Margie Bryce

Your leadership coach
and self-care advocate

91: Advent Devotional: Finding Sustained Peace in Ministry Leadership

The Crabby Pastor
91: Advent Devotional: Finding Sustained Peace in Ministry Leadership

Ever found yourself lost, grappling with the complexity of leading a ministry, especially during the hustle and bustle of the Advent season? 

But how do we find peace in the frenzy and avoid burnout? I’m Margie Bryce, host of the Crabby Pastor podcast, on a journey to uncover practical, faith-based strategies – prayer, song, gratitude, positive thinking – to root ourselves in calmness and resilience so we can ‘go the distance’ with God.  I share the practices that prioritize rest and rejuvenation, highlighting how sustainable habits allow us to serve better and avoid burnout. This episode highlights words from the Book of Phillippians, as a gentle reminder for all of us to seek peace, connect with God, and ensure self-care even amid hectic times. Join me for this episode as we seek to rekindle our relationship with God and love for ministry.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.

Margie Bryce, here, host of the Crabby Pastor podcast, and you’ve probably just potentially survived your first Sunday in Advent If your denomination, if your church, celebrates the Christian calendar year in that fashion, but whether or not it is overtly stated, we are running up to Christmas, it is past Thanksgiving, so charge, as they say. Well, that’s probably not a great thing to say exactly, but anyhow, I am here today.

We’re going to have a chat, I guess, about peace. I’m going through the Advent descriptors the last time was hope and this is peace and I want to share with you that recently I got called upon to fill a pulpit for a pastor who was having some health issues and needed to take three Sundays off. So I was asked to step in and I did that. The last Sunday that I was there, though, during the pastoral prayer moment. I got up and I delivered a prayer and then I sat back down and then I realized that I had not prayed at all for the international scene. So you know, I assessed myself some pastoral demerits for that it was, I don’t know. I have no good excuse other than it just fell out of my head. And certainly, these are unsettling times, somewhat nationally, where we’re saying why are people doing these things internationally?

You know, war and great disruption and terrible tragedy for many people, oh and 2024 is just around the corner and it’s election year, and so we’re all about to be traumatized with all that stuff, you know. And so there I was just feeling badly and I have learned over the years that sometimes when you don’t say something that you regret later, you just have to say it is what it is, it was what it was, and I just have to let it go. So I did do that, but I thought you know this would do well for me to confess this to you.

So the other confession that I’m going to make and you trust me, I’m going somewhere with these things. You just are along for the ride. I am that preacher, so I am probably one of the few who have not watched The Chosen, you know, and to be honest, I just do not like getting on the bandwagon with everybody and going, no, this is the next thing, you know, because there’s always a next thing, and then everybody’s gaga about that for a while, until the next thing, till. I don’t know, maybe this is why this podcast is called the Crabby Pastor podcast.

I don’t know, but my sister happened to visit, and we sort of got into some binge-watching of The Chosen. She came from out of state and came out for four days, and that was great. So we binge-watched this for a while and she seemed really fascinated with it. I think she’s recently stepping back into her faith and anyhow we did we binge, and as I watched it I thought, boy, Margie, you shouldn’t have been such a shrew about this. This is actually not half bad, and actually it was better than that. It was very intriguing. I love, love, love that the disciples, are blatantly clueless at times, because, you know, even if you go to seminary and continue education, whatever, you still feel clueless at times. I’m, you know, I wander in and out of being clueless, frankly.

So I was watching, though, because she’s left now and so I’m still. I’m still watching The Chosen. And you know, I just watched the episode where he just sends them out with nothing. Here you go, nothing but your faith, you know, don’t even pack an extra tunic, and he sends them out. And it just is pretty mind-blowing to watch that. I mean, they were definitely not in the mode of peace at all. They were pretty troubled by what they might encounter, especially when you start annoying people like the religious leaders, or heaven forbid, the Romans, or you know, didn’t want to be seen as disruptive, right? And so here you go, go out with your faith, only don’t even bring food. You’re at the mercy of whatever people will or will not do for you.

And I thought, boy, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know how well I’d pass that test, that’s for sure. I, that would be a big challenge, a big challenge today. I mean, we don’t really understand what that would feel like. In the same way, we’re too technologically attached to everything. But the disciples go out and they’re going to just speak what Jesus has spoken to them. They get out there and they realize that they’re a little better at this than what they thought they might be, which was sort of the point as it was brought out in that episode that you’re going to go out and you’re going to learn how to just be totally dependent on God and nothing else. God is going to see you, God is going to provide for you, God is going to work through you and you’re going to get to experience that.

