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Margie Bryce

Your leadership coach
and self-care advocate

114: Balancing Praise with Humility

The Crabby Pastor
The Crabby Pastor
114: Balancing Praise with Humility
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Humility: once you think you have it, you actually don’t. That’s the challenge of this basic Christian virtue. Today’s conversation is with Dr. Dennis Edwards, the brilliant mind behind the book Humility Illuminated: the biblical path back  to Christian character, to help us tackle this complex virtue.

As your host, Margie Bryce, I get personal about my own experiences leading with humility. It’s a journey sprinkled with trials and victories, from the difficulties of relying on the generosity of others to the constant comparisons with larger ministries that can cloud our perspective. Dr. Edwards and I shed light on the importance of being a welcoming community leader, one who listens earnestly and serves with the resources at hand. Our conversation journeys into the heart of humility in community service, valuing collaboration over competition and celebrating the unique gifts each congregation brings to the table.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BOOK ON HUMILITY. 

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Transcript

Margie: 

Hey there, it’s Margie Bryce, your host of the Crabby Pastor podcast, where we talk about all things sustainabile whether it’s sustainability in ministry, in your personal life and we acknowledge that the church is in a transitional time, so we hit topics there too that are going to stretch your mind and the way you lead, especially how you lead yourself, so that you don’t become the crabby pastor. Hey there, podcast friends, it’s Margie Bryce, host of the Crabby Pastor podcast, and I have an announcement to make, two things actually. The first is that I am going to be taking my own advice and I will be doing some sabbatical time in June and July of this year, but I’m not going to leave you with nothing. I am going to serve up to you my collection of Back From Burnout stories from ministry leaders who are telling the truth about their trek back from burnout. It’s always something that we can learn from listening to other people’s situations and stories and maybe prevent our own burnout episodes from even happening by doing the self-care that we need to do. So I will serve those up to you, but I will be back revived and ready to serve Margie Bryce here, host of the Krabby Pastor podcast, and we’re going to talk today about humility, and you know that’s it’s almost like nailing jello to the tree, you know, because the minute that you think you have it you don’t, and I find that a real challenge.

Margie:

 

But it is something I think that is critical to the life of ministry leaders. And so InterVarsity Press passed along a book to me called Humility Illuminated, and here’s the part that really got to me was the subtitle the Biblical Path Back to Christian Character. Gee, okay. So I have the author here, dr Dennis Edwards, and we’re going to talk humility, what it is, what it isn’t, and the path towards it. So, dr Edwards, if you would mind, just tell us a bit about yourself so we know we have a context to work with here.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Sure Well, Margie, I am really grateful to be having this conversation with you. Thank you, yeah, I’m Dennis Edwards. I’m the Dean of North Park Theological Seminary. I’ve been here for several years but my training has been in biblical studies. So I was previously the associate and associate professor of New Testament here at North Park. But I’ve taught adjunct in many places for over 25 years or so. But I’ve also been a pastor. I’ve been a pastor in major cities. I grew up in New York, so I’ve been a pastor in New York, Washington DC, Minneapolis and then a full-time instructor here in Chicago.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

And this topic of humility has been something I’ve thought about and wrestled with for many years because I don’t think I was given a clear definition of what it is. So I was. You know, you’re left to fill it in somewhat culturally or maybe just make assumptions as to what humility is. And then, with some conversation with folks at InterVarsity Press, I realized, oh, this is a chance to dive into this topic in a more academic way. So I try to bring my academic training in there as a biblical exegete and also my pastoral experience in there, because I do weave in a bunch of stories and church situations in the book.

