Skip to Content

Article Library

Start Learning and Growing Today

Subscribe now for weekly insights into family, business and life

4 Most Common? Complaints I Get As A Pastor

There is not an organization nor leader that does not field complaints. Every single person sees through a different lens. Our lens causes us to see things our way. When what we experience does not match the lens we are looking through, it leads us to complain. Sometimes those complaints are legitimate. Other times they are selfishly motivated. Occasionally I will joke about people who complain or grumble. At times I am that person who complains. The truth is, none of us enjoy being around a chronic complainer.

I am frequently asked about what types of things people commonly complain about in church. What are the most common complaints that I receive as a pastor? There are plenty of different complaints, but the most common ones I receive fall into these four areas. To be clear, sometimes the complaints presented to me are legitimate. They need to be listened to and addressed. Other times they are just places where the thing taking place does not match the preference. Let’s take a look at the four areas.

Music

This has been a point of contention for ages in organized church. As music evolves so do the style and type of songs we sing as well as the instrumentation used with them. We should sing more hymns. We should sing new songs. Why don’t we have a choir? The music is too loud. I cannot hear the singers. I don’t like the drums. Why are there so many guitars? Where is the piano or organ? We sing too much. I wish we sang more. The tension of music will ever be present in the local church. 

Change

It really does not matter what the change is, the change will inevitably not be what someone wanted. We all want the change we initiate. We resist change someone else initiates. We want the change that has low cost and high reward. Resistance to change is not limited to parishioners. Leaders are often as averse to change as anyone. The older a person gets the less likely they want a change of any kind. There are numerous reasons for that. The older you get the more life brings certain change you have no control over. Also the older you get the more safety you tend to want and change means risk. Change happens and someone is sure not to like it.

My Child

Some of these complaints are exclusive to the church. This one is not. This one can be heard just about anywhere a child and parents are involved. My child was not allowed to participate. My child does not enjoy that class. Many times in the church environment parents are looking for the church to solve behavior and spiritual problems they have chosen to ignore for years. The church will rarely be able to correct what is being tolerated or overlooked at home.

I Didn’t Know

More often than not, this is where you will get a legitimate complaint. Communication is critical. Something is happening, especially where change or children are involved, and the information is not shared very well. Other times people just do not pay attention when the information is shared. I have had people complain about not knowing something that was in the bulletin for a month, in the monthly newsletter, on the video announcements and social media and even mentioned live in service. But, they are upset because they did not know when the real issue was they did not pay attention. Miscommunication causes problems for every relationship. Communication requires information to be shared, but it must also be received.

You cannot have an organization without complaints. Learning which ones to address and which ones to ignore is the challenge of wise leadership. These are my most common complaints. What are the most common complaints you get in your organization?

My Top 3 Goals for 2020

As one year closes and a new one begins I tend to be reflective about the things I wanted to accomplish and the things that I actually was able to achieve. I also spend time preparing for the things that need to be realized in the coming year. Occasionally people will ask me what my goal list looks like for the year. There are places where I share them on a regular basis. My wife and I talk about them. My family will usually know most of them. I will talk about most of them with my church staff. Since I am asked so often, I thought it might be helpful to share some of them here.

I try to operate by Gary Keller’s “One Thing” principle: “What one thing can I do that would make everything else easier and better?”. Some things have a greater impact, but everything we do has some impact on everything else we do. I am going to share three of my top goals for the coming year in no particular order. Hopefully, it will give you a little insight into my own life and encourage you to choose wisely in your goals as well. 

Become Debt Free

We made some significant progress on this goal last year. We did not expect to get as far as we did. Retiring certain debt has been on my list every year. This year will be different. Provided we can be as focused as we were last year, being completely debt-free is attainable in 2020. This one goal would have a significant impact on everything else we do. We can be more generous. We can prepare for retirement. We can invest more. We can travel more. This is a very ambitious goal for us but one that we believe is worth going after this year.

