Have you ever considered how the shimmering beauty of a stained glass heart captures the vulnerability of those who lead in ministry? As your host, Margie Bryce, I’m here to share valuable insights relating to the sustainability of ministry, especially during this Advent season. Drawing on my journey as a ministry leader and the hardships faced by the prophet Jeremiah, I aim to offer much-needed encouragement to those serving tirelessly in ministry. Join us, as we relish the beauty and complexity of a stained glass heart, symbolizing your dedication, resilience, and vulnerability in this divine calling.
We can’t ignore the fact that avoiding burnout is just as important as ministering to others. As ministry leaders, you’re on a mission to spread compassion and care, and yet, we often neglect the critical importance of self-care. Let’s explore this together, praying for an outpouring of creativity, hope, and obedience while discussing the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. We’ll examine the significance of being firmly rooted as God’s people, a crucial aspect in ensuring sustainability in ministry. If you’re seeking a beacon of hope and sustainable practices as a ministry leader, this episode is your sanctuary. Support the show
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Hey there, Margie Bryce, here bringing you the Crabby Pastor podcast, and I don’t think you’re going to be too surprised to know that it’s too easy today to become the Crabby Pastor. Our time together will give you food for thought to help you be the ministry leader, fully surrendered to God’s purposes and living into whatever it takes to get you there and keep you there.
So we’re talking about sustainability in ministry. The Crabby Pastor podcast is going to take a brief shift during Advent of this year and I want to minister to you as ministry leaders. So seldom do we get to sit in a service and just be in. Even I was reminded as I sat in a family funeral recently that we often serve and I remember, when my dad passed some months ago, that I was serving my family by having a memorial. And as I sat through this family funeral of an uncle that was a similar age to my dad on my husband’s side, I sat there and just cried at different points and I realized that I had not sat through a sermon or a message or a funeral on behalf of the grieving of my dad. And that’s because I was busy serving. And that’s what happens, right, we get busy serving and we frequently don’t get to get filled up.
So it is my hope during this Advent season that I can offer you these four messages. You know reminders, I know you know this stuff right, but we all need reminders. That’s mostly what church is about, right, reminders. But it’s my goal to say to you I see you, I know I’ve served in ministry and I really do care about the state and welfare and well-being of today’s ministry leaders.
I know this is a challenging time in ministry. It’s been a challenging time for a while, right, but how does this impact our hope for the future for what God is doing, God’s work in the world, and our role in all of that? And now, here it is Christmas, and what happens at Christmas is the throngs show up, right, and we get our hopes up, and then, you know, in January it’s a whole other, different kind of thing, and that’s just the nature of it, right? That’s just the way it goes.
I remember being in seminary and working through a course on Jeremiah and I think today, all ministry leaders, we are Jeremiah. We want to be all in, we want to give our everything, and we give our hearts to our ministry. We bring in some creativity. Jeremiah, you know, was all in. He was crazy, and at the end he really didn’t have converts. And I remember you know the hair on the back of my neck, you know standing on end as I’m reading through and realizing look at everything this guy did. And the people didn’t listen to the warnings, the people just resisted.
So Jeremiah, you know, used the branch of an almond tree to make a point, he used a boiling pot of water, he used a ruined linen belt. The potter’s clay is a well-known metaphor that was captured in the book of Jeremiah, where Jeremiah went down and you know, he got the object lesson, really, but he looked at how we are formed in the potter’s hand and what can happen afterward. When he broke a clay jar, there were two baskets of figs. That was used as a metaphor. You know the yoke where, where he put a yoke on and walked around like that to make a point. He also bought some land when people would have said, really, Jeremiah, this is not a great time to buy land, just trying to remind the people that God didn’t forget them, God saw, and that God would still be faithful.
And always there was that call to repentance that frequently went unheeded and I wonder how many of you today feel like that. You have been as creative as you can be to give the message that God has asked you to give. You put your heart into everything that you’re doing. You take your task as an under shepherd, because you’re under the main shepherd, Jesus. You take your task very seriously and you’ve been faithful, but sometimes you just don’t see the kind of response that you’d like to see happen. You don’t see people catch and get engaged and live it.
You know, I saw a meme recently on Facebook that said becoming a follower of Jesus is more than saying the sinner’s prayer, right? And we know as ministry leaders that it leads us into a life as described in John 10.10, full of great abundance, a sense of fulfillment, a sense of joy and peace that few seem to connect with today and we’re concerned about that, you know. But you put your heart into it.
I’m a stained glass artist and I have cut hearts out before. It’s a tricky thing. If you think about the shape of a heart, you know it’s that indent in the middle. You know there that is really the problem and it sets up a weak point. And early on in my stained glass work I did a piece for one of my sons and I did kind of the logo of the neighborhood that he lives in, and there was a heart in the middle of it.
