Ever feel overwhelmed by personal and global challenges? You’re not alone. Margie Bryce, host of the Crabby Pastor podcast, explores how to find authentic joy amidst struggles and suffering. Margie powerfully illustrates this with the example of Mary, and her joy in serving the Lord, even amidst trials. We also touch on the unique struggles many churches have faced during the pandemic and the sustaining joy that can be found in a relationship with Jesus.
As ministry leaders, how do we avoid becoming the proverbial ‘Crabby Pastor’? This episode takes a deep look into the crucial topic of sustainability and self-care for ministry leaders. We share some personal self-care practices and emphasize the importance of championing sustainability in ministry. We discuss the challenges many leaders face in their personal and ministry lives and how these practices can help you not only endure but thrive with God. Join us for this episode filled with sincere, thought-provoking discussion, prayer, and encouragement.Support the show
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Margie 1: 0:01
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.
Good day my listening friends here. This is Margie Bryce, host of the Crabby Pastor podcast, and I have been offering to you through the Advent season just some shorter devotionals, thoughts, and encouragement from the desk of the Crabby Pastor. And today is joy. And you know, if you’ve listened to this podcast at all, that I’m pretty direct and I try to be extremely honest, and even though I did at one point work for the PR department and learned to write negative patient outcomes instead of dead, I’m trying not to travel in that space for this podcast and just be brutally honest about things.
And so we’re at joy this week and I struggle with this on a regular basis, somewhat courtesy of my temperament. So I have to be, you know, like everything else, intentional about my perspective on joy, but it is pretty challenging these days when you consider things like what’s going on internationally and you say, there, but by the grace of God, go I. I don’t know. That seems insufficient when you look at a lot of the brutality that is going on, I mean, it’s just a matter of I was born in a different spot on the planet and that seems insufficient at times as well.
On a very honest note and I’m going to take a moment of personal privilege about this my niece’s little boy is five and he was having some issues with walking, some nausea, different things and, to make a long, too long story short, he basically has a brain tumor. He’s five, he has a brain tumor and the tumor is located right, smack dab in the middle of his head. Now, most of the time, these types of things have a very high cure rate, as long as you can operate and remove them. That is not the case for this. So you know, I’ve struggled with where to file this. I mean he’s five, so this is kind of a personal thing for me. And where do you find joy in the midst of that when there are parents who are really struggling, really struggling right now my niece’s and her husband, you know, of course they would be.
So as ministry leaders, you know we’re all trained and educated and all that whatnot. And then real-life kind of smacks you up the head and you go well, wait a minute, wait a minute. Okay, my theodicy, my theology of suffering and pain comes into play here and we say things like this planet is not what God had in mind, and we connect it to the fall. Right, this is what we do. And from there we say you know; you’ve got to travel through the pain with Jesus. And there’s, there is a lot to be said for that. There really is, because more and more the planet is looking a little more and more messed up. And I don’t think that’s because I’m getting older. I think maybe I have the contrast of what things were like a while back compared to the craziness today.
And so where do we find joy and how do we get to joy? As if it’s a destination. You know which it’s not. I mean we say that happiness is about the circumstances and what’s going on around us, and certainly you can’t be happy every single day. I mean, I have a couple of friends who seem to be sunny side up all the time, and I would have loved to have had that gene, but I, I really don’t have that gene exactly. I wish I did. But you know there’s value in all of us. Let me just say that.
So joy goes beyond our circumstances. That is what we say. There is a piece and I know I’ve circulated it through the self-care and sustainability Facebook group and my personal Facebook group well, not group but page, I guess about Mary and Eve. There’s a picture of the two women there and Mary is with child and Eve, you know, has this look of embarrassment on her and the snake looks like it’s at least dead or something. However, Mary went through a lot. You know Mary entered into this. Mary was asked, you know, will you do whatever? Or at least she answered as if. May it be to me, as you have said, that’s an opting into what was kind of what was going on there. I want to be your servant, and certainly, there is great joy in being the Lord’s servant.
But then also, you know, like a few days in, when they’re taking the baby Jesus to the temple there and you know she runs into Simeon who says you know, your, your heart’s going to be pierced with a sword. Now that does not sound joyful to me at all. And if you fast forward, you know, to the seasons like Lent and Easter, you know, we know that this was not a pretty picture and Mary was still mom. And where is joy in all of that?