Margie:

 

Yes, you do, and I liked in the book you talked about the Trinity being sports and entertainment, and this is the Trinity of our culture and the overly competitive nature of how we like to compare ourselves and we’ll all say, well, we’re not supposed to do that, we’re not, but we do it to be, honest. You know, let’s just be real. I’d like to be honest if I can help it right, and so that’s hard to not give into that. Even as ministry leaders, we need to be walking a different kind of walk.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I think so. I mean, I have been in this journey for a while and many of the conferences or resources sometimes written, sometimes spoken, sometimes in group settings geared to us pastors, was almost about just how to make sure your church grows big, because big, of course, is the assumption, is it’s better.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

And a very American way of thinking about things. Well, maybe more specifically thinking about success is that it has to be big and have a lot of numbers to it, when, frankly, we can measure success in different ways in faithfulness and transform lives, ways in faithfulness and transformed lives so many other ways. But I do think we get caught up in a cycle of how can I prove my worth? Well, my worth will be proven if I can get a really big crowd, or if I can get a lot of money, or if I can build a bigger building, those kinds of things. And I feel like, while those things are not evil, I’m not arguing that. I am saying that there’s something behind that that’s different than what might be the real driver of ministry, which is to be like Jesus and to help other people be like Jesus.

Margie:

 

Right, right, and you capture that well in the book and it is an academic read, but I would say it’s an easy academic read, not saying that there’s no, I’m not saying that it is shallow in any way, shape or form. I mean humility is a pretty, but it is. It’s a good read. So I appreciated that, Although I like the academic kind of thing. Oh, good Thanks.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Yeah, well, I did want to. I did want people to see that, while I’m not a sociologist, I’m not trying to make a case by a field that I, that I don’t know and haven’t studied. My lane is biblical studies and pastoral ministry, so I tried to stay in my lane, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to be a super technical book that no one would pick up or only a few interested geeks and nerds would pick up, you know? Yeah, I wanted regular folks to read it and be encouraged by it.

Margie:

 

Yeah, yeah. So what would you say then, ministry leaders of today and I say ministry leaders instead of pastors because I think I have more than pastors, and I also have some of the people who are entrepreneurial in spirit, listening that kind of, and caregivers actually in this podcast, because we all don’t do self-care very well. But I think if you walk the path of humility, it’s difficult to run on the hamster wheel at the same time.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Oh my, well said that’s, that’s, that’s good. I hope people catch capture that I might have to come back to that expression because I do like the metaphors of walking and running and and I do like also that humility. I consider it a journey, I consider it’s a way of being. I think of humility. I consider it a journey, I consider it’s a way of being. I think of humility not in an episodic way, although some people think that, like right now I better be humble, now, or right now I better be more assertive. No, I think of humility as an overall kind of character trait.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I mean it’s a virtue that we lean into. It’s like love. Like when should I say I’m never going to be loving? I want to love all the time and I want to be humble all the time. And I think that journey does require a few things of us.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I define humility as a posture of submission to God. So I see that as, first of all, the thing that draws me to what humility is. It’s how I yield to God, how I submit to God, how I relate to God. In the Old Testament you’ll see humility often in parallel with the phrase fear of God. So this reverence for God is seen as one way to express humility. It’s a deep reverence for God. So I start there.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I don’t start with a psychological analysis. My biblical analysis says I start with a posture of submission to God, but that posture of submission plays itself out in a behavior and an attitude and even actions of peacemaking and reconciliation, so that I become an agent for God’s good by submitting to God. Now, peacemaking and reconciling doesn’t mean I don’t tell the truth and doesn’t mean that some people won’t be irritated by my presence or by my words. So the goal of humility is not just to make everybody feel nice or just to be a nice person that nobody you know can find fault in. It’s really to be an honest, truthful person, honest with God, honest with others. And I would add, there’s an advocacy for those who are most likely to be left out and marginalized and minimized. All of that I see from scripture and from the way of Jesus.

Margie:

 

Yeah, Absolutely, Absolutely. And yeah, as I’m reading the book, I’m going through it and going man, I’m just not very humble the book, I’m going through it and going, man, I’m just not very humble.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Well, I hope I didn’t write. I hope people don’t come away only critical of themselves.