Sell Our Business

I have owned a business that sold restaurant equipment for close to 30 years. Selling the business was on our list last year. We didn’t change our mind but certain situations influenced our ability to do this last year. Some of those things were situations beyond our control. Some other things were commitments we made that we needed to complete. In retrospect, we benefited by not selling the business last year but now the timing is right. This goal was about timing and now the timing is right. Accomplishing this goal will have a significant impact on my time and my mental capacity. 

Preschool Operating

Over two years ago our church purchased a property that we planned to turn into a preschool and outreach center. Over the last two years, there have been more obstacles and hurdles than we ever expected just to begin construction. It appears that we have finally overcome most of the issues and construction has begun. Now it is time to hire the right director, complete construction and get the operation going. This very well may be the most challenging of the three listed here, but it will be extremely rewarding as it will benefit our church and our community. 

The added challenge to each of these goals as well as the others on my list is excellence. I want to do each of these to the best of my ability. I want them to be done with excellence. Now you have a little insight into my coming year. What will your year look like? I pray that each of your goals will be accomplished and you will be fulfilled. 

Prayer Triggers

All religions have some form of prayer. Some of them are written prayers that are recited each time while others are more conversational. In the Christian faith, many people admit they want or need to pray more, but they haven’t been able to cultivate the discipline to pray. One of the things I have noticed about many other religions is that they have specific times each day set aside for prayer. A few years back while visiting Turkey, almost the entire city came to a standstill at the designated prayer time. Prayers were broadcast through speakers all over the city. People left their stations at work to participate. Though their beliefs did not match mine, I was struck by the commitment to pray. It is certainly something we could learn from.

Prayer is our opportunity to have a conversation with God. To share what is on our heart and mind, as well as to listen to what He is speaking to us. The question I am most often asked is “How can I find ways to pray more?”. Over the years, I have found triggers to be helpful. When certain things happen, it triggers me to pray. All of these did not come at once. These are just things I have started using to help me pray more. So here are some of my “prayer triggers”. Maybe they will be helpful to you. These may give you new ideas on how to pray more often.

When They Ask
As a pastor, people regularly ask me to pray for them. Sometimes it is not even people I know. What I have found is that it is easiest to do it right then. When someone asks for prayer, I try to pray for them right at that moment. I have prayed with people in the aisle of Food Lion, at the entrance of Walgreens, on the sidewalk downtown and at football games. If I am on the phone, I try to pray with them before I hang up. If I wait, it is easy to forget. When I see a social media post asking for prayer, I stop and call that person’s name out as well. If I pray right then, that moment often reinforces my memory to pray for them later. I am not alone in being asked to pray for people. This is an easy way to pray more often.

When Something Happens
When I see an accident or hear an ambulance, I will take a moment to pray for those involved. The flight path of the helicopter for the local hospital goes directly over my house. I hear it often. It reminds me to pray for those involved. I usually do not know the people involved, but occasionally I will find out later that I do. But this trigger motivates me to pray. One of the things I find is that when I start praying because something has happened, it will cause me to pray about other things as well and will usually refocus my mind on what is important.

When You Are Troubled
Have you ever had a time when you were just troubled but did not know why? Something just did not seem quite right? You could not put your finger on it but you knew something was wrong? I find praying during these times is important. That trouble in my spirit prompts me to pray. Sometimes the troubling goes away. Sometimes it brings clarity to the problem. Most times it is just my opportunity to recognize God is in control no matter what is going on.

Prompted by the Spirit
The nudge. You know what I am talking about. I experience this most often when random people come to my mind. There would have been no recent interaction or meeting, they just come across my thinking. I usually take this as a sign to pray for them. I will often send a message to that person letting them know I felt prompted to pray for them. Occasionally there is a specific situation going on that prayer helped. They are almost always appreciative. Other times that prompting is about a situation or a need or my own need to repent. Whenever the Spirit prompts me, I try to pray.

