Malcolm Tyree

A collection of thoughts on things that matter

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Believing In Others

“Believing in someone else, so they can believe in themselves, is a small but hugely significant act of leadership” – Carly Fiorina, Tough Choices.

Think back through your life for a moment.  Who is it that inspired you? Was it a coach; a parent; a teacher; a mentor? Someone, if only for a moment, took a chance on you.  They believed you could accomplish something.  As you think about it, remember how empowering that was for you.  Let that motivate you today as you work.

While you work, look for the people you influence.  You don’t have to be their supervisor, you just have to be of influence in their life.  Take a moment and believe in those people.  Let them know how much you believe in them.  Who knows, you may be inspiring a CEO-to-be.


5 Ways of Overcoming Pastoral Loneliness

In my last post, I identified five factors that lead to lonely pastors.  I am grateful for those who engaged with their own thoughts and responses to the blog, including Stephen Nelson’s blog entry on his own personal struggles with loneliness.

Here are my five ways to overcome pastoral loneliness.

  • Change your office hours – Very few of us are willing to work second shift and weekends.  Most pastors have at least a bachelors degree if not some level of graduate degree.  Our culture has trained us into thinking that professionals work 8-5 but ministry requires us to work shift work.  Set up your personal schedule to include some intentional evenings to work.  This will help reduce the stress of keeping family life “balanced” too.  In this new scheduling approach, I’m not suggesting that you only add your Wednesday church service or small group gathering.  I think you should go ahead and plan to work one to two more evenings a week and a couple of Saturdays too.  On those days, take the morning off! Squeeze in lunch with your spouse.  Do the type of things people do when they don’t have to work.  Let the email stay unchecked and the statuses stay unposted.
  • Connect with other pastors – One of the best things that has happened for me is a weekly lunch with other pastors.  For the past eight years, I’ve been blessed to gather with 5-6 other pastors in my city for a weekly lunch.  We see each others as equals.  We poke fun, joke, laugh, and some might say even “cross the line” with each other.  It’s an emotional release.  We share in the experience of ministering to our city together, but we are able to be “normal” around each other.  We don’t have to have all the answers.  Our weekly lunches have led to us sharing advice and encouragement with one another.  When we are going through a difficult time, we pick each other up.  I’ve said it many times, if it weren’t for these Tuesday lunches, I wouldn’t have made it this far.  In addition to my weekly lunch, I connect with other pastors via phone and social media.  These relationships and networks help normalize my ministry experience.  These extended relationships help me see, “I’m not the only one.”
  • Let God work through and in spite of you – Sometimes we can get so caught up in our calling that we believe “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.”  Slow down! Yes, God has called you into his glorious life.  Yes, there is a lost generation in need of his truth.  But, we don’t have to save the whole world right now.  As I read the scriptures, I am not sure where the called are the ones who save people.  I’m not even sure I see God working at the excessively urgent pace we do at times.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s God who brings his kingdom into this world and he does it on his timetable.  Slow down.  Enjoy the journey.  Let God work through you instead of your attempts to try and make God work. 
  • Rest – Pastors need to take the advice they give their parishioners.  We need to take vacations.  We need to take a day off.  I am guilty of not practicing rest.  I have a desire to go, go, go.  Yet, sitting on the back porch, taking in the sunrise is a great way to begin to rest.  I realize that when I rest, I’m exercising my faith.  By taking a day off or resting form the need to help, or whatever, I’m declaring that God is big enough to handle things.  By resting I am confessing that God is God and I am not.
  • Be human – Recognize you are designed for relationships and that you are not able to save the world.  It is God who saves the world through Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit.  You and I are are part of creation.  God designed us to be in community and to rely on his power.  You and I are not super heroes. So make friends with “normal” people. You know, the “non-superhero” types.  Enjoy their company.  Some of them are right around you, just waiting for you to see them as friends and not projects.

What would you add to this list?  How do you overcome pastoral loneliness?

5 Factors That Lead to Lonely Pastors

I’ve had the privilege of being called “pastor” for 10 years now.  To be honest, I’m not crazy about the title.  More often than not, I prefer to be known as “Malcolm.”  Over these 10 years, I spent the majority of it as the only full-time staff member.  That said, I think I’m beginning to understand why so many pastors feel lonely.

Why does a pastor feel lonely?  After all, each week a crowd (or at least a small group) gathers to listen to the pastor.  When a crisis occurs, the pastor is often called out.  Pastors are in the people business.  Why would a pastor feel lonely?

Here are a five observations I’ve made as to why a pastor can feel lonely.