Margie:

 

Well, you know, and then I think that’s my predisposition anyway, but when you, I would say that, at the end of the day, if you can reflect back on the day that you just lived and say I was faithful and obedient to what God asked of me, today, that that’s a really great marker.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Oh, amen, amen. And that to me, is the sign of humility. It’s a sense of wanting God to be pleased with you, with your life and the way that you carry yourself, and not have to justify everything you’ve done, even the wrong things you’ve done, but to try to be confident in that. That’s a lifelong journey. I don’t mean to say it’s an easy thing or even a one-time thing. It’s a part of our journey. But when I look at the way of humility, the way it’s described in scripture, the way I see it in Jesus, the way I see it in other people in the scriptures, it’s a way that does grow. As we grow right, as we move along in life, we can get better at being more faithful. We can be more consistent. Perhaps is a good way to think of it.

Margie:

 

What would you say would be the key issues that? Would be most helpful to those who are serving in ministry at this particular time, which is you know, now we’re kind of post-COVID but, churches have been hit. You know they’re down. Maybe they’re half of what they were before. Yeah, and pastors are, and ministry leaders are trying to regain traction and some places are doing better than others and you can’t help. But look, I mean, the average size of churches might be around 75-ish.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Well, I, well I can answer that question from my own personal perspective. There’s a lot in there, because I don’t want to be casual or flippant about people, because this was me trying to make a living doing what you felt God has called you to do, and struggling to make that living because we do live off of the discretionary income of people. I mean, we live off of whatever people decide to put into an offering plate, and that’s very challenging. I’m not going to lie, but having been a church planter and a pastor of small churches and then larger churches in my years of ministry you know, in small churches I was always hustling, working two jobs. You know that kind of stuff, so I understand some of that anyway. So in my answer, I just want people to know I’m not coming from this as some ivory tower and say, well, you just ought to do A, b and C and everything will work out fine. I understand that tension that you just brought up. I understand some of these challenges.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Humility still means, though, rather than comparing myself to the big ministry down the street or even to what used to be, I’m running. I’m the dean of a seminary here where people will always remember the glory days of when we were bigger and all those things, and I can’t live back there. I have to live in a place that says what’s my duty right now in my walk with God and my loving mercy, and doing justice and walking humbly with God. That’s what I have to do now and that’s my task. God is gracious and will supply what I need, but I do encourage people to walk in that journey of faithfulness and try their best to not rank what they’re doing against someone else. It really isn’t a competition against others. It’s a question of running a race, but it’s a race of consistency. It’s a race where the Lord gives us a crown at the end for finishing.

Margie:

 

Right and it’s not based on what is it? They say lots and bucks.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

That’s right.

Margie:

 

Yes, the money and the people I mean. You want to be faithful and obedient with what God has provided you with.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

That’s right. That’s right. I mean one of the themes that I say in the book that kind of carries itself out you see it in the Old Testament, you see it in the in the Apocrypha, you see it it in the New Testament and you see it later even in the Apostolic Fathers is God is against or anti or opposes, in some translations, the proud but shows favor to the humble. So there’s this sense that you know I don’t want to be in a place where God is anti-me. You know I don’t want to be in a place where God opposes me.Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Pride is and I didn’t write a book to try to analyze all of what pride is, but just to put it out there. I think many of us could recognize pride, but there is a temptation to this self-inflation, because that’s the way our society operates, that’s how we get recognized in our world. And yet the Lord says just the opposite, that even though we might not see it all in our lifetime, god is really in opposition to that kind of attitude but shows favor on the humble and says even in 1 Peter well, therefore, humble yourself under God’s hand and in due time he lifts you up. So God does the blessing in all of that and I don’t have to force it.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Right Right force it Right, right, At the same time, you know ministry leaders wrangle with.

Margie:

 

What does success look like? You know you mentioned about, you know, churches that okay, they’re half of what they were. That means the giving has probably taken a hit. This means that and I always used to call it OPM other people’s money.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Yes, right, right.

Margie:

 

You know you have to be careful with other people’s money.Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

That’s amen. I hope people are.Margie:

 

You do. You have to be faithful and obedient with that as well.Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

That’s right, that’s right.