Schedule It
This is something we could learn from other religions. Schedule time to pray. We schedule other important things in our lives. Why not schedule prayer. I have a daily prayer list that I check off each day. Specific things I pray about. I do this in my morning routine with reading, writing and exercising. Put prayer on your calendar. It doesn’t have to be an hour or even a specified amount of time. It is just the practice of doing it regularly that will trigger you to do it more often.

We cannot pray too much. Most of us need to pray more often. Find some triggers that work for you and let them guide you to more conversations with God. It will be life-changing for you and for others.

2 Things you Need in 2020

The beginning of a new year is a time when people feel like they get a new opportunity to do things differently. It is more symbolic than anything when it comes to making changes, but many people take advantage of it. They set goals, make plans and prepare to accomplish every goal.

For me, the week ending the previous year and heading to the new one gets a lot of attention. I reflect back on the previous year. I evaluate the things I set out to accomplish. Where was I successful and where did I miss it? What were the reasons for both? I have never had a year that I accomplished everything. As a matter of fact, there have been times when the situation I was working on got worse instead of better. 

This year will be no different. It will not be any different for you either. I encourage you to spend time planning for the new year. Call it whatever you like: resolutions, goals, visions. It doesn’t really matter. What I know is that no matter what you put on paper, you will need two things to have a good year and make some headway in the areas you desire.

Discipline

There is no goal or resolution that is accomplished without discipline. It might be a common weight loss goal, a financial goal or a relationship goal. To get to the place you desire, it will require discipline. You will need the discipline to make hard choices. You will need the discipline to move forward even when you do not feel like it (the people still going to the gym in February are the people who go when they don’t feel like it). Luck is not a strategy, but it seems the more disciplined you are the luckier you get.

Grace

Some things will just not work out this year. No matter how disciplined you are, you can only focus it in so many places. Unexpected circumstances may arise. There may be better opportunities that you need to focus on. Some things you set out to do will just not get done. You will need to show yourself grace. We have a tendency to focus on what did not get done instead of being thankful for what did get done. Much like the kid bringing home a report card with 5 A’s and 1 C. Parents get distracted and spend all of their time talking about the C instead of offering a little grace and celebrating the 5 A’s. Celebrate the things you accomplish but offer yourself grace on the things that you don’t.

I am pulling for you this year. I hope that every plan comes to pass and every resolution you make is completed. I pray you have the discipline you need to see everything through. I also hope you have grace to accept the times when you don’t. May 2020 be your best year yet!

The Day After

It’s the day after Christmas. It is empty under the tree. Most of our visitors have returned home. In place of beautifully wrapped gifts, we have piles of torn paper and empty gift bags. Instead of artfully prepared food, we have a refrigerator full of leftovers. The lights don’t seem to burn as bright as we sit and ponder when to start taking the decorations down. There are gifts to put away and decisions to make about the things they replace. What goes and what stays? What do we look forward to next? When do we go back to work and when do the kids go back to school?

It seems the day after Christmas leaves more work than joy. More decisions than rest. The day is festive, but the aftermath can be overwhelming. But if we look around at the high points in life, the day after looks a lot the same. At least what follows looks a lot the same.

We can’t wait to get married and we spend an enormous amount of time to create this perfect day to find out marriage is a lot more work than a wedding. We do everything in our power to land that perfect job only to realize that the work is hard and the people there are not that much different than our last job. We get our dream house but find out it has nightmares of its own. The day after a lot of things brings us back to reality.

So if today you are having the Christmas hangover and you are disheartened because everything is upside down instead of perfectly decorated right side up, don’t be. Lift up your head. Put on some good music. Do the work that needs to be done. Your life will be filled with the day after. Those are the days where we make the most difference.