And I thought about that and that’s kind of somewhat the pastoral journey, as we’ll call it, where you think I don’t even know why God called me to do this. I was in marketing communications work, and I thought when I got called, well, this is almost like, you know, a used car salesman, nothing against used car salesman. But you know, being called into ministry like my task was often, you know, encouraging people to do this or that, a lot of it was health care related, so that’s good. You know, come to this event and get your cholesterol checked and those kinds of things, which is, you know, I would say, if you’re going to get hauled into a proclaiming kind of a task like marketing communications, you know, health care, you feel like you’re helping people, you’re helping them with their health and that’s a good thing, right?

And then I got called into ministry, which I told myself, oh looky here. It is still a proclaiming type of task, and yet I still felt inadequate and inadequately prepared, even though I had had schooling up to my eyeballs. There still is a sense of that. So you add just the pastoral task, with the quirky era that we are in and I’m not just talking about the international stuff that reminds us that people can still be quite evil to one another, somehow, even in the 21st century.

I know there are moments where I engage the idea that we’re better than that, aren’t we? You know, you watch Braveheart or any kind of movie where there’s a whole lot of chopping and gun shooting and all that. And you think, oh, we just would never engage in that kind of thing. And you know, people are people. That’s basically what it says in Scripture. Nothing new under the sun, right? I mean, we’re way more, way more civilized than that today. Well, I don’t know. I do know that I think we have not evolved towards goodness and peace in the way that we had hoped. And I’m talking about humanity in general here, not necessarily individuals per se.

 So you and I are called into some kind of ministry, caring for the needs of others, ministering to them, helping them draw closer to God. And we basically are like those disciples. We’re going out with nothing but our faith into an environment where, internationally, it’s pretty messed up right now and nobody’s really talking about Sudan, and I don’t hear a whole lot more about Ukraine either Lately. So, and then we’re still struggling in our churches with the people that used to be there that are no longer there. And now we’re facing the Christmas holidays where you know throngs of people are going to come and pastors always feel a little under the gun about it, like this has got to be over the top, exceptional preaching to draw people in, to help them engage with God and maybe help them for a moment to think differently.

And I remember one guy came to one of my services and he was not really a believer, but he did come in. His comment to me afterward was I should do this more, because for a minute, just for a minute here, I have to stop and think about what really is most important in life. I thought, wow, okay, I had not considered that kind of a take on what people might be taking away or engaging within a worship service, particularly people who don’t have any kind of faith background. But that’s what he was doing. He was seeking for a moment to really pause and just consider what’s most important.

So here we are in the Christmas season, just about putting our toe in there and gearing up, getting ready. I’m sure I’m hoping you have some general big ideas of where you’re going, preaching-wise, so that there is an ebb and a flow to it, but then, at the same time, they can be self-contained messengers, right, and that’s not a small trick either. I will say that People don’t understand some of the dynamics towards preaching that we happen to go through in the process of delivering, like for a major holiday like this.

So when we engage in peace, remember, we’re going out, going out with nothing but our faith, right and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, which is not small in any way, shape, or form, but sometimes with the pressure of what’s going on all around us. Because, gee, I mentioned internationally, and nationally, but what about personally? I mean, some of us are carrying heavy backpacks right now, some of us have our own stuff that we are dealing with right now, and yet we are also preparing to encourage people to walk towards Jesus because, at the end of the day and I think this is a very, very under-preached thing, that life with Jesus not only goes better, but you have the potential for peace, a peace that passes even understanding.

Paul captures some of this in Philippians 4, where Paul says rejoice in the Lord always. And again, I will say rejoice, let your gentleness be known to everyone, which you know. During any Christmas season, we all go okay, that’s going to have to be intentional, for sure. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything. You know, as you’re sent out in life, we just hold in your faith, but in everything, by prayer, in supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And then this is the verse where I want to go, not that that’s not good stuff running up to it already, but the peace of God which passes surpasses.

Actually, it says all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. And I think that’s really interesting that your heart is mentioned. But also what is mentioned here is your mind, your mind. It makes me think of Romans 12, verse two. Don’t conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, because then you’re going to be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will. So our minds do funny things, do they not? It’s our minds that tell us sometimes I don’t know. I don’t know that I can do this, I don’t know that I’m up for another Advent season, my personal life is not where I want it to be. My spiritual life is not where I think it ought to be. There’s a lot of stuff going around right now. What’s going on in the world and locally, maybe within your denomination itself? There’s a lot of that. There’s just a lot of nonsense.