So I actually cut a heart out by hand and didn’t use a saw. That’s the difference between a hand cut and a saw. Either way, though, you still have that weak spot in the center of that heart. And so I created this heart and I created the whole piece for him, and I paid big bucks to have it shipped far away and make sure it would not arrive broken. And they put it up. It was amazing.
And I went and saw it on a visit sometime after that and of course, I walked by it and kind of scrutinized it and I could see that at that center weak spot, sure enough, there had been that break, that there was a crack in it, and I said, oh, my goodness, there’s a crack in this. I have to fix it. You know, because, ministry leaders, we are fixers, right, so you know, and it takes a little bit of work to fix something like that.
But his wife said to me no, no, no, just leave that there, because you know when he moved far away from home. It broke his mother’s heart. I was like, well, ok, that’s kind of a nice story sort of. You know it’s a sad story sort of, but I was still wanting to fix it. I still do want to fix it.
So the point is that our hearts are a delicate thing and they break easy and they are tender. Hopefully, hopefully, you have not navigated all of COVID and come through on the other side to this very first Christmas after, kind of COVID is sort of cleared out in better than last year.
Okay, so we’re in a better spot right now. So hopefully you’ve come out on the other side and your heart is not hard. But it still remains tender. And we know our hearts are a delicate thing and there’s weak places in it where we can look at our circumstances and our people and just get really whipped up and sad or challenged, frustrated, all of those kinds of things. But the good news of all of this in regard to the kind of hope that we have for the future.
So you can see I’m following the hope, peace, love and joy, advent. You know the themes here. The hope for the future comes in that you are where you are because God has planted your feet there, and that’s a great thing to remember, especially in the Christmas season here. And we really need to resist the culturally accepted success in ministry model.
And the majority of the churches are under 5,000. The majority of churches are under 1,000. They’re under 500. They’re under. You know, I’m just saying you just have to be faithful and obedient wherever God has planted your feet and remind yourself that God is responsible for the outcome, not you, so that you can freely share and freely give in the way that God has for you to give, knowing that your success is more tied to obedience than it is big time numbers, nickels and noses, or however you want to phrase that.
And in Jeremiah, it said this, and I know this is frequently used and abused, but used Jeremiah 29:11, for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. And this was after the Israelites were hauled off to Babylon and they are living in a land that they know nothing about and everything is foreign to them. They basically had the rug pulled out from underneath their feet and they didn’t know which end was up, so to speak. And yet God reminds us, and reminded them, that God has good things in mind.
It says in the New Testament there are things that God has prepared in advance for us to be about. You never know when you are going to really minister in a very strategic and meaningful way. I mean it could be somebody that’s visiting family that goes to your church on Sunday and then they go forward from there.
There’s a lot that is unseen about the results and the outcome is of any time that we are working through Advent, Christmas, when we know many extra people are there. So don’t get tied into the Christmas angst. If you will just remember I mean, I realized this 10 years into ministry that is like wow, you know just how many things can you do with the baby Jesus? And I started thinking back to well, you know, there’s probably a handful of really great directions you can go with this, unless you happen to have a better creative gene than I do. You know there really is a limited number of ways that you’re going to communicate this, but, as always, and like with Jeremiah, you want to communicate it in a creative way and in the way that God has put those things upon your heart.
So God knows the plans God has for you. They are plans to prosper you and that doesn’t necessarily mean driving a fancy car, and it has more to do with your heart. God plans to prosper your heart and not to harm you. God wants us to have a hope and a future and that hope is unseen, even though we function according to all of our five senses. You know we just do and we have to pray that prayer. Lord, help me to see beyond what my eyes can see and see what you see and move according to that.
So those are some reminders I have for you for hope in this Advent season, and right now I just want to pray for you, Lord Jesus. We just lift up those ministry leaders in our audience listening to this and we just pray that you would grant them a strong sense of creativity and grant them a strong sense of hope and help them to be firmly rooted in being obedient to whatever you ask them to do. And help them, lord, to just be your people more than anything else. Help them to offer great compassion and care for the people that they are ministering to, even as they deliver a sermon on a Sunday. Help that compassion to come through those words and help that to be received in just a powerful way. Lord, I pray that you would anoint each one with the power of the Holy Spirit that they may go forward to be your people so that others will come to know you both as Lord and as Savior, for it is in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. I pray these things by the power of the Spirit, amen.
Hey friends, the Crabby Pastor podcast is sponsored by Bryce Art Glass and you can find that on Facebook. I make stained glass that’s part of my self-care and also by Bryce Coaching, where I coach ministry leaders and business leaders, 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. 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.