The Anticipation of Christmas

Christmas is less than one week away and the anticipation is in the air. Some people can’t wait for it to get here while others can’t wait for it to be over. Some people may even experience both of these emotions. As a matter of fact, some of the very things that make us anticipate Christmas may also cause us to want it to be over. Much of our anticipation has to do with things that are going on in our life currently. Our situation has a great impact on the season.

Why do we view things so differently? Why can Christmas not get here fast enough for some and why can it not pass quickly enough for others? How can the same thing bring joy for one and dread for another? If we stop and examine it for a moment, we will see a few specific things that can bring both joy and dread. It might allow us to relate to people a little better during the season

Gifts
When I was a kid I waited with great anticipation of the gifts I was going to receive. Some things I had asked for. Other things were a surprise. The anticipation of opening those gifts and enjoying what I had wished for was at times overwhelming. I found myself peaking in closets looking for hidden gifts or shaking presents under the tree all in the anticipation of finally being able to see it and use it.

As an adult, I have also seen times when gifts brought me dread. There have been times when financial pressure made it difficult to provide the way I wanted to and to get what other people wanted. There have been times when relationship strains made giving and receiving difficult. As I have gotten older, I have wondered about my parent’s experience and how they may have felt and the pressure they may have been under. It helped me appreciate what I had received and the stress it may have caused them at times.

Family
Christmas is one of the few times our entire family gets together during the year. We often say that Christmas Eve is our favorite night of the year. We enjoy a meal and exchanging gifts and the conversations that so rarely get shared. We laugh at new stories and old memories. Seeing our family can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the season.

It can also be one of the most difficult parts of the season. Sometimes relationships are strained. Something has happened in a relationship and restoration and forgiveness have not been experienced so tensions can be high. Other times significant people are missing. Some may have jobs that keep them away, while death and divorce take away others. These missing people add weight to family gatherings. Occasionally it is talked about. Other times it is ignored and people have to deal with it in their own way. Either way, family gatherings can cause us to want the Christmas season to be over.

Travel
I love to travel. I love to see the world and have no problem taking off to just about anywhere. I would consider it our hobby. Things that other people spend their money on such as hunting or racing or sports, we spend on travel. I look for ways to travel as often as I can. Most of our family lives close by so the most we have to travel is a couple of hours, but many years we take a family vacation around Christmas, and at the very least Barbara and I go somewhere and enjoy a few days away.

On the opposite side of that, some people hate to travel. Just driving to the grocery store makes them anxious. They prefer to stay home and only leave when necessary. Even those who are not averse to traveling often find it frustrating because of the cost or discomfort of it. I have to go here or I have to be there can put pressure on people that makes them dread the holidays.

There are other reasons why people get excited about or dread the Christmas season. No matter which side you find yourself on this year, maybe this will be a starter in helping you appreciate the joys and struggles of other people around you.

How To Choose Who To Listen To

Everyone is influenced by other people. We may not realize it and often we are not intentional about it, but it does not remove the fact that we are influenced by others. Some of that influence helps us succeed while some if it causes us to falter. The fact is that we need people to speak into our lives. Proverbs 15:22 (NLT) tells us “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” ‭‭We need advice and guidance. The key is to be intentional about it. Who are those people and what are they saying to us?

We cannot be willing just to accept any advice. We need the right advice. We also need it at the right time. There are qualities that you want in advisors. You want that person to have integrity. You want them to tell you the truth and you want to know they have your best interest at heart. You also want that person to be spiritually grounded. Their advice has to benefit your walk with Christ. You also want them to be wise. You want them to have a solid life foundation that allows them to speak from a broader perspective. That being said, one person cannot speak into every area of your life. They may meet the criteria listed above, but they will not have enough of the following traits to give you the specific advice you need. So if every advisor needs to have integrity, be spiritual and have wisdom, how do you choose people for a specific area of advice. I think you want to add three qualities to narrow down an area where you are looking for advice.

Expertise
They need to know what they are talking about. If the advice you need is about money, you want them to have expertise in finances. Expertise comes in many ways from formal education to life experience, but before you seek advice from someone, make sure you know they have a working knowledge about the topic.