And then we’re going to find the peace that passes understanding right, well, right, we are, we are. And I’m going to tell you that there are times in my life where you know, personally or spiritually, stuff is not going right. You know, you wake up in the middle of the night and you ruminate on things, and I used to call it ruminating until my spiritual director corrected me and said that’s worry. And I thought, well, I don’t know, I’d have to look up in a thesaurus and I’ll let you know, which I never did. But, at the end of the day, I kind of thought, yeah, she’s probably right, and what to do about that and how to get yourself out, how to go back to sleep at night when you’re doing these kinds of things to yourself because you’re laying there and things always look worse at night. I’ve done a lot of things.

I have prayed repeatedly for whatever situation is happening there. I have sung for the Holy Spirit. Come, holy Spirit, I need you. Come, sweet spirit, I pray, come in that. Whatever the rest of it goes and you definitely don’t want me singing anything on here, I can tell you, so I have prayed. I’ve done walk to Emmaus and there’s a Holy Spirit prayer there. I’m giving you a list of options here for whatever might suit your fancy or be helpful, and you think, oh, I’ll try this.

I have counted my blessings, and that sounds really kind of cheesy, but I’m telling you, if you start going through your life like that, it what we’re talking about doing is shifting your mindset, shifting your brain, thinking on good things. And so now I am going back again to Philippians. Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there’s anything worthy of praise, think about these things, because it does make a difference what we do with our brains, what you have learned, Paul says, and received and heard and seen in me. Practiced these things and the God of peace will be with you.

So it makes a difference in what we do with our brains. So you can think of blessings. Here’s some more. I had someone say to me to do math problems and I had someone else say to me to do blessings. But you got to start with the letter A and go all the way through A, B, C, D, E, and F like A-Apple Pie. B-Betsy was kind to me, I like my cat. My cat is, you know, a friend D for dog, for the dog, people you know, I mean and think through and pray through these things as you are working to shift and certainly you know praying to God.

I want to be doing something better with my brain because we all know it says don’t be anxious and it says don’t worry. Jesus said don’t worry about what you should eat or drink or all those kinds of things, because God knows in advance what you need. So what I’m looking at and what I’m hoping to offer to you today are ways that you can, practical ways, that you can work through and to and toward peace, the peace that passes all understanding At the end of the day.

I want to ask this question. I think I’ve asked this before on this podcast, but this seems especially pertinent again as a reminder. You know, when you stand up in front of people, when you are asked to pray, when you are on the platform, whatever situation you’re in, I know for me, I always reflect back to the moment that I was ordained and I tell myself, head up, shoulders back, stand firm in the authority that was given to you during your ordination, and who am I preaching to? Who am I speaking to? Who am I? Who is my audience? Actually, my audience is Jesus and I am doing it predominantly so that the Lord will say to me Well done, good and faithful servant.

I’ve asked this question in coaching… who do you work for? Because we tend to get mired down with whether it’s the church board, the denomination, the whoever, whatever other pressures that you have to perform, and I always try to urge people back to at the end of the day. We work for Jesus. You know it’s up to God to guide and direct us and help us to come to the place where we have that kind of mindset and we can stand firm and be honest about that and feel like we are God’s fully surrendered people, serving wherever God has planted our feet. So that would be my word for you for today, during this Advent hustle and bustle season, is to do some things that are going to help you seek peace. Whether it is you’re waking up in the middle of the night because of whatever reason, whatever other kind of self-care that you could or should be doing, don’t forsake that, because we want to again be God’s fully surrendered people. And if you’re running on the hamster wheel, you’re not going to find peace there. I will tell you that you have to get off that hamster wheel and draw close to God.

So let me pray with you, Lord Jesus, this is a pretty, pretty rattling time to be leading your people in, and I just pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ as they seek to be your people and your servants to the people that you have placed in their care, that you would give them an outpouring of your Holy Spirit, that you would enable them not just to do the tasks at hand and to do them well, but to do them as a fully surrendered person in in sync with what you have for them to do and to be about. I just pray a sense of peace would come over them as they serve and that you would even give them a sense of joy as they lead your people closer to you. Lord, help them to have discernment and wisdom and the strength they need just for today, and your mercies will be new tomorrow, and we pray this in the mighty name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy 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 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. 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 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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