Margie:

 

But so you did talk, though, about humility as being a blessing to other people, not just existing for yourself, and I think that ties to a better picture of success.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Yes, Thank you. I mean one of the things that we give to others or we offer to others is ourselves as people in ministry, and we know that runs carries a risk. Some people might take advantage of us when we offer ourselves, we’re open, we’re vulnerable, we’re honest and we’re hospitable. I mean all those things we try to be and some people might take advantage. I’m not saying that there are no guidelines of wisdom of how to have some boundaries with that, but I am saying that a welcoming posture, one that listens, one that receives, that goes a long way. I mean, one of the things that leaders can help people do is help them to feel seen and feel heard and feel like they belong, Because many times people leave churches because all the programming was actually pretty cool, they liked it at first, Everything was good, but then after a while they realized well, nobody seems to care that I’m here, and I have seen people leave churches where they felt like, well, I just didn’t fit in.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Nobody seemed to notice me or befriend me in any real way, substantive way. So one of the gifts we give in humility is the gift of listening and receiving others, even though that is a kind of a work for some Others have to work at it more because they’re not naturally inclined to be like that, but I think that’s a gift that humility gives.

Margie:

 

What would you say is a way or some steps towards attaining it? I almost feel like that’s oxymoronish to say attain humility. Is it what I mean?

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I do. I was, I was fishing for the right words as I was writing the book, because I don’t think we ever get there. But that’s why I kind of called it a trajectory and a movement and all that. So I say I pursue it. You know those kinds of things. But but yeah, I mean some of the hows. You know I that the hows are difficult because they’re contextual.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Look, some people brought up being say polite, right, I ministered in the Midwest for a lot of years and there’s a certain built-in politeness that people have. They don’t want to take the last cookie, they don’t want to take the last thing on the plate, so they’ll cut it in half or something. I’ve seen that. So for some people humility is culturally defined, right, it’s that kind of social lubrication that we have so that people get along with each other. But I’m asking for something a little bit more than that.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

So the how-tos would be like relate to?

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Well, the how-tos relate to my posture before God, as I mentioned earlier. So if I can cultivate a growing relationship with God, that helps me to know that I have worth before God, but I don’t have to pretend to be more than I’m not, which is where the pride part comes in, or vainglory, as the old King James says. So my cultivating that relationship with God gets that. And then practicing my good listening skills, reflective listening, all the things that would allow me to receive from others, rather than being the one that always is giving and showing everybody else what to do. So I guess what I’m saying is it’s, rather than picking one or two things, there really is a posture of being willing to not always be the first one or the only one, or the best one or the. You know, I have to mark everything as being the person in charge, but I’m willing to receive, and that’s, yeah, that’s hard for some people, I know, but I think that that’s what’s borne out in the life of Jesus and in many scripture passages.

Margie:

 

Sure, sure, and it’s hard for the people that are up front dispensing the wisdom and, at the same time, at the same time, like who wants to volunteer to be a doormat.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Right, nobody wants to volunteer to be a doormat, and I argue that humility isn’t that Humility would be wondering why our society allows people to be doormats. So true humility wouldn’t be worrying about being a doormat. It’d be looking out that somebody else isn’t going to be a doormat because I think I see humility as that kind of virtue that is so attuned to others.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I mean that’s the way of Jesus, right? So Jesus is up front in his context. He’s out there, speaking, has eyes on him in the various villages where he’s going around teaching and preaching and healing, and there’s a lot of attention. Yet in Matthew’s gospel he’ll say so it’s all over the place. But one key place is Matthew 11, where he says look, all of you who are burdened, heavy laden, weighed down. He says look, come to me, I’ll give you rest. He says my yoke is easy, my burden is light. He says, but come to me because I’m gentle. He says my yoke is easy, my burden is light, he says but come to me because I’m gentle, he says, and humble of heart. So here’s this upfront person who we look to and adore and worship, who describes himself as humble and lowly in heart or gentle. So I think there is something to be said for the leader, recognizing that a posture of gentleness and humility is not counter leadership, it’s part of leadership, right, right.