Experience
Knowledge is important. Experience in a reinforcer. Some things work well on paper. They are theories. Sometimes those things have to be adjusted with experience. The marriage counselor that has never been married may have plenty of expertise, but their limited experience will narrow their ability to assist.

Success
This portion is important. Someone may know a lot about marriage and may have a lot of experience, but none of it seemed to work. Seven divorces bring expertise and experience but very little success. It does not mean the person has never failed. The most successful people have failed many times. The difference is they have used it to grow and become successful instead of repeating the same mistakes.

When you find people who are spiritual and have wisdom and integrity then you combine that with expertise, experience, and success, the result is having a great advisor. Whatever area of your life where you need guidance will benefit when all of these are present.

3 Reasons We Miss What Is Important At Christmas

Christmas is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. All of the decorations and festivities bring smiles to the faces of all ages. As a Christian, it marks the celebration of the birth of Christ. As Christians, Christ has to be a central part of the Christmas season. If we compare our levels of importance to the ripples created by a stone thrown in the water, Christ should be at the center and the first circle should be our family. The problem is that these two central pieces of Christ and family often take a back seat to so many other things that press in on us during this time of year.

Sometimes we recognize the things that disrupt the season, yet do very little to change. Other times we don’t even recognize how we allow the “outer rings” to supersede what is most important during this season. That is true of just about any season. I have noticed a few things that seem to be consistent for everyone. Here are three of those that commonly disrupt our Christmas season and cause us to push the important to the back of the line.

Busyness
During the Christmas season, we hear words used like “hustle and bustle”. There may not be a busier season. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is more traveling, more shopping, and more parties than during any other season. As I write this, I am on day two of five straight nights with a seasonal obligation. The busyness of the season and the attempt to get everything in causes us to lose sight of what is most important. Slowing down during Christmas will not happen by accident. You must guard your time because there is always someone standing close by wanting you to do one more thing.

Cultural Trends
What is everyone else doing? Whether we like it or not, culture puts pressure on us to conform. It pressures how we decorate, how we celebrate, and what we focus on. There is pressure to be more inclusive and talk about Jesus a little less. Some of our employers want us to say “holidays” instead of “Christmas”. We are pressed to be politically correct so we leave out the things that make Christmas what it is. We feel like our children will miss out if there is not a visit to see Santa or the elf does not come to visit. How damaged will our kids be if they do not have every experience that everyone else has? Cultural pressure has never been higher than it is today because we have access to everyone and what they are doing. Do not allow cultural trends to push out the vital elements of Christmas.

Consumerism
Black Friday used to be a one-day event but now it starts on Wednesday and it’s not clear when it actually ends. We now have “Cyber Monday” and “Giving Tuesday” which is turning into just as big of a commercial event as the other two. One of the most amazing things is that when we ask family and friends what they want for Christmas, no one knows what to say because we already have so much. But it does not slow us down from buying more. We spend money on gifts and parties and clothing for the parties. Our decorations get more elaborate every year. We go from one Christmas tree to three or four in every home. Businesses are constantly creating new things for us to spend our money on during this season. Then the credit card statements arrive in January and we have no idea what to do. The best advice would be not to fall prey to the trap of consumerism. Giving does not have to break us.

Don’t look back every January wishing you had made changes. It is still early in the season. Start making changes today. Keep Jesus Christ at the center of the season and allow your family to be the first circle. Cutting some of the other things loose will be painful at first, but rewarding in the end because there will be less regret and better memories. Don’t miss what is most important this Christmas.

Connect on Facebook?

Products

Tweet Feeds


About Me

I currently serve as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and I am a certified trainer & coach with the John Maxwell Team. I am also an Associate Trainer with EQUIP training leaders around the world. I currently own two businesses related to the foodservice equipment industry. I am a certified speaker, teacher and coach with the John Maxwell Team. I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.