Pastoral Picks (11/4)

Pre-marital counseling
Ron Edmondson suggests seven areas to address in pre-marital counseling.

93% of Protestant pastors feel privileged to be in their positions
Ed Stetzer at LIfeway has some (surprising?) new research on how pastors view themselves, their callings, and their relationships.

A pause for thought
Jeremy Walker persuasively argues for more pauses and less instants in our lives

Caring for a loved one with cancer? Don’t forget about the kids
Crossway posted this helpful advice from June Hunt’s book: Caring for a loved one with cancer

Mentoring future leaders
Chris Bass calls pastors to push mentoring up to the top of their to-do list.

An A Capella Fella
As one these kind of fellas myself, I enjoyed Barry York’s brief and positive post on the subject.

Conformity for diversity’s sake

George Will has an important article on Vanderbilt University’s decision to forbid certain student groups, including Christian ones, from precluding someone from leadership positions based on their religious belief. As Will puts it: “To ensure diversity of thought and opinion, we require certain student groups, including five religious ones, to conform to the university’s policy that forbids the groups from protecting the characterisitics that contribute to diversity.”

Will surveys the historical momentum behind these increasingly common moves to limit freedom of association, and traces it to progressivism’s convenient abolition of the public-private distinction:

First, a human right — to, say, engage in homosexual practices — is deemed so personal that government should have no jurisdiction over it. Next, this right breeds another right, to the support or approval of others. Finally, those who disapprove of it must be coerced.

Sound familiar? It should. First, abortion should be an individual’s choice. Then, abortion should be subsidized by government. Next, pro-life pharmacists who object to prescribing abortifacients should lose their licenses. Thus do rights shrink to privileges reserved for those with government-approved opinions.

Will argues that Vanderbilt’s concern should not be whether a particular religious viewpoint is right, but whether people have the freedom to associate and believe such things. He concludes.

Vanderbilt’s policy, formulated in the name of enlarging rights, is another skirmish in the progressives’ struggle to deny more and more social entities the right to deviate from government-promoted homogeneity of belief. Such compulsory conformity is, of course, enforced in the name of diversity.

Read the whole article here.


How to answer a hostile TV interviewer

Jeremy Paxman is known as the rottweiller of British TV journalists – a mixture of Chris Matthews, Laurence O’Donnell, Keith Olbermann, and Jon Stewart rolled into one. He regularly skewers slippery politicians, and if he smells the least whiff of fear he closes in for the kill.

However, I’ve always noticed that he’s flummoxed and de-clawed by straight-talking and unapologetic American conservatives. When the BBC was at the height of it’s Bush-bashing years, Paxman would regularly come off worse in encounters with Bush supporters like Richard Pearle. I don’t think he could understand people who had unpopular convictions and yet didn’t apologize for them or try to water them down/explain them away.

A more recent example of this came last week when Paxman interviewed Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, who made news by describing Mormonism as a cult when introducing Presidential candidate Rick Perry to an audience of potential supporters. Jeffress gives some excellent answers and, whether you agree with him or not, I think he’s a great example of how a Christian should respond clearly, courageously, evangelistically and unapologetically  to a hostile interviewer.

Watch the interview here.

HT: Paul Levy (Ref21).

Four destructive myths most pastors still live by

Actually Tony Schartz’s HBR headline was Four destructive myths most companies still live by. However, I think they are applicable to many church leaders too. Here’s a summary:

Myth #1: Multitasking is critical in a world of infinite demand.
This myth is based on the assumption that human beings are capable of doing two cognitive tasks at the same time. We’re not…In fact we lose 25% of our time due to the “switching time” required.

Myth #2: A little bit of anxiety helps us perform better.
The more anxious we feel, the less clearly and imaginatively we think, and the more reactive and impulsive we become. That’s not good for you, and it also has huge implications if you’re in a supervisory role.

Myth #3: Creativity is genetically inherited, and it’s impossible to teach.
Despite our deeply ingrained belief that deeply ingrained belief that creativity is mostly inborn and magical, research has proven that creativity is actually teachable and reachable for all of us.

Myth #4: The best way to get more work done is to work longer hours.
I’m not going to summarize this one but simply give it in its entirety:

No single myth is more destructive to employers and employees than this one. The reason is that we’re not designed to operate like computers — at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time.

Instead, human beings are designed to pulse intermittently between spending and renewing energy. Great performers — and enlightened leaders — recognize that it’s not the number of hours people work that determines the value they create, but rather the energy they bring to whatever hours they work.

Rather than systematically burning down our reservoir of energy as the day wears on, as most of us do, intermittent renewal makes it possible to keep our energy steady all day long. Strategically alternating periods of intense focus with intermittent renewal, at least every 90 minutes, makes it possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably.

Want to test the assumption? Choose the most challenging task on your agenda before you go to sleep each night over the next week. Set aside 60 to 90 minutes at the start of the following day to focus on the activity you’ve chosen.

Choose a designated start and stop time, and do your best to allow no interruptions. (It helps to turn off your email.) Succeed and it will almost surely be your most productive period of the day. When you’re done, reward yourself by taking a true renewal break.