Margie:

 

And I know in the culture right now, it is a highly competitive culture. Everybody’s always assessing and posturing themselves, and then when there’s competition like that, there are winners and there are losers, and everybody likes to win, everybody likes to be right, which?

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

is kind of hard.

Margie:

 

If you think about it. Everybody can’t be right all at the same time. I don’t know but but who likes to be not right, you know Right? Well, certainly, certainly don’t have to right.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I don’t. I don’t like being wrong, right? Well, certainly certainly don’t have to Right. I don’t. I don’t like being wrong, but at the same time, I don’t. I it’s taken me a while to say this, but I don’t always have to win either. So I have been in situations where I’ve been misunderstood for sure. So I’ve tried to make my case and I’ve tried to explain that that’s fine. I mean, I think that that’s part of life. But if I don’t win somebody over and I see this on the internet all the time, especially on Twitter or X is that people will argue back and forth, and I think really, what is the point here?

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

That I mean I’m not going to win this person over by fussing with them on social media, but people will do it all the time. So for me that humility says I can just back out of that. I don’t have to be drawn into every fight that you might think I have to fight.

Margie:

 

That’s different. Yes, oh, I think it’s the way of Jesus, right.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I think the way of Jesus is different and you know so I argue in the book that that difference was characteristic of the earliest believers.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

They were known for something that was not well-known or well-respected in the Greco-Roman world, which is humility. Even the language of humility was not used in a positive way. So, yes, it’s not going to look like the rest of the world, it’s going to look different. But that’s my point is that Christianity seems to be on a trajectory right now, at least in some circles, to try to look very American, maybe with the hopes of fitting in better or controlling certain aspects of our culture, when I think it’s just the opposite. I think that Christianity has to look so different in some ways it’s contextualized for sure I’m not saying odd all the time, but different enough that it would say wait, these folks operate in a different way. They have a different sense of love, different sense of respect, different sense of caring, and humility drives that so that there becomes something unusually attractive about us, rather than us winning arguments on the internet. We actually love people enough that we listen and we care and we serve, and I think that’s just the way our early forebearers carried out their faith.

Margie:

 

Yeah, for sure, for sure. And I think what’s interesting is you’re speaking about that because I coach ministry leaders and I end up doing a lot of that listening, listening very intently to what they’re saying. I mean, it’s great training for that and I’m not by any means saying that I’m the most humble person I know, because I wouldn’t say that but it does force you into a different posture where you are listening intensely and you are trying to walk in their world for a moment and questions that are going to benefit them.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Thank you, that’s wonderful.

Margie:

 

Not yourself Helping them think a little more broadly? Maybe there’s stuff you need to help them think more broadly.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

To me that’s a perfect picture of humility, the way you just described it You’re serving and you’re not trying to be served, which is the way Jesus did. That’s awesome.

Margie:

 

Sure, I mean, and that is you know. I would say then that each individual church needs to find their specific niche for how they’re supposed to bless their community. If every community of faith had one way of serving their community. I just think that would be a different picture.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Oh my goodness, I think that’s such wisdom in there, especially since there’s so many churches. We don’t all have to reproduce what others are doing, but we can find ways to love and serve our community. That was hard for me as a pastor, because people will come with different ideas and they often will come with ideas from their old church and they think you should do that in this church and all of that. But maybe humility would allow us to have good conversations with each other and discern together what is it that we can do as a community that serves our neighborhood and doesn’t necessarily have to make us compare us to the church down the street or something you know.

Margie:

 

I like that and at the very least and this is some of the I’ve worked in some revitalization kind of areas but you could have two churches in the same community and the community might have similar values needs but, each congregation is going to have a different gift mix.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Yes, that’s right, that’s right.