    • It’s a different work schedule – It’s long been said that pastors only work on Sundays and occasionally on Wednesdays.  This passive-aggressive humor has some truth.  Pastors, especially small church pastors, work a different schedule than almost everyone.  Since pastoring is a people related role, a pastor’s schedule is influenced by when people are available.  Most people aren’t available during “office hours” so a pastor tries to squeeze in meetings over meals, particularly lunch and the occasional breakfast.  Additionally, weeknights and weekends require an availability of the pastor because that is when the vast majority of people are available.  Pastoring is a different work schedule because it is dependent upon the availability of people.
    • It’s emotionally taxing – To be an effective pastor, you have to care about people.  When a pastor cares, people share their hurts, habits, and hangups with the expectation of confidentiality.  Knowing the challenges a person is facing helps you care for them, but it also weighs on you.  To see a family come week after week and know they are carrying the pain of an affair or the fear of financial ruin or some other emotionally difficult issue weighs on a pastor’s heart.  Pastoring is emotionally taxing because a pastor cares and often the pastor is not able to share the burden with others.
    • It’s a God-calling thing – Most men and women enter ministry out of a sense of calling.  The hope is that this would be true for all, but unfortunately that’s not the case.  For those who do enter because of God’s calling, they don’t want to let God down.  Pastors work hard and faithfully out of love for God and a desire to please Him.  Pastors know God is pleased with us because He made us, but we still long to please Him, just as a child seeks to please his or her parent(s).  Knowing God has called you prompts a different level of devotion than most people experience.
    • It’s Everyday – As I stated earlier, pastors don’t just work on Sundays.  When it comes to seeking to guide the congregation, we eat, sleep, dream, eat, sleep, and dream about it.  (Yes, I repeated that on purpose.)  While most people in the congregation have jobs or responsibilities outside of the congregation, a pastor does not.  He or she is thinking about it all the time, especially if serving full-time.  What might look like a social outing, is probably a congregational contact.  What looks like a family event, is probably a new contact with a potential congregant.  As a pastor waits for the congregational leadership to approve something, the pastor has already spent countless hours praying, worrying, or thinking about it.  Pastoring is everyday and that sets us apart within the congregation.
    • It’s like being Superman – Each pastor wrestles with a Messiah-complex.  The need to save the world is why most pastors responded to the call of God.  And last I checked, Superman doesn’t have a sidekick.

I hope this helps you get a sense as to why being a pastor can be such a lonely lifestyle.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  You’ve probably identified solutions to this issue.  I’ll post a follow up to this sharing how I deal with the loneliness of pastoring.

What do you think leads to the loneliness of pastoring?  Am I on target with my observations?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

The Trap of Success

This may sound out of place, but did you know success can be a trap?  It’s hard to imagine this is true, but more individuals and companies have fallen into this trap than we’d care to admit.  In the recent books, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company and Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul, the authors identify that both companies had been hugely successful, but they had fallen into the trap of success. They had become complacent.

When we’ve been good or great for so long, it’s easy to assume we’ll always be good or great.  When we lead the market, it’s hard to imagine that someone could overtake us.  This type of thinking slipped into Ford and Starbucks.  As a result they allowed short-cuts to be taken.  They drifted away from some of their core values.  They even relaxed because of their success.  Within a short period, they found they were falling behind.

Both Ford and Starbucks had to make major adjustments between 2006 and 2010.  Their years of success has lured them into the trap of complacency.  Fortunately, they lead themselves out of those traps by returning to their values and vision.  Customers have once again lifted them up as the best in their markets.  But they must be on guard against the trap of success.

What areas in your life do you feel as though you’ve become a success or successful?

How can you guard against complacency in those areas?

Here are a few suggestions on how to guard against complacency:

1. Deepen Your Faith. Recognize that what success you are experiencing is a result of your work and God’s blessing.  Additionally, your faith in God and yourself will help you see there is more ahead.

2. Look Ahead, Not Behind. The future is more motivating than the past.  When we look behind us, we see where we’ve been.  When we look ahead, we see how far we have to go.

3. Rest, Don’t Relax. We need rest.  God teaches us to rest throughout the scriptures.  Rest is critical for us to recharge.  When we relax, we lose our edge.  When we relax, we lose focus. When we relax, it’s easy to settle.  When we rest, we know there is more to the journey.

4. Return to Your Why. This is an odd statement.  When you’ve reached a point of success, return to the big idea behind your endeavor.  Why did you start this? Why have you worked so hard? Why is it worth it?  I find “why” questions very motivating.

What suggestions would you add to avoiding complacency, the trap of success?

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