You know, many churches are challenged right now and I’m, you know, struggling, you know especially the smaller churches, because it’s more obvious that you’re struggling. You know you can have a church of 10,000 and if, after COVID, you only have 5,000, well okay, you know, you can still chug along, but it’s a little different, a little more obvious in the smaller church ranks. And so where is joy in all of this?
And I guess what I want to say to you today is that even through any personal issues or international issues that are going on, or national issues, there’s always nuttiness there as well. You know, I don’t know how I would function without Jesus. Really, and that is where my joy comes from just knowing that I would not want to be. I struggle sometimes doing it with Jesus, to be brutally honest about it, but I just can’t fathom doing life without Jesus.
So you know, our concept of struggle quite often wants to just snuff out the joy. Right going through a struggle with Jesus is what actually brings joy and it may not be it. It may not be, but it may not happen while you are going through it because nobody volunteers for that. I don’t volunteer for that, even though I know that at the end of the day, I’m going to come out on the other end different, and usually better and better in my resiliency and in peace.
I just keep thinking that the more you go through stuff in life, the more you have the opportunity to learn and ask that question. Certainly ask that question while you’re going through the nonsense of you know, where are you in this Jesus? What do you want me to learn from this? But you’re not going to necessarily love it.
While you’re going through it, just reflect and remember the fact that you would not want to be going through this without Jesus and, you know, as ministry leaders, that really gives us pause to consider the masses who are going through lots of nuttiness and stuff without Jesus. That should urge us to want to share Jesus more and more. And certainly, we can’t do the solid gold presentation of you know you accept Jesus and then life is going to be just perfect after that. We don’t want to oversell the reality of life on planet Earth. We don’t want to do that, but certainly, we do want to offer Jesus to the people who are limping along alone and who don’t have hope, who don’t have the sense of peace the past is understanding, who don’t have a sense that they are loved massively by the Lord, god Most High, and definitely, those who have no concept of joy, no concept of you know, it’s not very joyful to walk through something alone and sometimes you need people with skin on to come around you, those who know Christ and can offer that kind of support.
I know that in my life the people that led me to Christ walked with me through stuff and they were there. You know they incarnated for me. You know they were there as if they were Jesus walking with me, just a reminder that I wasn’t alone. So you know we don’t necessarily love it while you’re going through it, but when you’re on the other side of it and you reflect back, we can see then exactly how faithful Jesus was to us.
So sometimes it’s where we’re standing in the, in the muck, in the mire. If we’re right in the middle of it, you know we can have hope that Jesus is going to do what? What scripture tells us, make something good out of this muck and mire that we’re standing in because it doesn’t make any sense to us in that particular moment, but knowing, as Christians we know, that Jesus is with us, walking with us through it, and we may not see until we’re on the other side of it just how faithful Jesus was to us.
Or another mechanism that we can use is to remind ourselves, as well as the people that we lead, that Jesus is with us. Jesus does not leave us nor forsake us, and we can have great confidence in that. That’s our opportunity to remind people of those things. So when you’re asking where is Jesus and that’s a question that we need to ask ourselves ask the Lord, god most high, where are you in this? I don’t see you in this, but I can now reflect back on other times in my life when I was in the Muck and Mire and just slogging through, and I can reflect back on those instances when God was indeed faithful and know that that something’s coming. Something is coming and that is what stirs our hearts and can give us great joy.
It is my privilege to continue to serve you and I’m here for you. I continue to advocate for healthy self-care for you, to love yourself that way, and I want to wish you great joy in this Christmas season. Let me pray over you, “Lord Jesus, we are grateful and we are thankful that you know, that you see, and that you care deeply about what we are going through, whether there are issues in our ministry settings, whether there are issues also or in our personal lives. We know that you are there and, lord, we confess to you that there are times when it doesn’t feel like it, and, lord, you know how we are. You know that occasionally we are functioning according to our five senses what we see, hear, smell, taste, and all of that. But, lord, infuse us by the power of the Holy Spirit to see beyond our five senses and to be enlivened by the Holy Spirit so that we can be your people so that we can be a light in this dark world. Lord, let us not be dim bulbs here, but grant us a strong sense of joy and purpose as we seek to be your people and to draw others unto you. And we pray this in the mighty name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Hey friends, the Craby 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, 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 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.