Margie:

 

So then, the way that your community serves as a function of the needs of your community, the gift mix that is in your congregation and then maybe what the passion is on the hearts of the leaders there. So, you get two churches serving very differently. Yeah, wow.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I like that and you know, and you just made me think too what, what, what, what could happen if those people from both those churches spoke with each other about how their two congregations were going to serve the community and to make sure that they’re not sort of stepping on each other’s toes or competing with each other. I have been. When I was serving in churches not every place I served were there groups of pastors that got together to talk about their communities. When I was in DC, that did happen and I was grateful that there was a group of pastors. We thought about our neighborhood. We thought about we didn’t see ourselves as competing with each other. We saw ourselves as all trying to serve in our way in our community, and to me, there’s a humility in that.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

It’s often frustrating when there’s that a few churches that will stand alone like I got nothing to do with you and I don’t want to talk to you folks, we’re just going to do our thing over here, and I think so. So, yeah, so there’s two levels of conversation. Right, there’s one inside. This is how we’re going to serve our community, but maybe there’s conversations with other churches that says, hey, how can we together care for people in this community and maybe we’re going to do it with different emphases because we have different gifts and abilities and such. I mean I hadn’t thought about that until you just said it, but I have seen that happen in places.Margie:

 

Yeah, I think that’s an amazing picture as opposed to divisive attitudes, and I just think sometimes we have to even be careful about how we speak and have a little bit of humility about that, even to the point where you want to refer to people who don’t know Jesus yet as the lost. Well, if they hear that this is something where we’ve lost touch with how it sounds outside of the bubble.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Oh my goodness, yeah, I hear that.

Margie:

 

Well, you’re thinking oh, oh, my goodness, how would I feel? And I was somebody who came to Christ in my mid-twenties or so. I’m a little more sensitive to that kind of stuff because it took me a long time to learn what people were saying and understand in the church environment. But if you’re looking at people who hear, oh my gosh, they think I’m lost. I’m not lost, you know what I’m saying.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Oh, I definitely know what you’re saying. That relates to this whole sense of how we posture ourselves with our neighbors. If we love people or if we just see them as targets and such that there is a different way that you communicate with your friends and your neighbors. And if you saw people as friends and neighbors and not just merely as targets that have to get evangelized, it might allow us to be more natural in our communication and more straightforward about how we live out this faith with people and not just refer to them or label folks or something like that.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I’ve seen that. I know the Christian subculture and our language and all that kind of stuff. That happens, but it even happens with people who’ve been in church for a long time, with folks who haven’t been in church for a long time. They might even already be in the church, yet there’s still an insider, outsider kind of way of being and that hits everything the way we sing our songs, the way we set up our structures, the way we make decisions, and I’m basically asking for us to consider all of that in terms of what is it communicating to people who aren’t us? What is it communicating to folks who are new? What is it communicating to people who have been on the margins of our society, I mean, all those things to me are related to a posture of humility. So, yeah, I mean you hit on something really good, even just how we refer to people.

Margie:

 

Sure, sure. I think it is a humility issue when we see ourselves as God’s special people and we are but, then we forget that it rains on the just and the unjust right From God’s perspective. Everybody is God’s special people right Amen and so we have to then and that’s a humility issue not setting ourselves higher than we ought to and not setting ourselves too low either. But, being the right assessment before God who it is that we are and how we are to be.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Amen, Well said. I like that. The word humility and humble they derive from a Latin word, hummus, which means earth and ground right, so there’s a sense of humility being grounded. You said it well we’re not too high and we don’t have to debase ourselves either. We don’t have to degrade ourselves. We’re human beings made in the image of God, and there’s something that we need to own about that, because that’s real, that’s healthy, that’s good, but we don’t need to elevate ourselves above what we are either. So I like that.

