soul, their family, and their realm of leadership. Then offer encouragement and perhaps a little bit of advice. And pray with them.

2. Connect a fellow leader into a valuable relationship. I’m forever saying, “Oh, you need to know so-and-so.” It’s my way of putting people together when I think they need to learn from one another. How many connections is too many? I’ve been connecting with leaders and connecting leaders to other leaders for years now and my capacity to learn and be led by others has yet to fill up.

3. Send a book. A friend and mentor recently sent me a book on prayers for leaders. It’s become a great devotional resource. I passed a little book about connecting on to Bentonville, Arkansas’ Mayor, feeling it was a good fit for his business-political niche. Next to the connections we make, resources are everything, so pass them along.


4. Ask a leader for help. Asking for a favor is empowering to people. I love helping others, and so do you. So allow others the blessing of helping you from time to time. A friend called me yesterday for advice about an opportunity before him. The opportunity was out of my league, but he wanted to know what I thought. I’m not sure if my advice was worth much in the end, but it meant a lot that he would ask me.

5. Produce something for others. I get so frustrated with the number of great leaders I know whose heads are filled with wisdom but who won’t write, won’t blog, and won’t speak anywhere. It’s free, quick, and simple to start sharing your knowledge with the world. And it’s only going to get easier. It’s a matter of being a good steward of the wisdom God has given us.

Don’t become so task-oriented today that you fail to turn away from the to-do list to challenge and encourage another leader.

What If Pastors Actually Pastored One Another?

When I was serving as a Pastor in Bentonville, Arkansas, I called two friends of mine – fellow Pastors – and we had lunch at Chick-fil-A (of course). It was great. We shared our common struggles, mutual encouragement, and some good laughs. It was so great, we never did it again!… which brings me to my point.

Pastors refer to each other as “brethren” but rarely hang out together outside of our denominational meetings and conferences. We’re in our shells, doing our local church leadership thing… all alone. Yet we’re the first to complain that we’re doing our local church leadership thing… all alone.

The thrilling part of my role at Saddleback is that I get to reach out to Pastors on a daily basis. I send emails, make phone calls, and connect through social networks with guys who need resources, encouragement, or just a good laugh. The thought hit me today, why don’t we do this for one another already? Why didn’t I minister to fellow Pastors more when I was a Pastor? It doesn’t take much – a phone call of encouragement does a world of good.

So here’s my challenge to any Pastor reading this. Reach out to a fellow Pastor today, or this week. Make it somebody who might not be expecting it from you. And don’t just send an email or throw a tweet their way. Do something that offers at least your voice, your handwriting, or even your pretty face.

Maybe, if we all chip in, we can stop the lonely-Pastor pandemic in its tracks.

The Internal Battles of Even the Best Pastors

Truth: Your Pastor is weak. He’s flesh. He’s human, frail, and doesn’t always have it all together. He may be faithful to God and thereby filled with the Holy Spirit, but there’s always a secret side to him. He will probably never mention it in a sermon or a Deacon’s meeting. Chances are, he won’t even tell his wife, but he endures battles.

I’ve been a Pastor for thirteen years, and I’ve fought these battles for all of that time. I just want to advocate for your Pastor today to tell you a few things you probably weren’t aware of.

Your Pastor Battles Loneliness

Pastors are surrounded with people who love them, but who often don’t know them intimately. They are celebrated on Sunday, but wonder on a slow Friday morning if they’ll ever enjoy a deep friendship with anyone. Call him and encourage him.

Your Pastor Battles Feelings of Inadequacy

Most Pastors today are expected to be great preachers, teachers, counselors, hospital chaplains, advisors, financial managers, publicists, apologists, scholars, organizers, recruiters, and sometimes maintenance men. That’s a lot of pressure. Most Pastors are hard-wired to do one or two of those things well, so it’s a virtual guarantee he feels like he’ll never meet your expectations in all of those other areas. Call him and encourage him.

Your Pastor Battles Uncontrollable Outcomes

Years ago, I started designing websites. It’s therapeutic. I can type a few lines of code and perfectly predict how the result will work. People are different. Pastors counsel, advise, plead and beg, but some teenagers still rebel. Some marriages still end in divorce. Some addicts return to their old habits. Call him and let him know he’s making a difference in somebody’s life. Otherwise, he may never know.

By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?

Your Pastor Battles Temptation

All believers do, but Pastors are on the front lines and Satan hates them. Pray for him… daily. Never miss a day. And maybe, today, call him and pray for him over the phone. In thirteen years of pastoral ministry, I prayed with hundreds of church members over the phone. Every now and then, one would surprise me and pray for me. Talk about making a Pastor’s day!

Your Pastor Battles Fatigue

At times, it’s short term. Other times, it’s long term, but your Pastor gets tired in the same way you do, especially during seasons when the church is growing and doing well. Send him to a retreat. Let him know it’s okay to take a day off.

Your Pastor Battles Doubts About the Future

He has most likely read a hundred books on church growth written by guys who made it look so easy. Start with five people, add water and multiply to thousands and get speaking engagements all over the country. Your Pastor asks now and then, “will I ever get there?” Call him and share with him one success story you’ve noticed within your church family. Remind him that it isn’t about the masses of unknown people, it’s about that one.

The fact that your Pastor struggles with these issues doesn’t make him less qualified as a shepherd, it makes Him more so. The writer of Hebrews said of Jesus, “Since He Himself has gone through suffering and temptation, He is able to help us when we are being tempted.” (Heb. 2:18 NLT) That’s true of your Pastor as well.

Call him.
Send him a note.
Send an email.
Pray for him.

Pastors are heroes. Show yours a little love today.