Margie:

 

Yeah. And at the same time, it’s tricky for ministry leaders, who get compliments, who get all of those accolades, to not to resist the urge, rather let’s say it that way to put themselves on the pedestal that people are attempting to put you on.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Yeah, I guess.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I mean you said it’s hard. I think so. I mean I don’t want to be coy about it, but I have seen that happen. I’ve been in churches where the pastors are put up on pedestals and in some traditions there is a good amount of respect that goes with the position which I like. I mean it’s healthy to say this person is laboring for the Lord every day and laboring to serve God’s people every day. So, as the scriptures say, the worker deserves their wages and there’s all respect to that position.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

But I think the I guess the question is, I don’t know if it’s hard when people are grateful and celebrate who you are, if you have a good assessment of yourself, because I don’t know. I mean I’m struggling with that because it’s I, the people who, I think, who have a hard time with compliments, have something else going on right. There’s something going on inside, and so people who take those compliments so far as to think that I actually am so much better than everybody else, they’ve got something else going on inside. So I guess what I’m saying is maybe there’s some issues that go beyond just being able to do the work that we’re called to do. So I struggled with it’s hard, because people will say that They’ll say a kind thing to me.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

And then I’ve heard some other people withhold a compliment and say, well, I don’t want you to get a swelled head, so I’m not going to say I don’t like, why is it your job to moderate how I would receive something right, just share it. And it’s my job to consider how I should take that information, that compliment or even the challenge that you’ve given me, the criticism that you’ve given me. That’s on me how I receive those things and sometimes they’re warranted, sometimes they’re not. But I just feel it’s kind of odd to say to somebody well, I better not give them a compliment because they’re going to get a swelled head, like why. That says more about you, I think, than it does about the person giving the compliment it does and you know ministry is lonely at times.

Margie:

 

Yes, and challenging to live into.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Amen.

Margie:

 

So you know you do want to encourage your ministry.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

That’s right we want to encourage folks and I think it goes. It goes both ways, because if I’m encouraging God’s, god’s flock, people can encourage me. I would hope, as I’m trying to labor honestly before the Lord, you know, and uh, and that’s not to say it’s always going to be, you know, beautiful. I mean, it’s going to be challenges of, of course, right, but I think what you just said is true If the work is hard, I don’t want to make it harder by being a hard person to deal with.

Margie:

 

Yeah, for sure, For sure. Do you have any other words of wisdom pearls that you could offer?

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I wish I had some pearls of wisdom. I’m glad you think of it like that. Well, I think the thing I was probably most concerned about as I wrote the book was for people who have had a hard life and have been on the bottom Sometimes that’s been fear was to write a book about humility might be seen as oh my goodness, you’re telling low people they have to go even lower, and it’s not. What I’m really doing is at least what I’m trying to do is challenge the person who’s enjoyed a relative amount of privilege to always have their eyes and hearts open to people who have been marginalized, and for those who have been marginalized to not crave the oppressive kind of power that operates in our society. So the challenge for them is to not go lower. I’m not asking that. The challenge is to not lust after the thing that’s really unhealthy in the first place.

Margie:

 

Yeah, that is. I think I wrote in the margins somewhere about that. I noted that and thought you know, you don’t want to have, you don’t want to buy into the crazy competitive stuff you really don’t. But on the other hand you know you need to ambulate or just live rightly.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Yes, right, you want to. You got to manage, manage this crazy world, but I don’t want to buy into all the dysfunctions.

Margie:

 

Sure, I know, I was at a pastor’s meeting once and they start out saying you know pastors, we just all we get together and all we do is complain. But that’s a little known secret Not a secret now, but anyway and I thought I was shocked by that because, again, I was, you know, in my mid-20s and I was second career to ministry when I answered my call, so I was a little older, you know, and they said let’s go around and let’s just say you know something positive, something that’s been a blessing.

Margie:

 

Well, we got this one person and they started talking about the so many million dollar expansion at their church. You know, and I’m like you know. I wanted to say I would have been good with you just talking about this expansion and the potential for ministry. You didn’t have to put a dollar amount on it because there’s so much schleps sitting here that would attain to that and why did you feel the need to?

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

you know, to grandstand about that.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I hear that. I hear what you’re saying very well, and I’ve been many circles like that and it is grandstanding and even though we want to say it’s God’s blessing, there’s a part that that’s about Look what I did or look what my people are doing, or how great this is, and some of that really bothers me. I mean, if some of the stories were about families that had come who were really struggling and now they found a sense of community and belonging and they’re diving into the life of ministry in the church, those are stories I think we would be encouraged by to hear. So you’re right, there’s a lot that we complain about in ministry, for sure. I mean, it’s tough, it’s hard, but it would be nice if we could encourage each other with some of the things that we actually honestly think are the benchmarks of ministry, which is change, lives, communities that are being restored and strengthened, families that are being restored and strengthened because the spirit of God is at work.Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

I want to hear those stories. I want to hear that story more than I heard that your church is building a building or you’re building a building because something is happening so great and things are growing and there’s a lot of energy and strength of the Spirit there. Yeah, tell that story. But I don’t know. I just think with the some of the competitive way we do things, it does turn out to be we’re doing better than you guys.

Margie:

 

Just don’t tell us the price tag. Okay, that’s true, I don’t need to know that, thanks. Well, I want to thank you for coming on the Krabby Pass. Thank you, margie, that’s good. I was trying not to be too Krabby myself want to thank you for coming on the Krabby Pass.

Dr. Dennis Edwards:

 

Thank you, Margie. That’s good.

Margie:

 

I was trying not to be too Krabby myself, but thank you, so I really appreciate that you have taken the time with us my pleasure, it was my pleasure, thank you.

Margie:

 

Thank you very much. So how do the pieces of your life fit together? Do they fit together well and things are humming along just fine? Do they fit together well and things are humming along just fine, or are there some pieces that are tight or absent or just not fitting the bill?

Margie:

 

This is your invitation to join me in my glass workshop for a video series, where I am going to do a stained glass project while I talk to you about sustainability and building sustainability into your heart and into your life. So I am going to be doing my art, which is a form of self-care, and I’m going to invite you into that space with me and I’m going to chat. I’m going to chat about self-care and I’m going to show you how I create, and there’s a nifty, nifty analogy. Stained glass seems to be a very good metaphor for what I want to talk about. So I’d love for you to join me to do that. To opt in, I’ll need you to email me at crabbypastor at gmailcom. That’s crabbypastor at gmailcom. So you won’t want to miss this. You definitely won’t want to miss this. So make a plan to join me in the glass workshop.

Margie:

 

In the Glass Workshop, are you wondering whether your fatigue, your lack of motivation, your lack of interest is burnout maybe. I just wanted to let you know that I have a resource on the website, margiebryce dot com that’s B-R-Y-C-E MargieBryce dot com, and it is a burnout questionnaire, free for you to download, and kind of self-assess and get a sense of where you’re at. There are questions that not only ask about what you’re going through, but maybe how often you’re experiencing it, and that’s kind of a key to where you might be, because you have to know where you are in order to chart a course forward. Pastors and ministry leaders who experience burnout rarely know that that’s where they’re at until they’re well into it. And if you’re unsure about that little statistic, so far everybody that I’ve interviewed on this podcast who has experienced burnout, when I asked that kind of question, they’re like, yeah, I didn’t know that’s where I was at. So again, go to margiebryce dot com it’s on the home page of the website and you can get your burnout questionnaire and kind of see where you’re at.

Margie:

 

Hey, friends, the Crabby Pastor podcast is sponsored by Bryce Art Glass and you can find that on Facebook. I make stained glass as part of my self-care and also by Bryce Coaching, where I coach ministry leaders and business leaders, and so the funds that I generate from coaching and from making stained glass is what is supporting this podcast, and I will have opportunities for you to be a part of sponsoring me and, as always, you can do the buy me a cup of coffee thing in the show notes. But I will have some other ways that you can be a part of getting the word out about the importance of healthy self-care for ministry leaders. Hey, thanks for listening. It is my deep desire and passion to champion issues of sustainability in ministry and for your life, so I’m here to help.

Margie:

 

I stepped back from pastoral ministry and I feel called to help ministry leaders create and cultivate sustainability in their lives so that they can go the distance with God and whatever plans that God has for you. I would love to help, I would consider it an honor and, in all things, make sure you connect to these sustainability practices you know so that you don’t become the crabby pastor.

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